What Is Bracing? Bracing Lambs and Goats is Important to Show Ring Success

Every livestock exhibitor knows that any advantage you can give to your animal in the ring is important. Lamb and goat exhibitors have an added advantage since the judge actually gets to handle their animals to better evaluate muscle definition and finish. That’s where training your show lambs and goats to brace makes all the difference. 

What is bracing? Well, properly bracing show lambs and goats gives the judge a better idea of what is inside that animal. 

“Lambs and goats are a few of the species the judge actually gets to handle. A good bracing technique will give the judge a good visualization of muscle definition and a good handle,” said Sam Silvers, BioZyme® Inc. National Small Ruminant and Show Livestock Business Development Manager. 

What Is Bracing? 

For those of you wondering “what is bracing?” here are the basics. When bracing sheep and goats, “bracing” refers to the practice of setting up a show lamb or goat in a way that highlights its appearance. Proper bracing can help showcase the goat’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses during a show. 

When an animal braces, it typically involves the handler positioning its legs and body to present it in the best possible way for the judge to assess its conformation. This may include setting the feet in a way that emphasizes its skeletal structure, making the body appear balanced and well-proportioned. The goal is to present the animal as an ideal representation of its breed standards. 

Getting Started 

Silvers suggests teaching your lamb or goat to brace at a young age. The younger they are and the lighter weight they are, the easier they will be for the exhibitor to work with. It is also easier to work with an animal that doesn’t have preconceived ideas in its head.  

Because they are young and going through the stress of a new environment and learning several new skills, take it slow. Patience is important. 

“Goats are naturally more stubborn. Patience is key with them,” Silvers said. 

One thing he suggests when even shopping for new show stock, is looking for natural show appeal and bracing technique. He said some small ruminants are just natural bracers, and that is an ideal selection criteria to look for, especially when purchasing project animals for new showmen.  

The Technique 

Bracing show lambs and goats is relatively similar. However, as previously stated, goats will likely be a little more stubborn. Getting started earlier in their breaking process rather than later is critical. 

Setting Feet 

It is important to have their feet set square on all four corners. Most people will start by setting their back feet directly under their hind quarters. Then set their front feet. You can accomplish this one of two ways, which will depend on the exhibitors’ size and strength and the lambs’ cooperation. Either slightly lift up the front of your animal with one hand right under their chest between their front legs and gently set them down so their front legs are square. Or physically pick up each leg and set it square. 

Once your feet are square, stand there for a few minutes so the animal gets used to standing that way. If the lamb or goat moves a leg, reset it. Your animal needs to learn this is the best way for it to stand while in the show ring. 

Any time you put it on a stand or rack, also set its feet square. The lamb or goat will naturally learn that when it isn’t walking, it needs to stop and pose like this. 

Learning to Brace 

Once your lamb or goat is comfortable standing with its feet square on all four corners, it is time to teach it how to brace. Hold its head firmly looking forward, but not too firm that it has to gasp for air. Then with your foot facing perpendicular to its neck, put your leg into its neck, so it pushes against your leg. By pointing your toe away from the lamb or goat and not toward its chest, you are not putting your knee into its esophagus, causing it challenges with breathing. 

To teach your lamb or goat brace, they need to learn to respond to your leg or thigh (depending on your height), being pushed against their throat. To accomplish this, raise their front two feet off the ground several inches and walk them backward for a few minutes until they are resisting. Then, set their front feet back on the ground square. Apply pressure with just your leg, while slightly pulling forward on their head and neck, and see the difference. 

Practice Makes Perfect 

The point of bracing show lambs and goats is to show more true muscle definition. It also allows the judge to feel a firmer product when they go in to handle your animal. It is never too early to start working with your lamb or goat. Once you get it home, get it acclimated and settled, start teaching it to lead, set up and brace. 

You will want to work with your show livestock daily. Make sure they are comfortable with you. If your exhibitor is small or intimidated, the animal could pick up on that and try to bully or run over the exhibitor, and we never want an animal or young person to get hurt. Young exhibitors can get their animals calm and acclimated to them by simply spending time with them in their pens before ever putting a halter on them.  

Building Bonds 

What is bracing practice going to do for you outside the show ring? Help create a connection with your lamb or goat. 

Strong bonds can be formed if a young person spends 20 to 30 minutes a day in a small pen with their animal talking or reading to it, while petting or brushing it. This gets the animal used to the person’s voice, scent, movement and overall demeanor.  

Once the lamb or goat is used to its exhibitor, it is ready to start being worked. You should work with each animal daily for at least 30 minutes. Some families even put large mirrors in their ban, so the exhibitor can see how their lamb or goat looks when it is set up and how it looks when it braces.  

Once your animal is used to working inside your barn, consider working it other places so it gets used to additional environments. Some alternative spaces include outside your barn around your yard, or you could load up and practice at a neighbor’s yard or a local fairground. 

What is Bracing? Just the First Step Towards Success 

Bracing your show lamb and goats properly is an important part in your journey to the backdrop. As you #PreptoWin, you will also want to make sure you are exercising your animals and offering them a high-quality nutrition program.  

Sure Champ® is line a of products that support the health and well-being of show livestock. BioZyme makes Sure Champ, just one product line in its family of brands that is powered by AO-Biotics® Amaferm®. Amaferm is a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility. 

Just like lambs, and especially goats are stubborn, we know they can also be finicky eaters. The Sure Champ products powered by Vita Charge technology help boost appetite and water intake. 

Liquid Boost 

Liquid Boost is a liquid for all livestock designed to provide immediate support to the animal’s digestive and immune system with the Vita Charge® technology. In addition to Amaferm, the research-proven prebiotic to enhance digestibility, it also contains MOS to help normalize gut microflora and support the immune system. Liquid Boost also contains flavoring to help drive intake of feed or water.  


Sure Champ also makes and markets three gels with the Vita Charge technology that meet specific needs of your sheep and goats.  

  • Appetite Plus is a gel for all livestock designed to provide immediate support to the animal’s digestive and immune system. It also contains Amaferm and MOS. It is a quick response product to support appetite and hydration. 
  • Sure Champ Clench is a gel for all livestock designed to support normal digestive function during occasional diarrhea/scours. In addition to Amaferm and MOS, it also contains electrolytes to support rehydration. 
  • Sure Champ Climate Control is a gel for all livestock designed to support digestive health and recovery when temperatures are above 70 degrees. It promotes appetite and water intake. Climate Control includes Amaferm and HEAT® technology, a combination of essential oils, to support animals when heat is a challenge. 

Care that Comes Full Circle 

At BioZyme, giving back is one of our core values. That is why it is so important for us to make products that can help young livestock exhibitors excel in and out of the show ring. We also want to be there for young people with educational tips and tools along the way. That’s why we are so interested in answering your questions, like “what is bracing?” We want to support you. 

Did you find this blog useful? We offer an entire “getting started” series for every species. You can find them here: 

In addition, Sure Champ offers educational blogs and videos about nutrition, CDE help, judging classes and more. Check out these useful resources that will be updated all year.  

We also want to shine a spotlight on your success. Let us know when you make it to the backdrop! Submit your champions. Let us know you have won, and we could just reach out to you to be featured in a future Junior Spotlight. 

Power Your Champions 

In this blog, you’ve gone from asking “what is bracing?” to getting show lamb and goat bracing down to a science. Now, you want to #PreptoWin with Sure Champ products from BioZyme. Discover which Sure Champ product is right for your scenario with our Sure Champ Product Quiz.  

Sure Champ products are available from our dealer network across the United States. Find a dealer nearest you on our dealer locator.  

Do you prefer to shop online? You can also purchase our products from our online store.  

Leave a Reply