The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
By Virginia Ross with Photographs by Margaret Boyce
Friday night, June 6th, at the Henderson County Fairgrounds, goats, big and little, were everywhere. I was told that this was to be the kids' show so what better way to spend a few hours than watching cute kids wrangle goats into the show ring and then lead them around in front of a judge. Leading could be somewhat of a challenge, but in the end both animal and handler made the circle.
Just like any livestock show, Mom and Dad were there to offer advice, help, and encouragement. I asked one Mom from (Ulm Farms Farmington, Illinois) why they were showing goats. She said that this was their first year and they were learning on the go. In fact, she said it would have been easier if their children had decided to show cattle as they already were raising them, but her son wanted to do this as a 4-H project and since goats are herd animals, you just don't buy one. They ended up with one milking goat and two wethers.
Besides, Ulm Farms, I saw shirts with Two Dog Farm, Schmitt Farm, Moose Creek Farms, Morton FFA and Rocky Goat Ranch. I'm sure there were many others present and having a fancy show shirt is not a requirement.
I know nothing about what makes a "good" goat so I watched closely as the 36-47 lb. class entered the ring. Just like other stock, the handler guides the goat in a circle always mindful of the position of the judge so that her animal has the best opportunity to display its finer points. Next, the handler had to "set up" her animal in the correction position for the judge to evaluate each individually. Again, don't turn your back on the judge!
This judge from Iowa was really good; she explained her choices for top prize and compared each to the next. I heard her say something about wrinkly, buttery soft skin and rear anglization. She complimented the group on their work and encouraged those with reluctant participants (they just didn't want to walk around the ring). The winner was checked for a microchip under the tail and a tattoo in the ear.
In the 0 to 5 month old class it was soon apparent which ones had been led before but even then some protested loudly and just sat down. I guess this emphasizes the importance of "practice, practice and practice." In this class the judge mentioned grooming and cooperation as well as conformity as being the standards. In the 12-23 month class, she checked all the above plus examined the back right leg.
Okay, now the really cute class: kids with small, reluctant goats. Some of the animals might have weighed more than its handler. In this class how the child handled the goat was really important.
Goats come in all colors and sizes-black, white, spotted, tan, brown, and combinations. In the milking goat class a well-balanced udder is important. In all classes showing your animal's best qualities as well as your expertise determines the end result-a big rosette ribbon for first place.
Do you need the fancy jeans, jeweled belt and signature white shirt? No, you just have to have a good animal, work with it and do your best. 120 goats were penned at the Fairgrounds on Friday and I overheard that this event featured 3 days of shows with 6 divisions.
Why show goats? Well, it like any other activity: you learn responsiblity, hope to win a prize, sell a goat to someone else, and just have fun talking with other goat owners.
If you did not attend this year's 3 day event, then mark it on your calendar for next year. It's great fun!
Kristin Yoder from Ohio with her Grand Champion Senior Doe-empting Willow