Goats take step up on county fair circuit

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June 15, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Henry got a public trimming of his hooves Tuesday afternoon at Riverside Park, before a rapt audience of about 30 kids of the two-legged variety.
Henry the goat belongs to Aidan Yoho, seven-year-old son of Quentin and Hollie Yoho, Yates Center. His special grooming was a demonstration of how goats should be prepared for showing at county fairs this summer.
Dr. Brian Faris, sheep and goat specialist at Kansas State University, did the trimming, pausing several times to tell what it was he was doing and to answer questions.
Faris’ four-hour-long presentation filled young heads with every imaginable fact about goats and how to get them ready for the show ring.
Included were things that might seem old hat to a goat aficionado, but can make the difference between finishing high in placings or being an also-ran at fair time.
Having the right drinking water, for example, is important, Faris said.
“Goats can tell the difference in the taste of water, just like people, so bring water from home that your goat is used to drinking,” he said. “Also bring the bucket he’s used to drinking from.
“Goats are creatures of habit. They like to eat the same things and drink the same water each day, and also sleep in the same place. They know their bucket and if it has water they’re used to in it, that will keep them calm and composed when it comes time for you to show them.”
Faris also cautioned the young goat owners from 10 counties about how to feed their animals and to be careful in how they clean their hair, as well as how to cut it. Goats he readies for show often are shorn slick two weeks before a show and then trimmed meticulously just ahead of when they go in front of judges, Faris said.
Use shampoo to touch up dirty spots before taking a goat into the show ring, he said.
Faris also talked about nutrition and exercise for the goat, and how to be a winning showman.

GOATS ARE the fastest growing 4-H project in Kansas, Faris said.
“Including Allen County,” said Carla Nemecek, county Extension agent for agriculture. “We have 28 weighed in for this year’s (Allen County) fair and we’re expecting more.”
Those that will be shown at the fair range from 65 to 100 pounds.
Evidence of the explosion in goat popularity is found in that two years ago, the first year they were included in the premium sale, three qualified. Last year the number edged up to five. This year promises to have several more.
Nemecek said reasons were that goats were cheaper to raise and required less living space than other livestock.
“Also, goats are small and easy to handle, which is particularly good for young 4-H members,” she said.
When Henry was summoned for his time in the limelight, young Yoho had no trouble in bringing him to Faris.
Goats, congenial by nature, are much tougher than they appear, more rugged than sheep, their nearest livestock competitor size-wise, Nemecek said.
Meat goats are more popular than dairy for showing, she added, because their muscle structure is more pronounced.
Fair popularity of goats follows the commercial market, which is bullish on goats. Area sales often draw so many that they wear on to the wee hours of the morning.

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