Livestock projects teach young people so many responsibilities. There’s the work ethic of going to the barn each day and caring for another living being.
They teach teamwork because you often need another person to help you accomplish your tasks. And they teach perseverance due to the fact that animals each have their own unique personalities.
Choosing a species for your first project is a personal decision, but let’s explore why going to goat shows might be a solid choice for a young, first-time exhibitor.
Build Your Bond Before Goat Shows
Goats make a great starter project for young people due to their size. They are not as big nor intimidating as a calf, and you can control them easier than you might be able to a pig. However, don’t let their small size fool you; they can be stubborn!
“Their personality and quirkiness make them a good first project for young people,” said Troy Goretska, Corydon, Iowa, BioZyme® Area Sales Manager. Goretska and his family also raise and show goats.
“But there has to be a good relationship established and a bond built between the goat and its showman early on,” he added.
Getting your Goat Tame
A goat, like any animal or human, has a unique personality. They are easiest to gentle down the younger they are and by the person handling them most – the exhibitor. When you first get your young goat home, give it time to get used to its new barn and surroundings, with minimal noise and stress.
Let your goats smell you, see you and hear you to get familiarized with you. The more you interact with them in their environment (their pen) that first week, the better. The more familiar they become with you, the more comfortable they will be when working with them. It is all about establishing trust between the animal and the human.
“I will tell you those really, really good showmen that look like those goats will do just about anything for them; it’s because of the amount of time they spent with them. Not just on a chain or on the halter or on a stand, but also in the pen and interacting with them and creating a bond. They’re going to spend time with them in the pen,” said goat breeder Cooper Bounds, one of our newest DuraFerm® ambassadors.
“The goats are going to get kind of inquisitive and come up and mess with you. If you’re just dumping feed and filling the water bucket and taking off, they’re going to stay pretty crazy. So, you need to be able to spend a pretty tangible amount of time with them so they get to know you.”
Halter Breaking 101
Once your show goat acclimates to its new surroundings and the two of you are friends, it is time for the halter. Although goats show on chains, having them halter broke is the best way to lead and work with them. However, Bounds said halter breaking is misleading, as a goat doesn’t just “break” once it has a halter on.
The first step is to ensure the halter is on properly around the goat’s jaw and ears so it is comfortable and the animal won’t slip out of it. Next, get your kid used to the idea of a halter by tying it up. Tie its head up snugly so it can’t look around, but still make it comfortable for the animal. And don’t leave your goat alone. This is another opportunity for your goat to adjust to you. While it is tied, talk to it, stay calm and work on picking up its legs and setting them square so it gets used to standing in that position.
After about a week of daily tie-up sessions where the goat should be used to the halter, it is time to teach it to lead. This will come second nature for some goats, while others will need some added encouragement. Patience will be the biggest and most critical resource the exhibitor will need during this phase.
If you’re looking for even more detail on the subject, check out our tips to successfully breaking your show goat.
Chain Breaking for Goat Shows
Now that your project is accustomed to walking on a halter comfortably, train it to walk with the chain it will wear at goat shows. Bounds said it is imperative to train your goat with the proper tools and work with the more humane pronged chain instead of the flat dog chain many national shows require.
He said the flat chain is one of the more inhumane options out there as it chokes the goats more. Many shows are trying to outlaw pronged training collars because they appear cruel, but they are actually more comfortable for the animal.
“It’s not a spike. A spike is going to pierce and go through the skin. It is a blunt prong that is actually more humane than a flat chain. If you think about it, you have less surface area touching that goat’s neck, so that is not nearly as restrictive on their windpipe. It allows the goat to be more comfortable. They don’t want to try to get away from it as bad,” he said.
When acclimating your goat to the chain, be sure it gets comfortable with it on the standstill; then, teach it to walk on the chain. Make sure to have it tight, right under the goat’s jaw. The chain helps with control. Once you teach your goat to walk, you can begin learning to set your goat square using the chain.
Goats Show at Various Sizes
Goretska said one of the great benefits of showing goats is the length of time an exhibitor can feed and show one goat. You will typically show market goats at anywhere from 70 to 110 pounds. Those shows can range from a July County fair to the North American in November.
“It’s important, like any market animal, not to feed to a certain weight but rather to feed to condition,” Goretska said.
In American Boer Goat Association (ABGA) sanctioned shows, breeding animals, including does and bucks, can show for a long while. Many show up to 36 months of age.
Keep Nutrition Top of Mind
To keep your goats feeling their best at home and at the goat shows you attend, they need good nutrition. It is a fact that 70% of an animal’s immune response starts in the digestive tract. Therefore, if you provide them with nutrients to keep their digestive system in good shape, they should feel their best and perform their best.
One way to help them feel good and #preptowin is with good nutrition from Sure Champ®. Sure Champ is a line of products that support the health and well-being of show livestock. Several products exist that could help your goats, but for daily use, we suggest Sure Champ® Extreme with ClariFly®.
This pelleted, daily supplement for show livestock with ClariFly supports hoof health, hair coat and performance when temperatures exceed 70 degrees. It contains AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility and MOS (mannan oligosaccharide) to help normalize gut microflora and support the immune system. Additionally, Sure Champ Extreme contains HEAT® technology, a combination of essential oils and garlic, as well as ClariFly to help animals when heat and insects are a challenge.
Supplemental Products for Goat Shows
Several other Sure Champ and Vita Charge® products exist to help your goats feel and perform their best, both daily at home and when you go to your goat shows. We know that every day on feed matters, and your goats should never miss a beat with their feeding program if they have Amaferm in their diets.
If you aren’t feeding Amaferm in a daily supplement like Sure Champ Extreme, consider one of our Vita Charge® liquids or gels. Liquid Boost® with Vita Charge® technology can be drenched, given in water or on top of feed. Try the Vita Charge® Gel if you are at a show or need a rapid response. Liquid Boost and Gel contain Amaferm and MOS to help drive appetite and water intake. The Liquid Boost also has flavoring to help drive feed and water intake. This is helpful when on the road and you are trying to get your goats to drink unfamiliar or chlorinated water.
Putting Show Does Back into the Herd
One of the advantages of showing breeding does is that they can become part of the herd. Once their show career finishes, you will want to focus on getting them in condition for breeding. According to Goretska, you should aim for them to kid around the time they are 2 years old.
To ensure that your does continue to receive the nutrition they need after they have completed their show career, BioZyme also offers DuraFerm® Goat Concept•Aid®. This free-choice vitamin and mineral supplement for goats boosts reproductive success. It also contains Amaferm to enhance digestibility and high levels of vitamin E for reproductive tract repair. Like all Concept•Aid products, it supports embryo production and conception using organic trace minerals.
We offer a complete line of DuraFerm products for both goats and sheep. And, if you need educational resources, like a gestation calculator to determine your breeding and kidding dates, we have that, too.
Goat Shows are Fun
Most of all, we want your young exhibitors to have a positive experience as they go about the first season of goat shows. Bonding with the goat takes time. But once that bond forms, it is one that the goat or showman won’t soon forget.
At BioZyme, we’ve been making research-proven products for more than 70 years. We know that might not sound like a lot of fun to a young person at their first goat show. But it’s our passion. We want to make products that help your animals perform and do their best. That way, you can continue to do your best in the show ring. That is the care that comes full circle that BioZyme and its employees strive for daily.
We hope you have a blast making memories with your family and your goat at your goat shows. Set goals, work hard, and it may surprise you how fast you can achieve them.
Looking to Add Amaferm to your Goat Herd or Show Barn?
There’s no better way to set yourself up for success at your first goat shows. You can #PreptoWin with the power of Amaferm in Sure Champ. Or, simply #StrengthenYourStock with DuraFerm, also powered by Amaferm.