Farm animal or Fair animal?

This year Sunshine showed her Boer goat, Junior, at the Ohio State Fair Boer Goat Show. This was her 1st show and she did such a great job.

We almost didn’t go because we knew her goat wasn’t going to win any awards, since he had been sick a few weeks before the fair.  We decided to go anyway just for the experience.  She spent so much time with her goats this summer; she had been looking forward to the show all summer.  She had quite a showing of support with our family, my mom, hubby’s dad, both of my sisters, and several other friends.  She was so gracious and thanked them all for coming.

In her first class, she finished dead last. Poor Junior just hadn’t had time to get back in shape.  Sunshine kept her smile on and when she came out of the ring just shrugged her shoulders even though I could tell she was disappointed.  I gave her a big hug and told her how proud of her I was for getting out there and overcoming her fears. I hate to admit I was a little disappointed; I didn’t want her first show experience to be a bad one.

  When the time for the showmanship class rolled around it was a completely different ball game.  In the wether class, they judge the goat.  In showmanship they judge…the showman. She went in the ring smooth and confident…and she WON!  I was so proud, as she came out the ring; she took the time to congratulate the girl next to her on a good show.  Then when she got back to her pen she thanked her dad and Chuck, her “coach” for his help. We were both beaming!  Sunshine because she won, me because I was so darn proud of her for pushing through her nerves and showing such maturityboth  inside and outside of the ring.

      Now that our first goat show has come and past, a few thoughts have occurred to me.  First I love our goats so much more in the pasture than in a show ring. 
     Secondly, there seem to be a lot of people with questionable (at best) techiques for improving the “performance” of their show animals.  Imagine my suprise when my child asks, “Mom, why are they spraying Windex on that goats butt?”  I honestly had no idea until I asked my hubby and he explained some people spray a menthol like spray on the animals to make them tense their muscles, and hopefully impress the judge.  Needless to say, I was  shocked and quite frankly disgusted. I think now would be a good time to sit down and talk as a family about animal welfare and what we consider to be appropriate, and what is not.   I wonder do these people consciously start using these “tricks”  or do they just gradually start turning a blind eye, reasoning that they have alot of money tied up in these animals and this justifies using any and all tricks to give them an advantage in the ring? If they had a written management plan that established their goals for their herd, would they think twice about putting their “tricks” in writing?
     When I suggested we get goats, I had no intention of raising “show” goats, and Im still not sure how I feel about the idea.  I do however recognize the opportunity it offers for the kids for personal development. 

    I wonder what others have done in this situation?  Where is the line between farm animals and fair animals?  I guess I aways thought they were the same, a fair animal was a farm animal you loaded up and took to the fair.  As I have found out, if you want your kids to “win” at the fair your fair animals are going to need to live and eat much differently than your farm animals. Is it worth it?  What are your thoughts?

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3 thoughts on “Farm animal or Fair animal?

  1. I didn't think I'd ever raise show animals either, but here I am with four show rabbits. In the two years that we've been raising and showing these bunnies, my son has learned a lot about responsibility. As you know, for a child and animal to do well together in showmanship, they have to spend a lot of time together. These days, the rabbits are no longer a “chore” for my son, but a daily source of joy. They are also a comfort to him when life isn't playing fair. Oh, and he bred two of them this year and sold the babies. Between his winnings at the fair and the money from the babies, the bunnies now pay for themselves. My son has to manage that money, which has also been a valuable lesson. Show animals might not provide food for the family in the same way the regular livestock do, but I think they have a place on the homestead.

  2. I raised show goats in high school, but kept them and put them on the farm afterwards. For the 6-8 months leading up the stock show, they did eat different than the other goats and were penned separately. That made them easier to work with – I always had two, so it was me and two goats! And their diet was more controlled for weight gain and muscle development. They ate goat feed, alfalfa hay, and some corn for treats instead of just grazing like all the other goats. They got “prettied up” for the stock show with a good hair clipping, hoof trimming, and some horn shining (I think I used WD-40). I never thought I'd win anything and I loved the showmanship aspect of it – showing off how well the goat responded to leads was fun! And if I needed them to tense up for the wether/doe class showing, then I tickled their tummies a little. But in the end, my show goats were my pets and I wasn't going to be mean to them just to win an award. One of my first show goats was a little doe – that doe became a nanny and gave me lots of offspring that eventually became my little herd. I miss them so much.

  3. Both of my boys show Mini-Rexes. We don't feed them any differently than we would as pets and certainly wouldn't do anything to harm them. We love them too much!

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