Well, we finally did it! Size Matters participated in our first show this month, and we did pretty well! It was stressful because not only was it our first showing experience EVER, but also because I chaired the show (but that’s another post).
So, let’s back it on up. How does one prepare for a goat show? Well, hopefully you’re in some kind of program like 4-H and can get some mentors who know more than you. If not, there’s always YouTube. Blue Cactus Dairy Goats has some great videos about showing that I watched to prepare for the show. The best way is to learn by doing. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun.
First, you have to pick your show string – which goats do you want to bring?
Next, you start working with them so they walk nicely on a show collar and are used to being “Set-up” or “stacked”.
At some point you will need to fill out the entry form for the show. This can be obtained from the Show Chair, Secretary or the show website.
Make sure these goats are registered with the sanctioning registry and that their tattoos are readable. Do not assume your goat is tattooed just because it says so on the registration papers. A problem with the tattoo could mean that your goat does not get credit for the win.
If your venue/sponsoring club requires any disease testing, get it done well in advance. Many vets and laboratories are backlogged during show season.
Check the show dress code. Many shows require white shirts and (ridiculously enough) white pants. These can be difficult to find.
Most shows require the goats to be clipped for showing. This allows the judge to see the goat’s build easily. For the love of all that is good and holy, do not wait until the week of the show to do your haircuts if you have never done them before.
About a month before the show, hose your goat down, lather them up with blue Dawn, and rinse them off. After they dry, they are good to clip. Don’t try to clip a dirty goat. It’s hard on the clippers and you will get a “choppy” appearance. I use Andis clippers and like to use a #4 on the body, neck, head, and upper legs. I use a #10 on the lower legs, around rear end and tail, and a #50 on the udder. Many people finish the udder with a shaving razor. Now if the goat get shaggy again, you can repeat the process the week before the show. It will be much easier and smoother since the goat has had one haircut already, and you will be more confident. Pro-tip: Shave the goat’s left side first to “warm-up”. The goat will be judged from the right. As close to the show as possible, trim the hooves nice and short. This will make sure that your goat’s leg placement and gait are her best. You can learn more about clipping your goat here.
Arrange transportation. Do you have a truck, trailer or minivan than can hold your whole show string? Can you borrow one? If not, you will likely have to rent something. This year, I chose to rent a cargo van. After reading the fine-print and seeing nothing about livestock transport, I decided it would be the way to go. It didn’t require me to learn any special parking or driving skills, and it was climate-controlled for the goats (an important consideration in July). I laid down a tarp, put down some straw, and loaded the goats. The boys were in dog crates and the girls were loose.
The week before the show, be especially strict with your goat’s diet. Do not introduce any new foods. You don’t want to have to pull your goat from the show for scours (diarrhea).
Pack your things! You may need a pen/bedding for your goat. You will need hay, treats, a water bucket and a milking stand with bucket. You will need the goat’s registration papers also. Take whatever other items you think you may need – brush, clippers, hoof clippers, hand sanitizer, paper towels, wet wipes, etc. Don’t forget human snacks and water! It was HOT at our show and most of us couldn’t drink water fast enough.
Hit the road! Give yourself plenty of time to get there and check in. The time will fly once you are there.
On the day of the show, I got up at 4:30am in order to knock out morning chores and get everyone loaded up in time to hit the road at 6:15. My ring steward and I set out in the cargo van, and my husband came in the family van with a couple of his co-workers to help out. Extra hands are always a good idea. We arrived at the show location at about 8am and started our check-in process. We did a health check with the show vet and made sure our information was correct with the show secretary. We set up our pens and got our goats settled in with water and hay. By 10 am, the show was starting!
First up was our Junior Doe Sanction under judge Joseph Larson. The ring steward directed the does out in predetermined age groups and the judge ranked them all. He then took the top-placing doe from each age group and chose a grand champion and a reserve grand champion. We then repeated the process for Judge Brittany Randall – this is what makes it a “2-ring” show. After the Junior Does were completed, we showed the Senior Does in the same way. We also chose “Best Udder” during the Senior Doe show. After that, it was already time for milk-out and lunch. I set up my milk stand next to the cargo van and hand-milked my 3 senior does. With permission, I gave the milk to some pigs that were on the premises. I replenished my goats’ hay and water and bought lunch that had been prepared by our hosts at Sonflower Ranch.
After lunch, we showed our Junior bucks and then Senior bucks for both judges. The show was almost complete at that point, but we also gave out some “funny” awards. Finally it was time to take official show pictures and wrap it up.
Our farm brags include:
Junior Grand Champion Doe, Ring 1&2: Blackberry’s RBI Witchcraft
Junior Grand Champion Buck, Ring 1 and Junior Reserve Grand Champion Buck, Ring 2: Blackberry’s RBI Hocus Pocus
Junior Grand Champion Buck, Ring 2 and Junior Reserve Grand Champion Buck, Ring 1: SizeMatter’s Severus was born on our farm this year to Juno, and sold to Megan Hightower as a herd sire.
GTO Ranch Gwendolyn*P received first in her age group.
Size Matter’s Juno received first in her age group.