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Growers host 4-H goat workshop, auction

By Staff | Apr 17, 2009

Adam Fedders lines up eight goats from the same sire and interacts with the crowd in choosing the goats with most desirable traits to meet Boer goat breed standards.

SIOUX CENTER – More than 100 people attended the second annual Boer Goat Clinic and show held Saturday at the Sioux County Fair Grounds.

“The interest in meat goats keeps growing,” said goat owner Adam Fedders. “The numbers at the county and state fairs shows proves that.”

Fedders and his wife Robin own and operate Just Kiddin’ Boer Goats, of Sioux Center. They hosted the Boer goat clinic along with Harman Farms Boer Goats, of Hull, and Caljan Farms, of Hull.

Three educational clinics taught the basics of Boer goat selection, grooming and show etiquette. A sale of 34 wethers and young does gave several 4-H youths a start on their 4-H projects, or own Boer goat flocks.

“The Boer goat is just one of several meat goat breeds,” said Fedders. “Breeds include Savannah, Kiko, Myotonic, Spanish with the Boer goat being the most common and familiar.”

This doe received an extra special hoof trim job and hairdo from Adam Fedders as he demonstrated the proper way to groom a doe for a show.

Show standards

The standards are a concept of what the perfect breeding animal would look like. Those standards do change over time. They should be used as a yardstick to gauge improvements that can be made through genetic selection or even diet to attain the perfect Boer goat, said Fedders.

For a Boer goat, the head needs to be a prominent, strong head with brown eyes and a gentle appearance. Horns must come out back of head and curve. Ears must have at least 50 percent coloring, hanging naturally to a moderate length, not past the nose.

The mouth should line up perfectly. An overbite can sometimes be corrected by feeding goats tightly fitted hay in a feeder that forces the goat to work that bottom jaw harder to pull hay out. It is possible that goats can be disqualified if extra teeth are in the mouth. This occurs when baby teeth are being replaced with their permanent teeth. The judge cannot always be assured that those teeth will line up correctly.

Eyes need to have a generally calm look, be soft and gentle. They almost look as though they are half-asleep, said Fedders. To conform to breed standards, a Boer goat neck should fit with the body style. A long body, requires a long neck, explained Fedders.

The hair on the end of a does tail should be a thumb length from the end of the bone. Giving it more of a paint brush appearance.

The shoulder needs to be somewhat fleshy, with the legs looking like a set of posts. The rump should be broad and long with a gentle slope, well rounded.

“It’s important to have a moderate width chest floor,” said Fedders. “A good width is an indicator of a goat’s capacity to bear multiple kids.”

Pigmentation under tail also needs to be taken into consideration. A tail should have at least 75 percent pigmentation where as 100 percent is the goal. Fedders did concur that complete pigmentation can be difficult in the north country. Sunlight, he added, encourages pigmentation, as will the use of infrared heat lamps.

In Boer goats coloring is important. There must be red hair on the head and ears. Fedders suggested visualizing an imaginary half moon line from its nose to the back of the head about to the goat’s shoulders.

Trimming, grooming

Kaley Severn and Jenna Nelso, both from Tabor, are friends who both love their Boer goats. They attended last weekend’s clinic to gain valuable tips to improve on their grooming and showmanship skills.

Moving the clinic outdoors, Fedders trimmed the hooves of a doe. They are clipped every three to four months, he said. The need to trim hoofs can vary from different goats, the type of surface the goat is on and its diet.

“Be sure to clean out any evidence of hoof rot,” said Fedders. “Little pockets of dirt and mud can build up in the wall of the hoof. Take out as much as possible.”

Before grooming, Fedders suggests washing the animal first. Clean, dry hair will keep blades lasting longer. Fedders uses both a clippers with a 1/4-inch attachment and scissors.

Not all goat classes or events have the same grooming requirements. It is important to know what those specifics are. He also said it would be a good idea to practice a month or two before to have a better grasp on the end result and how hair grows back.

“If grooming worries you too much,” advised Fedders. “Just go around with a scissors, clipping all the long hairs. It will make the animal look much better.”

When it comes time to show the animal, it is important to be able to answer questions from the judge about the anatomy and the breed.

Showmanship tips

Demonstrating the finer points of showmanship, Fedders and his wife Robin portrayed a contestant and judging event. Robin walked her doe around the arena, keeping the animal between her and the judge and her eye on the judge.

“Know where the judge is at all time,” said Fedders. “If an animal steps out of line, it is better to lead the animal around and reset. Too often, because a goat is smaller, contestants have a habit of trying to push, manhandle a Boer goat in place. But treat the goat as you would a much larger animal, such as a cow or horse.”

He reminded the contestants to smile a genuine smile, not a plastered on one. Also, to dress up. Tennis shoes do not belong in the show arena. Boots are preferred. Button front shirts must be tucked in, a belt worn, cowboy hats are not necessary, baseball hats are definitely a no-no. Be sure clothes are clean, that is very important.

The idea is to not draw attention to yourself as the focus needs to be on the animal, you just want to blend in and disappear, said Fedders.

Never kneel by your Boer goat. Instead stand up, holding the animal out at arm’s length, so the judge can get1 a good overall look at the animal.

Contact Renae Vander Schaaf by e-mail at renaefarmnews@gmail.com.

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