By Alexandria Becker
Preparation is the key to success. Like so many other little rules or suggestions in life, this phrase works quite well with showing dairy goats, or showing in general. Without being prepared the showman will likely find himself or herself in a situation which is fully undesirable and highly unpleasant.
Preparedness can come in many forms. For some people being prepared can simply mean they got out of the house with their checkbook in hand, for others it may mean a whole checklist that has been rechecked three times and has extra sets of all supplies on hand when they leave. For showing goats there are many ways of preparing but for a new showman, just preparing in general can be daunting.
A good first step to preparing for showing is to make sure the animal has all the paperwork completed that is need: registrations for the show, pen requests, vet checks, and especially registrations for the animals (ADGA, AGS, NDGA, etc). Without those basic papers completed, the can get himself all the way to the show just to find out, for any of various possible reasons, that he isn’t even allowed to unload his goats. Most shows will have some sort of forms available prior to show day so that those running the show have some idea what to expect, those would include registrations for the show and possible pen requests. Vet check papers are important at many shows to prove that a showman isn’t bringing contagious diseases to pass to other people’s stock. Registration papers are important simply to prove that the animal that is being shown is the breed and age claimed and that she is with the proper owner(s).
A second step is to have the animals prepared. What seems to work well is to have the doe’s initial shave done about 1-2 weeks in advance so that the doe has some hair back, but not so much as to cause distraction in the ring. Closer to show day, a close around the udder, and trimming the hooves is very helpful. Most showmen, it seems, wait until day of or the night before to do a final trim and clipping to make sure the goat looks as close to perfect as possible. Doing the initial shaving early also allows the handler to better see if there is something to be concerned about with the goat’s health.
The third step to being prepared for a show is to make sure any supplies needed for the show are loaded. Supplies can vary based on the distance that the show is from the farm, the duration of the show, the age of the showman, the ages of the goats, the types of goats being taken, and how many goats are being taken.
There are sometimes breed or age specific guidelines for the goats and showmen. Younger goats may need to have a pen-liner of some sort brought to keep them in their designated area. This is quite common with Nigerian Dwarves. Kids (goats), will often need bottles or whatever the showman uses. Younger showmen may prefer if games are brought along to keep them entertained between classes. Older goats may need special food, thicker bedding, or blankets to keep them warm and producing milk. Certain showmen bring water enhancers such as Mio, Gatorade, PowerAde, or other flavors to encourage the animals to drink possibly strange-tasting water, and electrolytes to help the does.
Overall there are many, many things that a showman must bring, and may want to bring to a show. These lists are by no means set to certain limitations or not open to additions or subtractions to the showman’s preference. They are simply good suggestions on what to keep in mind for showing season. Being prepared makes shows much more enjoyable than constantly running around, stressed out about what was forgotten at the farm and what needs to be bought or found when already stressed about the show in general.
The basic supplies for all shows are fairly simple:
• Show chains and/or leads
• Hoof trimmers (even if the hooves were done perfectly the day before)
• Collars and/or lead ropes
• Water buckets
• Show clothes, and hair products
• Clippers with a basic and a fine blade
• Feed and hay
• Basic first-aid supplies
• Snacks for the showman and his/her family/entourage.
• Extension cords
• A broom for basic cleaning
• Money for emergencies and gas
Longer shows bring slightly larger challenges for the showman, not only do they need the basic supplies but also supplies specific for longer times away from the home farm:
• A stand for the goats is an absolute must.
• Feed pans and hay feeders are exceedingly helpful
• A first aid supply kit that has an assortment to include vet wrap, gauze, ointment, bloodstop powder, and various small things like those.
• Blankets or t-shirts for goats that get chilled.
• Drinks for the showman.
• Food or dining plans for the show man. For this a crockpot, portable grill, or griddle work wonderfully.
• Chargers for various electronics
• Extra clothes for bathing or clipping goats.
• Sleeping bags, cots, or other sleeping arrangements for during the show.
• Bedding for the goats.
• Grain and hay for the goats, enough for regular feedings plus a little extra for snacks/treats. Bottles for bottle babies.
• Milking containers/systems.
• Stools and folding chairs.
Originally published in the July/August 2017 issue of Dairy Goat Journal. Subscribe for more great stories!