Prairie Sum­mer Ex­trav­a­ganza sees wide va­ri­ety of dairy goat ac­tiv­i­ties

Moose Jaw Express.com - - NEWS - Randy Palmer Moose Jaw Ex­press

Af­ter a wildly suc­cess­ful first out­ing in Moose Jaw last year, the Prairie Sum­mer Ex­trav­a­ganza goat show was back at the Golden Mile Arena the last week­end in July – this year with a fo­cus on the dairy side of things.

Around 150 dairy goats of all breeds took part in the show, com­ing from farms all over west­ern Canada. The event was bro­ken into three parts, with the Cana­dian Goat So­ci­ety West­ern show on July 20, a ju­nior show and buck show Satur­day and the CGS dou­ble-sanc­tioned show on Sun­day.

In be­tween the main events, a wide va­ri­ety of sem­i­nars and demon­stra­tions were held, in­clud­ing milk­ing and hoof trim­ming demos, as well as a nu­tri­tion sem­i­nar by the feed com­pany Master­feeds. Sandy Larocque of Triple C Farms near Sifton, Man. was one of the vet­eran show­ers on hand, with more than 35 years in the in­dus­try.

“It’s been busy, and the qual­ity of the an­i­mals has been just su­per,” she said. “It’s so good to see that many peo­ple com­ing out, we’ve lost a few of the dairy goat shows so when there’s one this big peo­ple try to come and make it.”

Larocque – who main­tains a heard of La­man­chas, one of the 10 breeds cov­ered by the CGS – pointed to the op­por­tu­nity to meet and greet her fel­low breed­ers as a key part of the show.

“The big­gest part is the net­work­ing of not just your breed but other breeds in gen­eral,” she said. “It’s a fast-grow­ing in­dus­try so you need to know who else is in the in­dus­try, and the net­work­ing op­por­tu­nity is fan­tas­tic.”

As a show, it all comes down to com­par­ing the an­i­mals and ideally pick­ing up awards, and on that end it’s much like any other an­i­mal show event: there are cer­tain at­tributes for ev­ery breed that will make the dif­fer­ence when it comes to suc­cess. When it comes to dairy goat stock, the qual­ity of ud­ders is the most im­por­tant as­pect.

“Judges when they’re judg­ing dairy will look for cer­tain things and then break them down by breed,” ex­plained Larocque. “The ma­ture ones have to have a well-de­vel­oped ud­der, one that has the ca­pac­ity to hold milk. And things like a well-at­tached ud­der, that would place higher than a less well-at­tached ud­der. Feet and legs are an­other thing, they’re not kept in a stall in a barn, they’re out wan­der­ing around in the pas­ture, so they have to have good feet and legs.

“And then, af­ter all that, there’s the breed char­ac­ter­is­tics. Nu­bians have to have the long ears, La­man­chas have to have the small ears; you can’t bring a La­man­cha into the ring that has big ears... there are a lot of things they look for and the dif­fer­ence can be re­ally small.” Ac­tu­ally win­ning a show can have ben­e­fits, es­pe­cially when it comes to breed­ing and sell­ing. Cham­pion breed­ers can ad­ver­tise their stock as such, mak­ing them more valu­able when it comes to hus­bandry and fu­ture an­i­mal sales.

“That shows that they were judged against an­i­mals that you’d never see oth­er­wise,” Lacroque said. “So then if some­one is look­ing for an an­i­mal they can look at that ad and say that doe has a per­fect ud­der and I need to im­prove ud­ders, or it has great feet and legs and I need to im­prove that. So it can work out pretty well that way.” Then there’s the whole dairy side of things. Larocque pointed to the steady rise of goat milk sales in re­cent years as a sign that the com­mod­ity could be on the verge of large scale growth. For now, though, the in­dus­try in west­ern Canada is of a smaller scale, as seen by the num­ber of shows each year. The Ex­trav­a­ganza is the only one in Saskatchewan in 2018 and there are only two tak­ing place in Al­berta this year.

“We used to have lots, when I started 35 years ago we used to have 12 shows to go to,” Larocque said. “Ev­ery in­dus­try that you get into, no mat­ter what it is, has highs and lows. The dairy goat in­dus­try is no dif­fer­ent. We’re at a low now, but you can see it climb­ing be­cause the de­mand is there. “Goat milk is the health­i­est milk you can drink, and goat meat is eaten by more peo­ple all around the world than any other kind of meat, so we’re ex­pect­ing things will only get bet­ter in the fu­ture.”

Dairy goat breed­ers show off their Toggen­burg goats.

Sandy Larocque of Triple C farms milks one of her stock dur­ing a break in the show.

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