By Tucker Seibert, Cream-of-Kansas
I have been in dairy goats my whole life. My Mom is an ADGA judge. I have learned a lot from her and how to show an animal well. I also show horses, cattle, and meat goats. Showmanship in any species starts with a positive mindset and understanding the expectations of that species. In this article, I am going to go over some tips on dairy goat showmanship including how to select the right doe to be your partner, written facts you can use to educate yourself with, your appearance, and how your doe needs to be fit (groomed).
The first thing is to pick the right doe. Showmanship in any species is a partnership - it takes TWO and you both have to want it. So pick a doe who likes to show and is an attention hound that does not stress at travel and is easy to control. You want a doe that is going to handle well. You also want a doe that is well built from the start that will make your job of showing to the best advantage easier than bringing in an average doe that needs constant work to “fix”. I recommend choosing a doe that matches your size, you want to be able to reach her back legs easily and still maintain control of her head but also by the time you are an intermediate showman you should be handling a Senior, lactating, doe so that you can show you know how to fit an udder and set her legs for that best mammary presentation.
Next, you need to study the ADGA scorecard and the showmanship scorecard too. You need to study the parts and terminology (do you know what smoother blending in the shoulders means?). You can find all of this in the ADGA guidebook or online with ADGA. Also, you need to know how to do all the maneuvers fluidly, study diagrams and practice at home or the night before with another group of kids. I use upturned crates to maneuver between if I have to practice by myself. Also - DO NOT CROWD. Walk around the ring at an easily controlled pace for your does unhurried movements around her udder - they are grace - not racehorses and you do not have to keep up with the person in the lead - it is your job to show to the best advantage - that includes gauging your doe’s appropriate speed. Beyond studying that scorecard and line maneuvers for showmanship, understanding the pieces that make up an ideal animal - how that scorecard pertains to form and function not only makes you a better handler but a better more educated breeder.
Your clothes matter just as much as the look and grooming of your goat. Do not do four hours worth of clipping, washing, detailing of your goat to walk in with stained or dirty jeans and wearing mud boots. Make sure your white clothes fit and are packed - that is your job - not your moms!! I wear a tucked-in white button-up shirt or Polo with white jeans that go over my clean boots and a belt on the jeans. Avoid T-shirts. Avoid shirts with any prints including herd logos. If you are a girl don’t wear a spaghetti strap tank top or fashion “worn” hole filled frayed jeans - neat jeans or long skirts are preferred - no cutoffs, capris, or short shorts. If you do not have boots that fit inside (under) your straight-leg pants or lack boot cut pants, try clean tennis shoes or mocks or slides that look like boots without a shaft of the boot - avoid sandals, light up sparkly shoes, mud boots, and even crocks. Surprisingly enough a judge watching your goat walk and watching you handle it and set it up - well, they see your feet more than your face. Let that sink in the next time you're packing your whites to show in - footwear matters as much as a happy, clean face with neat hair.
While you are looking great your goat needs to too. What I do to prepare my animals is to clean them with soap and water and let them dry. This makes it easier to clip them and easier on your clippers. I show a white Lamancha so I clip them with a 10 blade a week prior to the show. If you have an Oberhasli or dark-colored doe, clip them with a #5 or #7 or 2 weeks out with a #10. Full body, leave the last two inches of hair on the tail. Make sure you lift up their back legs and clip up into the flank and all around the udder - under all “armpits”. Clip hair between the toes. When you are done, have an adult help you go over the doe - extra eyes find uneven hair and missed patches. The job needs to be smooth - sharp clean blades work best.
The day of the show clean their ears. I show LaManchas but you still have to clean their ears. Also, their eyes, nose, hooves (between the toes too), and under the tail needs to be clean. Retrim udder that morning - use a #40 to do the entire udder to edges of udder tissue. Use udder cream to help soften the udder after cleaning but wipe excess off - no judge likes an oily slimy udder and dust will stick to the extra making it look dirty again. A light coat of fly spray, if warranted, but avoid show oils as it changes the does skin texture - there is no substitute for the glossy coat of a year-round well cared for and managed doe. Her healthy clean coat will be enough.
And finally, be confident and put on a smile when you go and show. No matter your placing your goal is to gain a new perspective, always be thankful to the judge, shake their hand and congratulate the winners.