They're not kidding around. These kids are serious about their goats. And there are all kinds, breeds, sizes and shapes of goats at the Clay County 4-H Fair through Friday this week.
Linda Jackson, co-leader, with Elaine Mace, of the "Kiddin' Around" Clay County 4-H Goat Club, discussed the values and pleasure of raising goats.
"Goats make great pets," Jackson said. "They're inexpensive, compared with other livestock. They teach kids responsibility and they're a lot of fun."
According to Jackson there are probably 60-80 total breeds of goats world wide. But there are four main breeds shown at the fairs: Pygmies, Boer, Fainting and Dairy.
Pigmies are considered a companion animal. They're like a pet. They can be used for meat, but because of their size, it's not economical.
Boer goats were bred for meat. Jackson said goat meat tastes a little sweater than chicken and it's lower in fat than beef.
The Boer goats are the most expensive breed. They originated in Africa and New Zealand. When they first came to America they were extremely expensive. Local breeding has reduced the cost. Texas seems to have the Cadillac of breeders for the Boer goats.
The Fainting breed is an interesting story by itself. They are also called Myotonia which means tonic spasms or temporary rigidity of muscles after muscular contraction.
Fainting goats do not really faint. But when they're startled or frightened their muscles stiffen up and they fall over. They are unable to move or get up for a minute or so. They are conscious throughout the episode but this strange genetic characteristic makes it appear that they fainted, thus the name.
"They were used as sacrifices by sheep herders against coyotes, wolves and wild dogs," Jackson explained. "When the predators attacked the sheep herd the sheep would run. The frightened goats would fall over and became the wolf's dinner, allowing the sheep to get away safely."
There are five dairy breeds that are commonly shown at the fair: Toggenburg, Oberhalsi, Nubian, Saanan and LaMancha.
"The LaMancha is sometimes called the earless goat," Jackson said, "They have ears but there is little outward appearance of ears on the goat's head. So it looks like they don't have ears."
While dairy goats can also be used for meat they are commonly used just for milk, cheese and soap. People who are allergic to cow's milk usually have no reaction to goat milk.
Jackson said goats are fun and relatively easy to maintain. She refuted some of the myths about goats.
"They do not eat just anything. They're picky eaters. They're like little kids," Jackson illustrated. "They can't feel with their hooves so they pick up and feel an item with their mouth. But they don't eat it.
Most goats eat vegetation, like grass or weeds. They do not eat trash or non organic items."
The goat show is 9 a.m. Thursday at the show arena. The goat auction is 6 p.m. Friday.
Jackson encourages Clay County kids grades 3-12 to join the goat club. Interested youngsters or parents can call the extension office in the Clay County Court House at 448-9041 for more information. Kids do not have to own a goat to join.
See The Brazil Times starting tomorrow for fair results .