Goats can be notoriously stubborn, which was part of the challenge for the girls showing in the exotic animals class at the Dane County Fair on Saturday.
The fair, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday, features several species of livestock for viewing and judging, as well as a carnival, at the Alliant Energy Center.
At different rings inside the New Holland Pavilions, the animals are displayed in various competitions.
Several pygmy and Boer goats as well as two Jacob sheep — and their exhibitors — took to the ring as part of the exotic breeds class. The exotic class can include most animals that wouldn’t fit into the other farm-animal classes — such as snakes, lizards and peacocks — but this year, all the exotic entries looked pretty familiar.
The pygmy and Boer goats are considered exotic because they are non-dairy breeds, according to the fair rules. The Jacob sheep are considered exotic because of their horns and the difference in the texture of their wool compared to regular farm sheep, said exotic breeds chairwoman Melanie Miller.
The pygmy goats were the first into the ring and they were feisty. The exhibitors kept a tight grip on their harnesses and often had to pull to get the goats into position and standing.
Caitlin Beyler, 17, who will be a senior at Oregon High School, showed pygmy goat Celine, who managed to stay calm and in position for most of the contest. Beyler won a blue ribbon for that class.
This was Beyler’s first time showing a pygmy goat, and she said she had only been working with Celine for about a week.
“It was kind of like a rodeo at first. You don’t know what to expect,” Beyler said.
Although this was the first pygmy goat Beylor has shown, she has a history showing other animals, including cattle.
“You have to stay calm (when showing) because they can sense how you’re feeling,” Beyler said.
The Boer goats, which are bred for meat, seemed to be a little easier to handle in the ring. They still needed some tugging on the harness or a push from the rear at times, but the white and brown animals stood with their heads held high as judge Carol Las looked them over.
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Las said the girls showing the Boer goats told her they liked the animals because of their calm temperament.
Lexi Liddicohe, 14, who is going to be a freshman at Stoughton High School, said the Boer goat she exhibited, Mertle the Turtle, didn’t start off as calm as she was on show day.
It took some time for the goat to get comfortable around her, Liddicohe said.
She’s worked with the goat for about six months, and at the beginning, she had to make sure to stand beside the goat instead of in front of it to prevent the goat from butting its horns into her legs, she said.
Liddicohe also shows pigs, and said she hopes to become a veterinarian for large animals when she’s older.
“I really like farm animals,” Liddicohe said. “They can be aggressive ... but they’re always fun to work with.”
The competitors in the exotic breeds class, who were all 4-H members, were judged in large part on their presentation skills, Las said. That included keeping the animals calm, following procedure and remaining focused on not just their animals but also the judge.
Las said programs like 4-H teach the kids important presentation skills and responsibility and also help instill confidence, all of which benefit them in adult life.
Showing the exotic breeds can make an exhibitor feel like they stand out from the crowd, Las said.
Zelna Marohn, 10, who is going into sixth grade at Mount Horeb Middle School, showed a mother-and-daughter pair of Jacob sheep named Candy and Angelica. Marohn said she likes Jacob sheep for their uniquely spotted wool.
More traditional breeds produce identical sheep, she said. But because of the Jacob sheep’s distinctive spots and colors, Marohn said, “You can tell which sheep is which.”
“I really like farm animals. They can be aggressive ... but they’re always fun to work with.” Lexi Liddicohe, 14