While cute pictures of goats wearing pyjamas and baby bonnets are trending on YouTube, at Westerner Days, the animals are treated with more dignity.
The goats that were judged for their bone structure — and milking capacity — at the dairy goat competition in the livestock pavilion on Wednesday, were wearing only the coats Mother Nature gave them.
Half a dozen different goat breeds — from curly-coated Angoras to long-eared Anglo-Nubian, to nub-eared Lamancha varieties — were penned for spectator viewing in the Stockmens Pavilion.
Some of the best milkers took their turn being paraded before a panel of judges, who examined their sturdiness and the size of their udders to pick the winners.
Among the Toggenburg breed, a goat called Sunbeam Chiffon was given the Grand Champion blue ribbon. Her owner, Leila Cranswick, of Southwest Wind Farm in Okotoks, was pleased.
Cranswick’s daughter, Kathleen Arkes, described Toggenburg goats as “efficient to feed, independent and self-sufficient.” Each one is about as intelligent as a dog, is trainable and has its own personality, she added, noting Sunbeam Chiffon can be fairly intractable.
“She knows her own mind … but she’s a pretty little doe, well put together, and she milks well.”
These days, goat milk products are in higher demand among people who don’t tolerate cow’s milk.
While goat’s milk also contains lactose, Arkes said it’s easier to digest and is the closest animal dairy product to human breast milk, “so it’s very easy for most babies to transition to.”
Most of the goat breeders at Westerner Park use the milk for their own families. Fewer sell it because it requires various steps, including pasteurization, before being marketed for public consumption.
But John Henderson of Markerville — who’s been showing his goats for about 25 years, or almost as long as Western Days has been running goat shows — said he’s occasionally given away goat’s milk to families with children that have trouble with other milk.
He joked that he keeps Angora and Lamancha goats “because I wanted something to clean up around my barns.”
Robyn Andersen initially planned to keep dairy cows, but brought in goats after realizing she could have 25 to 30 goats on the same Rimbey-area pasture that would sustain only three cows.
“They’re doing well, and it’s fun,” said Andersen, whose show goat with the majestic name of La Mountain Brazil’s Bouquet, was declared reserve champion in the Toggenburg class.
Although serious goat breeders do not dress up their animals, Andersen admitted she finds the YouTube pictures pretty adorable.
“Some people who’ve bought my rabbits have dressed them up in doll clothes, so it wouldn’t surprise me,” she added, if some kid goats she’s sold have also ended up in pajamas.