HARRINGTON –– Tucked away in the shade Saturday afternoon, more than 100 goats were being prepped for judgment for the Pygmy Goat Show at the Delaware State Fair.
“The breed originated in Africa and is a descendant of the Cameroon dwarf goat,” said Corey Christoffersen, a goat show judge of eight years.
“It was first brought to the United States in the 1950s and used for mainly dairy and meat but because of their size and personality, they quickly became pets.”
The pygmy goats were shown by handlers ranging in age from five to 21, broken into 10 age categories. Almost every competitor learned showmanship at a very young age.
Dorothy Bradley, 8, of Milford, is showing seven goats in various categories throughout the course of the fair.
She started showing animals when she was only three (the minimum fair age for competitors was recently increased to five).
Her first pygmy goat that she was handling in the showmanship category on Saturday was named Pixie.
“I practice almost every day walking the goats around the yard and around their pens,” she said. “We live on a farm so we have a lot of animals and I always practice with them on a leash.”
One of Dorothy’s competitors, Aidan Dill, also 8, of Camden, has shown goats at the fair for the past three years.
“I practice everyday with him,” Aidan said. “We walk around and I practice what the judges look for like eye contact and how good I control him.”
For the showmanship competition, the judges pay attention to things such as the walk of the goat, its ability to follow various procedures, and the goat’s behavior.
Aidan was showing one goat Saturday, a black and pure white named Oreo.
Pygmy goats come in several different accepted color patterns –– caramel pattern, white, cream or tan; agouti pattern, darker legs than body and; black pattern, solid black with pure white accents.
All goats must meet one of the color requirements and for breed judging, it’s something the judges take into consideration.
“For breed judging, the most important thing is how closely the goat meets the breed standards,” Mr. Christoffersen said. “So what we really check for is the skeletal structure of the animal and how well it conforms to the color pattern.”
The breed portion is very similar to a dog show.
After walking into the ring, competitors situated their goats so they were standing with weight distributed evenly across their four feet and so the judges could feel the animals’ body structure.
Kyle Satterfield, 16, of Wyoming, lives on a 36-acre farm and has been showing goats since he was four years old. On Saturday, he was showing both pygmies and boers. Boers are larger than pygmies and originated in South Africa.
“The best part is coming back and meeting new people every year,” he said. “It’s just interesting that there’s people here from all over the state to show their animals.”
For Dorothy, Aidan and Kyle, showing animals runs in the family, with parents and cousins having long histories of showing animals such as goats, horses and cattle.
Each of the three love competing and said they plan on coming back next year.