By Matt Reese
The American Dairy Goat Association’s 2018 National Show was held last week at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. The event ran from June 23 to 30 and drew exhibitors from across the country. It was among the largest national dairy goat shows ever with nine breeds represented.
“We are so excited to have people here in Ohio. We have more than 3,200 animals entered from across the country it is the biggest we’ve ever had,” said Robin Saum, the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) president from Fairfield County. “It rotates around the country and our local group, the Southwest Ohio Dairy Goat Association, has been planning this show for over two years. It is a big deal. Once a year we have an ADGA National Show. People from all over the country attend and this is the largest entry we have ever had in a National Show. There are people from Florida, California, Washington,
Oregon — we have really covered the country and highlighted the breeds here at the show.”
Saum and her family had 13 dairy goats at the show from their farm, Snowflake Saanens, just outside of Lancaster. Saum grew up raising Saanens, Toggenburgs and LaManchas, but Saanens were always her favorite. Since returning to the Saanen breed in 1991, the Saum family has enjoyed extensive success at the local, state and national levels.
“I was born and raised in Fairfield County. My mother and grandmother both raised dairy goats so it was a natural extension for me to raise dairy goats,” Saum said. “I got my judge’s license at a fairly young age and from there I went on to be an ADGA director and then ADGA president off an on for a total of 11 years. I love meeting people at events such as this. The progress dairy goats have made over the years has been tremendous in terms of numbers and the quality of the animals. We are always striving for a better production animal.”
One of the judges for the National Show this year, Mark Baden, was pleased that it was being held in Columbus because of his Ohio roots. He grew up showing dairy goats in 4-H in Henry County but now lives in Washington.
“Dairy goats started as a 4-H project that never ended. I have been judging for almost 25 years. This is my fourth National Championship that I have been elected to judge in. It is an honor to be here. I am really excited to come back to Ohio and it is really nostalgic to be at the same venue I showed in as a kid. Ohio has hosted the National Championship three times but has not been to Ohio since the 1970s,” Baden said. “This is showcasing the finest for hobbyists and commercial producers making milk products, fluid milk and cheese and byproducts like soap. It is a community that can all come together for education and networking and they can actually see the animals in person rather than looking at a computer screen. It really can up the game for producers all around the country.”
Ohio’s central location proved to be suitable for the National Show.
“This is the largest dairy goat exhibition show in the United States. This is three times the size of even large state fair shows. This show had the record entry for Nigerian Dwarfs that has ever been exhibited for a single breed with over 660 entries. The Nigerian Dwarf goats can be no larger than 22.5 inches at the withers. The other breeds are over 26 inches,” Baden said. “The next largest number of breed entries is Nubians. They had about 480 pre-entries. Then Alpines have about 450. The smallest breed is the Sable breed and they had just under 200 entries.”
Baden said the Ohio location is also ideal for youth exhibitors in the state interested in dairy goats.
“This is great, especially for youth, to have the opportunity to participate in more than a local competition and raise the bar for them and motivate them to want to stay with agriculture into adulthood,” he said. “We hope this motivates them to network with others. It is great when everyone can see the best animals competing.”
Columbus is also a great location to attract people who may be interested in agricultural production on small acreage.
“I never thought I would be able to get $15 for a gallon of goat milk, but you can get that now. The market is changing and Americans are willing to eat goat products now and incorporate that into their lives,” Baden said. “For producers with small acreage, dairy goats can be a good opportunity to get into agriculture. It is more affordable to have dairy goats than cattle.”
Kirt Schnipke of Ober-Boerd Dairy Goats in Hamler was at the show and excited about staying much closer to home for this year’s National Show. He had the Reserve Grand Champion Oberhasli at the competition.
“This started off as a 4-H project. My parents wanted us to learn the value of hard work and responsibility and to care for something every day,” Schnipke said. “My sister and I quickly decided that we wanted to show at more than just the county fairs so we started going to open class shows. As we got more competitive we started going to bigger shows and eventually the Ohio State Fair.”
As the shows got bigger and his goats got better, Schnipke made the leap to the national level.
“We went to our first national show in 2004 and I have gone to as many as I can since then. This is the first national show back in Ohio and being able to exhibit in my home state at my state fairgrounds is really exciting,” he said. “I specialize in the Oberhasli breed but I do have a few Saanen goats as well. We selected Oberhasli because of their unique color. They have to be a rich bay color with specific black markings to be registered with the ADGA. My dad and I specifically saw that and fell in love with their striking appearance and decided that is what we wanted to breed. Later we decided to add the all-white Saanens to have something different to look at. I brought 17 of my Oberhasli to this show and then we have three Saanens here.”
Schnipke was impressed with the high quality of animals and exhibitors at the National Show.
“It has been exciting to exhibit some beautiful animals and see the other beautiful animals from around the country. You can see the passion from other breeders and what they are bringing forward,” Schnipke said. “This can be a breeding tool to help you know what you should be using in the future and maybe buying stock from a different herd to help improve your own.”
For more results from the show, search ocj.com for “National Dairy Goat” and visit nationalshow.adga.org/show-results/.