What is a Live Dairy Goat Show?
At first glance, a dairy goat show looks like a beauty pageant for goats. In reality, the purpose of a show is to select animals that come closest to the ideal of sound, productive type. Awards and publicity from shows encourage mini breeders to adhere to the ideal for continued improvement of the miniature dairy goat. Shows put quality dairy goats in the public eye to improve their public image. Shows give dairy goat breeders recognition for long months of work in the barn, plus an opportunity to talk shop with fellow breeders.
Who is the Judge?
The judge at your show is a member of a very select community. MDGA currently has 5 licensed judges, but MDGA does accept the judging credentials from ADGA and AGS. MDGA does issue one-day licenses to qualified individuals to judge MDGA sanctioned shows.
To qualify for a license with MDGA, ADGA, or AGS, applicants must pass stringent written and oral tests, demonstrating a thorough knowledge of correct dairy goat conformation and the ability to organize and communicate that knowledge. Dairy goat judges must also requalify every two to four years to keep their licenses.
What does a Judge look for?
MDGA provides all of its judges with a scorecard to evaluate dairy goats. The scorecard for Senior does assigns the following priorities: general appearance 35%, dairy character 25%, body capacity 10%, and mammary system 30%. The Junior doe is allocated for general appearance 60%, dairy character 25%, and body capacity 15%. For Bucks, the general appearance is allotted 60%, dairy character 20%, and body capacity 20%. Also, the judge must see that each animal meets the breed standard for its breed.
We are showing miniature dairy goats, so Judges may use their discretion and only need to measure miniature dairy goats that appear to be near the maximum height. Goats that win a GCh award or an RGCh award will be measured when tattoos and/or microchips are checked for the Report of Awards paperwork.
For miniature dairy goats in the “Experimental” herd book, goats will be judged for conformation and udders first and breed character second. Breed character is regarded as more important when the animals are accepted into the “American” and “Purebred” herd books.
Many defects may cause the judge to disqualify an animal, such as blindness, serious emaciation, permanent lameness, double teats or other permanent physical defects. View the MDGA Fault Matrix here.
How are Shows Organized?
Shows are first divided by breed. The breeds recognized by MDGA for its official shows are Mini Alpine, Mini LaMancha, Nigerian Dwarf, Mini Nubian, Mini Oberhasli, Mini Saanen, Mini Toggenburg, and Mini Guernsey.
Not all breeds may be present at all shows. Some MDGA shows combine two or more breeds into a division called All Other Minis (AOM) when few entries are expected in those breeds.
Within each breed, animals are further divided by sex and then into age classes. Thus, each animal competes against others of its own breed, sex, and approximate age.
First-place winners from each class compete for Grand Champion (GCh) in the Grand Champion Line-Up. A Reserve Grand Champion (RGCh) is chosen from the remaining first-place winners plus the animal which placed second in its class behind the animal chosen Grand Champion. For Senior Does, a “Best Udder” for each breed is designated by the Judge.
The final class of the day is usually “Best in Show”, in which the judge selects a winner from the Grand Champions of each breed and the “Best Udder in Show”.
Some shows have showmanship competition, in which the judge considers the appearance of the animal and the exhibitor as well as the actual showing, looking for the exhibitor who shows his or her animal to the best advantage without undue fussing and maneuvering.
How are Classes Judged?
Each class follows a set pattern. As the ring steward calls the class, the exhibitors enter the ring leading their animals in a wide circle around the ring. The judge observes the animals as they move by.
Once the ring steward announces that all entries are present, the judge begins the mental process of sorting out the animals according to merit. The judge then stops the animals, has them line up, and then proceeds down the line, checking each animal individually for smoothness, skin texture and other qualities that can be detected only by feel. If an animal has defects, this hands-on examination may reveal those as well.
With placings in mind, the judge may ask two exhibitors to walk their animals side by side to decide on a close placing. The judge then has the exhibitors move into first place, second, third, etc. After the animals are lined up, the judge may still change a placing.
Having completed the process of placing the animals, the judge takes the microphone and gives reasons for each placing, telling why the animal ahead is superior to the animal behind. While the judge is giving reasons, winning exhibitors receive ribbons and/or trophies.
When Grand and Reserve Champions are announced, the exhibitors of the winning animals bring them and their registration papers to the secretary’s desk. The judge reads each animal’s tattoos (in the ear or tail web) and/or microchips and checks to see that they are the same as those on the registration certificate before completing the Report of Awards.
What are the Benefits of Showing?
Showing can be a valuable experience for you. You will have the opportunity to listen to the judge as she or he gives reasons for the placings. Often the judge will be willing to talk with you after the show if you don’t understand the placings. You can also talk with the exhibitors and see the animals in their pens. Live shows can be a wonderful way to publicize your herd and receive an unbiased evaluation of your animals. It's also a unique opportunity to visit and network with other mini dairy goat enthusiasts.
With MDGA's live show program, your animals can earn permanent champion titles. To earn a championship title (FCH), your goat must earn three FCH leg awards (such as GCh or Best in Show) under at least two different judges. One leg may be a restricted leg, such as an award designated for a Junior doe or a dry doe. Eligibility to participate in an MDGA sanctioned Live Shows requires that you be a current MDGA member.
Besides the memories of the beautiful dairy goats you have seen, we hope you will carry away with you a greater understanding of what makes a truly good miniature dairy goat.