Lora Kniffin and Sandy Hughes traveled from New Mexico to Colorado to participate in their first ADGA National dairy goat show in July. They both raise colorful Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats and appreciated the opportunity to meet and visit with other breeders of their favorite breed at the show.
Lora Kniffin and Sandy Hughes had been to several American Goat Society national shows with their Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats in the past, but July 7-14, 2012 was the first time they ever participated in an American Dairy Goat Association National Show. Though they live about 1-½ hours from each other in New Mexico, they traveled together to Loveland, Colorado in order to share expenses. To help pay for their trip, they dropped off several pre-sold Nigerian bucks and does on the way.
"We are just in awe here," Kniffin said. "It’s almost like goat overload. There are so many beautiful animals here; we have met all the nicest people."
Hughes echoed Kniffin and said the ADGA National Show was such an amazing, learning experience.
"It’s just so interesting to see the different body styles of Nigerians here," she said. "You can almost tell what part of the country a breeder comes from because the east coast Nigies have bigger body styles; from the south we have smaller bodies but more width. It is just very, very interesting."
Kniffin said that selling kids and breeding stock was her emphasis in her Prairie Wood herd, and while she bred does that produced a lot of milk from quality udders, she also pays a lot of attention to color. With 250 to 280 kids born each year on her Edgewood, New Mexico farm, marketability is an important priority. She caters to a large pet market and emphasized that color was often just as important as quality in her world.
"It’s something some people don’t really want to talk about," she said. "But selling kids is my business, so I produce what people want to buy. I can have a plain kid from a national champion and a colorful kid from something less proven—the color will sell first all the time."
Kniffin said her goal was to produce top quality Nigerian Dwarf goats that produced well and performed well in the show ring, and carried colorful genetics.
"Why can’t you have both?" she asked.
It was no doubt that visitors and breeders in the barn where Kniffin and Hughes penned their animals during the 2012 national show were attracted to the color, and antics of their Nigerian Dwarf does and kids. Throughout the show week, people often stopped by to visit, admire, and enjoy the colorful caprines. A plastic picnic table served as a play mountain for a pen of six kids that ranged in color from wild polka dots, to brilliant black and white patches, to belted, moon spots, Swiss marked pinto, and cloud-burst roan. Some had blue eyes, some had brown, and colorful dams in adjoining pens sported bountiful udders as well as the same eye-catching color combinations.
Hughes’ Herd of Heaven does and kids also drew spectator attention, and between the two breeders, they sold close to 10 goats at the show to help pay for their national show trip expenses. Kniffin said she dropped off nine pre-sold goats on the way to Colorado, but there were many aspects that made her trip to nationals memorable.
"We had just a great time here," Kniffin said. "I am on cloud nine because my goats were usually in the top five placings in their classes. There were some mixed messages and confusion from ADGA officials about goat sales in the barns, but we will definitely try to make it to more ADGA shows as this was just awe-inspiring to be here."
Hughes said she thought it was interesting that the ADGA president repeatedly asked ‘for sale’ signs to be removed in the penning areas, and especially in the non-show stock pens. But yet many ADGA directors and licensed judges advertised their own dairy goats for sale throughout the barns, all week long.
"I understand that the emphasis of a show like this is exhibition," she said. "But it is also very important to recognize that an ADGA national show is the very best place to get new bloodlines, and to be able to buy and sell here benefits all of us."
Prairie Wood Rockin Bravo stands proud on top of the play table in his pen at the 2012 ADGA National Show in Colorado while his colorful herd mates rest comfortably under the table and in nearby pens. Though Bravo came to the show from New Mexico with his breeder Lora Kniffin, he left at the end of national show week with a new owner from Florida who came to Colorado looking especially for a new junior herd sire.
Two Nigerian Dwarf breeders from Florida traveled all the way to Colorado with the hopes of finding a new Nigerian Dwarf buck to take home to their herd.
Camilla Hynes and her mother-in-law drove for more than two days, one way, on the hope of finding a buck like Prairie Wood Rockin Bravo for sale at the show.
"We didn’t know what would be here," Hynes said. "But we figured what better place to find the best of the best than at the national dairy goat show. We were so glad to find Lora here with her goats, we couldn’t be happier with this buckling."
The black-and-white patchwork buckling Bravo, often king of the playpen in Kniffin’s area at the national show, likely could have been sold three times over judging by the interest his pen generated. Kniffen and Hughes said they enjoyed meeting many other Nigerian Dwarf enthusiasts who stopped by.
"I would have to say this has almost been the best experience of my life," Kniffin said. "The host group did just a tremendous job of organizing and putting on a show of this size. I have never before seen so many wonderful goats all in one place. This was truly an amazing experience."
Hughes agreed that she couldn’t think of a better way to spend a summer vacation, and she especially appreciated the host group live-streaming the breed shows online.
"It was so much fun to be able to share with our families and friends back home what we were doing here, as it happened," she said. "I have to admit, I looked into the camera as I went by and blew my husband at home a kiss. I don’t know if he saw it, but it was fun to know they could watch us show."