Goats have been good to California couple

Posted Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- Neil and Melissa Love owe a lot to their Boer goats.

"Everything good that's happened in my life over the last eight years is because of these goats," Melissa Love said.

The couple, owners of Love'NM Ranch in Lancaster, Calif., is putting up eight of their best in the field of 580 Boers being shown at the Stock Show. Judging on the goats concludes Monday in the sheep barns.

It's the second-largest Boer show in the United States, behind the American Boer Goat Association National Show in West Monroe, La., goat superintendent Mike Masters said.

Boer goats are meat animals, not dairy.

The Loves are well-acquainted with shows -- competing in more than half a dozen a year -- and are accustomed to doing well. They've had champion yearlings in Fort Worth and at nationals. The big boy in this year's herd, a 300-pounder named Shark, has captured five championships already, Neil Love said.

Developing champions isn't easy. As a hobby for the Loves, it means a lot of work in addition to his job teaching high school agriculture and hers as a home-based software support manager.

"It's all in the preparation at home, nutrition and grooming, that makes it happen," Neil Love said. "Once you're at the show, no amount of work will do it. For weeks before a show we're bathing them daily, clipping, trimming their hooves and cleaning the rough edges on their horns."

Hard work won't ensure success, because judges are looking for perfection in such characteristics as structure, balance and conformation, Masters said.

"For structure, they need well-muscled legs," he said. "The head ties into the shoulders with a smooth look and there's a wide front end in the brisket [chest] area."

Balance relates to symmetry of a goat's proportions from nose to tail, Masters said. Conformation is similar to structure, he added.

The difference between goats that can win shows and goats that can't determines which stick around for a while and which don't. Neil Love said he butchers the culls himself and sometimes the freezer can get pretty full.

However, the 40 or so goats on the 2-acre ranch do much more than bring in trophies and provide the occasional barbecue.

"We've been to Kentucky, Louisiana and all the states in between," Melissa Love said. "We would never have gone to any of these places were it not for the goats. I work from home, so the friends I make through the goats are all I have."

Friendships are strong among goat breeders, though the competition is serious, Masters said.

"Good sportsmanship is a big part of showing," he said. "There's lots of time and money involved and it's serious business, but when they're through here, they'll be going out to dinner together."

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

Twitter: @fwstevans

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