Goats are arguably the most fun-to-watch animals on the farm, Kurt Henry said.
“They’re athletes,” said Henry, a livestock judge who lives Rainbow, just outside Glen Rose. “You need enough space so they can get out and stretch, run and play. They’re still goats, though, still meat animals.”
Indeed, Boer goats — like those shown Sunday and Monday in the Fort Worth Stock Show’s Sheep Barn — were imported from South Africa in the early 1990s because of the quality of their meat, said Jim Burke, superintendent for the Boer and market goat shows. In Dutch, one of the languages spoken in South Africa, Boer means “farmer.”
But as Henry looked at the 300 or so Boers shown Monday, he was studying how pretty or handsome they were rather than how well the animals would taste, if a grill became their fate.
“With the females, you have to have structural integrity,” Henry said. “Sturdy legs and feet squarely on the corners of their bodies, like a table. This is a beauty contest, so you want her to be elegant — long neck, extensions on the front end, a runway model.”
Bucks must be rugged and masculine “with lots of muscles,” Henry said. “It’s all determined by genetics and the feeding program.”
Paul Morgan has been working for more than a decade on both genetics and feeding at his 2M Boer Goats farm near Charlestown, Ind. One result, a doe named Addie, took reserve grand champion Sunday and was back for second stroll on the runway Monday.
“She’s feminine and elegant,” Morgan said. “She’s packed full of muscle front and back. I’ve been breeding for about 10 years to get to her.”
Morgan sells embryos and breeding stock to other farmers, sells show animals to 4-H and FFA students, and sends goats that aren’t show-worthy to the meat industry.
It’s probably never going to make him rich, but he said he’s doing OK.
“It’s possible to make a living just on the commercial side,” Morgan said. “We have 130 acres and probably 250 to 300 head most of the time.”
Events like the Fort Worth Stock Show — the second-largest Boer goat show in America, after the Boer Association National Show — are the proving grounds that help breeders prosper, Burke said. Between 50 and 60 exhibitors showed goats Monday, and many more exhibitors between 5 and 18 years old will be in the Junior Wether Goat shows Jan. 28 and 29.
“Some of the people who show come off of full working ranches,” Burke said. “Some are like what I do, raising goats as a hobby. Some are in it just to teach their kids a more wholesome lifestyle — getting back to the original America.”
Burke, who started raising goats 26 years ago, said his 4 acres near Joshua give him just enough room for his hobby and the lifestyle he craves.
“I like the open air, being able to see the stars at night, and neighbors who aren’t 10 feet away,” he said.
That’s a goal for Jacob Hoffman, 15, a high school sophomore who came from Bloomington, Ind., to help Morgan manage his show animals.
“I do this because I love animals,” Hoffman said. “And I’m learning how to show at national shows.”
Growing up around animals on his parents’ 87-acre farm has given Hoffman a yearning to have his own herds on his own spread. But he doesn’t want it to be in Indiana.
“I want to go to Oklahoma State, then move to Texas,” Hoffman said. “I’ve always liked Texas.”
The Lone Star State is one of a handful where a goat farm can be successful, Henry said. Demand for the meat — called cabrito in Spanish — is seasonal in America, because it’s most commonly consumed around holidays observed by a few ethnic cultures.
That translates into a relatively small number of farmers who are willing or able to take the risks on the cyclic nature of the goat-meat industry in a nation where beef is king.
“We have to import goat meat to America to meet demands of ethnic markets,” Henry said. “More goat is eaten worldwide than beef. But in America, we eat beef.”
Goat breeders are counting on that changing.
In other countries, the people’s preference for it has made goat meat less expensive than beef, Henry said.
“It’s also leaner,” he said. “It’s still a noble creature that is a significant segment of the agriculture industry, definitely so in Texas.”
Stock show roundup
The Fort Worth Stock Show continues through Feb. 4 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, Lancaster Avenue and University Drive, just west of downtown.
Details: 817-877-2400 or www.fwssr.com. Mobile apps are available for Apple and Android devices.
Grounds admission: $10, $5 ages 6-16, free age 5 and younger
Rodeo tickets: $28 on Friday nights, weekends and some special events; $20 on weekdays. Rodeo tickets are good for general admission to the Stock Show the same day. Discounts are available for grounds admission and rodeo tickets for Star-Telegram Press Pass holders.
Advance tickets: The office, at 3401 W. Lancaster Ave., is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; 817-877-2420.
Parking: $10 per vehicle
Information booths: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Friday and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday in the main concourse of the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall and the Richardson-Bass Building.
Shopping: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Friday and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday in the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall and Brown-Lupton Exhibits Hall (north and south).
8 a.m. Southwestern Llama Show — Justin Arena
8 a.m. PRCA Tie-down Roping Slack — Coliseum
9 a.m. National Braunvieh Cattle Show — Youth Division — Watt Arena
10:30 a.m. National Braunvieh Cattle Show — Beefbuilder Division followed by Fullblood/Purebred Division — Watt Arena
7:30 p.m. Bulls’ Night Out — PRCA Extreme Bull Riding — Coliseum
8 a.m. Southwestern Llama Show — Justin Arena
8 a.m. PRCA Steer Wrestling Slack — Coliseum
Noon Livestock Appreciation Day Luncheon — Round Up Inn
12:30 p.m. Miniature Horse Classes — Justin Arena
6 p.m. Mustang Magic, presented by Lone Star Ag Credit — Trainers Challenge — Justin Arena
7:30 p.m. Fort Worth Super Shootout Rodeo — Coliseum