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Goats at the Royal Welsh Spring Festival
12:30pm Thursday 10th May 2012 in Livestock
Goats, one of the oldest domesticated animals, are popular as income generators for smallholders and they will feature prominently at this year’s Royal Welsh Spring Festival which has become increasingly important in the goat show calendar as it is one of the earliest shows in the year.
Goats produce two important products – meat and milk. They are prized for their milk, which can be made into cheese, and at the Spring Festival dairy goats will enter a milking trial in which the milk is weighed and tested for butterfat and protein content. A standard formula is used to work out the points gained and the placings in the milking class.
The Spring Festival is unique as the only show in Wales with classes for male dairy goats. Logistically it is difficult to travel male and female goats together without suitable transport facilities because male goats must now, by law, be separated from females while travelling. This situation has been partly responsible for a decline in the number of male goats at shows and the subsequent reduction in the number of shows prepared to put on classes for male goats.
However, the Royal Welsh Spring Festival and the Welsh and Marches Goat Society believe the dairy goat section at the Festival should be a truly representative shop window for all the herds that travel from as far away as Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire, and Kent to attend, and are determined that the opportunity to show male goats alongside females should continue.
Other goat breeds at the Festival will include Angoras, which are noted for their luxurious fleeces and Pygmy goats. Angora goats require good stockmanship and careful management if they are to produce mohair of high quality and exhibitors will be ready to advise smallholders and interested visitors on what expertise is required if they are considering an enterprise for mohair production.
Strong entries of Pygmy goats are expected at the Festival when the overall programme will be similar to previous years. The young handler class in the Pygmy goat section is always well supported and its aim is to provide an opportunity for young goatkeepers to develop the essential skills needed for showing. The competition is keen with entrants ranging from complete novices to seasoned exhibitors.
Talks on the management of Pygmy goats will be given at the Festival’s Speakers Corner in the showground’s South Glamorgan Exhibition Hall on both days of the event and there will be demonstrations in the Pygmy goat ring illustrating the points raised.
The Pygmy Goat Society’s Regional Adviser, Pat Mercer, said: “In these difficult economic times anyone interested in entering the world of Pygmy goatkeeping should give due thought to exactly what the commitment involves. The Festival weekend is a unique opportunity for anyone interested to discuss the matter with exhibitors and to visit the talks.”
The 2012 Spring Festival takes place on the Royal Welsh showground at Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, on Saturday and Sunday May 19 and 20.