Friday, February 10, 2012
To all my followers.....
I have moved my blog to be integrated with our website.
You can change your reader to follow www.flyinggoatfarm.com
I think you will like the new look and the topics that I am blogging about.
Thank you for all your years of support on this site.
Posted by The Goatherd at 1:35 PM
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Here is what we learned from the experience:
- Just because you are young and beautiful doesn't mean you will automatically win. Kids won't get grand or reserve champion unless there are real flaws with the yearlings or adults. Why? Because you expect them to be finer and have a better fleece. If you have an adult with a kid or yearling fleece that is more likely to be grand or reserve champion.
- Body structure is just as important as fleece quality. More than half of the decisions by Dr. Speck were based on body structure such as bite and color of gums, how goats stand on their legs, whether they walk with straight legs and feet and spring of rib, which is in essence if they have a wide body that indicates health of the animal and whether they will carry kids in a healthy way.
- Ears can tell you a lot. If they are uniformly pink, the thinking is that they are closer to the South African genetic line of angora goats. If you rub their ears and small kempy fibers come off in your fingers, then probably the goat has a lot of kemp.
- There is a fine line between starving a goat for finer fibers and feeding just enough for health and fine fiber. A breeder can overfeed animals so their fiber is more coarse than it needs to be. But the opposite is also true. Any goats who looked unhealthy were automatically put to the bottom of the class, without regard to fiber quality. We pulled out random samples of fleece and looked at it on a dark fabric to see fineness and kemp.
- Using shorn fleeces to assess goat quality is less reliable than judging the animal itself. This is where Texan breeders and Mid-Atlantic breeders have a disagreement. In Texas, if a fleece doesn't fit the age class, it is disqualified. If a yearling has a kid fleece, it should be judged in the kid class, not the yearling class. Dr. Speck explained to us that some breeders may be unscrupulous and put in more than one fleece to up the weight of the fleece, or they may say it's a yearling fleece and in fact it is a kid fleece. This makes a lot of sense to me, but EAGMA has a differing view. Dr. Speck showed us how to determine the class of fleece (kid, yearling, etc) by looking at the base of the lock and the tip of the lock. A kid fleece has a small diameter or each lock and a very fine, pointed tip.
- When judging fleeces, the weight is the first consideration. This is because the breeder should want the most fleece for their input of feed, etc. The second consideration is the yield. This means that there should be a low loss in weight through processing. You want a fleece with a small amount of grease, vegetable matter and second cuts. Lastly, the best fleeces have character and style. This is true for shorn fleeces and on the animal. Character is the crimp of the lock. The crimp is not the same as let's say a merino or cormo fleece. It is a zig-zag in the lock. Style is the spiral or helical nature of the lock. Dr. Speck looked for a balance of character and style to pick the best fleeces. Uniformity is the last characteristic. The more uniform of staple length, character and style of the locks throughout the fleece or animal the better place in the judging.
- Dr. Speck kept asking "Does it fit?" Does it fit with others in the class? Which is higher and lower in quality? And that is how he puts the goats or fleeces in order from best to worst in the class. He taught us to look for the obvious differences and then to look at the two or three top goats/fleeces again. We had to find small differences in most cases and we had to justify our answers.
- Lastly, we learned that it is really important to have a set of explanations when judging because these shows are learning opportunities for the goat breeders and the spectators. Dr. Speck always gave positive statements about the animals. He didn't mention disqualifications, rather focused on why the top one or two goats were picked.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
This kid doe fleece is a faded red. It is a light caramel color. The judges thought it had good style and character. It was high yielding (i.e. not a lot of grease) . They liked the uniformity and the soft feel of the fleece. This unwashed skirted fleece is 1.6 pounds and is for sale for $40.60.
This is the kid fleece from #29 Basil. It is skirted but unwashed. It weighs 1.4 pounds and is for sale $34.40. The judges comments were very uniform and soft. Finer than the 2nd and 3rd place fleeces but not as heavy. That is because I skirted out the shorter, dirty fiber.
This kid doe (#34) fleece is white. The judges liked the uniformity of staple, length, fineness and softness. This unwashed, skirted fleece weighs 1.5 pound and for sale $37.50.
This fleece is from a beautiful doe kid. The lock style is more open. The judges liked the uniformity of length and the soft feel of the fleece. They would have liked the locks to have more style or more corkscrew look to them. It weights 1.75 pounds. It is skirted but unwashed. It is for sale $44.00 This goat has a really great body confirmation and will be a great foundation doe for a starter herd.
I will have these fleeces at Montpelier Fall Fiber Fest this weekend. Or email me and you can buy through PayPal.
Lastly, my marmalade won second place at the Great Frederick Fair. The first place marmalade was a peach/marmalade....so I feel good that this was a real citrus only marmalade. It is fantastic!!
This was my first season of entering competitions for my fleeces and my canned goods. I feel that it was pretty successful and encourages me to enter more items next year, now that I know the ropes.