Elain Rogers, chief steward of goats, Gold Coast Show
Goats are very loveable animals, they are very affectionate and are as intelligent as a dog or a horse ...
If there was a cat-lady equivalent for goats, Elain Rogers is surely it. She’s been the chief steward of goats at shows all around Queensland since 1968, she’s been on the judging panel for goat competitions and is also the show co-ordinator for the Dairy Goat Society Queensland Branch. On the eve of the 109th Gold Coast Show, The Weekend Edition Gold Coast caught up with Elain to find out what it is about goats that she loves so dearly.
You’ve been acting as chief steward of goats at shows all around Queensland since 1968. What originally attracted you to goats?
Well it all started when I had my first baby, I wasn’t able to feed him and he wouldn’t take any of the formulas but he could drink goat’s milk. We got some goats and it’s just grown from there. We ended up with a registered dairy with 180 head and a milk run and everything! We’re well into our 70s so it’s just a small show herd now.
What is it about goats that you love so much?
Goats are very loveable animals, they are very affectionate and are as intelligent as a dog or a horse so they really do endear themselves to you.
What is one thing that readers might be surprised to learn about goats?
That they don’t eat everything! If they are wild, feral goats or very starved goats they may do but our pedigree animals certainly don’t. Their feed is in bins and hay racks and if it drops on the ground it’s dirty and they won’t eat it. Most people don’t realise that goats are fussy with their food. They are very clean animals.
You’ve previously been involved in the judging panel for goat competitions. What’s the criteria the goats judged against?
There’s a breed standard for every different breed of goat that outlines height and the way they are blended and put together. The udders and the udder attachments all come into the judging and the animal is given a 100 point score overall.
What are some of the physical features that differentiate an award-winning goat from its less pretty friends?
Well the udder shape and attachment, the blending of the body, the fineness of shoulders, a long slender neck indicates milk production. If they are thicker, heavier and junkier over the shoulders, they put the feed on their body not into their milk production. It’s a streamlined well put together animal that stands out.
They say don’t ever work with kids or animals, how true is the latter part of that saying?
It’s very true! They will do what they want. We had a photo session yesterday and he was there for nearly two hours. One of my girls is next year’s top model I’m sure of it, I would tell her to stay and honestly I thought she was glued to the steps where she was standing because she was perfect! You have to have a lot of patience and be calm and gentle, that works with kids too, the four-legged kind as well as the two-legged kind.
Have there ever been times when things did not go to plan?
Always! Frequently with the shows things aren’t done when they tell you it’s going to be. You have your mating dates and your planned kiddings and they decide to go overdue or early just like we humans do, it’s all much the same.
What have been some of the more memorable moments in your role as chief steward of goats?
The reaction of people, particularly people that don’t have any connection with farm animals. They are quite fascinated at how intelligent and friendly the goats are. Some of the idiotic questions you get asked are also quite memorable.
What have been some of the questions that have stuck in your memory?
Well I was milking one and this chap asked how I got the milk into the udder. I had to explain to him that the goats eat their food, which is then digested through a series of four stomachs and the milk veins under her stomach feeds the blood to the udder and that makes the milk. Another time we were trimming the feet before show day and a young kid asked his father why we were sharpening the goat’s feet and then the dad came over to ask that exact thing.
What are some of the breeds of goat we can expect at this year’s event?
Well we’ve got British Alpines, Heritage Anglo-Nubians and Saanens, we were going to have four dairy breeds but unfortunately one lady can’t make it.
This year you’re showing seven of your own goats, how do you like your chances?
They’ve been doing some winning so hopefully, it just depends on the day. Actually under the same judge I got some good ribbons last time I showed them.
Do the goats get primped before the competition like a dog or cat show?
Yes, they have to get clipped and trimmed, their feet are done and they get bathed. It’s the same sort of thing as horses or dogs.
Do you have a favourite among your entrants this year?
No not really, some of the little ones are a bit endearing at the moment because they come right up to mummy and kiss me on the face and so forth but they’ve all been through that stage at some time of life. I’ve got a seven and a half year old that I am bringing, one that is around two and a few that are younger, they’re all treated like our babies. All of our kids have grown up and married and some of the grandkids are married with kids now so there’s no babies at home, only the four-legged ones.
Can the public come along to see the goats?
Of course! Friday, Saturday and Sunday they’ll be here. Saturday is judging day.
When you’re not judging goats, how do you like to spend your time?
Stewarding, organising, begging for trophy donations and making up schedules and liaison papers, it’s a full-time thing! I should be a paid secretary really, we’re on the Dairy Goat Society Queensland Branch committee so we’ve got all of that to process as well. From about January through to the end of October it’s full-on.
What other non-goat related events are you personally looking forward to as part of this year’s Gold Coast Show?
Not much nowadays, I see the food, the toilet and the shed.