Strasburg teen shows South African boer goats at fair

Nicholas Cooper shows his goat at the Blue Ridge Boer Goats Summer Jam 2 Show      Photo courtesy Chassity Ryman

Nicholas Cooper shows his goat at the Blue Ridge Boer Goats Summer Jam 2 Show Photo courtesy Chassity Ryman

Nick Cooper, of Strasburg, has been breeding, raising and showing prize South African boer goats since he was 11 years old.

“This will be my fifth year. I got involved with that through a friend. “ Nick said. “He started showing goats a year or two before and I always watched him and I thought it would be cool to get into and now five years later, here I am showing goats.”

This year the 16 year old will be showing two wethers — castrated male goats sold for their meat, two does –  female goats. as well as a market lamb at this year’s Shenandoah County Fair.

Nick said that he doesn’t breed and raise bucks, but instead does mostly wethers. He explained what constitutes a prize-worthy wether in the eyes of a judge.

“In a wether you want a good string of rib. You want a good long loin, plenty of muscle. You don’t want them to have a whole lot of fat on them.”

He also explained how a wether competition would be laid out.

“When we’re in the show ring, the judge will go through and place his Top 5 wethers in each class and those five will get medals. The top two will go into a division drive and he’ll take the Top 2 and they’ll move on for an overall drive. That usually ranges from age or they’ll do it by weight. For your does, it’ll go by age and your wethers, it’ll go by weight.”

Nick doesn’t name his wethers in an effort to avoid attachment to animals that are destined for slaughter.

The criteria for what makes a quality doe differs from those of wethers, Nick said.

“You want them to be big boned,” he said. “You want them to be wide from their chest to their rear. You want them to stand on a good set of feet and legs. There’s many things judges look for.”

Nick explained how, not unlike an elite athlete, strict attention is paid to the nutrition of these animals in addition to exercise regimens.

“We feed a certain feed,” Nick said. “We feed Show-Rite (brand) and it’s kind of like a medicated feed. It helps with their digestive system and improves fat and muscle on them. (For exercise) we just walk them around our horse field and find various ways to get muscle. Usually we feed them up high so they have to stand and stretch out for it because that builds muscle in their rear end.”

Nick will be competing in his fifth Shenandoah County Fair when it starts on Aug. 26. Prior to that he will be in West Virginia showing goats on a higher-level circuit. He said he often shows goats on the larger circuits.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

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