Sandy Larocque was back in the Canadian Western Agribition show ring last month and loving it.
After a 12-year absence, dairy goat breeds returned to the event in a small but significant way. Just five breeders participated, but Larocque said interest was strong.
“It was unbelievable,” she said as the goat events concluded.
“Yesterday we couldn’t even walk up and down the aisles in the barn.”
Goats usually draw crowds of people charmed by their personalities and antics. This year’s Agribition included the Boer, commercial, dairy and a young producers’ show.
Larocque said she wasn’t exactly sure why the dairy show faded away a dozen years ago.
“I think one of the reasons was that a lot of our breeders that were very active in showing at that time were retiring and selling their herds,” she said.
“It’s also hard for dairy. You have to plan that you’re going to show at Agribition because it is in November and a lot of producers that breed goats for breeding dry them up, so it’s a planning thing.”
This year’s event included Larocque from Sifton, Man., and four Saskatchewan breeders.
She expects more participation next year as people learn the show is back.
Four dairy breeds were on exhibit: Lamancha, Saanen, Nubian and Toggenburg.
Larocque keeps Lamanchas because she said they are a good fit for Manitoba winters.
“They have lots of shelter and lots of dry straw, but there’s no barn to go in,” she said.
“Every day they have to go outside to eat. They have to go outside to drink. It’s -40 with the wind where we are, and those goats are out there eating and drinking, so they’re very hardy.”
She produces breeding stock and warns that a dairy operation would be more challenging.
Fluid milk is available in some stores, but it comes from either Alberta or British Columbia.
There is no processing plant in Saskatchewan or Manitoba, and the options for dairy producing volume are limited.
She believes a processor could do well, considering the demand.
“For the last six to eight months I have at least five phone calls a week from people looking for fluid milk.”
People are also looking for ice cream, yogurt and other products made from goat milk.
“I truly believe there’s enough breeders out there that would build their herds up to be a good number to be able to ship milk to a plant so that someone could package the fluid milk, make cheese, make yogurt, make ice cream, but it’s the cost of building the plant that’s so high,” she said.
“There’s untapped potential.”
Larocque exhibited the supreme champion purebred female, Triple C Zelda, after the same doe won the grand champion title in the Lamancha division.
The grand champion doe in all other purebred classes was Winsannie MX Cosmo from Winsannie of Davin,Sask.
The grand champion buck, all other breeds, was South West Wind Caleb from Winsannie.