Chickens, sheep, pigs, llamas and even a peacock – when it comes to showing animals at the Marias Fair Landan Omdahl has shown them all. When the Market Goat category was added to the 4-H options last year he was one of the first to jump on the opportunity and enjoyed it so much he is back again this year.
“The pigs are my favorite,” said Omdahl. “They are less maintenance and not loud and obnoxious all the time, but the goats have more personality than the pigs. They’re friendly and funny, especially around new goats.”
Omdahl has spent the last 12 years in 4-H, including his time in Clover Buds. Throughout the years he has done a multitude of projects and this year is no different. He will be showing chickens, a pig, a dairy goat and his market goat. He has other non-animal exhibits and will be participating in Junior Leadership.
Omdahl also works for the City of Shelby, making him one busy guy. He manages to fit it all in, spending evenings and weekends with his animals and doing stuff with his family in between.
“We keep him pretty busy, too,” said mom, Ula Omdahl. “He just loves animals. So if he wants to try different ones we just figure it out, rearrange pens, whatever we have to do.”
This year’s Market Goat is named Hercules and is a Boer goat he picked up this past spring from Kathy Yates of Two Dot. Unlike Market Steers, goats are a quicker project, another plus for Omdahl. Market Goats are generally picked up in April or May and from there the fun begins.
“Market Goats have to be on a feeding program, something I had to figure out,” said Omdahl. “You have to incorporate pellets into their feeding. The pellets help build muscle mass and put on weight. Market Goats generally run between 70 and 110 pounds. With Dairy Goats there isn’t a feeding program, as muscle growth isn’t an issue.”
The bottom line when working with a Market Goat, or any animal for that reason, according to Omdahl, is, “Always have fun with them. That’s the best way to make them learn.”
Omdahl spends a lot of time with Hercules, walking him and making sure he is eating enough in preparation for the show ring. When it comes to the livestock auction, Market Goats sell for about the same price as sheep per pound. Boer goats are smaller goats, but not the smallest. As for cooking and eating goat, that’s a bit trickier.
“Goat meat is tough if not cooked right,” said Omdahl. “But if you cook it right, with the right seasonings, it’s better than bacon. Goats are butchered and prepared more like lamb.”
Doing animal projects has taught Omdahl many skills, not just in regards to working with different animals, but skills that will help him throughout life, mainly how to be responsible for something other than yourself.
“It’s definitely taught me responsibility,” said Omdahl. “And how to care for others. It’s a daily responsibility, that part is huge. Your parents are not supposed to help and if they are seen helping at all during the fair you lose premium points.”
Omdahl would definitely encourage anyone interested in goats to try this project. No special pen is needed, especially if you already have goats. He does give one warning, though.
“They are loud, be prepared for them to be vocal, especially if kept near the house,” smiled Omdahl. “Other than that, they are pretty low maintenance, other than feeding and walking.”
Market Goats are allowed to have horns, so no clipping is required, other than their hooves. A bath before the show and before the sale are about the only prep work needing to be done once out at the fair. A choke chain is required at the fair while showing the animal.
Like any project, Market Goats require time and effort. But the biggest challenge for Omdahl does not lie in the goat’s care or preparing him for show, but bidding him goodbye and loading him onto the truck once he has been sold.
“It is a really fun project and a good one to do if you are doing chickens, it’s fun to do with them,” said Omdahl. “The hardest part is getting them to the truck after they are sold, they become your pet, your friend.”
As with any market project, that is just a fact of life a 4-Her learns to accept, but not necessarily one they get used to. But that doesn’t stop Omdahl from starting again with new animals each year and he hopes to encourage others to do the same.
“I hope to see the Market Goat category grow,” said Omdahl. “It would be fun to see it and it would be neat to get more goats herds. It would be a great project for younger members to start with.”
Omdahl is going to be a junior in high school this year, and with only a couple years of 4-H left he is looking forward to sharing his knowledge and hopefully encouraging others to try out new projects.
“It’s fun and it teaches you a lot,” said Landon. “Hopefully it continues to grow.”
The Market Goat show takes place right after the sheep show on Thursday, July 18, starting at about 6:30 p.m. Showmanship for the goats takes place on Friday morning. If you are interested in the project you are encouraged to stop by and check it out.
If you have any questions, and not just about Market Goats but any projects, Omdahl is doing or has done in the past, he is happy to share his knowledge.
“If you are interested in any of his projects just find Landan out at the fair,” smiled Ula. “He is happy to share information.”