Lt. Col. Mike Spaulding, of Oklahoma Air National Guard, said his family turned to goats because one of his 12 children suffers from a colon condition that makes traditional milk indigestible.
Along with horses, chickens and guineas, the Spauldings keep about 14 milking goats on their five-acre spread south of Norman. Health benefits aside, he said the herd has been wondrous in teaching the kids about responsibility and work.
“They spend about an hour or two every day on the chores, and it's a good thing to remind them of the job on a daily basis and see them grow and take ownership of it,” Spaulding said. “Like my youngest, he waters all the goats. He goes out every morning and pours out the old water, puts in the new — he almost becomes upset if we change his routine or his chore.”
Nine breeds will show
In all, nine different goat breeds will show at the Oklahoma State Fair this year, representing about 200 different animals, Cash said.
Unlike the county and state livestock shows held each fall, the fair shows are open only to those with registered breeds. There is also an entry fee.
Winning animals earn badges on their breed paperwork which generally translates into more dollars in sales, he said. A top-winning dairy goat can fetch more than $1,000, Cash said.
Carnival rides, games and food vendors take all the glory, but at the Oklahoma State Fair, livestock — goats, horses, pigs, sheep, cattle — continues to grow in popularity.
Richie Oakes, superintendent of livestock shows, said more than 10,000 exhibitors were slated to show this year, a record number.
“And you wouldn't think that, but people come out here just to get in touch with their roots, see the livestock — and the kids just love the animals,” Oakes said. “You have second- and third-generation people who were removed from the farm but their roots are in agriculture, and this kind of re-connects them to where they came from.”