Youth put months of hard work to the test during livestock shows on the fall fair circuit, beginning with the Alabama National Fair Sept. 28-Oct. 8.
Helen Gladney of Tuscaloosa County was one of 191 exhibitors who showed 562 animals during the fair. She participated in the Youth Goat Show.
“I like working the goats, and I like competing,” said Gladney, 13. “It’s taught me responsibility and to be respectful to everybody.”
Gladney, who also exhibited a Polled Hereford heifer, said she works with her animals every day leading up to the shows.
“You have to clip them, feed them, bathe them and practice to make sure they’ll do what you want them to do in the show ring,” said Gladney, who exhibited the Grand Champion Alabama Born and Bred Market Goat. “I walk my goat about half a mile every day and set him up several times.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance sponsored the livestock shows in Montgomery, as well as upcoming shows during the National Peanut Festival in Dothan Nov. 2-10. Show divisions included beef, dairy, meat goats, sheep and swine.
In addition to showmanship, market classes and breeding animal contests, the young people also competed in premier exhibitor events. These test students’ knowledge and ability to evaluate livestock. Gladney said she’s learned about goat health, nutrition, and digestive and reproductive systems.
Melissa Palmer, who chairs the Federation’s State Meat Goat & Sheep Committee, organized the goat show. She said she’s seen firsthand the benefits of livestock contests.
“Livestock shows teach youth responsibility and to have a good work ethic,” said Palmer of Elmore County. “It teaches them to be good citizens. When you take care of your own animals, you know the sacrifices it takes. My kids showed goats, and that’s how we got started. They never got into trouble because they were taking care of their animals. The friendships they made will last a lifetime. It just makes them better people.”
Now years removed from the show ring, Palmer’s twin sons, Andrew and Matthew, are both pursuing degrees in agriculture at Auburn University.
For more livestock show photos, visit the Federation’s Facebook and Flickr pages. n