A little goat from Canby took home big honors on the national stage last month, being crowned the coveted title of national grand champion buck by the National Pygmy Goat Association at its annual convention in Red Bluff, California.
Raised by Z Bar Z Farm in Canby, the 2-year-old caramel-colored pygmy buck and newly minted grand champion is known as OhMickeyYourSoFine (yep, get ready to have that song stuck in your head for a long time), or simply, Mickey.
For owner Laurie Zeise, who showed her prize buck at the national convention, the honor was a dream come true.
“It’s a big deal,” Zeise told the Current. “This doesn’t happen every day. I’ve been breeding goats since 1995, and I’ve competed nationally five or six times but never won before.”
Asked if she was surprised to have finally captured the coveted prize, her answer was, “Yes and no.”
“He’s a beautiful animal, but you just never know,” she said. “There was some strong competition.”
That included Zeise’s granddaughter and partner in crime, local 4-H member Kaylee Hettinger, who plans to attend veterinary school after graduating from high school next year. She helped raised Mickey and, at nationals, showed her gray agouti buck Skies the Limit — a master champion in his own right.
But Mickey boasted a championship pedigree. His sire, a product of Fair View Pygmy Goats, was last year’s national champion — and that’s not all.
“The great-grandsire was national champion in 2011, and another buck from that line was champion in 2015,” Zeise said. “The lineage of these animals is really strong. Kaylee and I are so very grateful to have this piece of the legends before him. I’m still ridin’ cloud nine.”
She also credited Diane Keith, of Fair View Pygmy Goats; veterinarian Dr. Elaine Krieg and Michelle Fonda for their help along the way.
Pygmy goats, like other livestock, are shown and evaluated by expert judges on how well they conform to the “ideal” animal based on agreed-upon breed standards and characteristics.
“They’re looking for conformationally correct animals,” Zeise said of the judges, more than a dozen of whom participated in the national convention. “Animals that are in good condition, that produce themselves. Of course, they’re looking for the appropriate weight and age, and he fits everything. He scored very well with most of the judges.”
It can be baffling to the uninitiated, but one thing’s for sure: It ain’t easy.
“We raise the animals with a lot of hands-on care, obviously,” she said. “We feed very well. These animals eat what we call green gold — alfalfa — and very high-quality grain mixes. They’re lead-trained from about two to three weeks old, and we handle them daily.”
The stars, like Mickey, get their own stalls and own runs — with custom padding (which can be sophisticated or as DIY as sliced-up pipe insulation or pool noodles) to protect the ranch’s investment.
“The bucks like to rub on the fences and things, and well, he’s that long, silky white hair,” Zeise said with a laugh. “We don’t want him pulling it out.”
For Zeise, the experience of winning a national title is one she won’t soon forget, culminating a dream her family has pursued since her daughter, longtime Clackamas County Fair assistant superintendent Angie Zeise, broke her ankle in the sixth grade.
“She needed something she could do at home, something to focus on,” Zeise recalled. “We went to the fair and looked at all the animals, and the pygmy goats were in the very last barn. She took one look and said, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ And that’s how the whole goat thing got started.”
The first runner-up in the buck class was Ridgeline Farms’ Premier Pursuit, owned by Niccole Boies, and the second runner-up was Goose Meadow’s Kayden, owned by Niccole Boies and Jerrod Alcaida.
The national champion doe was Country Critters Design’s My Dream, owned by Karen Crawford. The national champion wether (a castrated buck) was Twilight Valley’s Zaire, owned by Rebecca Zimmerman.
“Congratulations to all the winners,” said Darren Watkins, President of the National Pygmy Goat Association. “It was clear: Their hard work paid off with beautiful animals deserving of this title.”
The National Pygmy Goat Association is the country’s official breed registry for pygmy goats in the United States. Founded in 1976, the NPGA sets breed standards, provides animal registration, maintains a database of pedigrees, certifies judges and sanctions pygmy goat shows. For more information, visit npga-pygmy.com.
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