Sisters took the top honors in the Junior Wether Goat Show on Sunday.
Koda Joy Davis, a 12-year-old Sutton County 4-H student from Sonora in West Texas, followed a first-place finish among 254 goats in the heavyweight division at the Fort Worth Stock Show by grabbing the grand champion ribbon with a goat named Peanut.
Kodi Ann Davis, 13, strutted her way to the blue ribbon for showmanship with a goat that earned fourth place in the medium-weight division. She outperformed all other 5- to 18-year-olds who showed more than 760 goats over the two-day event.
The reserve grand-champion wether was a heavyweight that belonged to Brigg Hawkins, 18, of Cleburne but was shown by his 11-year-old brother, Josh. Brigg was stuck at home with the Stock Show crud (a nickname for the flulike symptoms that frequently afflict folks who spend time at Cowtown’s signature event), Josh said.
The Davis family exhibited watery eyes that had nothing to do with illness. Koda Joy started first as she explained that the win meant “everything” to her.
“I’ve been working for this since the third grade,” said the Sonora Middle School sixth-grader.
Watching Koda Joy start to cry got her mom, Candy Davis, going. Seeing the two of them so happy brought tears to the family patriarch, Robert Davis. When Kodi Ann joined them in pens adjacent to the Swine arena, it was her turn to mist up. Sunday’s wins were emotionally overwhelming, Candy Davis said.
“She won grand champion at the Sutton County Livestock Show once,” Candy Davis said of her younger daughter. “But the best finish at a major show before this was sixth place at Houston last year.”
Koda Joy was as tickled with her sister’s win as for her own.
“I’m proud of her,” Koda Joy said. “She’s done it two years in a row.”
Robert Davis said that winning showmanship is as significant as earning grand champion.
“If you can’t make a goat look perfect, it can’t win,” he explained.
A wether goat’s perfect look is all about confirmation, said Andy Laughlin, who judged the competition for a second year in a row.
“It’s about structural correctness, how sound they are on their feet and legs,” said Laughlin, chairman of the natural sciences department at Lubbock Christian University. “Levelness of the top, wideness of the feet and legs, uniformity front to back, athletic looking. And they’ve got to have muscles, because this is a meat goat.”
Candy Davis credited Peanut’s breeder, Gallagher Show Goats in Mason, for the genetics that made Koda Joy’s goat a winner. Getting the then-10-week-old Peanut on June 1, she added, was sheer luck.
“We named him Peanut because he was the smallest goat in the auction,” Candy Davis said. “He was only 27 pounds and nobody else wanted him. No one else saw his potential.”
Robert Davis lauded his wife for seeing something in Peanut that none of the other buyers saw. But he gave Koda Joy credit for bringing out all the good qualities that DNA made available. That, he said, is the most valuable aspect of raising an agriculture project.
“The effort they put into it teaches kids what hard work will do,” he said. “If you don’t get it done in the barn, it won’t happen in the arena.”
Of all the wether goats shown this weekend, only Peanut and the reserve champion will be in Saturday’s Sale of Champions. Many of the rest of the animals were sent straight from the Swine Barn to market, where most of them will earn about $2 a pound for their owners, said show superintendent Jim Burke.
That’s about 50 cents over what the regular market is paying right now, Burke said. He added that goats that placed in their divisions will draw more because Stock Show supporters pump a little extra money into the offerings. That amounts to about $5 extra for a first-place finisher, and $7 a pound makes a pretty good return on the 90- to 122-pound heavyweights, Burke said.
As Laughlin searched for the best in the showmanship competition, he quizzed each of the finalists about animal husbandry.
“He’s asking questions like how many wether goats were born last year,” Burke said.
That’s a trick question, because no goats are born as wethers. Like a steer that’s raised to produce beef, a wether goat is a castrated male that’s destined to be cabrito.