Brystal Peck, the daughter of Chad and Sarah Peck, shows off her goat Bo. On May 10, the Pecks helped to stage the Corydon Spring Fling Goat Show, the second year of the event created by Lineville farmer Jason Smith. Goat farming has become a booming industry in the United States, but for Brystal and her sisters Reese and Riley, it is a love.
In the United States, goat farming has grown in popularity as the demand for its products rises. Several enterprising farmers in Wayne County are taking advantage of this mercantile upswing, including Chad and Sarah Peck’s family. They spent part of their Memorial Day weekend basking in the sun of Indiana on what they describe as another ‘goat adventure.’
“We could see that the popularity of the meat goat was growing and was moving this way,” Chad says. “Goats don't require as much space as a cow. Where you need two acres of pasture per cow, you can raise 10 to 12 head of goats.”
The Peck family also helped to organize May 10’s Corydon Spring Goat Fling. It was the second year for the event, which was created by Lineville farmer Jason Smith.
Another local farmer—Duffy Kester of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors and Montana native—also branched out from cattle and sheep to goats. He was impressed with the variety and quality of stock at the Spring Goat Fling.
“It was well attended by spectators and participants,” Kester says, opening a gate to hay his cattle near Richardson Chapel. A few dead elms shade grazing heifers. A llama guards newborn kids and lambs from coyotes in his pond lot, on a hill overlooking a cornfield and Medicine Creek. “I’ve not been in the goat business a long time, but I saw some of the truly finest embryo transplants that are in this part of Iowa.
“It shows that these people that we have working on them, here, are really putting their money in there, putting their children in to exhibit them—they’re 100 percent behind it and I think they deserve a real at-a-boy—a really good show.”
The market is one thing. The Peck family goats’ have another ally on their side—children.
“We got started with boar goats when our oldest daughter, Riley, started in 4H in 4th grade,” Chad says.
His wife, Sarah, is a 1992 graduate of Wayne Community High School. She is also the Daycare Director of Magical Beginnings Early Childhood Center in Corydon.
“[Riley] is just finishing up her freshman year, so we’ve been in the goat business for six years,” Sarah says. “One thing that appealed to us about goats was that due to their size and temperament, they were an animal that the girls cold go out to the barn and work with whenever they wanted, and we wouldn’t have to worry about anyone getting hurt. As the parents of three girls, one being a five-year-old that has been climbing in and out of every pen in the barn since she was able to walk, safety was an important factor.”
Another factor is the love the children have for these animals.
“Our girls love goats, and spend a lot of time in the barn,” Chad says. “They help with the daily feeding and watering. The older two work on breaking them to lead and set up, [and] they wash and blow them dry.”
The three Peck girls are Brystal, the five-year-old, 10-year-old Reese, and Riley, 15. They participated in showmanship classes for kids at the Spring Goat Fling, one in each of the three age divisions, pee wee, junior and senior. When Brystal isn’t fielding daisies in T-Ball, she’s often grooming one of her goats.
“The first Corydon Spring Fling ABGA Open Show was held in May of 2013,” proud mother Sarah says. “There were 150 goats entered in the first show, and I haven’t heard the final numbers on this year’s show yet, but it was another good turnout. Jason Smith came up with the idea to put on a local show and asked us if we would be willing to help out. A committee was formed and we have kind of learned as we went along.”
“It is nice to have a local show, because we usually have to travel quite a ways [for] ABGA sanctioned shows,” Chad adds. “The [Spring Goat Fling] has several classes including percentage doe, full blood doe, full blood buck, commercial doe and wethers. Wether classes are split by weight, and all of the other classes are broken down by age.”
This allows for the future generation of goat farmers to get their feet wet, sometimes literally, when the goats are waiting and eager for a bucket of water.
“[Oldest daughter] Riley has started to get really involved with the fitting—clipping—of the goats too,” Chad says. “This is a really busy time of year for us, as we are getting the goats ready for show season.”
So far, the time spent in menial chores and hard work has paid off not only monetarily, but also by bringing the Peck family closer. And it’s all thanks to a few goats.
“We really enjoy the goat industry,” Sarah says. “Raising and showing boar goats is something we can do together as a family. We’ve met a lot of wonderful people and traveled to a lot of different places thanks to our goats. Most families have a hobby—ours is showing goats.”