WINDSOR — Goats are not particularly biddable.

They don’t seem to like to be groomed, and they are not always thrilled to be posed to show off their conformation and best attributes. They also appear to be nearly immune to the attention of the judge and the assembled crowd.

For an intense few hours Sunday, Shawn Mills pitted his will against that of 40 Boer goats that his family breeds and raises at Roseledge Farm in Augusta.

Over the course of the morning at the New England Livestock Expo at the Windsor Fairgrounds, he clipped, fluffed and brushed the goats, taking care with the top contenders to add some extra polish.

“It makes them look flashier,” he said, “but they hate standing on the stand, and if they weren’t held in place, they’d probably bolt.”

On promising does, he’ll spend a little more time, fluffing and directing the hair, judiciously applying a bit of powder, clipping the coat in close around the hoofs and the hocks and brushing off the stray bits of hay or whatever else they manage to get into in their temporary pens. “Sometimes you can even take a little sandpaper and smooth out those horns,” he said.


White Rule — her sire is Grand Ruler and her dam White Rose, and her name came from that — is one to spend a little more time on.

“She’s one of the nicest does,” he said.

After the grooming, it was a hard round of showing, leading the sometimes reluctant goats into the show ring and keeping them in check long enough to be judged, then getting them back into their pens, sometimes led and sometimes carried.

On Sunday, White Rule did well, winning her competition class and bringing home bragging rights as Junior Reserve Champion. Other goats did well, too, with one overall champion and three division champs.

Every May, the Northeast Livestock Expo draws producers from across the northeast to the Windsor Fairgrounds for three days of learning, exhibiting and competing. The nonprofit organization gives producers a chance to market their premier breeding stock and meat animals and take in seminars ranging in topics from food safety to quality farm products. The public also has a chance to see livestock up close and learn a little more about the agriculture industry.

Seth McGee came to the expo when he was a kid, and now he brings his own children to take part from McGee Farms in West Gardiner. The family makes a weekend of it.


Abigail, 7, showed a yearling heifer, and Lindsey, 5, showed a calf in the PeeWee class and they did well, with Abigail taking first, and Lindsey third.

“There are very few spring shows,” McGee said. The show season will pick up a little later in the year when the agricultural fairs start up in the state. So the expo gives the kids a chance to showcase their animals and improve their showmanship skills, and the animals have a chance to get used to traveling, being shown and being in new places.

Taking part in events like expos gives kids a chance to see the possibilities of working on a farm or in an agriculture-related industry, he said.

For Mills, who returned to Maine to help his grandparents with their farm, it’s been a sojourn and an adventure. He’ll turn 22 in a couple of days, but after a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, he’s already worked at goat farms around the country, including one of the nation’s top operations in Texas, picking up the ins and outs of breeding, feeding, caring for and showing the Boer goats his grandparents Curtis and Linda Prime starting buying and keeping a decade ago.

Showing the goats isn’t all about ego, although there is clearly some pride of accomplishment wrapped up in it. “We doubled the worthiness of those four goats today,” Mills said.

With the expo under their belts, Mills and the Primes are looking ahead on the show circuit to competition this summer in Louisville, Kentucky, and the national show in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


As a breed, Boer goats were first developed in South Africa just over a century ago. Although they have a toehold in New England, they are far more popular in other parts of the country.

“We’re looking at expanding,” he said. “I’m looking for new members, anyway. There are plenty of reputable farms who can introduce people to the goats.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.