Goats gone wild at this year's fair

It might be goats not girls gone wild at the Huron County Fair as one club alone is bringing more than 100 goats for 4-H projects this year. Diane Sergalis, advisor for Hartland Haybusters, said the 13 members of the club will bring in about 105 goats, almost double the 60 animals club members brought last year.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

It might be goats not girls gone wild at the Huron County Fair as one club alone is bringing more than 100 goats for 4-H projects this year.

Diane Sergalis, advisor for Hartland Haybusters, said the 13 members of the club will bring in about 105 goats, almost double the 60 animals club members brought last year.

Goats and kids are a combination that Sergalis said can be very interesting. "Goats and kids get along real good. They both like to get into things and they both are inquisitive and that keeps a child's attention," she said.

Sergalis' children began working with goats about 18 years ago and they now have a herd of about 50 so she thinks the animals make excellent 4-H projects. "This is basically a family affair a family project," she said.

"We started out with two goats and we thought they were cute," she said. "We bought some dairy goats and it just went from there."

One reason goat projects have expanded since Sergalis became involved in 4-H is the versatility of goat projects, she said. "Huron County offers a lot of different classes for goats so that leaves us open to kids that have a lot of different interests," she said.

Classes include pygmy goats, fiber goats, Nigerian dwarf goats, harness and pack goats, market kids, Boer does, dairy junior does and dairy senior does.

After years of working with both young people and goats, Sergalis has decided that the combination is a good one. She said working with the animals teaches the importance of practical knowledge young people might reject when presented in a classroom.

"I see kids that settle down here, that learn responsibility to take care of these goats. What they might not think is important, they learn it is," she said. "Kids might not care about math, but all of a sudden they have to learn how to weigh their grains. There is a science involved. You have to learn the math. You have to learn the science.

"Whenever they have excess products like fiber, milk and kids, what are they going to do with these? It keeps their brains going because it's a hands-on project," she said.

"They're not just learning this in a book in school," Sergalis said. "If you don't follow through and do it the proper way, it shows you the rights and the wrongs."

One advantage of goats as a livestock project is the limited amount of space needed, she added. They don't need an enclosed pasture that larger livestock might and they are small and easy to handle.

But parents need to be have "good sensing," Sergalis said, to keep track of kids and goats. "Mom might be missing some of her flowers. I've known where kids have even taken their goats in the house and watched TV with them."

Goats also can be as mischievous as children, she said. Sergalis recounted one incident when a goat that was fond of her husband snatched a bag of parts near the combine he was repairing to get him to indulge in a game of chase.

With one daughter still taking goats for 4-H and grandchildren starting in the family tradition, she expects to be involved in the Huron County Fair for years and is ready for the challenge.

After all, Sergalis pointed out, there is one important benefit to having children raising goats. "The kids learn how to take care of the livestock and it's a constant thing. You know where your kids are at all times with the goats."