If there is one thing you need to know about me, it is that Nigerian Dwarf Goats are my life! When I think about what motivates me to talk and engage with others, it is frequently on a goat related topic. The journey I have taken pursuing my passion for goats over the past decade has shaped me.
I currently belong to one of the best families I could ever imagine, the Nigerian Dwarf Goat (NDG) community. My association with this community started back when I was in high school when my family moved from the rural town of Kirkwood, IL to a small hobby farm just outside of Galesburg, IL.
This was a time of transition that helped to shape my personal identity and allowed me for the first time to begin to know what I truly valued. The transition to the farm was great for my personal identity because when you grow up in a small rural town you learn early on from interacting with others in the community the importance peers place on showing livestock at the county fair. So, when my family and I moved to a farm I knew I wanted to show some sort of livestock; I knew it was what farm kids did. That spring the county 4-H club that my friends and I belonged to held a dairy goat workshop. I became quite excited about going to this workshop because very few of my peers knew anything about goats. When I talked it over with my parents and got their okay to go to the workshop they placed a few conditions on my participation. I had to call and register for the clinic and ask for directions to where the event was scheduled to be held. This was quite the challenge for me; I was terrified to call and talk to someone I had never met before on the phone and was not the best at taking directions for locations located in rural settings. Little did I know that the person I was calling on the phone would soon become one of my lifelong friends and a true mentor for me in the Nigerian Dwarf Goat community.
I spent several hours a week during that summer volunteering at my mentor’s farm learning and caring for her herd of goats through hands-on experiences. She showed me how to care for the goats–from clipping hooves, to shaving hair for shows, to disbudding new born babies. When my summer experience was over my mentor presented me with my first Nigerian Dwarf Goat (NDG), who still lives on my family farm today. Over the next couple of years, I continued to learn about goats from my mentor and through additional reading/research I conducted. I soon began to travel with my mentor and her daughters showing NDGs all over the central United States. By the end of the second year showing with my mentor and her family, I had purchased a few does to add to my own show string. During my first show season, of owning my own goats, my small herd did well as we placed middle in of the class at most shows. Our final show of the season was the Illinois State Fair. Walking into the ring that morning to the senior dry doe class, little did I know that my doe would be selected for reserve grand champion. I was filled with joy, all my hard work had paid off.
Prior to my senior year in high school, my mentor, her daughters and I decided to start our own dairy goat club called Land of Lincoln Nigerian Dwarf Goat Club (LOLNDGC). Our new club was designed with families in mind. At LOLNDGC it is not about who wins in the show ring, it is about being with family, having fun, and learning about the breed. It is amazing for me to think that a chance phone call all those years ago would lead to the development of a new community of people gathered together to share in a common experience and love for goats. Today our club has families from all over Illinois, Iowa and Indiana.
During my sophomore year of college, I spent the summer at a medium scale NDG operation in Georgia. During my time in Georgia I learned a great deal on how to handle and work goats by myself. My supervisor at the time stressed to me the importance of learning how to disbud and other tasks by yourself, because you will not always have someone to help you. One of my favorite things to do in Georgia was feeding baby kids 3 times a day. When you walk into a building filled with 35 plus baby goats it will make even the hardest of hearts melt.
Soon after returning from Georgia with the help of my mentor I obtained my Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) testing license. This license allows me to travel and test other people’s goat herd for milk quality. The test gives feedback to the breeder about their animals; SCC (Somatic Cell Count), Butterfat, Protein, Total Solids, MUN (Milk Urea Nitrogen), and Lactose. Through milk tests animals can earn milk stars based on the results of the tests.
As Lincoln Land Nigerian Dairy Goat Club (LOLNDGC) was growing the club hosted more shows and clinics during the year. Our small club soon grew to a club that hosted 3 main show weekends a year with an average of 5 different shows being held in one weekend. In the summer of 2016 the LOLNDGC was asked to hold the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association judges training in Macomb, IL. During the 3 days of intense training we studied and talked deeply about what the NDGA looked for when judging. After the third day we took a writing test over the judging manual as well as had to place 4 classes of goats. I am proud to say that I passed the training and am happy to represent NDGA as a judge. Since obtaining my license I’ve had the opportunity to judge in Oklahoma, Illinois and Iowa. I was not only able to judge Nigerian shows, I have also judged county fairs and other goat breed association shows. In 2016 I decided to give back to the organization that has given so much to me over the years. I decided to join the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association Board of Directors. Currently I am the youth chair for this amazing organization. With the help of the other board members I continue to learn and gain knowledge about the goats as well as the organization.
My journey with goats has been clearly shaped by the values I hold important and the communities I choose to belong to. The extended family that I belong to today is larger than I could have ever imagined and helps to motivate me to learn and achieve more knowing I have their support.
Want to know more?
My name is Cori Sargent and I’m from Cameron, Illinois. I am currently a senior here at WIU and I’m majoring in Ag Science with a minor in Animal Science. Who would have guessed that a 4-H workshop would have turned into a passion.