By Ethan Benedicto
A Berwick training camp for pygmy goat handlers was recently graced by the teachings of Donna Elkins, an American judge with over 30 years of experience.
Formed in 2018, the National Pygmy Goat Association of Australia sponsored Mrs Elkins to pass on her knowledge to local owners on taking further steps in their breeding programs.
Paul Hamilton, the current president of the association said that Mrs Elkins’ knowledge was a boon for the members.
“Donna assisted members in assessing their stock for functional type and handling procedures for competition and display,” Mr Hamilton said.
Ms Elkins, who hails from the state of Colorado U.S.A, spent three weeks travelling from the east to the west coast of Australia where she eventually landed in Berwick for one of the classes.
Breeders from across Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland were present during the class, where according to Mr Hamilton, Donna confirmed that the NPGAA is on the right track.
“She pointed out that the evolution of the pygmy breed in Australia has a healthy base of local and imported genetics,” he said.
Pygmy goats are originally an American breed, smaller in stature compared to regular goats and are both compact and stocky.
They are mainly bred as companion animals and need similar management to sheep and cattle according to Mr Hamilton.
“They need acreage to live healthily and unfortunately cannot be kept in house yards,” Mr Hamilton said.
The NPGAA have upcoming local agricultural shows at Pakenham and Warragul, with hopes to host further events at both the Berwick show and Bunyip show in 2024.
“There are also plans to incorporate some of the local schools in the shows who have students that have a keen interest for this beautiful animal,” Mr Hamilton said.
As for Mrs Elkins and her husband, they commended their time down under and have returned back to the U.S.A., but also said that she will do all she can to assist the development of the pygmy breed in Australia.
The NPGAA is affiliated with the American parent company called the National Pygmy Goat Association, and continues to assist the Australia subsidiary online.
For schools who are interested in hosting the association and their goats, they can be contacted through their website at npgaa.com.au/contact/
Or they can be emailed directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.