I went with Ed Sheeran cos he was a big red fella – Mini goats named after musos bleat their way to ag shows

Rochelle Deenen with her Pygmy goats. Photo: Contributed

Chloe Stubbings

In green fields of manicured grass Rochelle Deenen’s Pygmy goats bleat through the fence. Some of the goats at Little Rock stud at Bonalbo aren’t happy with the partners Rochelle has chosen in her matchmaking and are eyeing off the neighbour’s goats.

Their singing creates an almost constant clamour, even in the middle of the night. Rochelle confirms this with a yawn. She introduces the goats – meet Mr Bojangles, Macy Gray and Eskimo Joe.

Rochelle explains that many Pygmy goat breeders pick a theme and name the kids accordingly.

“Our first buck that we named, I had to go with Ed Sheeran because he was a big red fella,” she said.  And so she has stuck with a musical theme, naming each new kid after a singer or song.

What sparked her love for these tiny singing creatures?

They’re not only cute but Rochelle’s goats are winners. Photo: Contributed

“I’ve always had goats. I grew up with a Saanen buck, when I was a kid, and we had a couple of dairy wethers here,” Rochelle said.

But when the property she moved to was too small to keep the traditional large breeds of goat, she went on a quest to find a smaller alternative.

With the decision made on size, Rochelle had to choose a breed. After narrowing it down to either Pygmy goats or Nigerian Dwarf goats, she picked the Pygmys.

“I like the look of them, with their small, cobby look,” Rochelle said.

While the coat colours varies, each goat shares the same short and stocky build, even the five month old doelings. Rochelle said it wasn’t just their adorable body structure that make them great pets.

“They are probably the best when it comes to not wanting to jump fences. They are a bit more manageable,” she said.

Rochelle also advocates for goats because of their superior temperament. As a breed they are known for having easy personalities. A characteristic she ensures is bred into each of the kids.

But Rochelle’s goats aren’t just pets. These Pygmy goats are bred and trained for showing. And under Rochelle’s care and guidance, they do so successfully.

“We started shows about three and a half years ago,” Rochelle said.

Rochelle Deenen loves her goats. Photo: Chloe Stubbings

She began showing only months after buying her first few Pygmys. Not long after her purchase of a few does, she found a buck that was not only perfect for her girls but was also eligible to show. So, Rochelle took a chance and took him to a show in Queensland.

“After our first show that was it, we were hooked,” she said.

But traveling to shows in Queensland, even from Northern NSW, puts a lot of stress on the goats and the breeder. The long travel and the preparation to being show-ready wore on the goats and Rochelle. Not to mention the worry Rochelle had for the goats she had to leave at home.

So, she decided to do something about it by joining the Australian All Breeds of Miniature Goat & Sheep Society.

“I joined the committee and became show manager and I’ve managed to get quite a few shows happening,” Rochelle said.

As the show manager and state representative, she is dedicated to the representation of miniature breeds in agricultural shows.

Her push for inclusion has prompted miniature sheep and goat classes at several local ag shows including Bonalbo, Woodenbong, Casino, Lismore, Grafton and Tenterfield.

Rochelle is hoping to add more locations in the coming years.

Rochelle also partnered with the goat stewardess of the Tamworth show to open up miniature breed classes.

Stud participation has almost doubled in the local ag shows, Rochelle explains.

Show ribbons for Rochelle Deenen’s goats. Photo: Chloe Stubbings

“It does make it hard if they do have a show on at the same time in Queensland,” she said.

With breeders more likely to enter the more established Queensland shows, it drives down the attendance. But several Queensland studs have ventured across the border to the shows Rochelle has partnered with, helping to establish a tradition she hopes will continue for many years.

One of the more ingenious shows Rochelle has helped organise is the miniature sheep and goat state of origin. NSW studs pit their prized animals against those of the Queensland breeders.

“Our first show was last year, which we had at Woodenbong. This year we will have it in Queensland,” Rochelle said.

She has high hopes that this year NSW will be the victors as more NSW miniature studs emerge.

If you’d like to see Rochelle’s Pygmy goats and their awards you can find her on Facebook at Little Rock Pygmy Goats and if you’d like to learn more about showing miniature goats check out the Australian All Breeds of Miniature Goat & Sheep Society.

About Chloe Stubbings

Chloe recently graduated from Curtin University with a creative writing degree. She has lived in the northern rivers region since childhood. She currently lives on a hobby farm with a medley of pets. 

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