One recurring phenomenon I have noticed within every livestock circle, the people can be broken down into four different groups comparable to the clicks you might remember from high school. If you have ever purchased livestock or are considering it, you have or will likely experience more than one of each. I functionally realized these “groups” existed but it wasn’t until I was attempting to explain the hierarchy of the livestock world to a “newbie” that I was able to poetically characterize them as well as I am about to now. For this exercise, my descriptions are based on the world of dairy goats, specifically, but you can substitute meat goats, dairy, or beef cattle or hogs as the general characteristics still apply. They each have their place and purpose.
1. Old Schoolers: These folks are serious. And proud. The equivalent of the jocks or cool kids in high school, these livestock owners are long time breeders. May even be generational farm owners. You will see their farm or herd name on many goat pedigrees (registration papers) as they have a reputation and have sold many animals regionally and even nationwide. They show their animals. They participate in annual testing for conformation and milk production. They will scoff at “newbies” attempting to purchase animals for their looks (coat color pattern, eye color, polled (hornless) as opposed to the pedigree. You will find them ranting on FaceBook about how they breed quality dairy goats and udders and conformation is all that matters. Some of their for sale ads, which include professionally staged pics, will even go so far as to capitalize NO BLUE EYES, or NO MOON SPOTS when referring to a particular goat. As if these statements will react as a repellent to those not worthy of owning their goats. They are on the association board. More likely to believe in animal welfare vs. animal rights. They consider themselves advocates of the breed. All breedings are scheduled, planned and posted online. They use technical and proper terms and believe their animals to be superior. We bow to them. We envy them. Most likely to run for political office.
2. Up-and-Comers: The eager ones. May not own other livestock but have some farm or animal experience. The equivalent of the nerds, they are learning everything they can and desire to be taken seriously by the Old Schoolers. You will see them in every FaceBook group related to goats. They will do their own research before asking a question in a group that may discount them as a serious breeder. They compliment Old Schoolers on their goats and like every goat pic posted. If they secretly do want blue eyes or polled they will justify it by a need to diversify the herd or only talk about the pedigree as if the traits don’t matter. They cannot wait to get to their first show, complete their first appraisal, and purchase all the latest milking gadgets. The Old Schoolers love selling to them because it boosts their egos and this group will pay top dollar for their goats in their quest to be taken seriously. In the middle on animal welfare and animal rights. We root for them. Most likely to be an Instagram influencer.
3. The Pet Peeps: The fun ones. May not have other livestock as pets or for breeding. The equivalent of the hippies or artsy types, they love animals and treat them as pets or even human equivalents. They don’t care so much about pedigrees as they do the cuteness factor or may even rescue wayward or injured goats. May lean more toward animal rights over animal welfare. They take what they consider excellent care of their animals. May innocently or accidentally kill a goat or two because they look at them as a pet without understanding their unique needs and care. Will try at least once to potty train or make them a house goat. We appreciate them. Most likely to offer goat yoga classes.
4. Livestock Owners: The nonchalant ones. Equivalent to the rebels. They are long time farmers or have lived around livestock most of their lives. They use terms like “nanny” and “billy” as opposed to doe and buck. They roll their eyes at all the other three. Registrations and pedigrees don’t hold any weight. And they secretly laugh at the high dollar amounts the other three spend on and ask for their animals. Crossbreeding is just fine. They don’t do FaceBook. They are livestock, not pets. And it is all food at the end of the day, for God’s sake. We need them. Most likely to survive the apocalypse.