Laura Rauschenberg, 16, of Dallas Center brought her three goats to the Dallas County Fair last week, not expecting to win any ribbons or trophies.
At Thursday’s goat show, with the help of her sister Sarah, Laura finished with two grand champions, a reserve grand champion and also took home the overall goat showmanship award.
What’s even more impressive is that it was Laura’s first year showing at the county fair.
"I was extremely nervous," said Laura. "I thought we were going to get last and there would be much bigger animals."
The Rauschenberg family moved to Dallas Center five years ago from Atlanta, and had also lived in Texas for eight years prior to Atlanta.
"Georgia was really crowded–we lived in the middle of Atlanta and our backyard was tiny," Laura said.
Laura and Sarah enjoy Iowa and became involved in the Dallas Center–Grimes FFA Chapter as well as the Sugar Grove Blue Ribbon Winners 4-H club.
"When we moved here, I got involved in FFA through school because I like animals and livestock," said Laura.
Laura will be entering her junior year at Dallas Center–Grimes High School while Sarah will start her freshman year at DC–G this fall.
Although Laura owns all three goats, she recruited her sister Sarah to help show because two of her goats were in the same class. During the show, the goat Sarah was showing was named breeding goat grand champion while Laura earned reserve champion.
"She gave me a dirty look," said Sarah, jokingly.
"I worked with them so I’m proud of them," said Laura. "That was pretty awesome that she won. She didn’t really do anything but she won."
The Rauschenberg family has plans to start a goat breeding business and just started 6R Boar Goats this year.
6R stands for the six members of the Rauschenberg family – parents are Teri and Dusty while Laura and Sarah have two siblings.
"This is our first year but hopefully we’re going to get a little goat business going," said Laura.
The Rauschenbergs have plans to go from three goats to 10 goats in the near future.
"My dad wants to get 10 this fall and pick the best out of the 10 and breed them," said Laura.
Laura is involved in a fair leadership group and chose goats partly due to lack of goats on a county level.
"Because there were not enough goats in the fair," said Laura, when asked why she chose to show goats. "I’m involved in the fair leadership group. So we’re trying to get different animals. They’re also cute and small and I can handle them." Laura chose the Boer breed of goats because there are more opportunities to show and are also easier to care for compared to other breeds.
There’s more to showing goats than hauling the animals to the fair and walking around the show ring. Laura created several specific checklists to help prepare the animals for the fair. "I’m pretty sure she had five checklists, front and back," said a friend.
Two months before the fair, Laura exercised the goats everyday by chasing them around a pen. Exercising helps make the goats more muscular, which is a feature judges are looking for. Two weeks prior to the show, the goats are shaved to help show muscle definition, especially with male goats. Females are generally not shaved as close but do have short hair.
After wins on the county level, Laura plans to show her goats at the Iowa State Fair in mid-August. Most goat shows are scheduled for Aug. 13 through Aug. 17 in Des Moines.
Laura has two years of high school left and following high school would like to become a nurse and attend Mercy College of Health Sciences in Des Moines.
Sarah is also thinking about the medical field when she graduates in four years. She’s also planning to have goats of her own.
"Hopefully I’ll have goats next year," added Sarah.