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Best in show!

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If there was a prize strictly for enthusiasm and dedication to quality dairy goat breeding at the Royal Show, Bullsbrook-based Diana and Petrina Porter would certainly add that to the list of accolades they received at last year’s show, and will be aiming for again in 2019.

The mother and daughter team, through their stud Vitae Lampadae, breed Saanen and British Alpine goats. The Saanen is a pure white dairy goat originating from the Saane Valley in Switzerland. It is now the most popular dairy goat breed in Australia, producing high volumes of milk at around 3-4% butter fat. They have a docile temperament and enjoy human affection.

British Alpine goats are medium-heavy milk producers and were first imported into Australia in 1958. They have a graceful appearance, with a glossy black coat with white or cream markings and are more independent than some of their counterparts.

Dairy goats in show are judged on an extensive list of characteristics. Feminity, alertness, length of ears, and an even teat and udder are just some of the criteria a goat must excel in to take home a prize at show. This will be the fifth year goats bred by Vitae Lampadae will be shown at the Royal Show, having previously been awarded supreme kid and grand champion junior exhibit prizes.

“We are not big breeders,” says Diana. “We want to breed quality, not quantity, and we’ve been very lucky. We’ve been to the Royal Show four times and won major awards each time.”

Running a small herd allows Diana and Petrina to bestow an exceptional level of care upon their animals. Both of them took annual leave from their full-time jobs this breeding season as the does approached their due dates, and have provided round-the-clock care for those with illnesses.

It is an avocation that now spans generations, with Petrina’s son Cameron Williams confidently handling young goats on the farm and revelling in time spent with these gentle and personable creatures.

His confidence transfers to the show ring, and in 2018 at just six-years of age Cameron took home the Junior Handler title at the Royal Show.

“Cameron received an extra prize on the day, personally, from the judge for being the best-dressed handler. He couldn’t speak more highly of Cameron’s manners and the way he handled himself in the ring. We were really proud of him,” said Petrina.

Whether it’s nature or nurture Cameron can probably thank his mum for his skills – Petrina also won Best Presented Goat and Handler that year.

“It’s that little extra that wins it. Anybody can go out into the ring leading a good goat, but you need to have an edge. You want to walk in that ring knowing you have the best goat there and project that confidence,” explains Petrina.

It was a proud day for Diana, “Two days of showing, and on both days my family won best presented,” she said.

Although their devotion to their goats goes far beyond the goal of winning awards, the team at Vitae Lampadae are ready for show season and to see how their hard work measures up against the judges.

“We bred early this year and we are very happy with what we have bred,” said Petrina.

“It is great to know what the actual judge thinks, but at the end of the day if you are happy with what you have presented in the ring, that is what matters.”

The 2019 Perth Royal Show runs from Saturday 28 September to Saturday 5 October. Dairy goat judging is on Thursday 3 and Friday 4 October and they will be display from Wednesday 3 to Saturday 5 October.