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  • Information Articles
    Summary of the International Goat Symposium
    By Robert Bowes - Summer Student, OMAFRA

    The International Goat Symposium 2008 kicked off on the cool summer morning of August 12th 2008 at the Stratford Rotary Complex and Agri-Center in Stratford, Ontario. The crisp air and clear sky forecasted that it would be a perfect day to be outside on the farm tours. Excited attendees were lined up long before the 8:00 am registration, inquiring as to whether they should be going on the north tour or the south tour based on whether they were more interested in the meat or dairy aspect of goat farming. Registration went smoothly, although there were much more last minute signups than expected resulting in many extra name tags being made. Over 200 people were loaded on the large tour buses, each bus with a knowledgeable tour guide giving them directions at each of the farms. After about 6 hours on tour, the buses returned and the now much more docile crowd awaited the Tuesday night dinner and reception. By the time dinner was served and the opening speeches were finished most were ready to retire to prepare for the next days events, though some stayed to see the exhibitors who had set up early and were already showing their wares.

    After a short, but much needed, rest it was time for Wednesday's registration. This was where the attendees received their packages and got their name badges. Breakfast was served at 8:00 am so everyone could get their fill and be prepared for the fist presentation beginning at 8:30am. Wednesday's program's highlights included; Ev Thomas from the Miner Institute's lecture on "Quality Forages through Harvest, Storage and Feed Management", "Goats are not small cows!" by Pieterjan Bakker of Hendrix and Shur-Gain, "Modern Dairy Goat Management" by Frans Heslenfeld also from Hendrix and Shur Gain, "Myths and Realities on Farm Succession" by Peter Coughler of OMAFRA and Allyson MacDonald's lecture on "Managing Udder Health for Milk Quality". Throughout the day it was possible to drop by the Caprine Classic Show and Sale where exhibitors have the opportunity to market their animals and the trade show where there were almost 40 booths set up.

    After learning hard all day it was time to relax and have dinner. The Wednesday night social was a place for event organizers and attendees to meet and mingle in a more relaxed atmosphere. The event was held in the Festival Inn Stratford's banquet room, which held over 100 attendees. It was a Caribbean theme which gave the perfect opportunity to serve fresh Ontario goat meat in both jerk and curried flavours. This was a treat for everyone, particularly those who had never eaten goat meat before. Entertainment was provided by Paul Mussell, a man of many talents, tonight showing off his humorous side with a stand up comedy set. The night wound down quickly after this, as everyone knew they had to be up early for Thursday's program.

    Thursday morning was a little quieter as there were fewer registrations to do in the morning and the rest knew the morning's routine. Thursday's program included highlights from the farm tours, an industry roundup which gave an idea of how the industry was doing and a lecture on "Managing Young Stock" by Bill Alexander. The morning wrapped up with the much favoured "producer panel", where Bill Alexander from Norval, Henry & Anja van der Vlies from Teeswater and Kerry O'Donnell from Saskatchewan shared their views on the topic of "Management Ideology for Success in the Goat Industry. This was followed by final event of the symposium; the Caprine Classic Sale, with Paul Mussel making his second appearance, this time as an auctioneer. In retrospect, this year's International Goat Symposium went very well. The Stratford Rotary Complex provided the ideal facilities for such an event, and the planning committee certainly did an excellent job of making everything run smoothly. A thank you goes out to all participants, exhibitors and organizers; everyone is certainly excited for next year's event: "Marketing and Value Added" August 11th through 13th, scheduled to be back in Lindsay, Ontario.

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