Show Time: Farmers Enjoy Scoring Top-Cow Status

Buster Goff is like most dairy farmers across the United States when it comes to his work week. He’s up well before the sun rises and done long after it sets. Taking the weekend off is not an option.

However, farmers do find time for some relaxation, but you won’t catch Goff at the nearest beach or ski lodge.

When Goff is away from his New Mexico dairy farm, you just may find him and his wife Beverly at cattle judging shows, where he and others compete to see whose cow is best in class.

“It kind of gets in your blood,” said Goff, who started showing cows in the 1970s. “We like to get disconnected from what we do every day.”

Goff said he enjoys the competition aspect of the shows, but it’s more about the camaraderie for him.

“We don’t do this because it’s part of our business,” he said. “We do it because we love the people we see and we love the cattle we breed. We love to be around good cattle and good cow people. There’s not a lot of stress going to shows because it’s not part of our livelihood.”

Goff has competed on the biggest national stages, but he prefers the lower-profile venues in the Southwest. And while everyone wants to win, Goff said many people are like him and are in for the same reasons.

“It’s like a boxing match or a basketball game,” he said. “It’s competitive, but at the same time these are the people you most enjoy. After the show and the competition is over, everything is fine and we really enjoy each other’s company. There’s a lot of trash talk that can go on, but it’s all in fun.”

Goff said he has a keen eye to know when a cow in his herd has the right stuff to make her show-worthy and credits his farm’s commitment to genetics to producing high-quality cows. Traits such as a good udder, the ideal height and width, plus a cow’s overall style and character can make or break her in a judge’s critical eyes.

Goff said it’s also important that a cow looks her absolute best on show day, which means there is a fair amount of primping that occurs before she enters the show ring. Cows are bathed top to bottom and their hair is clipped and their tails are combed out, among other details.

And though he’s been competing most of his life, Goff said he never tires of that feeling of entering a show ring and leading his cow past a group of judges.

“It’s a source of pride but it’s a bit of an adrenaline rush when you’re out there leading your cow and you get pulled out to win your class,” he said. “That’s a pretty neat feeling.

“We’re cow people and we’ve been cow people our whole life. This is all we know and this is what we love doing.”