By Lauren Johnson
The Neuenschwander family has been running a top-quality dairy goat operation near Berne since 1989. They competed in the Toggenburg and Nubian dairy goat shows held at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville earlier this month.
When it's said that the Neuenschwanders make showing a family affair, it's not an exaggeration. Grandparents Roger and Jenny, who started the operation in 1989, have three children: Amy, Eric and Renee.
Amy is the oldest, married to Nate Hirschy. They have three kids: Corbin, Aaron and Ben. Eric is married to Jen, and they have three children: Callie, Mackenzie and Caiden. Renee is married to Albert Andrews. Their children are Isaac and Addilyne.
All sixteen family members were present during the Louisville show.
You could make the case that this is the all-American family. None of them are full-time farmers. Almost all the adults have jobs in town. Renee is a nurse, Amy is a stay-at-home mom, teaching piano lessons out of the family home.
Related: Maybe Everybody Should Raise Goats!
While showing goats may only be a part-time hobby, going to NAILE and other national shows is a long-standing tradition. They exhibited 26 goats at NAILE this year. Many of the grandchildren show other species, including beef cattle, swine, rabbits and Boer goats. Dairy goats are the only animals they show on a large scale.
Roger and Jenny originally produced registered Holstein dairy cattle. As their kids grew up, they couldn't keep them out of the goat barns at the county fair. Soon after the family took the plunge into the goat world. Almost their entire Toggenburg herd are descendants of the first two females of the breed which they purchased.
They eventually realized that dairy goats are much like dairy cattle. Essentially, they're smaller versions. The family had both dairy species for a few years, but eventually got jobs in town and sold the cattle.
The family still runs a full goat herds. They keep their own bucks to breed their does, and also produce breeding stock and wethers to sell.
(Johnson writes from Louisville, Ky.)