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We are perfecting Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transplant in goats to allow us to propagate elite gene pools from multiple breeding programs.  This allows us to offer more unique choices to our customers, at a reasonable cost.  Feel free to call or e-mail with any questions. We're looking forward to meeting you.

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                "SEMEN SELLOUT SALE "

            November 14, 2019 
     at Show Circuit Online Sales

              (copy & paste  the link above)
Raising and showing Boer goats is a passion our whole family shares. 
Gary, Rebecca, Justine and
 Amelia Mitchell



by Gary Mitchell on 12/11/19

Effective January 31, 2020, we will no longer be using this website, as we have Novel Designs to publish a new website with updated graphics and content.  That site is available for immediate viewing at:

Please bookmark this new website address.


by Gary Mitchell on 03/18/19

Who doesn’t want a good deal, especially on something you wish to buy anyway?  I often get complemented for (or accused of) getting the steal of the stock sale.  This happens often enough that my friends seek me out to see what I am going to buy prior to the start of the sale, so that they can jump on that train.  In many, but not all sales, the best one typically brings the most money.  If you were attending your first stock sale and wanted to buy the best one, you could simply jump in on the one that everyone else is running up and be the final bidder.  This often happens when “new money” enters the industry.  As a matter of fact, in a live sale, the sale staff will be in on the game too.  That is a subject for another day.  Today I am talking about buying the one that everyone else says afterwards “that was the buy of the sale”.  This will apply to either live or online sales, but the tactics will differ slightly.  I have managed too many live sales back when I cared about being a known name in the cattle industry.  I hired several Auctioneers, Sale Consultants, and Ringmen over the years to gain a good understanding of the psychology and science of setting up a good live sale.  Most Sale Managers will start the sale with an animal that will appeal to the greatest number of people in the audience, budgets included.  In other words, start with the one that will cause the most hands to come up to bid.  This lot will attract everyone from the bottom end of the high-rollers list to the top of the bargain-basement bidders list. The intention is to loosen up the crowd.  What happens (in real life) is that the crowd sits on their hands waiting to see if $2,500 is going to be a high or low number today.   When lot #1 brings $2,500, the question of whether that was high or low depends upon how the other 89 lots sell.  The trick is to have a full understanding of the price-value relationship for any given animal on any given day.  This, like anything worthwhile, can only be accomplished by putting in your time and educating yourself.   I have attended more live sales of multiple species of livestock than most people I know, and I watch 5-20 online sales (depending upon time of year) nearly every weeknight, thanks to multiple online livestock sale sites.  This allows me to look at a sale, the sellers notoriety, the quality of the photos, pedigrees, body condition, and presentation of the stock, and be able to “guess” within 90% accuracy what the stock will bring that day.  I am not bragging.  You could easily say that I have “wasted” time watching sales that could have been spent watching TV, socializing, etc…..however it is what I do for my entertainment.   With that being said, let me give you some pointers on how to get “the buy of the sale” bought. 

Let’s start with live auction sales.

  1.  The first one to sell is usually ranked 3rd to 5th in quality in the whole sale.  They were selected to sell 1st to appeal to all the crowd, not just the high rollers or the bargain basement bidders.  However, the crowd is not yet warmed up.  The buyers just want to “watch a few sell before bidding”.  Usually, the 1st one to sell winds up being a good buy.  Own it if you like it. 


  1. To get top dollar, sale stock should be bloomy.  This would include being fatter than you would keep your stock at home, however, if you can see the good in one that is in thinner body condition (less fat), then you deserve to steal (in the sense of getting a good buy) that one.  To evaluate muscle shape in a green one (not as bloomy), look at the forearm and stifle.  If they have a big forearm and the stifle pops when they walk, the top and butt muscle will come with feed.  These are the kind that can truly get better every day you own them, instead of melt away after the sale.


  1. To enhance marketability, hair is “popped” or fluffed up to look thicker than they really are; using good fitting techniques.  This takes time, effort and skill.  This is good salesmanship.  You clean and fix up your used care before you sell it, right?  Livestock are no different.  If you can look at livestock offered by less talented fitters, or not fitted at all, there are bargains to be had.  You need to look past the hair on the belly, shoulders, and front end to see what a sculptor sees when they look at a block of material.  Typically, it is the talented fitters who have the skill of the sculptor to see past that ball of hair.  They can get the good ones bought cheap, do some clipping and fitting, re-sell the stock, and turn a nice profit. 


Regarding online sales:

  1. All the above apply, except for sale order.  In an online sale, the animal with the best photograph typically is lot 1.  As a sale is presented on a website, you will see lot 1 first, lot 2 second, and then decide if it is worth your time to scroll down.  Sometimes lot 1 is the best one, sometimes not, but it will be the one with the best photo.  The car dealer doesn’t stick their low-end models in the front of the show lot, do they?  No, they are in the back, with the high-end models out front to attract your attention. 


  1. It should go without saying that if you can view an online sale offering in-person prior to the sale, that is better than not being able to see them.  This is not always practical, if you are watching a sale in TX and you live in OH.  Taking a note from point #1, I have been to several pre-sale viewings where the best animal in person took a very average photo, and as such, is lot #4 in the sale.  If you cannot view them in person, ask the seller which lots are better than their photos.  Some are, some are not.  Go with your gut regarding the breeder’s answer.  They can’t all be the great one.


  1. While I like the social atmosphere of attending a good live auction, the rise in popularity of the online sale format is the future of livestock sales.  I can evaluate and bid on more livestock in a short period of time, pay with a credit card, text my favorite hauler (I keep a list of good ones), and my new purchase shows up in my yard in a few days without having to leave my house.  Those who sell online, are likely more pre-disposed to use social media to promote their livestock and their sale.  Social media can be a curse or a blessing, much like a hammer can be a useful tool or a weapon.  I am not here to debate that topic.  But be aware (teenage buyers in particular) that some sellers can overuse social media as an addiction to their own fame.  This can cause you to think that their livestock are more valuable than they really are.  The fact that I update my blog about twice a year should indicate that I am not in that category. 


  1. The brand name recognition of any farm plays into the value of their livestock.  If a seller is coming off a year where they promoted several national and state fair champion, even their bottom end is going to bring 50-100% more money than that same animal would cost from a lesser known breeder.  If I continue with the car examples, $15,000 gets you a nice late model used vehicle from your favorite auto dealer.  That same $15,000 gets you a non-running clunker at the Ferrari dealership.  If you can look past a name, especially if you are on the lower end of the buying scale, your dollar will spend farther with a lesser known breeder on the same animal. This is not to take anything away from the great marketers who also have great livestock.  But the title of this blog is “how to steal a good one” not “how to pay maximum price for an average one”.


by Gary Mitchell on 06/30/16

I have an opportunity to judge several shows of multiple species each year, and usually the day starts with judging showmanship.  Showmanship exhibitors usually fall into 2 camps.  There are those who are doing it only because a parent or advisor is making them.  And then there are those who look forward to the opportunity to showcase their effort and talent; independent of any budget constraints.  Not every family can afford the purchase cost of a champion-caliber prospect, but each kid has the same budget in terms of 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to work with their project.  Showmanship spills over to the conformation classes as well.  When the class winners are lined up, there are usually 3 or 4 that are of similar quality, and in the proper weight range to be named champion.  Showmanship will sort the champion from the class winners.  Yes, we have won shows with the 2nd best one there.  Showmanship made the difference.   Below is an article that puts into print what I have been coaching over the microphone for years.  Pay particular attention to points 3 through 6.   

I am re-posting, with permission, an excellent article from the Showbloom website

Judges Divulge 10 Secrets to Winning Showmanship

Most times when you lead livestock into the ring, the judge’s job is to evaluate your livestock. However, when competing in a showmanship contest, it’s not the confirmation of your animal that’s under scrutiny, but you. Showmanship is a tough contest, but an important one, as the better showman you are, the better you can make your animal look when it counts. At ShowBloom, we understand the importance and value of Showmanship competitions and are proud to sponsor the showmanship series at Belt Buckle this summer in Texas. We sat down with the contest judges to see what they are looking for in the ring and each provided us with their top 10 tips and tricks to help you win your next show.


  1. Showmanship is won at home, not just the day of the show.
    Judge Jake Warntjes says the work to winning a Showmanship contest (or any show for that matter!) begins long before you’re at the event. Practice at home is vital to prepare yourself and your livestock for what will happen when you step in the ring.
  2. Watch the more experienced showmen and pay attention to the little things they may do that separate them from the crowd.
    No one likes a copycat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a TON by watching the best and those more experienced than you. Bonus: if you ask them to show you how they do something that will help even more than just viewing their skill ringside!
  3. Worry about the animal first.
    Eye contact with the judge is important but make sure the animal is lined out first and foremost and then start looking at the judge. Awareness in the ring is key, so ensure that your partner is doing what is required and then focus on the judge. Putting too much emphasis on the judge and not enough on your animal is also how many livestock get loose in the ring.
  4. Know your animal physically and psychologically.
    Your animal is your partner in the ring. You need to know how to make it look its best and how it thinks. Remember, you are showing the animal, it’s all about presenting it to the judge in the best possible way.
  5. Know the ring and the space you’re working with.
    Every show ring experience is different and ruminants look best standing “uphill” in plain view. Find the “sweet spots” in the ring and be aware of any obstacles that might be a challenge for you or your animal before the contest begins.
  6. Space is critical.
    Show rings can get crowded! Stop early enough to have room to move forward to reset your animal’s feet. If that doesn’t work, at least you can use the room to circle. For hogs, it’s better to use your distance for full views and sparingly swoop in to give a close up shot.
  7. Keep your animal looking natural.
    Head height is always stressful for young people. However, there is a fine line between having your animal’s head up and holding it uncomfortably high. Outside the acceptable range makes them move awkwardly or causes them to strain, which counters the way we set feet and drive them to begin with.
  8. Treat showmanship like a job interview.
    Try to convince the judge that you know what you are doing and have the best abilities in the ring.
  9. Keep your composure.
    Be confident in your abilities. Showing animals is a time-honored tradition and the husbandry between human and creature is a natural bond. Don’t overthink things and you’ll always be successful!
  10. Remember: Showmanship is subjective.
    It’s opinionated. It’s based on that judge’s perspectives and ideals. So learn from the past and strive to be better in the future.


Put these 10 tips into practice and you’ll be on your way to winning your next showmanship competition! We’d like to extend a special thank you to Jake Warntjes, Taylor Shackelford and Ricky Thompson for providing us with their secrets to winning Showmanship!

Muskrats and Show Steers

by Gary Mitchell on 01/14/16

Back when we showed cattle, I would often get asked to do show cattle fitting and management clinics.  One of the key points that I wanted the attendees to take home was that "I can tell you what to do, but I cannot do it for you."  Just like football games are won with the daily grind of practice; winning at livestock shows requires daily commitment.  Some people wake up in the morning thinking of easier ways to do their livestock chores.  Others go to bed at night thinking of extra things they can invest time into to give them a winning advantage.    

After I would introduce myself at these clinics, I would ask the audience how they paid for their show steer.  Most kids had the response of their parents buying the calf.  Occasionally some unassuming kid would have a better story than that.  Then I would share my story. My parents did not have a livestock background, but we lived on 20 acres that had a barn.  The 20 acres bordered 2,000 acres of state land, all woods.  We simply didn't have the money to buy a show steer.  If I wanted one, I had to raise the funds myself.  Hunting and trapping were also interests of mine, growing up in the woods of northern Michigan.  I looked at the local muskrat population as a resource to be harvested.  At $5/hide (early 1980's), it would only take 100 of them to buy me a $500 calf (that's $4,000 in todays dollars if you believe prices double every 10 years, as some Economists say).  That's right, only 100 of them for this optimistic kid.  For today's couch potato society (if your into showing livestock, you are probably not one), 100 may seem like an impossibility.  I can tell you this: it took a lot of tromping around the marshes, woods, and swamps of the winter northland, but I caught, skinned, and sold enough fur to buy my1st show steer.  Interestingly, the 1st millionaire in the land that was to be later named the United States of America was a fur trader by the name of John Jacob Astor. 

This story has an end that ties back to the beginning.  If any kid has enough ambition to spend a couple of cold months outside separating muskrats from their fur; that same kid isn't going to melt in the heat on show day at the county fair.  If anything in life is this hard to come by in the beginning, it gives one an appreciation for doing all that is humanly possible to make it the best it can be in the end.  Football coaching legend Vince Lombardi gets credit for one of my favorite quotes “….I firmly believe that any man’s finest hours – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”  

Mine came as I lie exhausted in bed, 12 years old, cold and tired from checking muskrat traps and working with my show steer after school, asleep with my eyeglasses and lights on, with a show cattle magazine draped across my chest.

County Fairs

by Gary Mitchell on 09/28/15

Have I told you how much I hate the county fair?  It's the hottest week of the year, dust from the horse show arena always drifts over to the goat barn, people bringin' a coffin-sized tack box for 1 goat, and the general public and their strollers are always in the way.  In terms of competition, the county fair is the easiest show we go to all year.  However, it's the show where you are most likely to not win with the best goat.  Oftentimes, the criteria for hiring a county fair judge include cheap and close; and is hired by an Extension Administrator who doesn't know who's-who in livestock judging circles. 

We had a good fair this year.  It started off with Justine winning the county fair Princess crown.  I really don't care about the fair royalty, it takes away from my "all livestock, all the time" mentality.  However, I am lucky that I was there to cheer for her when she won (I almost stayed in the barn to shear a lamb).  Later that night, Princess Justine changed out of her formal dress and back into a t-shirt and jeans to shear lambs.  We started the next day with the lamb show.  Justine won Senior Showmanship (out of 18) and Amelia won Junior Showmanship (out of 16).   Justine had Champion market lamb and Amelia was 4th overall, out of about 100 lambs.  Justine's ewe was 3rd overall, and Amelia's was 2nd in class behind Justine.  This was Justine's 2nd and Amelia's 1st year showing lambs.  The showmanship lessons from Todd Wolff at Team Wolff Show Lambs paid off.  Todd won Showmanship at NAILE his last year in 4-H. 

Next was the market goat show. Justine won Senior Showmanship and Amelia won Junior Showmanship.  Amelia has won her showmanship class at the county fair every time she has shown.  Justine had Champion market goat and Amelia won her class, and was the unofficial 3rd overall.  In the doe show, the girls won 3 of the 4 trophies.  Fortunately for us, both the lamb and goat show judges where qualified individuals who are well respected in the industry.    

Next was the Livestock Judging contest, where we place a class of 4 market and breeding animals of the Beef, Sheep, and Swine species, and have questions to answer as well.  Both of my daughters and my wife have won a trophy at this event.  I am the only one who has not, despite being a competitive member of the MI State University Livestock Judging team.  My reasoning for this is that it is hard to find a local judge to officiate who is competent in all species.  Justine won the Senior Division and Amelia was 3rd in the Junior Division.  

The highlight of the week was the Showman of Showman competition where the showmanship winner of each specie get together in a show off of all species.  This year they showed beef steers, dairy feeders, dairy cows, market hogs, market goats, market lambs, rabbits, light horses, and draft horses.  It is a marathon event.  Justine qualified through both the lamb and goat showmanship, and chose to represent goats to "bring a little respect to the goat barn", as they have never had a winner in this event.  In between Princess commitments, she worked hard all week to learn how to show each specie. I give a special thanks to the Von Stein family for their coaching in this endeavor.  Sure enough, little Justine was the winner!  She is a very determined kid, who I would never bet against.  In the effort to win the 7 trophies that Justine won, and the 4 that Amelia won, there where several moments that filled this proud father's eyes with tears.  Have I told you how much I love the county fair?

There is a quote that I like to share: Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months, and years they spend preparing for it.  The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their champion character.