Balmoral Show: why goats are the unsung stars of the show

Goat breeder Maurice Murphy with Azaria
Goat breeder Maurice Murphy with Azaria

Pigs, cows, sheep and horses get their fair share of publicity, but what about the forgotten animal of Balmoral Show ... goats.

Cookstown man Maurice Murphy, whose daughter was exhibiting some of his herd at Balmoral Show, talked about his love of the humble goat.

He said: “We’ve been keeping goats for the last 15 years. I wouldn’t say I’m from a farming background. I’m a hobbyist farmer.

“There are several different reasons why people breed goats.

“They’re quite big in the dairy industry. Goat’s milk has a number of health benefits, and anyone who is lactose intolerant is able to digest goat’s milk far easier.

“Goat meat is also growing in popularity. It’s a very healthy meat, high in protein, low in cholesterol.

“Also, people keep goats for pleasure, as a pet.

“I mentioned the health benefits, there are also mental health benefits to keeping goats. We keep ours because they are very therapeutic. Also my daughter shows the goats.”

He added: “Although I would eat goat meat, I couldn’t eat my own goats. It would be like eating my own children.”

On the subject of emotional health and wellbeing, the Lifeline service has a presence at this year’s Balmoral Show.

Lifeline, which is available 24/7 on 0808 808 8000, is NI’s freephone crisis helpline and counselling service, and is available for people of all ages who may be experiencing distress or despair and require immediate support.

The Balmoral Show will enable Lifeline to raise awareness of the service within the rural community, recognising some of the particular pressures that the community faces.

Speaking on behalf of the Public Health Agency, Brendan Bonner said: “We know that farmers, their families and other rural dwellers are dealing with a number of pressures such as feelings of isolation, financial strain, rising costs and an uncertain future, all of which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and having a sense of helplessness.”