Emma Slaughter’s love for her family and commitment to hard work have resulted in many successes and goals for her future.
At the Smithton Town and Country Fair hosted this past weekend, Slaughter and her Boer goats won the Grand Champion Award in both the Wether/market and breeding stock classes in addition to the Showmanship title.
This isn’t the first time in her three-year career she has seen such success.
“When I was in fifth grade a lot of my friends were involved in showing livestock in 4-H,” Slaughter said. “My uncle Travis (Brown) was big into showing cattle and steers and my grandpa encouraged me to start to show if I wanted to.
“I was small and my dad (Bob Slaughter) didn’t think showing steers was such a good idea because of their size,” she added. “They told me I could show any animal I wanted to and I chose goats.”
Slaughter said there was just something about the animal that “popped out at her” and with that, the family got their first goats.
“My goats are really gentle and sweet and they want to follow me around no matter where I go,” Slaughter said with her constant smile. “The like to eat everything but their food.
“They have eaten my boots and clothes and even part of an air-conditioning unit,” she added with a laugh. “I really think they will eat whatever is closest to them including part of one of the championship ribbons I won.”
Even though the goats may like to eat whatever is at hand, caring and feeding the animals is Slaughter’s responsibility.
Slaughter said she feeds her six goats twice a day and also makes sure they are exercised, bathed and groomed.
“It takes a lot of work to do all of it,” Slaughter said. “During the school year I probably spend 10 to 15 hours a week working with them and during the summer when I am showing them it’s more like 20 to 25 hours a week.
“It’s hard during the school year because I have to keep up with my homework and I have practice and ballgames,” she added. “My family is always willing to help and they do, but I know this is my responsibility.”
Slaughter is in the eighth grade at Smithton and is a member of Junior National Honor Society, the gifted program and is a member of five athletic teams both at school and in league play.
Slaughter’s mother Melissa Slaughter commented that the goats have offered many learning opportunities for her daughter.
“Emma has learned a good life lesson through her goats and that’s the importance of hard work,” Melissa Slaughter said. “We all went into this blind, but my husband and Emma have spent a lot of time together learning about the goats and working with them.
“Bob has been incredibly supportive in all of this. As a mother if I see Emma struggling with one of the goats in the ring, I immediately want to rush in and rescue her,” she added. “Bob is there telling me not to worry, that she knows what to do and will work it out because he feels strongly that she needs to earn her achievements and do the work herself.”
Slaughter obviously knows what she is doing both in and outside the show ring.
In the first two years of showing her goats, in addition to her awards Saturday, Slaughter has received four first place ribbons, one grand champion and one reserve grand champion at the Smithton Town and Country Fair; two first place ribbons, two breed champion ribbons, two grand champion titles and the showmanship award.
Last year, in her first year competing at the Missouri State Fair, she received a first place and grand champion junior division award and was given the overall goat carcass champion.
With the title came the opportunity to keep the traveling trophy for a year, but it also presented a business opportunity.
“I’ve started a business, S&B Boer Goats,” Emma Slaughter said proudly. “I plan on breeding and selling boers to other kids so they can show their animals like I do.
“There have been a lot of other people who have been really kind and have helped me as I have been showing and I want to be able to help others in the same way,” she added. “My 4-H leaders, Cindy Gerke and Heather Luttrell, have really helped and Hannah Boatright and her parents have done a lot to help me as well.”
The business is named for Emma Slaughter’s parents.
“Half the money I earn from the sales of my goats at the premium shows will be used for the business and the rest goes into my college fund,” she said. “I pay for everything I need for the care of my goats from the business fund other than the feed, which my mom and dad buy.
“It can be expensive and sometimes I don’t want to spend the money but I know that I have to be willing to do that if I want my business to be a success,” she added. “I make the best decisions I can based on my knowledge and hope they pay off.”
Melissa Slaughter said she and her husband agreed the environment of growing up exhibiting livestock has been a good one for their daughter.
“That’s the thing about showing livestock, everyone helps one another,” Melissa Slaughter said. “The person who is competing against you one minute will be the first person to come up and help you if you are having difficulty with your animal.
“We’ve seen so many people help Emma and she always tries to help others whenever she can,” she added. “She has learned and gained so much from the experience and we are so proud of her.”
Melissa Slaughter commented that learning to handle money, perseverance and responsibility were other lessons Emma has gained in the last three years.
“I really love what I’m doing,” Emma Slaughter said. “Some mornings, especially on a school day when the goats may have gotten out from their pens and I have to chase them down, it’s hard, but showing them is fun and the preparation and spending time with my family doing this is really fun too.
“There have been times when I’ve said to myself, ‘I’m not doing this next year,’ but then I realize why I want to,” she added. “I know I’m going to continue with this after college. I want to go to school to be a doctor, but I still want to raise my goats because I love working with them.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.