With plenty of TLC, Missouri teenager becomes a champion breeding and showing goats

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MARSHALL, Mo. -- The American Royal, Kansas City’s two month-long celebration of its agriculture roots, is underway. Horse events are in progress now but next month the focus will be on prize livestock and the people who raise them. This week’s FOX 4 young achiever is a high school junior who is already a multiple state champion in breeding and raising one of the world’s oldest domesticated animals.

His name is Buffalo Bill. Buff for short. Big, powerful, hardy and proud, he’s the king of the Boer goat herd on the Plattner family farm just outside Marshall. Buff is one special animal and he and his owner, 17-year-old Kade Plattner, have a pretty special relationship.

“He’s just a big boy that likes to be loved on,” said Kade as he pets Buff and Buff rubs up against Kade’s legs. Kade’s been raising top-quality goats for almost 10 years already. And he’s built a large prize-winning herd around Buff since he bought this handsome animal from friend and fellow goat breeder LeeAnn Martin of Rocheport, Mo., a couple years ago.

“Even though he’s at the edge of his prime, he still continues to improve,” said Kade. “Even when he was little, he was just every year getting better and better.”

So has Kade. He’s raked in dozens of awards for his bucks and does at county and regional shows and won several Missouri State Fair championships in both youth and open divisions the past two summers. But it’s taken much more than just a fine stud to produce so many champions.

“Mostly it’s a lot of hard work and labor is what it is,” said Kade.

“Goats, they take a lot of TLC,” said Martin, “and it’s a marathon when you raise them, it really is.”

Kade, said Martin, is that marathoner. And even though he is a busy scholar-athlete at Marshall High School, Kade is thoroughly dedicated to his herd – committed, diligent, patient and calm, knowledgeable and determined to stay a step ahead of potential problems.

“He does an excellent job feeding the animals, trying to give them an environment that they can thrive in,” said Martin. “He’s always trying to learn and he’s always trying to better himself.”

Kade is a true scientist in producing champion goats. For him, it’s old school animal breeding with modern day aspects thrown in — determining the right nutrition and other inputs and then painstakingly mating males and females together with the best characteristics, tracking the progress and doing it over and over and over again.

“It’s a really big, basically just a big lab experience,” said Kade.

The science of it all really appeals to Kade. And so does the competition.

“You challenge yourself each year because you don’t want to stay content,” said Kade. “You know somebody else is going to come out with a better one next year so you’ve got to try to come out with a better one next year, as well.”

Producing so many Missouri champions has Kade now making a real name for himself in breeding circles with his animals in demand to sell or rent out to others wanting to improve their own herds.

“And you’re never going to have a perfect animal but you try to get the closest you can,” said Kade.

And that is tough to bleat.

Kade, who won’t be showing at The American Royal this year because of school commitments, said he enjoys raising goats because they are very good red meat animals and because they are so social, not unlike dogs for how they behave and warm to humans

FOX 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on FOX 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on FOX 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.