Credit by A winning sheep after the contest © Irsyad (Yogyakarta)
Sheep Beauty Contests Gain Popularity on Java, Providing Hope for a Better Living
PEOPLE Indonesia

Sheep Beauty Contests Gain Popularity on Java, Providing Hope for a Better Living

In the island of Java, specifically in Yogyakarta and Central Java, something unusual is current happening. On this rich and fertile island's highlands and lowlands, hundreds (if not toushands) of members of the younger generation, have taken up sheep farming, something that had not been in their interest. For them, the sheep farming is not just as an investment to provide a source of income, but also as a way to develop hope for a brighter future.

Centuries of livestock farming in Java

Livestock farming has been a part of Java's agricultural landscape for centuries. Historically, Javanese people have engaged in animal husbandry to meet their daily needs for food, clothing, and transportation. The domestication of animals in Java can be traced back to prehistoric times, with the early Javanese people keeping animals such as cattle, water buffalo, sheeps, and chickens.

Over time, livestock farming in Java has become more sophisticated, with the development of specialized breeding techniques and the introduction of new breeds of animals. Today, livestock farming remains an important part of Java's agricultural economy, with many farmers raising cattle, sheeps, sheep, and poultry for meat, milk, and other products.

However, livestock farming in Java may not necessarily make people rich for a variety of reasons. First, the market for livestock products can be highly competitive, and prices may fluctuate depending on supply and demand. This means that farmers may not always receive high prices for their products, which can limit their income.

Goat farming in Yogyakarta, centuries of livestock farming | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)
Sheep farming in Yogyakarta, centuries of livestock farming | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)

Second, the cost of inputs, such as feed and veterinary care, can be high, which can reduce the profitability of livestock farming. Third, many livestock farmers in Java may not have access to the latest technology and farming practices, which can limit their productivity and profitability.

Fourth, land ownership in Java can be highly fragmented, which can limit the amount of land available for livestock farming and make it difficult for farmers to scale up their operations.

Many livestock farmers in Java may face other economic and social challenges, such as limited access to credit, poor infrastructure, and inadequate education and training, which can further limit their ability to generate wealth.

But, that livestock farming can still provide an important source of income and livelihood for many people in Java, and with the right support and resources, it is possible for farmers to improve their incomes and living standards.

Sheep farming in Central Java

Sheep farming has a long history in Central Java, Indonesia, dating back to ancient times. Sheeps have traditionally been raised for their meat, milk, and skins, and have played an important role in the local economy and culture.

The source of winning breed | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)
The source of winning breed | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in sheep beauty contests in Central Java, with farmers and breeders competing to showcase the beauty and unique features of their animals. These contests have become a popular way for farmers to promote their sheeps and earn money by selling their winning animals.

Sheep beauty contests have gained popularity in Java in recent years for several reasons.

First, sheep breeding has long been an important activity in Java, with many farmers raising sheeps for their meat, milk, and other products. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in breeding sheeps for their appearance, with farmers seeking to produce sheeps with desirable physical characteristics, such as long, thick hair, large horns, and distinctive markings.

An ideal goat for the contest | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)
An ideal sheep for the contest | irsyad (Yogyakarta)

Second, sheep beauty contests provide an opportunity for farmers to showcase their sheeps and compete with other breeders for recognition and prizes. These contests can help to promote the breeding of high-quality sheeps and encourage farmers to improve their breeding practices and techniques.

A young mid-sized goat ready for contest | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)
A young mid-sized sheep ready for contest | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)

Third, sheep beauty contests can also serve as a form of entertainment and a way to promote local culture and traditions. These contests often feature colorful costumes, music, and other cultural elements, which can attract a wide range of participants and spectators.

Millenials and the sheep contest

While it's impossible to identify the number and growth, but more millennials in Java are turning to sheep beauty contests, and most of them are doing so specifically for money. While there may be some who participate in these contests for financial gain, many millennials in Java are attracted to these contests for a variety of other reasons.

Building hopes. Millennials in goat contests | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)
Building hopes. Millennials in sheep contests | Sugiarto (Yogyakarta)

For some, sheep beauty contests represent an opportunity to showcase their skills and knowledge in sheep breeding and animal husbandry. By participating in these contests, they can demonstrate their expertise and gain recognition and respect from their peers and the wider community.

Others are attracted to sheep beauty contests for the social and cultural opportunities they provide. These events often feature music, dance, and other cultural activities, which can be a fun and engaging way to connect with others and celebrate local traditions.

Additionally, participating in sheep beauty contests can be a way for millennials in Java to express their creativity and individuality. By breeding and raising sheeps with unique and distinctive physical characteristics, they can demonstrate their artistic and imaginative talents and stand out from the crowd.

Overall, while there may be some financial incentives associated with sheep beauty contests, it is the cultural, social, and personal rewards that are driving many millennials in Java to participate in these events.

What are elements contested?

In most of the contests in Central Java and Yogyakarta, the specific elements that are evaluated in sheep beauty contests may vary depending on the particular competition and its rules. However, some common elements that are often evaluated in sheep beauty contests in Java include:

  • Body structure and shape: The sheep's body structure, including its size, proportions, and musculature, may be evaluated. Judges may look for sheeps that are well-balanced and have a sleek and muscular appearance.
  • Coat and color: The quality of the sheep's coat, including its length, texture, and cleanliness, may be judged. The sheep's coat color and pattern may also be taken into account.
  • Horns: If the sheep has horns, the size, shape, and curvature of the horns may be evaluated. Judges may also consider the spacing and alignment of the horns.
  • Head and face: The sheep's head and facial features, including the size and shape of the eyes, nose, and mouth, may be evaluated. The sheep's ears may also be taken into account.
  • Attitude and behavior: Judges may observe the sheep's behavior and demeanor, looking for signs of confidence, energy, and engagement. Sheep that appear calm and friendly may be favored over those that are nervous or aggressive.

Overall, the criteria used to evaluate sheeps in beauty contests in Java are designed to identify the best-looking and most impressive sheeps based on a combination of physical and behavioral characteristics. These competitions provide a unique way to celebrate the beauty and cultural significance of sheeps in Java.

Throughout Central Java and Yogyakarta, young individuals are now exposed to new opportunities that encourage them to take risks and develop optimism for a better future. Winning a sheep beauty contents can provide them with a guaranteed high price. 

The price for a sheep that has won a beauty contest in Java can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the specific contest, the level of competition, the age and breed of the sheep, and the current market demand for sheeps in the area.

Generally speaking, however, a sheep that has won a beauty contest in Java may command a higher price than an ordinary sheep due to its reputation and the prestige associated with winning such a competition. In some cases, the price for a winning sheep can reach an insane 10 times higher than the price for an average sheep.

It's important to note, however, that winning a beauty contest is just one factor that can influence the price of a sheep. Other factors, such as the sheep's age, breed, health, and weight, may also play a role in determining its value.

Building hope

Sheep beauty contests can provide better living for farmers in several ways. It can bring prestige and recognition to a farmer's sheep, which can lead to higher prices when selling the animal. This can provide an important source of income for the farmer and their family.

Also, participating in sheep beauty contests can also help farmers improve their breeding practices and overall herd quality. By carefully selecting the best animals to enter in the contest, farmers can identify the strongest and most desirable traits in their sheeps, and use this information to improve their breeding program and produce better quality animals in the future.

Sheep beauty contests can help them develop important networks and connections within the livestock industry, which can lead to new business opportunities and partnerships. By attending and participating in sheep shows and contests, farmers can meet other breeders and buyers, and learn about new trends and innovations in the industry.

The extent to which this trend maintains its momentum in Central Java and Yogyakarta, whether it spreads to other provinces in Indonesia, or whether it eventually dies out, remains to be seen. For purely pragmatic reasons, if this can be developed in a more focused fashion, it may encourage many others to follow suit and further develop the idea in the future.


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