pygmy goats

Pygmy Goats: (The Ultimate Care Guide)

If you are thinking about adding some livestock to your farm or just want to start small, the pygmy goat may be exactly what you are looking for. Pygmy goats are the smallest goat breed. They originate from the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. Since arriving in the United States, this miniature goat has become extremely popular among agriculturalists. Originally they were brought to this country for animal research and for zoos. Later they were acquired by private breeders and the rest is history. Read on to learn if owning some pygmy goats might be right for you and your farm. I’ve put together some pygmy goat information that you will want to consider before buying.

Despite their size, pygmy goats are actually very hardy. These mini goats can adapt to almost any climate and still thrive. They have a friendly disposition and their size make them perfect farm pets for children.

Goats are ruminants which means that they chew their cud. In simple terms, they regurgitate their food and re chew it. It kind of looks like goats are chewing bubble gum when they are chewing their cud.

How Big Do Pygmy Goats Get?

pygmy goat

If you were wondering how big does a pygmy goat  get, it will help to know that an adult full grown pygmy goat stands about as tall as an adult’s knee. In more specific terms, that means that an adult pygmy goat will grow to about 18 to 20 inches tall at the shoulders.  Think big goats but in small terms.  If you’ve been intimated by the size of raising large goats this type might be for you.  They are small enough that you can even pick them up and load them in your vehicle.

Pygmy Goat Terminology:

Buck: Male goat that is uncastrated.

Wether: Castrated male

Doe: Female goat

Nanny Goat: Mother goat.

Yearly: One year old goat.

Kid: Baby goat.

 

Milk Production

Though pygmy goats originally were kept only as pets, their popularity as a milk goat is growing. This small goat can produce on average between 1 to 2 quarts of milk per day. Their milking period though after giving birth is shorter than most other goats at just 120 to 180 days per year. Keep in mind that in order to have milk production your pygmy goat will need to have a yearly kid.  When you have baby goats you will need to have an outlet to sell them or your herd will rapidly grow.  You will also need to have a setup to milk each day.  And vacations are out of the question when your goats need to be milked, often twice a day, their popularity as a milk goat is growing. This small goat can produce on average between 1 to 2 quarts of milk per day. Their milking period though after giving birth is shorter than most other goats at just 120 to 180 days per year. Keep in mind that in order to have milk production your pygmy goat will need to have a yearly kid.  When you have baby goats you will need to have an outlet to sell them or your herd will rapidly grow.  You will also need to have a setup to milk each day.  And vacations are out of the question when your goats need to be milked often twice a day.

Longevity

The pygmy goat lifespan is about 8 to 10 years. Overall pygmy goats are healthy creatures with few problems.  How long your pygmy goat will live will also depend on the care that it receives.  Food, shelter, exercise and proper health care will all play into how long your pygmy goat will live.  Genetics also play into the longevity factor.

Gestation

The amount of time that a doe carries it’s kids are from approximately 145 to 155 days. That’s not long compared to some other farm animals like horses and alpacas that carry their offspring up to a year.  Singles and twins are the most common although Pygmy goats can have triplets.

Pygmy Goat Care

Shelter

Pygmy Goats are going to need shelter to keep out of the weather. Even if you live in a mild climate they still will need a place to get out of the sun and rain or hail. Goats are easy keepers and can get away with a 3 sided building with a good roof. I like to make pole buildings for my animals on our farm because the buildings won’t blow away. But any large type of dog house can also be used for pgymy goats. Keep in mind though that you may want it big enough so that you can get in there and shovel out the manure.

pygmy goat shelter

Food

Unless you live in an area with many acres of year round access to grass, your goats will need some hay. This is especially important in the winter when they may not be able to get to the dried up grasses. If you don’t have your own hay making equipment, you can seek out local people who may sell you hay. Buying local is usually going to be your least expensive route. In general the further that hay has to travel to you, the more expensive it is.

You may also want to look into a pellet formula for your goats but it most likely will be more expensive than hay. It is recommended that each goat will need a pound or two of feed a day. Plan for extra just to be safe. You don’t want to find that you fall short before the next hay season. Finding food in the off season and get touch and expensive.

Water Source

Pygmy Goats will need access to a constant water supply. This mean in the winter if you live in an area where it gets cold enough for water to freeze, you will need to heat your water. Both floating and submerged stock tank heaters are inexpensive. What could be costly is running electric out to where you plan on housing your pygmy goats. You’ll also want to have a water fountain close to where you will be watering your goats. Otherwise you’ll be running a hose out to them. Well that may work ok in the summer, it will be a real pain in the winter when hoses can freeze up.

Vaccinations

Pygmy Goats should get vaccinated against enterotoxemia and also tetnus. Some people like to also vaccinate their goats against rabies. Ask you vet what diseases are the most prevalent in your area.

Minerals

Goats are like all animals and humans included in that they will need trace minerals. You should be able to buy goat minerals locally at your feed store. The minerals should be kept in a tray or somewhere fastened to a wall so that the pygmy goats don’t knock it over. Goats are known for being playful and curious. If you don’t want something moved you will have to fasten it down or to a wall. Pygmy goats, in particular, need Vitamin A. They can get most of their daily allowance of Vitamin A from fresh green grass or hay. But you may want to supplement with corn.

Some people need to inject Selenium into their pygmy goats. Selenium injections will help to prevent white muscle disease which is common in pygmy goats. It’s a good idea to deal with your local vet to see if Selenium is needed for your goats.   A lot will depend on how much Vitamin A is in your soil.

Fencing

goat fence

Despite their small stature, pygmy goats are great climbers and jumpers. They are going to need to be fenced in so that you don’t have them walking off to the neighbor’s place. Goat owners recommend a fence at least 4 feet tall but the bigger the better for these agile jumpers.

I have several neighbors with goats and it seems they are all always working on their goat fencing.  Yet no matter how many hours they spend redoing the fencing, their goats are always finding a way out.  It will pay off to put time and effort into good and high fencing.

Livestock Protection

You may want to consider livestock protection dogs or a burro to protect your pygmy goats. Being so small Pygmy Goats can easily fall victim to predators. When you add in livestock protection animals they too will have special needs such as fencing and food. A tall fence possibly with a hot wire on the top will help to keep your livestock protectors in.

Climbing Areas

Pygmy goats love to climb. To keep your pygmy goat herd happy, it’s best to include several things that they can climb and play on. If you have natural landscaping items like boulders or mounds of dirt, that will work great. If you don’t have natural landscaping then try using big wooden spools, or tractor tires.

Some people like to go all out and make a full playground area for their pygmy goats.  You are only limited by your time, imagination and money.  So many recycled or re-purposed items would make great climbing toys for goats.

Hoof Trimmings

Your Pygmy Goats will need their hooves trimmed. If you are planning on doing this yourself, then make sure to get hoof shears. You’ll need to securely hold your goat while you trim each hoof. At least two people helping will make this task easier. One to trim and one to hold the goat.

If you aren’t comfortable with trimming your pygmy goats hooves, you will need to hire someone. That will mean added money into the expense of raising these mini goats.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats vs Pygmy Goats

If you’ve been researching Pygmy Goats, you may have also come across a close relative to the pygmy goat called the Nigerian Dwarf Goat.  Both makes excellent pets.  Both are mini goats.  Pygmy Goats and Nigerian Dwarf Goats are small and very easy to transport.  Nigerian Dwarf Goats are slightly larger than a Pygmy Goat but not by much.  To a novice goat person it’s easy to get them confused. While they both share many similarities they also differ in some characteristics.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

Nigerians are bred mainly for milk production while a Pygmy Goat is bred for meat or as a pet.  The main difference is size and color.  Pygmy goats tend to be heftier than the Nigerian Dwarf Goat and have shorter legs.  The Nigerian Dwarf Goat will have a more slender appearance with a thinner neck, and longer legs.  Pygmy goats also tend to have a limited amount of color as compared to the Nigerian Dwarf Goat.

The biggest difference between these two mini goats is going to be in milk production.  Pygmies  have smaller udders.  With the smaller udders come less milk as compared to a Nigerian Dwarf Goat.  Another difference is in the taste and quality of the two different goats. Most will agree that hands down the Nigerian Dwarf Goat produces the best milk. It’s known for it’s creamy and sweet tasting milk.

Pygmy Goats are known for meat production.  If you are wanting goats just for pets, this fact may bother you.  But it is true. People raise these cute little goats for meat.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article helped you in your consideration of adding pygmy goats to your life.  I tried to write this article in an easy to read Raising Pygmy Goats For Dummies type of format. If you ask pygmy goat owners, most will tell you that you can’t go wrong. While they will require daily care, the benefits will greatly outweigh the work.  If you have young children, the work itself may be a benefit for your family. The responsibility of raising these small goats will give them a sense of ownership.

Nothing is going to be more entertaining than watching your Pygmy Goats play.  They are one of the most entertaining animals on this planet in my opinion.  They also make great playmates for kids.

It may help to first visit a Pygmy Goat farm before diving in head first.  You’ll get to notice things that you just can’t learn from an article. Such as goats can be noisy.  Will you find the sound of goats comforting or annoying?  These are questions only you can answer.  Find out for yourself if you are immediately smitten with these cute creatures or if you may need more time to decide if they are right for you.  Also, make sure to ask lots of questions to veteran goat owners.  Most will be happy to share their knowledge of the breed.  It’s valuable to learn from others mistakes.  Good luck in your quest for Pygmy Goats.

 

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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