Family - Pets
By: - at May 30, 2013

How to Raise and Care for Pygmy Goats

A Great Pet for Kids
Pygmy goats are great pets to own, provided you have lots of yard space or live in a rural locale. Rather than raising them for their milk or meat, owners usually adopt them for show and companionship. The goats, which are often featured in petting zoos, make ideal pets for kids. In particular, kids like raising the miniature goats as part of their 4-H activities because the animal is easy to maintain and is friendly and affectionate.

By Mistvan (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Castrated male goats, or wethers, make the best pets as they are mainly concerned about getting fed or receiving attention.

Characteristics and Varieties
Pygmy goats, when fully grown, will stand around a foot and a half tall at the withers and weigh around 50 to 65 pounds. Because the goats are herd animals, youíll want to purchase more than one of them. The goats come in one of a number of varieties, including the agouti, whose hue can range from a silvery gray to black. Stockings on the goat are a darker shade than the body color. The caramel, another type of pygmy, is lighter colored and can range in color from white to tan. The goat exhibits light stripes that run vertically in front of their dark stockings.

Hand-rearing Pygmy Goat
Hand-rearing Pygmy Goat
By Wilder836 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Goats are also available in black and solid black.

An Animal Indigenous to Western Africa
Originating in Western Africa, the goat hails from the Cameroon Valley. It was imported into the U.S. in the 50s, and was used for research purposes and for exhibition in zoos. Originally, the pygmy was referred to as the Cameroon dwarf goat.

By Kevin Payravi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Caring for Your Pygmy Goats

Build a Shelter or Shed
You can raise a pygmy almost anywhere as the goat is adaptable to almost any climate. However, that being said, make sure you provide a shelter for your goats in the form of a shed or similar structure and keep them adequately warm during the wintertime. Warm their food and water during the colder times of the year and make sure that their indoor living area is free from any chills or drafts.

Pygmy Goat Shed:
Pygmy Goat Shed

The Size of the Shed: Housing Dimensions
The housing for your goats then should stand around three feet high and measure 4í x 4' for two goats, or 8í x 10í for a herd of four.

Construct or Install a Sleeping Platform
Include a sleeping platform as goats usually do not want to sleep on the ground. Place the feeding and watering station (or hay rack) inside and off the ground as well. Goats will not eat food or drink water that isnít fresh or clean. Fresh water should be provided daily.

Install Predatory-proof Fencing
Make sure the housing is well-ventilated during the warmer times of the year and that the fencing you use around the shed area is predatory-proof. Therefore, the fencing should protect your goats from coyotes, dogs, and similar predators. Non-climb wire of about four feet high or six-foot-high fencing should offer sufficient protection.

Make Sure Fencing is small Enough for Young Pygmy Goats:
Make Sure Fencing is small Enough for Young Pygmy Goats
By Belinda Hankins Miller via Wikimedia Commons

Meeting Your Goatsí Nutritional Requirements
In addition to a daily, fresh water supply, pygmy goats also have certain nutritional requirements too. Principally, the little goats need vitamins, minerals, protein, and energy. More protein is needed for baby goats or does that are either pregnant or lactating. Food in the form of clover hay or alfalfa will supply their protein needs and rolled or whole grains will provide them with extra stores of energy.

Pygmy goats also require sufficient quantities of vitamin A and D. Vitamin A can be found in yellow corn as well as green hay. Feed your goats sun-cured hay so they obtain their nutritional quota of vitamin D. Mineral requirements can be met by feeding them either alfalfa hay or whole grain.

feeding pygmy goats

However, donít expect your pygmy to act as a lawnmower. Unlike other goats, their feeding requirements donít extend that far. So, basically, food should consist of alfalfa grass or hay, a daily fresh water supply, as well as a salt block for a balanced diet. Bucks or wethers should not be fed grain unless itís breeding season or they are in a phase of growth.

Preventing Urinary Calculi
Buck kids tend to get urinary calculi or kidney stones. To lessen the occurrence, they shouldnít be castrated until they turn four months old. As giving grain to wethers can also cause urinary calculi, some owners choose to forego giving the feed to the goats at all.

Requirements for Feeding Grain
If bucks are given grain, about one-half of a cup is sufficient. Pygmy kids receive about half that amount while does that are producing milk should receive three feedings daily. Stop feeding the does grain in the summertime.

Give Your Goats Pastureland or Plenty of Room to Play and Roam
If you can provide your pygmy goats with an expanse of natural pasture, all the better. That way, you wonít need to supply as much hay or grain to ensure they receive their nutritional requirements. Indeed, itís nice to provide natural pastureland for your goats as they are, as mentioned, herd animals. Not liking a solitary existence, the animals love playing, grazing, climbing, and happy companionship.

roaming pygmy goats
By Roelzzz via Wikimedia Commons

Generally, if youíre considering adopting the goats as pets, itís best to select two wethers or neutered males.

Breeding Pygmy Goats
If pygmy goats are bred, the gestation period lasts just over five months or around 155 days. One to four kids are born about every 12 months. Does typically breed for the first time at around 12 months of age. However, if you donít separate them from the bucks, they can conceive as young as two months old. Kids that are just born nurse shortly after birth and start eating hay within several days. The young are weaned at about three months.

While kiddings can occur as much as twice annually, breeders usually confine breeding to once a year so does can recuperate.

Life Expectancy
Pygmy goats can live as long as 15 years, with the average lifespan hovering around 12 years.

Exhibiting Your Goats at Shows: Grooming and Handling Tips
If you show your pygmy goat, its hooves should be trimmed and it should be bathed. Use a dog collar and a lead.

Young Pygmy Goat
Young Pygmy Goat
By Mistvan via Wikimedia Commons

Trim the hooves of pygmy goats every two months with a hand pruner, regardless of whether you show them or not.





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