Dwarf goats or Dwarf Goats are curious and playful grazing animals. These exotic pets can also move into your garden because of their small size. They are also particularly resistant to disease, which makes keeping dwarf goats much easier for beginners.
Nevertheless, before you offer a small goat family home in your garden, you should inform yourself about a few things. In this article, you will learn what you should consider when housing, caring for and buying dwarf goats.
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About Pygmy Goats
The Pygmy goat is a breed of domestic goat originating from West Africa. It originated in Asia and probably came to Africa from there.
Breeders first domesticated it in the seventh century BC for its meat and skin, from which leather was subsequently obtained.
In addition, their coat is usually very short. It can occur in different color variations such as solid black, white, gray or brown, but also bicolored or tricolored piebald.
Although the dwarf goat is a tiny animal that requires only a relatively small run enclosure, some aspects must be considered when keeping it. Because only if the breeder knows his stuff he can offer his dwarf goat an optimal, species-appropriate habitat.
Dwarf goats can often be admired in game parks, where they run around happily and carefree in their enclosures and are usually kept in larger groups. Due to their trusting nature and cheerful temperament, they are very popular with children.
Due to their small size, dwarf goats are also very popular with adult wildlife parks or zoo visitors, who often want to take the little animals in their arms, pet them or cuddle them.
The usual size of an adult pygmy goat is 45 – 50 cm for bucks and 40 – 45 cm for does. This makes them a tiny breed of goat, but this does not put them at a disadvantage among their peers. In fact, it is in the genetics of the pygmy goat to be particularly resistant to disease.1
Pygmy Goat Info Box
|Scientific name||Capra aegagrus hircus|
|Size||45-50 cm (buck) or 40-45 cm (goat)|
|Weight||25-30 kg (buck) or 20-25 kg (doe)|
|Life expectancy||15 – 18 years|
|Approximate costs per year||~ $400 – 600 / veterinary surgeon: ~ $100 €|
|Acquisition costs||$100 – $200 depending on the animal|
|Where can you buy||At the breeder, on various internet platforms|
|Feed||hay, concentrated feed and branches/twigs/leaves|
Origin of the Pygmy Goat
The West African Pygmy goat, which is often just called a dwarf goat, comes from West Africa, as the name suggests. It belongs to the domestic goats and is therefore accustomed to humans and actually not shy.
The West African Pygmy Goat is now widespread throughout the world, it feeds mainly on plants, grasses, perennials, herbs and foliage. It usually gives very little milk and therefore serves as a supplier of meat and leather.
In their original homeland of West Africa, the animals are kept in herds of 50 to 1000 animals. They serve the migratory pasture economy, whereby they function as meat suppliers. In addition, the skin of the West African Pygmy goat is used to produce a particularly flexible leather, which is now widely used..
Keeping Pygmy Goats
When keeping Pygmy goats, there are a few things that need to be considered and taken into account because only a goat that is adequately kept is happy.
Pygmy goats are herd animals. So when considering whether or not to keep Pygmy goats, I must also always keep in mind that a goat never wants to be alone. At least two of the beautiful animals should therefore be kept together. So a goat always needs a companion.
Can I keep pygmy goats in my garden?
A Pygmy goat needs a lot of space!
When keeping Pygmy goats, it is also necessary to consider a terrain or plot of land that provides the animals with their required habitat and allows them to be kept in a manner appropriate to their species.
As a first guideline, it can be said that an area of 1000m² should be planned per goat. Now not everyone owns such a large area but would still like to get a small goat family.
Well, the 1000m² figure is not quite so strict. For example, if there is no area of 2000m² for two goats, there should still be enough space for the animals to run, but here the goats must be added an extra portion of food.
Since goats are grazing animals, the lack of feed space must be compensated with extra food. Indeed, in this case, a larger budget must also be planned.
Caution Dwarf goats are climbing and escape artists
Goats are the climbing and escape artists par excellence. They never miss an opportunity to penetrate or jump over a fence or boundary. Even if they don’t look that athletic at first glance, goats are athletic and not too shy.
A pasture fence or generally a partition fence for the goat area should have a height of at least 150cm or more and be built very stably. Everywhere they put their bodies through and prefer the motto ” head first.” For this reason, the fence should not be an open mesh wire fence.
Dwarf goats love the bark of trees
If a few trees are standing around here and there in the goat meadow, you should consider whether you want to enjoy them for a long time. Why? Well, goats like the bark of trees totally and have no inhibitions to show that.
So after a few days in the enclosure, the bark of the beautiful and ancient hazelnut tree may have migrated into the stomachs of the goats, and the tree has its longest life behind it. By the way, the same is true for shrubs and hedges.
Dwarf goats love to climb
Goats are also always known for wanting to get as high as possible. So they climb from ledge to ledge, jump on every stone and before you know it, one goat or another stands on the roof of the garden shed.
Therefore, some climbing opportunities in the goat enclosure are planned, but preferably not on the edge, where the fence is located. Otherwise, they can watch their goat grazing in front of the kitchen window and have to catch the escapees again.
Solid dammed-up stones or even larger tree trunks are suitable for such climbing opportunities. These allow the goats some climbing freedom.
Which stable is suitable for Pygmy goats?
When keeping Pygmy goats need to pay attention to one more point. Every animal also needs a roof over its head. It is no different with dwarf goats. Even the cute ruminants and grazing animals need a fortified cottage they can call their own.
A good shed provides a retreat for the Pygmy goats and protects them from rain and wind. However, goats also have some requirements for their home sweet home. First and foremost, the barn should be well insulated because no one likes damp places.
Now, however, goats have a particular preference. Dwarf goats like to sleep in a bunk bed. Yes, you read that right. There should be several boards mounted on the wall in the barn for the goats to climb on. The view from above is known to please the animals particularly well.
But now the question is, how big should such a stable be? Well, you should plan for two to four goats in any case once a stable area between 5 and 7 m². Depending on the size of the stable, stones or tree trunks can be put in directly to offer the goats further climbing possibilities. Straw and stable straw should also always be available there.
The animals also like it in any case if they can go in and out of the stable as it suits them. Even in winter, when it snows, they don’t mind a walk in the snow and the low temperatures. However, if you have only recently acquired a goat family or are planning to do so, you can temporarily resort to large pasture tents.
Legalities of pygmy goat keeping:
Now – before you rush out to buy some pygmy goats, stop for a moment and ask yourself if keeping pygmy goats it is legal where you live. Pygmy goats are domesticated farm animals. They are typically kept as companion animals for dairy and meat production – but increasingly, they are also kept as pets for grazing in private green spaces.
Keeping pygmy goats is legal in the United States, and in principle, you don’t need a special license to own them, especially if you live on the outskirts of town.
However, there is a possibility that in some boroughs that are more urbanized, a permit may be required before you can own a pygmy goat. There are several dwarf goat associations from which one can obtain information on keeping and required licenses. For example, in the US, this would be the National Pygmy Goat Association.
You should also consider a less “legal” aspect of keeping animals: the neighbors. Please check with your neighbors before acquiring pygmy goats if they agree.
How to feed my Pygmy goats
Pygmy goats are so-called ruminants. They have a digestive tract, which is adapted to plant food. The basis for pygmy goat feed is, therefore, hay. It is virtually the staple food in species-appropriate pygmy goat husbandry.
However, since pygmy goats have sensitive stomachs, you should always pay attention to the quality of the hay. It should not be spoiled under any circumstances.
Spoiled hay can be recognized by the following characteristics:
- it smells slightly musty
- it has black or moldy spots
- it is damp
Besides fresh hay, you should offer your pygmy goat leaves or tree bark. However, you must be careful not to feed thuja or yew under any circumstances, as these coniferous species are toxic to goats.
Any waste is not suitable as pygmy goat food! Likewise, foods high in carbohydrates should be avoided. Bread is off-limits for pygmy goats. Apples, pears and carrots should only be offered in small amounts from time to time. The concentrated feed should also only be used in very small amounts—approximately one handful per goat per day.
Proper care of Pygmy goats
Deworming a Pygmy goat
Deworming the pygmy goat should not be ignored. A pygmy goat should be dewormed twice a year. Either you have the dewormer given directly by the vet or buy it there and give it yourself. In any case, this should always be done in consultation with your trusted veterinarian.
Regular hoof trimming of the animals is very important. The claws need to wear down sufficiently on the soft ground. Therefore, they need to be trimmed. In addition, the claws can grow up to 1 cm per month. Regular trimming thus counteracts a malpositioning of the claws. The claws of pygmy goats should be cut 2 – 3 times a year or as needed.
Special shears are available for this purpose. Nevertheless, the first time the claws should be cut by a veterinarian. He is more experienced in such things; you can see the correct handling and get tips. There are often bacteria and dirt on the claws. Therefore, gloves should always be present when cutting claws.
Where to buy Pygmy goats?
Buying pygmy goats should be done from a breeder in your area. Breeders are usually very experienced and can still help you with advice. Especially the farmers in the surrounding area come into question for this. A good alternative is also an animal market. These are available in your area as well as online.
Before buying pygmy goats, always pay attention to the external condition of the animals. After the purchase, you should present your goats to your veterinarian and have them checked.
Breeding of Pygmy goats
Pygmy goat breeding is relatively unproblematic. You should, if you want to have offspring, start covering the females in the fall. There the female goats have the so-called buck. Every three weeks, they are ready to be mated.
If the mating is successful, the gestation period lasts about 150 days. During this time, it is especially important to provide the dams with enough valuable feed. In pygmy goat breeding, it is important that the entire pregnancy is accompanied by a veterinarian.
When the young animal is then born, it should immediately receive the so-called Biestmilch. Either directly from the mother’s udder or replacement milk administered by the bottle. From about the seventh day of life, the young animal begins to eat solid food. Last but not least, only experienced goat owners should dare to take on the challenge.
Pygmy goats are hardy, sociable pets. Nevertheless, the effort involved in keeping pygmy goats should not be underestimated. These special animals need sufficient exercise and a balanced diet. Also, the legal aspects have to be considered. If all this is not a problem for you, you will get a very cute, exotic pet with which you will have a lot of fun.