Pygmy goats are super cute, friendly and generally easy to take care of. They don't require as much as larger standard sized goats. Pygmies are also perfect to raise if you have children. Here's what you need to know about raising pygmy goats.
Some people get pygmy goats with the idea that they would make good house pets. Pygmy goats, although smaller than normal goat breeds, are still pretty big. The average pygmy goat can weigh about 70-80 pounds. Goats of all breeds, including pygmies, love to climb and will climb on furniture and counters. I'm not convinced that pygmy goats can work well inside of the home.
With that being said, they can be raised in your backyard. Pygmies don't require much room to be happy so they can be kept in a small fenced backyard. If you plan on keeping a pygmy goat (or two) in your backyard, check with your local authorities or HOA to make sure that goats are legal. Some cities specify that you cannot keep livestock, including goats, within the limits. Other cities simply have regulations in place (size, housing needs, sex, etc.).
Goats do need shelter to escape from bad weather. Make sure that the shelter provides them a dry places to escape from rain or snow. Goats can develop hoof infections from standing in wet ground, so a dry place to get out of the rain is important for their health.
Goats will also need help keeping warm when it's cold outside. A heat lamp and bedding will be enough to keep them warm. If you have more than one goat, make sure that there is enough heated space for all of them to be comfortable.
Feeding pygmy goats is just like feeding other goats, just in smaller amounts. Goats are browsers naturally and if given the choice, will eat leaves of trees and shrubs and grasses. Pygmy goats are prone to obesity and can gain weight fast if given the chance. A fat pygmy goat usually looks pot-bellied in appearance. If you notice a fat goat, check them for worms by doing a FAMACHA score. If they aren't wormy, chances are that their feed needs to be cut back.
Don't overfeed goats grain. A goat on good pasture shouldn't need grain. An exception to this is a pregnant mother or a doe that is nursing kids. Generally, good quality pasture or hay is enough to keep your pygmy goats healthy. If you do supplement their diet with feed, make sure to purchase feed that is formulated specifically for goats. Don't buy livestock feed that is intended for multiple species. Goats have unique mineral needs from other livestock species. If you feed them grain intended for sheep, horses or cattle, they can develop nutrient deficiencies and become ill.
Pygmy goats are hardy and adapt easily to many climates. If you feed and house them properly, you won't have many health issues from them.
Goats of all breeds are susceptible to infestations from the barber pole worm. Barber pole worms are internal parasites that chew the lining of the digestive tract. Once they've created a wound, they consume the blood that comes from the wound. These blood-eating parasites can cause anemia in goats. You should check your goats routinely for signs of anemia with a quick FAMACHA score test. You can perform this easily at home in less than a minute with no cost. If your goats show signs of anemia, worm them. Only worm them if they show signs of anemia to prevent creating worms that are resistant to wormer.
Hoof issues are the most common issue with goats, including pygmies. Goats should have their hooves trimmed every 6-8 weeks. Do this quickly with a pair of hoof trimmers designed for goats. While trimming the hooves, check for moisture between the toes. The skin between the toes should be dry. If you notice that it is wet or there is an odor, your goat may have hoof rot. Treat it easily with a product like Hoof n' Heel to kill the pathogen causing the infection.
Pygmy goats are easy to raise, especially if you have a small space to keep them in. With good care, pygmy goats are hardy and healthy and will require little additional care form you. If you have children, they will fall in love with pygmies. (There is a reason that pygmy goats are so popular at petting zoos) Pygmies are curious and friendly. They love attention and will enjoy spending time with you.
Shelby DeVore is an agricultural enthusiast that enjoys writing about gardening, raising livestock and simple living. You can read her most recent posts on her homesteading blog Farminence. You can read all of her Mother Earth News blog posts here.
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