Are you looking for a miniature goat breed with good meat, high butterfat content, and an adorable personality? Look no further than the pygmy goat!
This domesticated goat breed may be tiny, but they can be the best of both worlds when it comes to providing you with your milk and meat needs.
But is it the right goat breed for you?
In this article, we will discuss the:
- history and characteristics that make pygmy goats distinct
- uses and cost of purchasing a pygmy breed
- and how to care for this breed to help them thrive and stay in shape
There’s so much more to them other than their heart-melting visuals. And we can’t wait to share these facts with you.
This guide to the pygmy goats’ world will help you decide if this breed is worth adding to your pen.
So, What’s a Pygmy Goat?
The pygmy goat is a miniature breed with a stocky build and dark color patterns, hailing from the land of Africa.
They’re well-prized in the United States as pet animals due to their miniature size, amiable and entertaining personalities, and adorable looks.
This breed is now regarded as the American pygmy goat, but its origin traces back to Africa, so others call it the African pygmy goat.
Here’s a little spoiler to give you an overview of this breed!
Pygmy Goat Breed Overview
|Maximum height:||Male (Bucks): 23 inches (58 cm)|
|Female (Does): 22 inches (56 cm)|
|Pygmy goat size/weight:||Male (Bucks): 60–86 pounds (27–39 kg)|
|Female (Does): 53 to 75 pounds(24–34 kg)|
|Gestation:||145 to 153 days|
|Lifespan:||8 to 12 years|
|Uses:||Meat and milk producers, pet|
|Reaches maturity at:||8 to 12 months|
|Butterfat content:||4.5% or more|
Pygmy Goat Breed’s Physical Characteristics
Pygmy goats have a stocky body structure with short legs and heads. Their bar is broad and deep, and their limbs and head are short regarding their body length.
And if you’d look at their head, they feature a dished profile, broad forehead, erect ears, wattles, and horns.
Their nose feature is small, wide, and flat with a rounded muzzle, and their coats are straight and medium-length. But its density can vary depending on the season and climate of the area.
What distinctive features separate female and male pygmy goats?
Does have sparse beards, while bucks boast long and flowing beards and manes. To add, female pygmy goats are bulkier than males and have thicker horns.
Bucks’ maximum height to withers is around 23 inches (58 cm), while the does are about 22 inches (56 cm).
But adult pygmy goats’ height can range from 16 to 23 inches (41–58 cm).
Pygmy does can grow up to 53 to 75 pounds(24–34 kg), while bucks average at 60–86 pounds (27–39 kg).
Pygmy goats are available in four color variations; all-black, grizzled black, gray, and brown but their muzzle, crown, eyes, ears, and tails may have speckles of white hairs.
Their legs can range from pale to mid-caramel to dark. They also have noticeable dorsal stripes and face markings.
Sometimes white belly patches or bands mess up the coat patterns.
It’s not a problem though, because all are recognized, including the pied and mixed colors in West African, Australian, and UK pygmy goat populations.
Random patches and markings are accepted in West African Dwarf and Pygmy goat populations.
What Are Pygmy Goats Used For?
They are typically kept as pets and browsers and sometimes as milk producers in affluent nations. And in Africa, they are primarily used for meat, providing additional benefits with their milk, manure, and skins.
These goats are also utilized as a cultural and economic resource, giving women jobs and emergency income from sales.
Pygmy goats can produce 1–2 quarts (1–2 liters) of milk daily over 120–180 days. Their sweet milk is rich in calcium, potassium, and phosphorus—more than dairy goat breeds’ milk and high in butterfat content.
Their milk is rich and creamy, making it perfect for creating butter products.
Pygmy Goat Breed’s Origin and History
Mini pygmy goats are a type of domestic goat native to West Africa, particularly the Cameroon Valley, which explains their original name of Cameroon dwarf goat.
Their scientific name is Capra aegagrus hircus, which refers to being a domesticated goat, a practice that started roughly 11,000 years ago. That’s why they’re one of the oldest domesticated farm animals.
During their nineteenth-century colonization of western Africa, the British imported West African Dwarf goats to Europe. They were displayed in zoos as exotic species in Germany and Sweden.
These creatures were shipped to the US, Canada, and Great Britain. And they were developed into the Dutch Dwarf and the British Pygmy breeds throughout Europe.
By 1959, the Rhue family in California and the Catskill Game Farm in New York had successfully imported the first miniature pygmy goats into the country from Europe.
And their progeny was offered for sale to zoos, academic institutions, and private buyers.
They then became well-liked as pets and exhibition animals. They were developed in the United States as mini Pygmy goats and Nigerian dwarf goats.
Australian herds were created using imported American frozen sperm and embryos.
Pygmy Goats’ Conservation Status
The IUCN does not consider the pygmy breed as threatened; currently, it’s listed as of “least concern”. However, researchers call for the protection and development of the breed to fight poverty in West and Central Africa.
Pygmy Goat’s Predators
Most small ruminants, like miniature Pygmy goats, are preyed on by dogs and coyotes.
But tiny animals like them sometimes fall victim to bobcats and foxes too!
So, if these predators are commonly found in your area, you must put up strong and secure fences to protect your pygmy goats and watch out for them 24/7.
Smaller predators like eagles and dogs also prey on their young kids. These predators usually stalk them before attacking a goat herd or a susceptible individual.
Eagles prey on the flock’s youngest and smallest goats, while meat-eaters like big cats, brown bears, and dogs frequently prey on the weakest, oldest, and smallest in the flock.
But, technically, people are their largest enemy since they are raised and kept by humans as meat suppliers.
Is Pygmy Goat Breed Hardy?
Pygmy goats are hardy, tough, and resilient and can easily acclimate to new environments, including hot and cold climates.
They are highly adapted to the diverse conditions of West Africa, such as the damp tropical, subhumid, and drier savanna climates.
And they can withstand cold weather as long as it’s not wet or windy.
Like Nigerian Dwarfs, pygmy can grow a cashmere undercoat that keeps their body warm. It works by keeping warm air trapped around their bodies.
But don’t leave your goat outside when the temperature is 40 degrees °F yet windy because they can also fall victim to hypothermia quickly.
If the temperature inside your pen is just three-sided and the temperature is below 20 degrees °F, make sure there’s enough straw to keep them warm.
They also strongly resist trypanosomiasis and barber pole parasites, a serious constraint to West and Central African agriculture.
Pygmy Goat Temperament
What we like about pygmy goats is that they’re generally docile, friendly, active, gregarious, alert, and good-natured. These fun-loving goat breeds enjoy playing, so they need a fun and enriched environment.
Due to their adorable size and friendly nature, pygmy goats make excellent pets, especially for kids.
Pygmy Goat as Pet
Can a pygmy goat be a house pet? Well, this breed is the perfect pet for both children and elderly people. Who would want to use pygmy goats for meat when they’re this cute?
But if you want to raise them, remember that goats have a herd mentality, so they’d thrive more if they lived with a group of at least six goats.
This allows for different generations to mingle.
And even if they’re small, they still need adequate pasture space to be healthy and clean pens or areas to rest.
It’s worth noting, too, that there’s no litter training for goats. Therefore, you need to spend time cleaning after their mess.
But you can teach your pygmy goats how to urinate on cue. These four-legged creatures are smart enough to learn with positive reinforcement.
How to Care for Pygmy Goats
Should you decide to raise pygmy goats as pets or companions, here are some tips you should keep in mind to keep them healthy and happy.
Pygmy Goat Breed’s Diet
They are excellent brush and weed eaters and effective roughage to energy converters, necessitating a diet high in fiber and low in protein (80%).
Pygmies in captivity usually feed on hay and small amounts of low-protein goat feed mix twice daily.
But you can feed your goats with corn, oats, sweet feed, and about ¼ cup of grain daily to meet their mineral and vitamin requirements.
You can also offer the following to your pygmy goats occasionally:
- blue grasses
Note: Don’t forget to provide your pygmies with clean and fresh drinking water and nutritious foods.
Shelter for Pygmy Goats
Pygmy goats usually sleep on a raised platform over the grounds. Furthermore, they’re susceptible to acute hoof disorder if they’d sleep without platforms.
So, we recommend building your pygmies a shelter with raised wooden platforms that can give them a view-from-top experience.
Miniature breeds like pygmies require less living space, and an eight by six ft shed is enough to house two adult pygmies.
But you must ensure there’s good ventilation in the shed so they can stay comfortable during summer and the drafts are closed during winter.
You can use either concrete, wood, or clay for the flooring, but most goat producers prefer a clay flooring system because concrete can become cold and damp during winter. Wooden floors on the other end are prone to rotting.
But a thick layer of clay flooring with a gravel base can provide natural ground for your four-legged pets while helping to dissipate urine odor.
Should you choose the clay flooring system, remember to apply a new layer or renovate the floor every after two years because pygmy goats don’t like it when their hooves are wet and muddy.
Fencing Tips for Your Pygmy
A four-foot-tall fence is enough to keep the pygmy goats in their place. But ensure it’s strong enough, and there’s no hole where predators can enter.
Most goat owners use woven wire because it can withstand pushing and climbing.
Never use barbed wire because the sharp edges can injure your goats.
Hoof Trimming Tips
Pygmy goats must get their hooves trimmed regularly, preferably every 4 to 6 weeks. Those with untrimmed hooves are prone to developing lameness or lethargy, splayed toes, and foot rot.
Vaccination and Deworming
You should also keep in mind that pygmy and their baby goats need to be dewormed 3 to 4 times annually. Along with vaccination, it’s an essential pygmy goat care regimen that can save your goat’s life.
Annual vaccination can keep them healthy and productive while deworming before kidding and during the last month of pregnancy can help protect the babies’ life.
Don’t separate the babies from their mother pygmies unless a critical need arises, and don’t feed your wether with grains after weaning them to prevent urinary stones from developing.
Common Health Problems of Pygmy Goats
Pygmy goats are hardy and healthy. There are barely any serious health concerns for the breed.
Worms may develop if they overgraze a pasture or eat or drink from contaminated areas. Good thing rotational grazing helps minimize the danger of contracting it.
Some plants can also poison pygmy goats, but these problems are minimal and avoidable.
How Much Do Pygmy Goats Cost?
Pygmy goat costs around $100 to $400 if you’d buy from reputable breeders. But it could vary depending on their location, size, color, sex, and pedigree.
You may find an affordable pygmy goat price range, but ensure that your trusted vets check them and that the breeders aren’t breeding them in poor conditions.
You can save a lot of money if you find adoption centers for Pygmy goats, but that’s rare since not many adoption centers focus on goats.
If you can find a Pygmy goat up for adoption, you can pay around $40 to $80. But you must ask for the previous health records before accepting them and immediately take them to the vet for health check-ups.
You probably won’t be able to find a Pygmy goat for free. There are rare circumstances where nearby farmers, a close friend, or a family member may give them away at no cost.
But if you are fortunate enough to find one for free, be sure to have them examined by a reputable veterinarian before you accept them.
Common Questions About the Pygmy Goat Breed
How big is a full-grown pygmy goat?
Adult male pygmy goats can grow around 50 to 70 pounds and are 16 to 23 inches tall. On the other hand, female pygmy goats weigh around 40 to 70 pounds, ranging from 16 to 22 inches.
This miniature breed has a long, stocky build and shorter legs than Nigerian Dwarf.
How long do pygmy goats live?
Pygmy goats’ lifespan ranges from 8 to 12 years, but those who are cared for properly can live up to 22 years in captivity.
Those in the wild have a shorter lifespan because they’re exposed to different predators and must find their means of survival during cold and hot seasons.
What is the purpose of pygmy goats?
Pygmy goats are mainly raised as companion animals or pets in the United States. You can also find them in exhibitions and pet zoos.
But back in the day, they used to be meat and milk producers in West Africa, although they’re miniature in size.
Are pygmy goats good?
Pygmy goats make excellent pets for all ages, from kids to the elderly, thanks to their docile temperament, lovable personality, and cute size.
They don’t bite, scratch, or kick their owners, and they’re also perfect for beginners and those with limited area because they require less space.
What problems do pygmy goats have?
The pygmy goat is an innately hardy and healthy breed, and common goat diseases like enterotoxemia can be curbed with vaccination.
You don’t have to worry about lice since this breed is medium-haired and usually affects long-haired goat breeds.
Can you keep a pygmy goat in your backyard?
Yes, you can keep and raise your pygmy goat in your backyard since this miniature breed doesn’t require much space. A small fenced backyard will do.
However, it’s best to ensure that you can meet their basic room requirements before purchasing so these goats can thrive and live happily.
Are male or female pygmy goats better?
Castrated males or wethers are preferred as pets over uncastrated and female goats because they don’t produce sperm, babies, or milk.
Thus, they need minimal upkeeping. But if you want your goats to breed and reproduce or provide you with milk and meat, then choose healthy female pygmies.
Are pygmy goats hard to keep?
Pygmy goats are beginner-friendly and easy-to-raise, especially for newbies with limited space.
They’re hardy and rarely have health problems, and since they’re gregarious, friendly, and unaggressive, they can easily make friends with animal-lover kids.
Pygmy Goat Breed: Final Takeaways
Just a little heads up! Pygmy goat breed tends to be loud. So, before purchasing one, talk to your neighbor first and consider your local laws and regulations.
Since pygmy goats can live for a long time, they require a lot of work, patience, and commitment. But raising them can be very rewarding!
They can give you tasty milk with 4.5% butterfat content, tender meat, and entertainment and even accompany you in your yoga sessions.
But most of all, they’re energetic yet sweet to kids and people of all ages. So, this goat can definitely compete with cats and dogs in your heart.