Pygmy Goats: Small Hooves, Big Hearts!

Pygmy Goats: Everything You Need to Know

Pygmy goats are a miniature breed of domestic goat that originated in Africa. They are a popular choice as pets due to their manageable size, friendly demeanor, and low maintenance requirements. Despite their small size, pygmy goats are hardy and adaptable animals that can thrive in a variety of climates and environments.

History and Origin of Pygmy Goats

Pygmy goats are a breed of domestic goats that originated in West Africa, specifically in the Cameroon Valley. They are also known as African Pygmy. These goats were primarily kept by the Bantu tribe in Cameroon for their meat and milk.

They were first imported to zoos in the US in the 1950s. Later, in the 1970s, they were imported for use in research, and from there, they became popular as pets. The National Pygmy Goat Association (NPGA) was formed in 1976 to promote the breed in the United States.

The Pygmy breed of goat is different from the West African Dwarf or Nigerian Dwarf goat. Pygmy goats are a specific breed of goat that has been selectively bred for size and conformation. They are now recognized as a distinct breed in many countries around the world.

Although they are popular as pets in the US, they are used for milk and meat production in some countries. They are hardy and adaptable, and they can thrive in a variety of climates. They are also known for their friendly and sociable personalities, which make them great pets for families with children.

Characteristics of Pygmy Goats

Size and Weight

Pygmy goats are small in size and typically weigh between 50 and 80 pounds. They stand about 16 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder. They are sturdy and muscular, with a stocky body and short legs.

Color

Purebred pygmy goats come in only four colors: black, solid black, agouti, and caramel. Solid black is rare because it means no hairs on the goat other than black. Black can have some roaning with white hairs but must have black socks. Agouti means roan, which is simply a goat with some white hairs sprinkled throughout the coat and can be black, gray, or brown. A caramel is similar to a buckskin horse (not to be confused with a buckskin dairy goat, which is a different pattern).

Ears and Horns

Pygmy goats have erect ears, and all are born with the ability to grow horns. Unlike some other breeds of goats, purebred pygmy goats are never polled.

Behavior and Temperament

Pygmy goats are known for their friendly, social, and curious nature. They are playful animals that love to interact with their owners and other animals. Their small size and easy-to-handle temperament make them great pets for families with children.

Pygmy goats are highly social animals and thrive when they have companionship. They enjoy being around other goats, as well as humans. They are known to follow their owners around and will often nuzzle or rub against them as a sign of affection.

These goats are also quite curious and love to explore their surroundings. They are known to investigate anything new in their environment, and their playful nature often leads them to engage in games with their owners or other goats.

They are not naturally aggressive and are unlikely to cause any harm to humans or other animals. However, it is important to note that they can become frightened or stressed if they feel threatened, so proper handling and care are essential.

Diet and Nutrition

Pygmy goats are herbivores, which means that their diet is primarily composed of plants. They require a balanced diet to ensure their overall health and well-being.

Like all goats, pygmies are browsers, which means they prefer to eat shrubs and trees, but they will eat grass and weeds. In captivity, they should be provided with a diet that mimics their natural diet as closely as possible.

A pasture that is rich in bushes, small trees, grasses and other plants will provide them with a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for their health.

In addition to pasture grazing, pygmy goats should also be provided with hay. Hay is an excellent source of fiber and is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. Good quality hay should be available to them at all times when they are kept indoors.

Goat feed can be a part of a pygmy doe’s diet when nursing kids and can also be fed to growing baby goats.

All goats also need free choice, loose goat minerals available at all times to prevent mineral deficiencies. A “sheep and goat” mineral has no copper in it, which will lead to copper deficiency in goats. Mineral blocks are not appropriate for goats because goats have a small soft tongue and can’t get much off a block. In addition, most blocks are 90% or more salt with very little actual minerals in them. Check out our article on goat minerals for more information.

Fencing for Pygmies

Fencing is crucial to keep pygmy goats contained and safe from predators. The fence should be at least four feet high and have small openings to prevent them from escaping. Woven wire made for horses can work, but true goat fencing is best because the openings are small enough that pygmies can’t stick their head through the openings and get their horns stuck.

Split-rail wooden fences do not work for pygmies as they can squeeze through the spaces, and barbed wire should never be used with any goats because it can easily tear up their soft skin.

Housing for Pygmy Goats

Climate is an important factor to consider when creating housing for pygmy goats. They are adaptable to different climates, but extreme temperatures can be problematic. They need shade in summer and a wind break in winter. If there are no trees in their pasture to provide shade, then they need to be able to go into a three-sided shelter, loafing shed, or barn to get out of the sun.

Although they don’t need a heated or insulated barn, they do need a shelter that is well-ventilated but not drafty. It should protect them from rain, snow, wind, and direct sunlight. It’s a good idea to keep a door or window open year-round so that ammonia can escape and avoid respiratory problems.

Their shelter should provide enough space for all goats to rest comfortably and enough space at the hay feeder so that the bossier goats don’t push away those that are less aggressive. A ten-foot by ten-foot stall could house up to four or five pygmies.

A dirt floor in your shelter is fine, but if you prefer some type of flooring, concrete is definitely preferred over wood, which will rot within a few years because it will be wet all the time from goat urine.

Bedding for Pygmy Goat Housing

To help keep your goats clean, you need to have some type of bedding in your goat housing so that the goats don’t have to lay directly on pee and poop. Pine shavings and straw are the two most popular options.

Breeding and Reproduction

Pygmy goats are known for their high reproductive rates. Some female pygmy goats, also known as does, can breed throughout the year, but the breeding season typically occurs in the fall.

Breeding pygmy goats is relatively easy. A male pygmy goat, also known as a buck, should be introduced to the female when she is in heat, which only lasts 24 to 48 hours and occurs every three weeks.

The gestation period for pygmy goats is approximately 145-150 days or around 5 months. During pregnancy, the doe should be monitored closely and provided with proper nutrition and care to avoid metabolic diseases like hypocalcemia, ketosis, and toxemia.

When it is time for kidding, the doe will typically give birth to 1-3 kids, although it is possible for her to have 4 or 5. The offspring, known as kids, are born with a strong instinct to nurse and should be allowed to do so as soon as possible. It is important to ensure that the kids receive colostrum within the first six hours of birth to ensure their survival.

Health and Lifespan

Pygmy goats are generally hardy and healthy animals, but they can still be susceptible to various health issues. A healthy pygmy goat can live for up to 15 years, but the lifespan can vary depending on the individual goat’s genetics, diet, and environment.

One of the most common health issues that pygmy goats face is parasites, such as worms, coccidia, and external parasites. Additionally, pygmy goats can suffer from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, so keeping their living area clean and well-ventilated is crucial to their health.

Pygmy goats are also known for their horns, which can grow up to several inches long. While the horns can be a defining feature of the breed, they can also pose a risk to both the goat and its handlers. Some owners choose to disbud their pygmy goats for safety reasons when they are only a few days old so that horns do not grow.

Pygmy Goats as Pets

Pygmy goats are a popular choice for people looking for a pet goat. They are small, friendly, and easy to care for, making them ideal for families or individuals who want a companion animal that is not too demanding.

As herd animals, pygmy goats thrive in groups and enjoy companionship. They are social creatures and love to interact with their owners and other goats. For this reason, it is recommended to keep at least two pygmy goats together.

Pygmy goats can be kept in a variety of settings, from suburban backyards to rural farms. They are adaptable to different environments and do not require a lot of space. However, it is important to provide them with a secure and safe area to prevent them from wandering off or being attacked by predators.

When it comes to feeding, pygmy goats require a diet that is high in fiber and low in protein. They can be fed a combination of hay, pasture, and goat feed for growing kids or nursing mamas. It is important to provide them with fresh water at all times.

The only routine vaccination that is given to pygmy goats is the CDT, which protects against enterotoxemia types C and D, as well as tetanus. A kid requires two shots initially, and then annual boosters are required for continued immunity.

Caring for Pygmy Goats

Pygmy goats are adorable, friendly, and easy to care for. However, they still require daily attention to keep them healthy and happy. Here are some key points to keep in mind when caring for your pygmy goats:

Hoof Care

Hoof care is crucial for pygmy goats. They should have their hooves trimmed every month or two to prevent overgrowth and discomfort.

Exercise

Pygmy goats are active and playful animals that love to jump and climb. They need plenty of space to exercise and play, both indoors and outdoors. Providing them with toys and structures to climb on can help keep them entertained and active.

Pygmy Goat Predators

The main predators of pygmy goats are wild animals such as coyotes, foxes, wolves, and bears. These predators are attracted to the goats’ small size and defenseless nature. They can easily overpower and kill a pygmy goat, especially if the goat is alone or in a small group.

Dogs

Domestic dogs are also a major threat to pygmy goats. They can attack and kill the goats, even if they are kept in a fenced area. Dogs can easily jump over or dig under fences, or even break through them if they are not sturdy enough. In addition, some dogs have a strong prey drive and will attack and kill anything that moves, including pygmy goats.

Pygmy Goat Hybrids

Male pygmy goats have been used to create two modern hybrids in the U.S., the Kinder and the Pygora. When crossing breeds of different sizes, the larger goat should always be the doe to avoid problems with a smaller doe trying to give birth to kids from a larger-breed buck.

The Kinder is a dual-purpose goat bred for milk and meat and was created by breeding a Pygmy buck to a Nubian doe.

The Pygora is a dual-purpose goat bred for milk and fiber. It was created by breeding a Pygmy buck to an Angora doe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do Pygmy goats live?

Pygmy goats have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years. With proper care and attention, they can live longer than this. It is important to provide them with a healthy diet, free-choice goat minerals, and regular exercise to ensure they live a long and healthy life.

What are the different colors of Pygmy goats?

Pygmy goats come in only four colors, including solid black, black, agouti, and caramel. The color of a Pygmy goat’s coat is determined by genetics.

What is the average size of a Pygmy goat?

Pygmy goats are small in size and are typically around 16 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder.

How big do teacup Pygmy goats get?

There is no such thing as a teacup Pygmy goat. This term is often used to describe Pygmy goats that are smaller than average, but there is no specific size that qualifies a Pygmy goat as a teacup. It is important to note that breeding Pygmy goats to be smaller than average can lead to health problems and is not recommended. Some goats may be unusually small because of chronic parasite problems as a kid, which can stunt their growth and lead to lifelong health problems.

What are Pygmy goats used for?

Pygmy goats were historically kept as meat goats, but today are primarily kept as pets and companions. They are friendly, social animals that enjoy human interaction and make great additions to a backyard or small farm. Some people also keep Pygmy goats for show animals.

Click here to visit our Amazon store, which includes a list of things goats need.

Pygmy Goats Everything You Need to Know pin

2 thoughts on “Pygmy Goats: Small Hooves, Big Hearts!”

  1. Great article Deborah, as usual 🙂 I have Pygmy goats and found you shortly after getting my small herd and you have been a life-saver, literally! I lost one of my first goats early on before a friend and fellow Pygmy owner shared your website with me. I wish I had found you before I lost Natalia, but since following you, reading your books and posts, watching your webinars, etc., all my goats have been healthy, happy and the loves of my life. The information from you has made all the difference with my herd. Thank you for the continuous wealth of information!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for your feedback! I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found our information helpful!

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Join me online