Pygmy Goats: The Adorable Miniature Breed

Episode 103
For the Love of Goats

Pygmy Goats featured image

As a Nigerian dwarf breeder myself, I am acutely aware of how many people think that “pygmy” is a size, not a breed of goat. In this episode, we are talking to four National Champion Pygmy breeders about what exactly makes a Pygmy goat.

Pygmy breeders Karole and Gary Miller of Fox Haven Pygmy Goats, Andrea Pursley of High Caliber Pygmy Goats and Diane Keith of Fair View and Shasta View, talk about the breed standard, what it takes to register a Pygmy goat, and what the judge is looking for in the show ring.

The Mick Syndicate with Mick the National Champion Buck for the pygmy goat world.
Left to Right: Diane Keith, Andrea Pursley, Karole Miller, and Gary Miller
with “Mick” the current National Champion Buck for the pygmy goat world

Unlike Nigerian dwarf goats, which can be any color or pattern, Pygmies have very strict color requirements in both coat and eye color. Our guests also talk about the difference in the body type between Pygmies and Nigerians and the historical use of Pygmy goats.

Pygmy Goats

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Introduction 0:03
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. And now, here is Deborah Niemann.

Deborah Niemann 0:19
Today’s episode is brought to you by Goats 365, my membership program for people who are living with, learning about, and loving goats, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. Basic members get access to six courses covering housing, fencing, parasites, nutrition, and health, as well as things like composting goat manure and the basics of starting a goat-based business. Premium members also have the opportunity to attend live online meetings via Zoom to talk about goats every month. Visit to learn more.

Deborah Niemann 0:53
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode! This is going to be a really interesting episode. We’ve never done this before. We have had two guests before, but today, we are actually going to have four guests. And, we’re going to have a second episode with these guests next week, also.

Deborah Niemann 1:10
Today, we are talking to Karole Miller of Fox Haven Pygmy Goats, Gary Miller also of Fox Haven Pygmy Goats, Andrea Pursley of High Caliber Pygmy Goats, and Diane Keith from Fair View and Shasta View Goats, and we are going to start out talking about the Pygmy goat. This is part of our breed series. We’ve covered most of the dairy goats now, and also Kiko goats and fainting goats, and today, we’re going to talk about Pygmy goats and why you might want to have Pygmy goats in your life. And, I first heard about these four people because they happen to be co-owners of the national champion buck. So, next week’s episode is gonna be about co-owning goats, but today, we’re gonna be talking about Pygmy goats. And, for my breed profiles, I always like to talk to people who have really worked hard to excel in their breeding program, and obviously, if you have a national champion, you’ve worked really hard to get there. So, welcome to the show, everyone!

Andrea Pursley 2:15

Diane Keith 2:16
Hi! Thank you.

Karole Miller 2:17
Thanks for having us.

Deborah Niemann 2:18
So, first of all, let’s just start with the very basics. A lot of people don’t really know what a Pygmy is. I raise Nigerian Dwarfs, so I get a lot of people calling me and saying, “Hey, do you raise Pygmys?” And, my answer is, “Well, I raise Nigerian Dwarfs, but they are the same size as Pygmys. So, if by ‘Pygmy’ you just mean ‘a small goat,’ I do have small goats, but Pygmy is a completely separate breed.” So, can you tell us, like, what exactly defines a Pygmy?

Andrea Pursley 2:46
Well, I think first and foremost, what people need to understand about Pygmy goats is, it is a breed. A Pygmy goat is a breed of goat, and not just a small, miniature goat. There are a lot of misconceptions that a Pygmy is not a breed, that it’s just a small goat, but they are in fact a breed.

Andrea Pursley 3:05
The general description of a Pygmy goat, according to the National Pygmy Goat Association’s breed standard—and I’m going to quote it directly from their website. The general description is: “The Pygmy goat is genetically small, cobby, and compact. Its frame is clearly defined, and well angulated. Limbs and head are short relative to body length. The Pygmy goat is full-barreled and well muscled. The body circumference in relation to height and weight is proportionately greater than that of dairy breeds. The Pygmy goat is hearty, agile, alert and animated, good-natured, and gregarious. The legs and feet should work together so that the gait, which is also known as ‘tracking,’ is smooth, balanced, ground-covering, and effortless.” And, that came directly from the National Pygmy Goat Association’s breed standard.

Deborah Niemann 3:54
Yeah. And, if anybody knows anything about Nigerian Dwarfs, a lot of what you said is the opposite of what a Nigerian Dwarf is.

Andrea Pursley 4:01
That is very true.

Deborah Niemann 4:03
Yeah. The only thing they really have in common is their height. Like, they’re both kind of small.

Karole Miller 4:08
Actually, Niges are just a slight bit larger. They’re taller than Pygmys, and they’re thinner than Pygmys. So, Pygmys typically are the smallest of all of the mini breeds.

Diane Keith 4:20

Karole Miller 4:21

Pygmy Goats on pasture

Deborah Niemann 4:21
Is there a maximum height for Pygmys?

Diane Keith 4:24
Yes, there is. Does, the minimum is 13-3/4 inches; the maximum is 20-3/8 inches. And for bucks, the minimum is 14-1/2 inches, and the maximum is 20-3/4 inches. And, that’s at the withers. The tallest they can be is just over 20 inches high to meet breed standards.

Deborah Niemann 4:46
Okay. So, that is 2 or 3 inches smaller than a Nigerian.

Diane Keith 4:50

Deborah Niemann 4:50
Okay. And then, because Nigerians are a dairy goat, so what are Pygmys used for?

Diane Keith 4:57
Well, in the United States, Pygmys are a pet, for the most part. However, they were originally brought over from Africa as a meat breed, with a secondary use as a dairy breed. They give a little richer milk, maybe a little higher butterfat, and they make a really fine cheese. So, while they don’t give as much milk as a dairy breed, people do milk them still; their primary attribute is originally as a meat goat. But, here in the U.S., they tend to be dogs with hooves, and we just love on them as pets.

Andrea Pursley 5:31
And, we show them.

Diane Keith 5:32
And, we show them! Because we love them.

Deborah Niemann 5:34
Exactly! So, do you have any kind of milk records on Pygmys? Like, do you know how much they produce or the percentage of the butterfat or anything?

Diane Keith 5:42
There are no records right now that are kept on milking for Pygmy goats, because that’s not their primary purpose in the U.S., Generally—and this is rule of thumb. I’ve never milked mine. But, people who have say that about 3/4 gallon a day is high-producing for a Pygmy goat.

Deborah Niemann 6:00
All right. And then, can you tell us a little bit about the registration information for Pygmys and the NPGA?

Diane Keith 6:09
Well, the NPGA was started in 1976 to develop standards, and just create a standard for the Pygmy goat that defines it from other goats. So, the registration, there are certain things that are required when you register a goat. One of the things is that they have Pygmy goat characteristics, and there are several characteristics they must have. And, probably the most predominant one, other than body type, is color.

Diane Keith 6:37
There are only four colors in the pygmy goat world, those colors being solid black, black, agouti, and caramel. And, I’m going to start from the back going forward: A caramel is similar to a buckskin or dun horse. They’re going to be any shade of white through dark tan. They have to have vertical stripes on the center of the socks, which are the same color of the body. They have to have side and rear socks and the dorsal stripe accented in either black or brown. They have to have a martingale accented in black or brown—and that’s the bucks only. And then, their face must be accented in black or brown. And then, the martingale can be accented on a doe, but it’s not required.

Diane Keith 7:26
In an agouti… “Agouti” simply means “roan.” And, an agouti can be black, gray, or brown. So basically, you’re going to have either a black, gray, or brown model, they’re going to have white hairs intermingled, and it’s going to produce an appearance that ranges from highly grizzled to nearly solid, with solid stockings the same color as the body. So, in a gray agouti, if they have a lighter body color, they’re going to have a darker gray sock. And a black, the same thing. They’ll have an roan-ish-type body with black socks. And then, the same with the brown.

Diane Keith 8:02
The black is, all body hairs have to be solid black, and then they have to have solid black stockings. They will have the required head markings, which I’ll go over in just a minute. The solid black is, there are no other body hairs or facial markings that are anything but black. They are 100% black. And, it’s very rare to have a solid black. Most times, you’ll have a black or a light-roaning agouti instead of a solid black; they’re very rare.

Diane Keith 8:36
They must also have muzzle, crown, eyes, and ears distinctly accented in white, and they may be intermingled with hairs the same color as the body. So, the only one that is not going to have that required marking on the muzzle, crown, eyes, and ears is going to be that solid black, where they’ll have nothing but a black head without the white markings. But, these are the only colors that are recognized by the NPGA, the National Pygmy Goat Association. And also, blue eyes are disqualifying in a Pygmy goat. And, that is one of the biggest differences between a Pygmy and a Nigerian, is if you see a blue-eyed Pygmy goat, you do not have a Pygmy goat.

Deborah Niemann 9:18
That is really good to know. I had heard that, and so that’s really interesting; I’m glad to hear you confirm that. I’d also heard that Pygmys had very specific color requirements, but I did not appreciate how very specific they were until you just described that, so that’s very interesting. I think there’s a lot of people out there who are going to understand the difference between Pygmys and Nigerians a lot better now. I know I do!

Karole Miller 9:45
We’re happy to hear that.

Deborah Niemann 9:47

Diane Keith 9:48
Well, and the one other thing on the color that I might add is that white is allowed anywhere on the belly between the withers and the hips. If you have white anywhere there, it’s allowable color. But, if you have white anywhere else except the head, where the required markings are on the three colors, it’s considered a fault. So, if you have a white leg, that’s considered a fault. It’s not disqualifying; it’s just a fault. But, I kind of like the bling on my goats, so I’m not a little bit afraid a white leg or a little bit of white that might slide in front of the shoulder. And, I like to name my goats, like Extravaganza, when they’re little bit loudly colored. So, it’s a lot of fun. And, I do push the envelope now and then, but just do consider that there are faults associated with some of those white markings that extend past that belly area.

Pygmy Goat showing its tongue

Deborah Niemann 10:41
Okay. And then, in terms of horns, are there any requirements or preferences for or against Pygmy goats having horns?

Gary Miller 10:50
So, horns on a pygmy goat, some breeders prefer having them, some prefer not to. But, when you go to show Pygmy goats, especially with the fairs, they do not allow horns on show goats. And, the reason for that is A) it’s safer for the animals, safer for the showman, really just safer all around. So, we choose to disbud all of ours for the safety piece, but also because we show a lot. And, with that, we just don’t want the horns. So, most of the Pygmy goats you’ll see will not have horns—at least in this area. I know some other areas are more prone to have horns, but here in California most of our goats do not have horns.

Deborah Niemann 11:35

Andrea Pursley 11:36
I’d like to add to that a little bit. Other than the safety issue for the animal and the handler, we tend to sell to 4-H kids, too. But, that is another difference between other breeds of goats and Pygmy goats, is that Pygmy goats are naturally horned. So, some goats aren’t naturally horned; they’re polled.

Diane Keith 11:54
So, if you have a polled Pygmy goat, it is a disqualifying trait—if it’s naturally polled. And, one of the things that I wanted to add about Pygmy goats that may be a little unique versus other breeds is that, Andrea and I are from Oregon, but we’re right on the border with California. Gary and Karole are in California. And, one of our largest markets is for wethers; we have a huge market in California, where primary 4-H kids as young as 5 years old can show Pygmy goats as a small animal in their fairs and things all through California. And so, we have a really strong wether market in the Companion Animal category, where other goat breeds don’t necessarily have that. And, it’s a huge market for us. And, therefore the disbudding is critical for us, because those kids can’t show with those horns on. So, that’s another consideration, and a difference between Pygmy goats and other breeds.

Deborah Niemann 12:53
Okay, that’s interesting. I didn’t realize that there were no naturally polled Pygmy goats.

Diane Keith 12:59
No. If you find one, it will not be a Pygmy goat.

Deborah Niemann 13:04
So, when it comes to showing, how do shows go for Pygmy goats? Are they sanctioned through the NPGA?

Karole Miller 13:12
So, all of our shows are sanctioned through the National Pygmy Goat Association. There have to be a certain amount of goats in each class owned by a certain amount of breeders.

Deborah Niemann 13:22
Okay. And then it works just like all the other goat shows, where they’re basically just judging them against the scorecard? So, like, basically, the goats that match the scorecard better are the ones that are going to do better in the show?

Karole Miller 13:34
Right. They’re matching up to the breed standard.

Deborah Niemann 13:37

Karole Miller 13:38
So, they’re placed by licensed judges, according to the breed standard, from the ones that fit the criteria the best to the least. And that’s your placing.

Diane Keith 13:49
One thing to add to that, too, is because the wether market in the Pygmy goats is so prevalent, the scorecard on a wether actually has 25% points that are given for showability. So, 25% of that wether’s scorecard is how gentle and how well they’re trained.

Deborah Niemann 14:09
Oh, okay! That’s interesting. And then, in terms of, like, breeding and stuff, I’ve heard some people say that Pygmys tend to have some more issues with kidding. Is that accurate? Like, if you’re looking to buy a Pygmy goat, would you look for… I’m not wording this well at all.

Karole Miller 14:29
I understand what you’re saying. So, there is one big difference between other breeds of goats and Pygmys, and that is that Pygmys have a far more difficult time kidding by themselves. More often than not, they do require assistance. So, you don’t just turn them out in the pasture or let them throw a kid down and then everything’s fine. It just doesn’t work that way with Pygmys.

Karole Miller 14:53
Like I said, most of our does have been assisted when they kid. We have one that is going to be due in the next week, and she will be staying with our veterinarian, who will be kidding her out. If there are any complications, she can get in there and pull that kid out, or perform a cesarean if necessary. You know, you don’t see that kind of problem as much in other breeds. And, a lot of that’s because Pygmys are the smallest, and they are a true dwarf goat.

Deborah Niemann 15:23
Yeah. Because, when you were saying the minimum size was, like, 13 or 14 inches, I was like, “Oh, my goodness.”

Karole Miller 15:29
Now, there are breeders that have decided to breed for easy kidders, and they may not place as high as if they were just breeding for the typical breed standard characteristics. But, they don’t have to worry as much. There are several breeders that do this, well-known breeders, and I want to talk to them more. I want to talk to them at a lot more shows and see if we can’t find a balance. Because, it’s difficult. You know, a friend of ours just had a tragic birthing with her doe, and she lost both the doe and the babies. And, she tried. She tried to get in there and get them out. She got the vet there. But, it just didn’t happen in time. So, she ended up losing them all. And, that’s the big risk you take if you raise Pygmys.

Diane Keith 16:19
I’ve also had my vet tell me that, because they are a true dwarf, their body size is close to a normal goat size, while their legs and other things aren’t. And, as a result, things get a little bit tighter inside. And, that’s why they have the problems, is just the tightness with fitting everything in. So, it’s not something to say, “Oh my gosh, don’t do it!” It’s something to say, “Go in with your eyes wide open and experienced persons with you to help you through it and help you learn how to manage the kidding.”

Deborah Niemann 16:55
Exactly. So, obviously, the larger does tend to have fewer problems with kidding. So, maybe if somebody was getting started, it would be better if they didn’t look for, like, the smallest of the Pygmys.

Andrea Pursley 17:09
I would have to say yes on that. And then, another deciding factor, too—or maybe not deciding factor—but is keeping your does trim, not overweight. Because, an overweight doe will have a really hard time kidding. So, feed is very important to our pregnant does.

Deborah Niemann 17:28

Karole Miller 17:28
Or lack.

Andrea Pursley 17:29
Or lack of feeding. There is the other end, too, to where if you’re not feeding enough. You know, we don’t feed our pregnant does a lot of grain, because we don’t want that layer of belly fat, and we want them to have easy kiddings.

Deborah Niemann 17:42
Yeah, I think that’s something that, like, with any breed of goat, if they’re overweight, you tend to see more kidding problems. Is it easier for Pygmys to get overweight, do you think?

Andrea Pursley 17:55
We all started laughing on that one! Oh, yeah.

Diane Keith 17:58
Pygmy goats can look at food and get fat. It just is…

Karole Miller 18:04
It’s kind of like me.

Diane Keith 18:05
Yeah, they’re like us. It’s really easy to get a Pygmy goat too fat. But, back on the kidding end, one thing that I’ve started doing in my herd is, I’ve started looking at breeders’ birth weights on their bucks. And, we’re going to be talking about a buck we have right now that we’re pretty proud of, but that buck’s birth weights are low, and he’s a big boy. But, his birth weights—at least in my herd—have historically been half a pound lighter. And, when you’re talking an average Pygmy goat baby weight of 2-1/2 to 3 pounds, half a pound is a lot of weight to put in that doe. So, I’ve started looking at birth weights on bucks when I choose a new buck, or when I’m looking at changing a line. I come from the cattle industry originally, and birth weights are a big deal there. And, that’s what I started looking at, and I’ve had a lot better luck kidding by looking at birth weights of bucks.

Deborah Niemann 19:04
Oh, that’s fascinating! And, that makes sense, yeah, to see… Because, I know a lot of people look at the size of the buck, and it’s like, “Well, the size of the buck has pretty much got to be within the breed standard, which is pretty narrow,” but looking at, like, the birth weights of his kids, that’s a really interesting way to think about it.

Mother and kids Pygmy Goats

Karole Miller 19:23
Well, we just had one of our does kid, and she had two babies in her. Each one was a buck, and each one was 4 pounds. Now, she is about a third of what I weigh. And, she had 8 pounds worth of baby in there. So, that would be like me having a 24-pound kid. And, if you think of it in those terms… Women, we’re going to cringe on that one. Going to have a collective, “Oh, my gosh,” because yeah, she was sore. We had her on anti-inflammatories and painkillers. We actually ended up losing one of the babies—and she wasn’t even fed that much grain. They just came out big.

Deborah Niemann 20:05
Wow. And so, do Pygmys tend to have multiples, or usually twins?

Karole Miller 20:11
Twins, I think, is the most common. My rule of thumb growing up in 4-H was, “The first time, they’ll have one or two. And then, every year after that, you add another,” but that is no longer the case. And, I don’t think it was the case back then, either. I think they were joshing me. But typically twins, triplets. Quads is a little bit more rare. We don’t want to see quads. That’s a lot of stuff going in there, with a lot of little legs that can get tangled up on the way out. But yeah, twins is kind of what we want.

Deborah Niemann 20:42
Yeah. I was just kind of wondering, you know, since they’re from Africa, and Nigerians, Nubians, and Boers, which are also from Africa, tend to have more than twins more often than the Swiss goats. So, I was wondering if that was true with Pygmys, also.

Diane Keith 21:00
It may have been to start, but I think that’s a trait that’s been bred out by a lot of breeders. For instance, in my case, I’ve only had one doe that has ever thrown quads, and we retired her shortly thereafter. She was an older adult, and she raised all four of them herself. But again, back to Karole’s analogy of how much those babies weigh inside that doe, it’s hard on those does to have those four babies in there.

Diane Keith 21:25
I don’t mind a set of triplets or twins. I try to breed for twins. I look back on what the buck’s throwing; is the buck throwing twins or is he throwing triplets? If I buy a new doe, I’m asking, “Is she a quad?” You know, “How many were in her litter?” Because, I want to breed for the twins. They can raise two easily. They’re evenly matched on their teats. They compete well without over-competing, and you don’t leave one out. So, for me, personally, I like to breed for twins. I’ll except triplets. But, when I start getting a doe that sees quads, she’s either down the road or retired, because it’s harder on them, and harder on me, because we don’t like bottle babies. I mean, they’re cute, and they’re fun. But, they’re so much better—

Diane Keith 22:09
Except, Karole and Gary really liked bottle babies. But, we all work full-time, and we all raise Pygmy goats, and bottle babies are really tough to handle when you’re in a full-time position like that.

Deborah Niemann 22:22
Yeah, absolutely. And I, as somebody who raises Nigerians, and has a line that has thrown quintuplets eight times…

Karole Miller 22:32

Deborah Niemann 22:33

Diane Keith 22:34
We’re all cringing.

Andrea Pursley 22:36
We’re all cringing.

Deborah Niemann 22:38
More than once, I have said, “That’s it. I’m just not breeding any of these goats that have thrown five. I’m not gonna breed their daughters. I’m just gonna retire the lines.” Because, it’s just not fun. If I mean, if they have five, I just, automatically, I’m like, “Okay, two of you are being bottle fed. Let’s go.”

Karole Miller 22:53
I actually recently saw a Facebook post of somebody who raises Niges, and she had six babies, and she was taking care of every one of them. And, I just sat there in disbelief watching video of this. And, I couldn’t believe— Six babies? That’s too much. That’s too much it.

Diane Keith 23:16
It is.

Deborah Niemann 23:16
Yeah, it is. And, the thing is, we keep track. We weigh all of our kids every day for the first two weeks. And, most people do not do that. And, we started doing it after my daughters grew up and left home and went to college, and my husband started helping. He’s an engineer, not an animal person, and so he needed data, you know, to feel good about what he was doing. And, he’s the one that started doing the daily weights on the kids. And, when he did that, I realized that, like, yeah, yeah, you might have, you know, four kids survive, but somebody is gonna fall behind. And, when I started seeing those numbers, that just was not acceptable to me. And so, now, typically, if somebody has more than three, one of them is going to be bottle fed.

Deborah Niemann 24:03
And, in fact, we’re there this year; we just had another set of quads today. And so, the little doe is going to be bottle fed, because we don’t like to see them fall behind in weight, so. And, they don’t. If they’re bottle fed, they don’t fall behind. We’ve had kids born at less than 2 pounds, and, if they’re bottle fed, they catch up with their siblings being raised by mom. You know, by the time they’re two weeks, you would not know which one was, you know, 1.9 pounds and which one was 3-1/2 pounds, because those little ones, man, they’ll catch up fast if they have access to milk.

Karole Miller 24:36
We actually get into the habit of weighing daily when we have bottle babies. Our smallest one was born just under a pound. … Yeah, Gaia. It was one of Diane’s does that had triplets, and she was back in Oregon, and her doe was down here with our vet, and I happened to be going over to pick up our doe, who had just kidded. And, her vet said, you know, “This one’s not expected to survive. Do you want to try?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure.”

Karole Miller 25:01
And, we were weighing her every single day. But, she was what we call a “micro.” She was so tiny. You know, under a pound, it’s just, like… If we hadn’t had a bottle in her mouth, like, every half hour there for the first few hours, we don’t know what would have happened. She could hardly stand at that point. So yeah, we got into the habit a long time ago, weighing them every single day, just to make sure. And, Gaia now is pregnant. And, she has one plus babies in her, and she is due on April 6. So, she was our big micro celebrity success story.

Deborah Niemann 25:47
Yeah, that is amazing! We’ve never had a kid born at less than a pound. That is awesome that she survived and grew up to be a big, healthy, normal goat.

Diane Keith 25:55
Well, and she would not have survived without Gary and Karole picking her up and taking her home, I got this call saying, “Hey, we got your goat. And, we’re just going to take care of her, and you can get her when you come back down.” And I was like, “No, if you’re going to take care of that goat for a couple of weeks till I can get there”—because we live 300 miles apart. So, I said, “I am not taking that goat away from you.” So, Gaia continued to live with Gary and Karole, and she is their beautiful little girl now. So, that one’s not a partnership goat, but she’s definitely a team goat.

Karole Miller 26:32

Deborah Niemann 26:33
Oh, what a wonderful story! That is so cool! Oh, I love stories like that with a happy ending.

Karole Miller 26:40
What will be a really happy ending is if she has one or two babies of normal weight, and she delivers them peacefully, without any drama, and then takes care of both of them. That’s what we’re hoping for. April 6. We’ll find out. Stay tuned.

Deborah Niemann 26:59
All right. So, if somebody is thinking of raising Pygmys, is there anything else that they should know about the breed?

Andrea Pursley 27:08
We all agree: Come to a show, and watch, and talk to the breeders. In fact, the National Champion show this year is in Red Bluff, California on June 7 through the 13. There’s a little plug for our national show. It’s called Glitz, Glam, and Goats. So, if you’re interested, come watch. I literally got thrown in, went to my first show with one goat, one wether, hadn’t a clue—learned so much at that show. And, talk to the breeders. Find out if there’s breeders in your area, because we all love talking about our goats.

Karole Miller 27:41
And talk to us. We’ll all be there.

Andrea Pursley 27:43
Yeah, we’ll be there. Diane will be taking pictures. I’ll be with Diane. We’ll all be there. Come talk to us.

Karole Miller 27:49
Gary and I will be working the auction and the raffle. So, come find us.

Deborah Niemann 27:54
Awesome! Oh, this is great. Well, this has been a really great conversation. And, I want to tell everybody: Be sure to come back next week, because we are going to be talking to these same four people again, and we’re going to talk about their goat Mick, who was the National Pygmy Champion at last year’s show, right?

Mick the Pygmy Buck
Mick the National Pygmy Goat Champion

Andrea Pursley 28:13

Deborah Niemann 28:14
So, we’re gonna learn all about Mick, and how he got to have four owners, and also just how they do this. Like, how do you share goat between four people? So, thank you so much for joining us today!

Andrea Pursley 28:27
Thank you.

Karole Miller 28:28
Thanks for having us.

Gary Miller 28:29
Yeah, thank you very much.

Diane Keith 28:31
Thank you.

Deborah Niemann 28:33
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Mick the National Pygmy Goat Champion

2 thoughts on “Pygmy Goats: The Adorable Miniature Breed”

  1. I have been trying to find specific information on how to dam raise kid goats and milk for home use. Specifically:
    1. How long to leave the moms and babies together in the birthing stalls before putting everyone back together.
    2. How long to let the babies nurse before beginning to milk.
    3. I understand there are different ways of going about letting the kids nurse and milking…separating at night or day, but if separating at night and milking in the am, do I need to supplement a bottle when reuniting the kids in the am.
    No one explains this that I can find. I find much information on bottle raising, but not on dam raising. We could be looking at 10+ kids and that is unreasonable for us to bottle raise. We will bottle feed any kids that are underweight or multis (more than two); however, I feel dam raising would be best for us and the goats at this time. We have human kids, so I have no worries about the goat kids not getting enough human attention . It’s just the actual how to of the dam raising and milking that I just can’t find information about. The information seems to stop at: the dams raise them and you separate morning or evening and then milk.
    Perhaps it is just that simple…?

    Do you milk onlyonce a day while they nurse ? How many times a day can a goat be milked when kids are weaned? How does that affect milk production (amount and length of time)? I’m also confused as to whether does should be bred every year or every other year? I’m sure that may be a long discussion…

    Ingrid McConnell

    • Hi Ingrid! I remember having all these questions as well!
      This is what I do (and why), so you can read through here and see what would work in your situation.

      1) Reintroduction to the herd is going to be herd specific and will depend on what your set up is. I have a dairy barn, and my moms have individual stalls so kids stay with mom at night until they are separated for milk sharing. I have a high population of large hawks and no LGD to scare off aerial predators, so my kids do not go out on pasture until they weigh at least 5#, which is typically within the first week of life. This way they are also steady on their feet and quite nimble, which allows them to get away from other herd members quickly if needed.

      2) I have taken Deborah’s advice on this, and modified it to what works well for us. She does not start milk sharing until kids are close to 20# (unless the goat has a single, which means you can start right away). I have found that 15# is a good weight for us to start separating over-night, and it still allows them to reach their goal of 20# by 10-12 weeks, which is the weight we require for them to be fully weaned from mom and leave the farm to go to their new homes. It is always optimal to wean by weight not by weeks. This way you can be assured that baby has gained enough to handle being weaned without compromise to the developing immune system and will better handle the stress of weaning and going to their new farm.

      3) If you wait until the kids are a good healthy weight before separating over night, they will also be eating hay and grain readily at that time. There would be no need to give them a bottle first thing in the morning. I actually find that as long as kids are on the property, my girls tend to hold some milk back in the mornings for them, at least for a few weeks after we start morning milking.

      4) I personally milk only once a day in the morning, even after all kids are fully weaned from the mom, because that is what is most convenient for me. You can milk twice a day while the kids are milk sharing, and with mom during the day, but I doubt that you would get much at all. Once they are fully weaned, you can move to twice a day milking if you would like, just be aware that if you keep wethers or doelings with mom, she may choose to let them nurse for months, and this will impact what you get at that second milking of the day. If kids are fully weaned, and you milk twice a day, you will get more than a single milking per day- supply and demand just like humans :smiley:

      5) Extended lactations ( more than 8-10 months) is possible for some goat lines, especially the ones who REALLY want to produce. I personally breed my goats to kid once a year because I need to anticipate milk production for herd shares. Deborah has some goats that can go 2+ years with production without being bred in between. It really depends on your goats, but I would say once a year breeding is pretty standard. Do keep in mind that the majority of goats will naturally start to dry up about 2-3 months into their pregnancy.



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