Pygmy Goats: An Adorable Animal to Have at Home
Pygmy goats are mammals that, due to their small size and affable character, have gone from being considered a livestock animal to a domestic one. Despite the diversity of breeds, its common sociability makes it an interesting option as a pet.
Traditionally, cows, sheep, and goats have been associated with livestock species typical of rural environments. However, in recent years, pygmy goats and dwarf goats have been introduced as an alternative when choosing a pet. If you’d like to find out more, read on!
Characteristics of pygmy goats
Although it may seem to be a different species to the classic one, we should emphasize that pygmy goats and dwarf goats are still variants derived from the domestic goat that we all know (Capra hircus). They belong to the Bovidae family and the Caprinae subfamily and are closely related to sheep, among other herbivores. Mini goats are just one of the 300 existing breeds.
These bovids have a condition known as achondroplasia. They’re compact in size, but have thick bodies.
Some of the most popular pygmy goat breeds are the miniature Australian goat, the Nigerian dwarf goat and the pygmy goat itself. They’re all small, but the pygmy goat, at only 45 centimeters tall (18 inches), which is normally the one associated with this condition.
Pygmy goats originated in West Africa, specifically Cameroon, and were later exported to Europe and the United States. In the beginning, its breeding was associated with obtaining milk and meat, however, its friendly nature led to its inclusion in the family environment. In addition, it became an exhibition animal in circuses and zoos.
Pygmy goats don’t usually exceed 30 kilograms (66 pounds) and generally have a short, smooth coat with patches of different shades. Males are distinguished by having more prominent antlers than females, which can be spiral. Their life expectancy is between 10 and 15 years, compared to the 18 years that the common goat can reach.
Tips for care in the domestic environment
Moving from the field to the home involves a series of care needs that may not be feasible for every owner. Here are the care needs of a pygmy goat by sections.
Have enough space
Although this animal is smaller than other pets, owners mustn’t forget its rural origin and tendency to jump a lot. Pygmy goats should have space to run and shelter from the elements.
Their pens should be at least 1 square meter (nearly 11 square feet) per animal. In addition, toys and stimuli should be placed inside so that the goat doesn’t get bored during the night. Depending on the area it lives in, a wooden installation may be enough, or they may need something that insulates more. Remember that, due to its small size, this bovine doesn’t tolerate freezing temperatures very well.
Outside the pen, the goat should have ample land to graze, run, and exercise. It’s recommended that you provide about 18 square meters (194 square feet) of pasture for each animal. This may seem like a lot, but these are the ideal requirements to simulate the animal’s natural environment as closely as possible.
Make sure that all the vegetables in the goat’s yard are fit for consumption. Otherwise, the goat could get food poisoning.
Place a good fence
It’s necessary to place at least a 1.2-meter (nearly 4 foot) high fence around the plot so that the goat can’t escape. The fence must be particularly strong, as goats love to jump over obstacles. Make sure that it’s impossible for them to escape, Repair any damage as soon as you notice it.
Goats prefer company
Dwarf or pygmy goats are typically gregarious animals and even more so the pygmy goat, whose ease of socialising makes them dependent on others. Therefore, it’s preferable to buy at least a pair of them, which increases the space required and the expense.
The ideal scenario is a male and a female couple, both sterilized if you don’t want them to have offspring. On the other hand, it’s also possible to put 2 males together, as long as they have been castrated beforehand (in order to avoid fights in the breeding season).
The most advisable thing is to provide this animal with a diet based on grass, hay, grain and all kinds of vegetables. In the case of not being able to administer it, the owners should find out about special feeds that will cover their dietary needs. It’s also possible to purchase dried grass in large quantities, but, ideally, this should always be natural.
It’s important to ensure that the goat receives the recommended amount of minerals by purchasing specific products, such as salt licks. The number of calories and nutrients that each goat will need will depend on the following:
- Productivity level: This term refers to any biological activity beyond the maintenance of the body. For example, a pregnant, growing, or lactating goat will require more energy than a normal adult.
- Pregnancy: A pregnant goat must eat more grass than normal, especially in the last 6 weeks of gestation. However, some experts don’t recommend a complete doubling of doses (which can lead to obesity).
- Physical activity: Pygmy goats require more calories during development and the rutting season. This is partly because they are more physically active during these stages.
Devote the necessary attention to them
These animals are affable and playful, so they demand affection and stimulation. In addition, depending on the breed or environment, they have a series of care needs in terms of washing, brushing, shearing or hoof trimming.
It’s always better to keep a group of goats (1 male and 2-3 females) rather than a single goat. This way they will require a little less affectionate attention from the keeper.
Depending on the area, acquiring a pet like this may involve certain documents or licenses, such as those related to its transportation. The reason is that for legal purposes they’re still considered to be livestock animals, and more so at a municipal level. It’s almost certainly forbidden to have a dwarf or pygmy goat in your house if you live in a flat in the city.
A lovable animal that requires a lot of responsibility
Dwarf or pygmy goats are a new option for a family pet. However, it’s important to make ensure that you have the financial, spatial, and temporal resources necessary to meet their welfare. Remember that these mammals require several square meters to exercise, a plot full of grass, and a house isolated from the inclement weather.
You should keep in mind that a healthy specimen can live from 7 to 10 years in captivity. Acquiring a dwarf goat is a big responsibility, so think about it very carefully if you’re thinking about acquiring one.It might interest you...