How to Care for Pygmy Goats

The pygmy goat is a small breed of domestic goat that has become a very popular pet choice among people of all ages. It originated from West Africa and is an extremely hardy, playful and intelligent creature that loves plenty of human contact. Before deciding to keep one of these lovely animals as a pet, however, you must learn how to care for it properly and ensure that the area you intend to keep it in is safe and secure.

Buying a goat

It is very important to buy your pygmy goat from a reputable breeder, as this is the only way you will know exactly what you are buying. If you don’t go to a reputable source to purchase your goat, you may well end up with a goat that has been crossed with a different breed of goat and it could end up being twice the size it should be when fully grown – a fully grown pygmy goat should measure around 16 to 18 inches in height and weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. If you wish to breed from your goat, then you must make sure that your goat is registered to enable you to register the offspring. Always check over the goat thoroughly to make sure that it is healthy before buying, and if you are in any doubt you should ask a veterinary surgeon to look over it for you. A reputable breeder will also be able to provide you with valuable information on how to care for your goat.

How many goats can you keep together?

You can keep as many goats together as you like, as they are herd animals and enjoy the company of other goats – it is not advisable to keep one on its own, though, as it may get lonely with no one to play with. The number of goats you decide to keep will very much depend on whether you want them purely as pets, or whether you want to breed from them. A couple of castrated males or non-breeding females, for example, can make great pets and these will be cheaper to buy than breeding stock.

Housing your goats

Pygmy goats are quite energetic but they don’t require a great deal of space. You may keep a couple of goats in a fairly small area without any problems, providing you supply them with some climbing material and a few suitable toys to play with, such as old cable spools. You can even take your goats out for walks if you wish to provide them with a little more exercise and stimulation. They will also require a shelter of some kind, such as a shed, to protect them from the elements. The fencing around the pen should be safe and secure too, and it should be at least 4 foot high. You also need to make sure that there are no poisonous plants in the area where your goats are going to live, such as fir trees, yew trees and rhododendron.

Feeding your goats

You will need to buy a good quality goat mix and feed your pets with it a couple of times a day – about 2 to 3 ounces at a time.  You can also provide your goats with a few small pieces of fruit and vegetables as occasional treats, but don’t be tempted to over-feed them or give them lots of sugary foods, as this will only lead to obesity and scouring. Plenty of hay should be provided, though, as well as a mineral block and a regular supply of clean drinking water.

Health care

Pygmy goats are very hardy and they shouldn’t really suffer from any ailments as long as they are well cared for. There are, however, one or two things you will need to do regularly to keep your goats in peak condition, including worming and vaccinating them against enterotoxaemia, pulpy kidney and tetanus. The frequency of worming treatment will depend on how many goats you keep. A couple of goats that are kept in a back yard will probably require treatment twice a year, whereas a larger group of goats may need treating more frequently. It is also a good idea to try and rotate the type of worming treatment you use every year, as this will help to ensure that the treatment continues to work effectively.  

Pygmy goats also require regular hoof trimming. The hooves grow quite quickly and will require trimming about every six to eight weeks. This operation is similar to cutting fingernails, and the more you perform the task the easier it will get. If you don’t feel confident about trimming the hooves, it is best to get a veterinary surgeon to do it for you.

Pygmy goats also have quite sharp horns and these can cause damage to humans and other goats. It is therefore best to have them removed when the goat is young by a process known as debudding. Pygmy goats are also very curious creatures and they have even been known to get their horns stuck in fencing and other awkward areas.

Is a pygmy goat the right pet for you?

Pygmy goats can live for around 12 to 15 years and therefore require quite a few years of loving care from their owners. They are relatively easy to look after and generally get on well with a range of animals, including horses, cows, ducks and even dogs. If you enjoy the outdoors and love to be entertained, then these adorable little creatures will make the perfect pets for you.