Everything You Need to Know About the Pygmy Goat

Posted by Tori Holmes
Brucklay Pygmy Goats

If you're looking for a small, friendly goat that can be a great pet or that can supply you with milk, the Pygmy goat might be the perfect choice. These hardy yet docile goats can adapt to many different climates and require only minimal shelter and care, plus they can provide you with milk. Whether you're planning to compete with your goat or are hoping to breed Pygmys, there are plenty of ways that you can put a Pygmy goat to use on your farm.

Pygmy Goat History

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Originating from the Cameroon Valley of West Africa, the Pygmy goat is a popular breed of miniature domestic goat. Pygmy goats were brought to the United States from European zoos in the 1950s and were subsequently used in zoos and for animal research. Eventually, the Pygmy goat was acquired by private breeders and began to be sold as companion animals.

Characteristics

According to the USDA eXtension, Pygmy goats are one of the smaller goat breeds and range between 15 to 20 inches in height at their withers. Pygmy does weigh between 35 and 50 pounds, while males weigh slightly more and come in around 40 to 60 pounds. While these are small goats, their bodies are compact and lack the refinement that you'll see in breeds like Nigerian Dwarf goats.

These goats come in many different coat colors, with coats ranging from light to dark caramels, light to dark grey agouti, black with frosted points, and even solid black. Their coats are straight and medium-long, and the coat density varies as the seasons change. Adult males have generous beards, though females may not develop bears. 

Despite their size, Pygmy goats are quite hardy and can adapt to any climate. In addition to their tough constitution, Pygmy goats have an aloof but friendly personality. Does have overall friendly temperaments, but bucks are known to be a bit stubborn and independent, although good-natured nonetheless. This combination of hardiness and positive disposition are two characteristics that make Pygmy goats great pets and show animals.

Milk Production

While Pygmy goats are most commonly kept as pets or used as meat goats, they can also be used for milk production. Pygmy goats can produce, on average, between one to two quarts of 4.5% to 11% butterfat milk. Their milking period, however, is shorter than other dairy goats, producing milk for only 120 to 180 days out of the year.

Caring for Pygmy Goats

Just like any other breed of goat, Pygmy goats need shelter and fencing that helps to prevent them from escaping. Pygmies are active and entertaining, and if you construct a playground of obstacles in their pen, they'll provide you with hours of entertainment. Their small size means they don't require as much space as larger breeds need, making them a great addition to a home or small farm.

The National Pygmy Goat Association states that as long as these goats receive a good quality grass/alfalfa hay mix and a bit of molasses-free grain, they'll only need to be supplemented with trace mineral salt. If your area lacks certain nutrients, like selenium, you'll need to supplement these nutrients, too. Plenty of fresh water is also necessary to keep your goats healthy. 

Buying a Goat

If you're looking to purchase a Pygmy goat, the National Pygmy Goat Association has a list of registered breeders on their site. The price of Pygmy goats can vary greatly, depending on their ability to breed and whether or not they have been registered. While a pet quality Pygmy goat can cost anywhere between $40 and $70, a registered and intact Pygmy can go for as much as $350 or more.

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Body

Pygmy goats are one of the smallest breeds of goats. Does (females) weigh 53 to 75 pounds and stand between 16 and 223/8 inches at the withers, whereas bucks (males) weigh 60 to 86 pounds and stand between 16 and 235/8 inches at the withers.

Coat

 The coat of the Pygmy goat should be straight with medium-length hair that changes in density with the seasons.

The color and markings can vary drastically, but can generally be divided into three categories: Black, Agouti, and Caramel. Within each of these three categories it is acceptable for the coat can have markings of different colors.

 

Beards

On does beards may non-existent or sparse, and on bucks they may be full and long.

Head

The head of the Pygmy goat is slightly concave with a rounded muzzle. The eyes are bright brown and prominent, but not protruding. Pygmy goats should not have blue eyes, as this characteristic suggests genes from a different breed. The ears should be medium length, firm, and erect. Pygmy goats are genetically horned, but dehorning is permitted.

Temperament

Pygmy goats, overall, have aloof but friendly personalities. While does have gentle dispositions overall, bucks are known to have stubborn and independent streaks.

This post was originally published on August 19, 2017.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Pygmy Goat