Saturday, September 17, 2011

Do Pygmy Goats Make Good Pets?


Do Pygmy Goats Make Good Pets?

Ever wondered if pygmy goats make good pets? I did, and I researched them before I made the decision to bring a couple home. They were not going to be working or show goats but simply pets, so that's the direction I headed.
I would say that most people who own pygmies say yes, they make wonderful pets. But like every animal, they aren't for everyone. They have specific needs and personalities, and one should examine their expectations of goats as pets before making what should be a lifelong commitment to owning them.
Here's a few thoughts on pygmy goats as pets.
·         What are your county's regulations on livestock?
Pygmies are considered livestock. You can't necessarily stick one in your backyard. First check with your county's regulations office to see if you can legally own them.
·         What kind of housing do pygmy goats need?
Goats are fairly simple animals. While you can do with a minimum three-sided shelter or large Igloo-type doghouses, we keep our goats happy in a secure, ventilated small barn that has built-in sleeping benches. Most pygmies prefer to sleep up on something, rather than on the ground. Pygmies hate the rain and need a comfy place to head in when the weather's bad. I'll often see them poke their heads out of the barn and look up. If it's raining, they snort and duck back inside. We've encircled the barn with secure fencing, not only to keep possible predators out, but to keep the goats in. Goats are wonderful little escape artists. During the day when we are outside, we let them out to roam the property, run a bit and munch on blackberry bushes (their favorite!)
·         What do they eat?
My goats are wethers, which means they are castrated males. Wethers need to eat grass hay, not alfalfa, which can cause urinary calculi. Ours also graze on our grass and blackberry bushes, but if we're not watching closely, they'll sneak a bite of our flowers. They get the occasional handful of sweet grain and they love bread of all kinds and apples as a treat. Pygmies always need fresh water available.
There are a few plants that are poisonous to goats. Azaleas and rhododendrons may be the most common for the average homeowner. Be sure you don't have any of those where they could get to them.
·         What can I expect from my pygmy goat as a pet?
My goats are quite friendly and happily follow me around, looking for a handout. They will come when they are called, but they don't generally lay by my feet like a dog would. They have been known to come to the back door and yell, likely looking for an extra apple or carrot, but they are also content to lay in the grass and chew their cud without company. Aloof at times but friendly...that's how I would describe my own goats. However, all goats have a distinct personality. Some may be more aloof or friendly, depending on the goat.
·         Can I have just one pygmy goat?
My answer would be a definitive NO. Goats are social creatures that need another goat, horse, donkey or similar animal in order to be happy. My goats are twins and you never see one without the other within 20 feet or so.
·         Do pygmy goats play?
YES! Pygmies are absolutely the clowns of the barnyard. They will stand up on their hind legs and simultaneously come down and head butt each other. They talk to each other constantly. Provide them with benches to climb on or wooden cable spools and they will hop up and down on them. A bored goat is not a happy goat, so be sure to provide a stimulating environment.
For us, pygmy goats make great pets. They can be loud, however, so be a good neighbor and communicate with the people around you. We went to our immediate neighbors and asked if they would object to our having goats, and they all gave us the green light. Since ours are the only ones on the block, so to speak, they're celebrities in their own right. Our neighbors bring them treats and little kids love to come to our very own petting zoo.
Do your research and find out if pygmy goats would be the right pets for your family. It's a big commitment, so be sure your entire family is on board. I guarantee though, that at minimum, they will make you laugh.

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