Anyone who raises goats or is considering having goats, has a specific reason or expectation in mind from the venture. Different breeds of goats are raised for various purposes, such as for their meat or milk, or as work animals. Some are raised for the fiber used from their coats in the manufacture of cashmere or mohair clothing and accessories. Goat breeds have different characteristics, as well, and some people find a goat makes a lively and delightful pet. Before beginning a goat raising project or looking for a pet, first decide what results are desired, and then it will be possible to find the breed best suited for that particular situation.
Pygmy goats are small domestic goats whose ancestors were originally from the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. The African goats were bred with Swedish goats and became a popular attraction in European zoos. Imported to the United States in 1959, this new breed of goat soon became highly desired as pets and as attractions in American petting zoos.
Pygmy goats are usually 16 to 23 inches tall. Females can weigh anywhere from 50 to 75 pounds, and males usually weigh between 60 to 86 pounds. Unlike other goat breeds, pygmies are characterized by very short legs, broad faces and stocky bodies. Their coats can be black, caramel, solid black, grey agouti, black agouti and brown agouti. Agouti is a term that refers to the pattern of white intermingled with another color. Goats that have agouti markings also have solid-colored marks on their legs. These marks are known as stockings. These stockings are black on the grey and black agouti goats, and they are brown on the brown agoutis.
Unlike most dairy goats, pygmies are able to breed several times throughout the year, and they can have anywhere from one to four kids at a time. The typical gestation period is about five months. Because of their frequent breeding abilities, pygmies are able to produce milk throughout the year. Young goats can go into heat when they are only two months old, so females are separated from males at an early age. If a male goat is going to be kept as a pet, he is usually neutered while he is still quite young.
Although pygmies can be used to provide milk, they are primarily kept as pets and used in petting zoos. Pygmies are known for their gentle nature and high intelligence, and they are very easy to care for. For the most part, they are also very healthy animals, and they are able to resist many different diseases. Pygmies can easily adapt to any climate, and they do not require a lot of space. If goats are kept as part of a herd, they do best in their own barn. Some owners even keep their pet goats inside with them, and others use a large dog house to shelter their pygmy.
Pygmy goats do need to be kept in a secure area because they are easily preyed upon by other animals. Their short legs are not good for running far, so pet dogs should not be allowed to chase them. Like most herd animals, pygmies hate to be alone, and they do best when they are raised with a companion. The companion can be another goat, or it can even be a dog or cat. Pygmies typically graze on grass and other plants outside, and they also like to eat hay. Some owners feed their goats special goat feed, but food that is meant for other animals or humans should not be used. Pygmies also need fresh, clean water, and they have been known to refuse water that is dirty or stale.