Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pygmy Goats Make Excellent and Unique Pets



If you want to bring fun, affectionate, unique pets into your home, look no further than African pygmy goats! Pygmy goats make excellent pets because, among many other wonderful things, they are intelligent, playful, and easy to take care of. However, before purchasing pygmy goats, it is important to learn about these unique animals to ensure they will fit well into your lifestyle before bringing them home.

The following article will provide an overview of African pygmy goats and how to care for them, and once you decide to open your home and heart to them, contact the breeders of Amber Waves to purchase pygmy goats and get any questions answered.

The rich history of African pygmy goats
As their name suggests, African pygmy goats originated in Africa – in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa to be exact. Pygmy goats were first brought out of Africa as additions to European zoos, and from Europe, pygmy goats made their way into the United States in the 1950s. While they were only found in zoos and research facilities in the United States at first, they quickly became popular pets because of their unique, friendly personalities and hardy construction.
Today, pygmy goats can be found as pets in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the United States as they can acclimate to nearly any climate. These unique creatures tend to live between 10 and 15 years.

Colors
Part of the fun of pygmy goats is the variety of colors and patterns found in breed. While there are only three basic colors (black, medium brown, and dark brown) that form the color base for the breed, pygmy goats are rarely solid in color; therefore, many color patterns are possible. For example, the agouti and caramel patterns can be superimposed over variations of the three basic colors.
The nine color patterns that cover the vast majority of pygmy goats are: black, black/grey agouti, black trim caramel, medium brown, medium brown agouti, medium brown trim caramel, dark brown, dark brown agouti, and dark brown trim caramel. White spotting may or may not be present on any of these color patterns, and white frosting is often present on the ears and muzzles. All colors besides solid medium brown and dark brown are accepted by the National Pygmy Goat Association as conforming to the breed standard.

The differences between bucks, does and wethers
Pygmy goats can be purchased as does (females), bucks (males), or wethers (castrated males). Full grown does and wethers range in height from 16 to 23 inches and usually weigh between 40 and 70 pounds; bucks range in height from 19 to 25 inches and usually weight between 60 and 85 pounds. While bucks, does, and wethers can all make excellent pets, there are certain considerations that must be made when deciding which to purchase. Does and bucks should be kept separate unless mating, so you will need double the housing and fenced in roaming areas if you choose raise both males and females. Also, as pygmy goats are herd animals, you should consider purchasing at least two goats that can live and play together. Wethers may be kept with either does or bucks, and they are generally the least expensive of the bunch to raise.

Costs of raising pygmy goats
One reason pygmy goats make such wonderful pets is they are quite inexpensive to keep; however, it is important to realize that costs are quite variable depending on the housing and fencing you choose, the feed you provide your goats, the number of goats you have, and incidentals.
Housing and fencing can be very basic, and thus, can be created or purchased for a small amount of money. More elaborate, expensive options are also available. Feed, which typically is grains, is also inexpensive; hay is also necessary to provide your goat with, and fortunately, it can also be procured for little money. Vaccinations, de-worming, medications, and veterinarian visits are also necessary from time to time, and these costs vary considerably. It is advisable to contact a local veterinarian before purchasing pygmy goats to get a good understanding of how much it will cost should you need their services.

Zoning
Pygmy goats are considered livestock so you should check with your city or county before bringing any into your home. That being said, pygmy goats don’t require a large amount of space and are found in rural, suburban, and urban areas across the United States. Therefore, it is quite possible that you will be able to raise pygmy goats at your home; even if your city’s current policies are unfavorable to raising pygmy goats, there is no harm in asking them to make allowances so you can bring pygmy goats into your home!

Feeding
Pygmy goats are easy to feed; once you know what to feed them, the most important thing to remember is that pygmy goats need a clean feeding area and will forgo eating if their food is soiled. Food should be elevated off the ground, but not so high as to prevent the shortest goat from eating. In addition to the foraging that your pygmy goats will be engaging in during play times in their fenced in area, goats require grains such as oats, goat ration, sweet feed, and corn. Each goat should be fed ¼ cup of grains twice daily. A mineral/salt block should also be available to pygmy goats to ensure they are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals. Also, clean water must always be available to your pygmy goats.

Housing & Fencing
Pygmy goat housing can be extremely simple; in its most basic form, it can be a three-sided shed or modified dog house, assuming it is large enough. Of course, you can purchase or build more elaborate barns or housing for your goats. Important considerations are: the housing must be secure enough to keep the goats in and predators out, the roofing must be leak-proof, and the housing should be more or less insulated depending on the climate you live in. Allow for approximately 15 to 20 square feet per goat; pygmies tend to prefer sleeping off the ground, which should be taken into consideration while creating housing. Finally, be sure to bed down the housing with fresh grass, straw, or hay, always give pygmies access to clean water, and keep their living quarters as clean as possible.
Ideally, you should set up a fenced in area next to the housing you have created for your pygmy goats so they can roam freely between their shelter and grassy area. Like the housing, the fenced in area must be secure so that the goats are safe from predators and cannot escape. Fences should be at least four feet high. 

Health
Generally speaking, goats are extremely healthy, hardy animals. The healthiest of goats will appear bright and alert with no discharge coming from their eyes or nose. Some major health problems that can affect pygmy goats include Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE), Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), and Johne's Disease; however, purchasing from a reputable breeder who regularly tests its herd for these diseases will greatly reduce your chances of getting goats with health problems. Before bringing any pygmy goats into your home, you should find a veterinarian that can easily handle any minor health problems that may occur.

African pygmy goats provide their owners with years of affection and entertainment while only requiring a minimal investment of resources and time. However, to ensure the best possible pygmy goat experience, only purchase pygmy goats from a reputable breeder. Amber Waves, an industry leader for over 26 years, provides its clients with healthy goats and support over the entire lifetime of the goats. Contact Amber Waves (www.amberwavespygmygoats.com) to purchase pygmy goats and get all of your pygmy goat questions answered. 

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