The small, beloved creature known as a Pygmy goat is a long-haired domestic goat. These mammals have made their way from the continent of Africa to North America and Europe, and here are 5 of the most important pieces of information about them.
The Pygmy goat has also been known as the Cameroon Dwarf goat. This is because the goats originated in Cameroon, and their population and popularity have spread throughout West Africa.
As the goat gained popularity through Africa, it was also transported to Sweden and Germany as additions to their zoos beginning in the 1850s.
This happened following the British colonization of Cameroon and much of Western Africa through the 19th Century. While the goats are not indigenous to Europe, they have adapted.
The pygmy goat’s international presence excited visitors, and they continue to appear throughout zoos and other domestic settings today.
What is a pygmy?
Pygmy tends to refer to plants and animals that are much smaller than their typical counterparts. In this case, the pygmy goat is substantially smaller than other breeds. Larger breeds of goat (such as Oberhasli, used for dairy) grow 30-34” at the shoulder for males, 28-32” for females, and tend to weigh between 100-150 pounds. Pygmy goats, however, will be shorter: they range between 16”-23” in height for an adult pygmy goat, and their weight will range from 53-86 pounds, from female (doe) to male (buck).
What do they look like?
Pygmy goats, as mentioned, are smaller than their peers. They have four short legs with two-toed hoofs and stocky, barrel-shaped bodies. These goats, both male and female, will grow horns. On the male bucks, the horns will be thicker.
Overall, the fur on pygmy goats is medium length and quite straight. Its density will depend on its climate and the season, much like other mammals.
A distinct trait of the pygmy goat is the “beard” and mane that are flowing from the bucks’ faces.
The fur colors of pygmy goats are variegated and include patterns and undercoats. The most common colors are caramel (which ranges from white to caramel, they can be interspersed), grey agouti (“agouti” refers to the multiple shades of grey that may be present, ranging from charcoal to ash), brown agouti, black agouti, solid black, and any mixture or combination of patterned colors.
Where do they live? For how long?
While pygmy goats originated in the warm climates of West Africa, they have been domesticated and are highly adaptable animals.
Today, pygmy goats in domestication tend to live on farms and serve as companion (or meat) animals. They require plenty of grass, shrubs, and other plant life to graze on.
The best diet for these goats is one that is made up of 80% fiber and low protein. Pygmy goats are wonderful garden assistants, as they consume large amounts of weeds as part of their diet and are often used as organic “lawnmowers”.
It is important to ensure that the pygmy goat’s grazing environment is safe and clear from debris, as they will curiously sniff and nibble at plants and items they find.
Pygmy goats, due to their hardiness, can also thrive in mountains, woodlands, and other areas.
The health of pygmy goats is standard. They are not susceptible to severe ailments, and they thrive with regular veterinary visits, vaccinations, and healthy habits.
With proper care and human assistance, these goats will live around fifteen years in captivity.
Are they good as pets?
Yes, pygmy goats make wonderful pets. You will need to ensure you have adequate shelter, additional hay or grain supplements, and secure perimeters around their grazing habitat.
Each goat should have a minimum of 200 square feet of space to roam and play. With less space, they may become tired and overweight and require more work to engage and keep active.
Easy exercises include providing spaces for the goats to jump on and off of items, or even extra bales to jump over.
They are friendly, alert, and love to play as both a kid and an adult.
A pygmy goat is also a very curious creature and will require plenty of space to safely explore but will tend to avoid water. These mammals do not like getting wet!
In addition to wanting space to explore, these goats are also very social creatures. They do best when they are in pairs or small groups.
If you are interested, you can also milk a pygmy goat!
These small mammals will produce 1-2 quarts of milk per day during their milking period, which is 120-180 days.
Much like any pet, pygmy goats require regular grooming to be their healthiest. This is also important if your goat will be entered into any type of showcase or performance event.
You will need to include these as part of your goat’s regular health routine:
- Brushing. Do this regularly to help remove dandruff, loose hair, and improve circulation. This is also a great time to check your goat’s skin for any irritation, parasites, or other abnormalities.
- Bathing. This is only necessary if there is an issue (such as lice) but can help make clipping or trimming your goat easier. Be sure to use warm water, gentle shampoo, and rinse thoroughly.
- Clipping. This means trimming the har around the udder, and around the tail prior to a doe kidding. (Note: Most does should not breed until they are at least six to nine months of age. Following this, the gestation period is approximately five months, and the doe will give birth to two to four offspring, called kids).
- Hoof trimming: The hooves will also require regular trimming, approximately every 6-8 weeks. This is also a good time to check that there is no debris (rocks, etc.) stuck in your goat’s hooves.
It is important to consider all factors before acquiring a pygmy goat. With proper care and socialization, you will have a companion for years to come