One of the most popular breed of goats to be raised as pets is the pygmy goats. They originated in the continent of Africa. During the 1950s they were imported to the United States. Soon, their affable personality made them one of the most popular pets for American families. Apart from being cute companions for kids, they are raised for commercial use as well. People have been raising these goats for meat, milk and mohair. Many even prefer raising them as pets for a petting zoo. Let us have a look at some basic pygmy goat care tips in the following sections.
How to Raise Pygmy Goats as Pets
There are two registered pygmy ones that one should go in for as pets or bring them home to for milk and meat. These are the Nigerian Dwarf and African Pygmy goats. The Nigerian goat is about 17 to 20 inches in height. It is about 75 pounds in weight as an adult. These goats need only 1/3 the living space of a full-grown milk goat. This is the breed one should go in for when thinking of raising them for milk. The Nigerian dwarf produces about one quart milk every day. This amount is enough for a small family milk requirements. The African goat is about 20 to 25 inches tall and weighs 50 to 60 pounds. Those raising pygmy goats as pets for petting zoo, generally go in for African pygmy breed. These goats produce milk that has the highest butterfat content than any other goat breeds.
The first requirement to keep in mind is, these are herd animals. When you think of them, you should bring home pairs. You can't bring a single goat like a dog. The goat will continue to bleat constantly due to loneliness and boredom. Also, like a dog it cannot be kept within the house. You need to build a barn for them that is well lighted and ventilated. It should have raised benches, so that the goat can use it to sleep. This is because these goats do not prefer sleeping on the ground! You should build a 30 to 40 square feet barn for two goats with a secure area covered in fence. This is the area where your goats can play and have fun.
The next important thing is, obviously, food. You can bring home goat mix from your local pet store. Or you can visit farm stores and bring home goat mixes for these farm animals. You need to feed your goat this mix twice a day. This will form their main meal throughout the day. You can feed the goats a bit of cabbage, lettuce, spinach, etc., as a treat during the day. Make sure you provide fresh water to the goats throughout the day. Along with water, hay should be freely available all day long. Remember, fresh water is very important, or else the goat will not drink it.
You should also provide the goats with lots of goat toys. They are very playful animals and love to play with their toys. These goat toys include picnic tables, boulders, balls and even old tires. You should give then non-toxic things to play with. They even play with hay stalks all afternoon. You will love watching them play all the imaginary games in their mind with the toys around them.
How to Raise them for Milk
For this, you should purchase these animals from trusted and reputed animal breeders only. Make sure you ask around for references for the breeder from previous buyers. Go for breeders who raise pygmy goats for milk, rather than meat. This will ensure, the goat gives higher volume of milk. When you bring home this goat, it should be kept in a secure area. They should be provided with one acre of pasture land. This is enough for a herd of 4 to 5 goats. They should be kept in a draft free shelter and bed of straw.
The females should be milked twice every day for about 4 to 6 months. Then you need to dry them off for kidding. Over a 7 to 14 day period, their body will slowly stop producing milk as you gradually decrease the number of milking. When raising these goats for milk, you should feed them a grain ration mix, specially made for dairy goats. Keep in mind, every ½ pound of grain will ensure your goat produces one pound of milk. They should also be fed alfalfa, hay and must be provided clean, fresh water 24 hours a day.
How to Raise them for Meat
Just like raising these goats for milk, you need to bring home pygmy goats for meat from reputed breeders only. You should keep them in a secured barn and given one to two acres of pasture lands. They should be fed a balanced diet as you are raising these goats for milk. The goats will graze on the grass on your land during the summer and spring season. However, you need to feed them with goat ration mix that contains vital vitamins and minerals. They should be wormed every three months to keep them healthy. They should be bred once a year after they are about 18 months of age. This will ensure you have a steady supply of goats for meat in your farm.
You should make sure you visit a veterinarian once in a while. He will be able to diagnose any disease and illness in your goat. It will also ensure your loving companions remain hale and hearty. Make sure you speak to breeders and people who own these goats as pets for detailed information. These goats are extremely friendly, loving and affectionate pets. Treat them with respect and care, you will receive lots of love in return from them.