Pygmy goats are growing in popularity as family pets. These short-stature goats are only 15 to 20 inches tall, and an adult weighs between 40 to 80 pounds. They're the perfect size for those of us that want to share our lives with sweet-natured, inquisitive, and affectionate goats. However, owning even a small goat is a big responsibility, and it's important to understand their specific needs before deciding to adopt one.
Space and activity levels are important considerations for new goat owners. Pygmy goats are very energetic: they jump, run, climb, and generally engage in constant activity. Each goat needs approximately 250 square feet of space.
Pygmy goats get along very well with children, but play should be closely supervised by an adult. The goats' compact bodies and hardy nature are suited to active play, which could lead to an unintentional injury if a child does not know how to handle or behave around a goat. Establish ground rules, so everyone has fun safely.
Goats are exceptionally interactive herd animals. Pet pygmy goats frequently develop strong attachments to their human families and other goats. Their loyalty and affection bring joy and happiness, but these little goats can be very demanding. They follow their people around and often want to be involved in everything. Keep at least two pygmy goats together to enhance the animals' quality of life and give human companions a break.
All goats are escape artists, but pygmy goats are especially good at escaping due to their small size and agility. Despite their short stature, pygmy goats are talented jumpers, so fencing should be at least 5 feet high to keep them contained. Goats rub against fences during shedding season, and they stick their heads through openings if something catches their attention on the other side. They can squeeze through surprisingly narrow gaps in slat fencing. Wire mesh combined with wood fencing eliminates gaps.
Goats are hardy animals capable of living in harsh environments. However, most of us want beloved pets to be comfortable and happy. A lean-to or shed offers temporary shelter from the rain during summer. Goats need sturdier shelters for protection from predators and cold weather.
Pygmy goats are friendly with other animals, including horses, donkeys, and cattle. They don't bother chickens and other birds, so pygmy goats can safely cohabitate with other animals in existing barns or stables.
Families without barns can build goat shelters or purchase prefabricated units with at least 8 x 6 square feet of space. Hoof issues can occur if the ground in your goat's enclosure is constantly moist. Keep your goat comfortable by providing a shelter with a clay or concrete floor covered by raised wooden platforms. Vary platform heights so your goats can climb to multiple vantage points. Install windows above the goats' maximum reach to prevent your goat from escaping.
As with all pets, routine veterinary care is important for pygmy goats. Ask your veterinarian about vaccinations and schedule routine wellness checks. Pygmy goats can begin breeding when they're only 3 months old, so neuter your male goats as early as possible to prevent unintended breeding and related behaviors, especially if you plan to housetrain.
Housetraining pygmy goats is similar to housetraining puppies, and training any animal requires patience. Take your goats outside immediately after waking and say a short two-word command. Wait outside until the goats urinate, then offer treats and praise.
Observe your goats to learn their favorite treat, and use that treat for toilet training. Goats can't control defecation. Take them outside after meals and an hour before bedtime and consider diapers at night.
Pygmy goats are raised for farming as well as companion animals. There aren't many differences between pygmy goats raised for specific purposes, especially among traits related to personality and behavior.
Health is the most important aspect of choosing pygmy goats. Visit breeding operations in person to make sure the animals are healthy and treated well. You can also choose to adopt pygmy goats from rescues, although this is a better option for adopting an adult.
Goats browse pastures and brushy undergrowth throughout the day. Keep a trough filled with hay and food to accommodate your goats' natural eating habits and minimize food waste. You can purchase prepared goat feed mixtures or make your own with a combination of oats, corn, and fresh greens. Pygmy goats prefer legume-based or alfalfa hay. Offer fruits and vegetables as tasty treats filled vitamins and minerals, and ensure clean water is always available.
Unfortunately, goats are sometimes referred to as lawnmowers that eat anything. This is a potentially harmful myth. Eating non-food items can cause intestinal blockages and make the animals very sick, and there are many plants toxic to goats.
Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, staggering, crying out, and difficulty breathing. Take your goat to a veterinarian immediately if you notice these symptoms.
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