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How to Care for Pygmy Goats: Believe Us, It’s Not Difficult
A pygmy goat is a smaller breed of the dairy or meat goat. Caring for this goat is no different from caring for other pets. Here are some tips you can follow to take good care of a pygmy goat you are planning to bring home.
Pygmy goats were introduced to the United States in the 1950s and given their calm and friendly nature, they are more popular as pets than livestock in the country. Virtually adaptable to all climates across the globe, these animals have their roots in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. They produce large amounts of milk for their size and food consumption. Unlike other domestic goats, pygmy goats indulge in breeding throughout the year. Female pygmy goats weigh about 35 to 50 lbs, and males, 40 to 60 lbs. These goats have varied colors. They can be found in white caramel, medium caramel and dark red caramel. Some pygmy goats can also be silver-light gray agouti, medium gray agouti, dark gray agouti, black with frosted points, solid black, and brown agouti. A male pygmy goat usually has a deeper color than a female. Taking care of a pygmy goat mainly comprises looking after its feeding needs, shelter and hygiene.
A pygmy goat’s daily diet must include foods rich in protein such as fresh greens, grains and oats. The carbohydrate needs can be fulfilled by feeding the goat whole and rolled grains. Oats, corn, goat ration and sweet feed provide the necessary vitamins and minerals required by the animal. A quantity of ¼ cup of grain is required by a pygmy goat everyday. Most hobbyists recommend good quality alfalfa mix hay and molasses-free grain for the animal. A trough is a better means of providing food for the goat. This would prevent wastage of grains, and moreover pygmy goats do not eat dirty or soiled feed unless they are starving. Having a mineral or salt block for the goat is also recommended.
A variety of forages like grass, forbs and browse proves beneficial to the health of these goats. They can be fed grass like fescue, orchard and blue grass. Dandelions, cloves and wild lettuce are forbs which also contribute to their health. They also love browse like brushes, blackberry, rabbit brush, etc.
The two essential vitamins required by pygmy goats are Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Foods rich in Vitamin A include green pasture, green hay, yellow corn, etc. During summer, exposure to the sun is enough to provide the goats with the required amount of Vitamin D. However, when the sun isn’t strong enough, especially in winter, sun-cured hay is the best source of the same.
Adequate supply of fresh clean drinking water should be maintained for the goats. It is preferable if you can provide warm water in colder seasons and cool water in warmer seasons. This encourages the animal to drink plenty of water. Changing the water frequently is also important.
Avoid feeding your goat with houseplants, evergreen shrubs, flowering bulbs or landscaping plants, as they tend to be poisonous to goats.
The shelter must be constructed with raised wooden platforms. Although pygmy goats are not great jumpers, they like standing on higher grounds for a view-from-top experience. These goats are prone to acute hoof disorder in the absence of a raised platform and a dry place to sleep. Furthermore, these animals do not enjoy sleeping on the ground.
Most hobbyists consider an 8′ x 6′ shed suitable for two adult goats. In summer, it is a good idea to keep the shed well-ventilated as warm and moist air can trigger respiratory problems, and other illnesses. In winter, however, it is preferable that the drafts are closed. Flooring can be concrete, wooden or made of clay. Clay is the best as most experts would suggest. A wooden flooring is prone to rotting, while a concrete one may be cold and damp during winter. A clay flooring, on the other hand, would not only help dissipate urine odor, it would also provide a natural ground for the goats. It is recommended to construct a thick layer of clay using gravel as the base. And in about two years or so, a new layer of clay can be applied to renovate the flooring.
If your backyard where your pygmy goat would be frequenting during the day tends to get muddy, especially during the rainy season, place pieces of wood and bricks on the ground. Pygmy goats do not like getting their hooves wet or muddy.
The fencing should be built tall enough to keep animals like dogs from straying into the vicinity of the goats. Ideally, a 4′ high livestock fencing is recommended. Construct a pen with the fence so that the goats can move about freely. Barbed wire is not advisable for building a fence, as there are high chances of the goats injuring themselves.
Hoof Trimming and Worming
Goats with untrimmed hooves are prone to develop lameness, foot rot or splayed toes. Hoof trimming should be done on a monthly basis (every 4 to 6 weeks). Worming must be done 3 to 4 times annually. Pregnant goats are recommended to be wormed during the last month of the pregnancy and before kidding to protect the babies.
It is not advisable to separate a newborn from its mother and bottle feed it. This is not necessary unless a critical need arises for the baby’s survival. It is important not to feed a wether with grain after it has been weaned. This is done to prevent the goat from developing urinary stones.
Annual vaccinations are also available to keep the goats in good health. Get your pygmy goat vaccinated against enterotoxemia, tetanus and rabies. Note that no vaccination provides 100% protection against diseases. And that is why the goat needs to have an active and healthy immune system.
Apart from taking care of your pygmy goat’s food, shelter and hygiene, regular interaction with this adorable animal also adds to its well-being and health.