Keeping Pygmy Goats as Pets

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The Pygmy Goat as a Pet:
In the UK, the pygmy goat is kept as a pet and not as a utility animal. They are the ideal pet for those of us who want to keep goats, but don't want the commitment of having to milk every day. Pygmies are intelligent and respond readily to human company, however, they are herd animals and should be kept with at least one other goat for company. They make the ideal family pet, being small, self-exercising and fun to have around. They are very hardy and providing they are kept in the right conditions, they are rarely ill. A well-fenced area with a shelter and something to climb on would make an ideal area for a couple of pygmy goats. 

Care of the Pygmy Goat

As already mentioned, pygmy goats are hardy animals and providing you look after them properly you should have few problems. Here are some of the tasks that you will need to carry out on a regular basis.   

Hoof Trimming:
Goats` hooves grow fairly rapidly and will need trimming about every 6 to 8 weeks. It is a relatively easy operation, similar to cutting very thick fingernails, and if done regularly will soon become second nature. Straight garden secateurs are probably the easiest tool to use, but get the person from whom you buy your goats to give you a demonstration. Our goats are lucky enough to roam on a disused quarry, which keeps their hoofs nice and trim naturally.

Regular worming is very important and should be carried out as necessary. Two goats kept in a back garden will probably need worming twice a year, in spring and autumn. If more goats are kept on a small area, then they might need worming more frequently, you just need to be observant. It is a good idea to rotate the type of wormer you use each year so as to ensure good control over the worms.

It is recommended that you vaccinate your goats against enterotoxaemia, pulpy kidney and tetanus. We inject our own herd with Lambivac annually.
Mineral Block:
A mineral block should be hung in the goat yard where they can reach it. They will use it if they need to. Make sure it's suitable for goats.
Housing and Feeding
One of the advantages of keeping pygmy goats is they don't need a lot of space. Two pygmy goats can be kept quite happily in a relatively small area. They will need a shed for sleeping and shelter from the elements; 8` x 6` is quite adequate for two goats. They will also need a `play area` where they can exercise, climb and jump, to stop them becoming bored. A secure 4` high fence is very important if you want your goats to stay put. Stock fencing can be used for this and is less expensive than other forms of fencing. Try to avoid cheap chicken wire, as they tend to rub up against it, which eventually weakens it, allowing them to make holes in it and escape - which we've learnt to our peril (goodbye veg patch!).

They should be fed a goat mix twice a day, about two to three ounces a time, in a small bowl. (It is important not to overfeed, as this leads to obesity and can cause scouring).  You should feed hay ad lib and give clean drinking water each day. They will also enjoy chopped up fruit and vegetables as treats. Contrary to popular belief, they do not make good lawn mowers, being browsers rather than grazers. If left to their own devices they will devastate their environment, including striping bark off trees, which eventually kills the tree, apart from Hawthorne which seems to survive. They will chomp their way through acres of ivy and brambles, but will only nibble the tips off nettles. Beware of poisonous plants, the main ones being yew, rhododendron, laburnum, ragwort and fir trees.

Legal Requirements in the United Kingdom
The legal requirements for keeping any livestock are constantly changing and you should contact your local DEFRA Office to get the up to date information before buying your goats.

The following legal requirements are permanent and should be adhered to:  
•      Before you can bring any livestock on to your land, even if they are only pets, you must have a holding number for your property. This is easily obtained by contacting your local DEFRA Office, it's a simple form filling exercise and there is no charge.

•      Any goat purchased must be properly identified with an ear tag or a tattoo showing the herd number and an individual number. This is the responsibility of the breeder, but as the buyer you must make sure it has been done. It is illegal to move a goat that is not earmarked.

If you adhere to the above advice, you and your goats will enjoy a really happy life together. We usually have kids available in January and October from the goats pictured above, please contact us if you're interested.

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