Pygmies for all Reasons

It’s very clear to you why you have your wonderful little goats, but many times people ask, “What are they good for – why do you have them?” Maybe there are as many answers as there are Pygmy goat owners. To begin with, they’re great pets; very friendly, sociable, endearing and eminently lovable. Watching their antics is entertainment all its own. Pygmies are just plain fun to have around.

Many rationales for keeping Pygmies are important and it’s handy to know other benefits and use of Pygmies for explanations at public exhibitions, to potential customers and for relatives who think you’ve gone ‘round the bend. You never know when a good excuse is going to come in handy!

Due to Pygmy goats’ diminutive size they are easily handled by children and make excellent 4-H projects. Requirements for housing, pen space and feed are much less than for the larger dairy breeds.

Some people enjoy showing their goats and there are numerous reasons for participating in shows. What we enjoy most are the friends we’ve made. Show time is a great time to meet old friends, make new ones and learn from others. The judge’s evaluations of one’s goats as compared to others is an incentive toward better breeding programs. And it’s always great fun to win a ribbon.

I’ve read that Pygmies are more efficient browsers than dairy breeds. In a study done at the University of Oregon Medical School involving cattle, sheep, dairy goats and Pygmy goats, it was found that Pygmies showed a positive preference for compounds tasting sweet, salty, sour and bitter, which may suggest they find a wider range of plants palatable. [. . .]

Mention goat milk and many people grab their throats and gargle, “AAAGH!” Pygmy goat milk is extremely sweet and delicious. Does willingly give up to 2/3 gallon per day at the peak of their lactations. I feel a doe worth her keep should give half-a-gallon per day at her peak, but a quart a day is nothing to sniff at – that’s nearly two gallons a week! The butterfat content of Pygmy milk in our herd ranges from 4.5% to over 11%. High butterfat content means the milk resists off-flavors due to dietary causes and helps maintain milk’s sweet, delicious flavor longer in cold storage. Raw Pygmy goat milk has maintained its freshness and flavor in our refrigerator for 14 days. Pygmy milk is higher in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iron than milk from dairy breeds, and is lower in sodium.

Polyestrous sexual behavior means they can cycle year-round as opposed to dairy breeds. If milking is a priority, a continuous supply of milk can be obtained by breeding two does alternately. Dairy breeds usually have problems maintaining a year-round milk supply due to their seasonal breeding nature.

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Pygmy goats are more disease-resistant in some ways than other breeds. In Africa they are immune to the bite of the tse-tse fly – probably not a problem in your neighborhood. Demodectic mange affects Pygmies much less severely than dairy goats breeder causing bb-sized lumps in Pygmy skin but up to golf ball-size in dairy goats. Natural teat conformation helps Pygmy does resist mastitis, a bacterial infection of the mammary system, usually gaining entrance through the teat orifice. Pygmies usually have small orifices in addition to well-attached udders that are held close to the body, out of harm’s way.

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Frequently, Pygmy goats are kept as companion animals for other species of livestock and are often found at horse breeding facilities and race tracks. An article in Spring, 1983, Memo documents an elephant at the Indianapolis Zoo suffering acute loneliness and subsequently comforted by the presence of a Pygmy wether.

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Add to these many positive qualities that Pygmy goats are [. . .] unusual pets. People can’t fail to respond to their friendliness, loyalty, responsiveness, utility and intelligence.

Excerpts from:
Kinne, Maxine, ed. Pygmy Goats: Best of Memo 2 (1982-1987)
National Pygmy Goat Association: pp 30

This document is for informational purposes only and is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified veterinary professional. The information provided through this document is not meant to be used in the diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or disease, nor should it be construed as such.