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VOL. 39 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 18, 2015

Have to have a pygmy goat? Here are the basics

By Colleen Creamer

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Evins cuddles one of the pygmy goats on her Wilson County farm. Her goats, which are neither milked nor slaughtered, provide vital fertilizer for Evins’ crops.

-- Submitted Photograph Courtesy Of K. Rose Publishing

Wondering if pygmy goats are for you? Pygmy goats aren’t just adorable; they are useful, particularly for the small farmer.

For pet owners, they are enormous fun to be around. Because of their diminutive size, pygmies are easily handled by children and make great 4-H projects. Requirements for housing, pen space and feed are much less than for the larger dairy breeds.

Composting rich goat manure is similar to composting any other animal waste. It is the natural breakdown of organic material to a dark, rich soil-like substance that will significantly enrich any garden.

Composting is a form of recycling that occurs continually in nature and can reduce the amount of household waste; goat manure added directly to a garden in the fall makes wonderful compost. It also can be added to other scraps in the compost bin.

The National Pygmy Goat Association (NPGA) says the following about the breed and its needs:

The pygmy goat is hardy, alert and animated, good-natured and gregarious; a docile, responsive pet, a cooperative provider of milk, and an ecologically effective browser. The pygmy goat is an asset in a wide variety of settings, and can adapt to virtually all climates.

Pygmy goats are precocious breeders, bearing one to four young every nine to 12 months after a five-month gestation period.

Does are usually bred for the first time at about 12 to 18 months, although they may conceive as early as two months if care is not taken to separate them early from bucklings.

Newborn kids will nurse almost immediately, begin eating grain and roughage within a week, and are weaned by three months of age.

Feeding and housing requirements for pygmy goats are modest. A draft free 8 feet by 10 feet shed furnished with elevated sleeping and feeding places will accommodate four adult animals.

An attached outside enclosure with at least 4-foot-high fencing will provide the fresh air and exercise these active, fun-loving goats need.

They are very sociable and are happier in a herd atmosphere or with another goat as a friend.

A basic diet of roughage in the form of legume and grass hay, bark, brush and dry leaves may need to be supplemented.

Go to www.npga-merch.com to get an online manual from the NPGA.

If you are considering keeping goats on a farm near other houses, bear in mind that goats, even pygmy goats, can be loud, particularly when they are in heat.

Goats, also, are browsers not grazers like sheep. They will certainly eat weeds, but will also eat tree leaves, bushes, cutting flowers, vegetables and herbs.

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