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What are Pygmy Goats?

By Soo Owens
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Pygmy goats are a domesticated breed of goat that are smaller in stature than other goat breeds. They possess an adaptive temperament that makes them suitable for various environments and purposes. While the pygmy goats can be used as a source of milk and meat, few owners use them for this purpose.

These miniature goats were originally discovered in a region of West Africa referred to as the Cameroon Valley. They were referred to as Cameroon dwarf goats or African pygmies by English speakers in Europe. Sweden and Germany were the first European countries to export the goats, which were than purchased by breeders who placed the animals in zoos and classified them as exotic. Later the goats were sent to England from where they were shipped to the United States and Canada and sold to zoos and medical research institutions. The first documented shipment to the United States was received by the Rhue family in California and the Catskill Game Farm in New York.

Female pygmy goats are referred to as does, while the males are called bucks. They range in height from 15 to 23 inches (40 to 55 cm). The does can weigh from 50 to 75 pounds (23 to 34 kg), and the bucks usually weigh between 60 and 86 pounds (27 to 39 kg).

The average lifespan of pygmy goats is between 10 and 15 years. Females are capable of reproducing within two months of birth, though most breeders will wait until the doe is at least 12 to 18 months old. Pygmy goats will reproduce out of normal season and generally produce two kids in gestation periods that span 21 to 22 weeks.

Both sexes have horns, although a doe typically has straight horns and the buck has a curved or spiraling pair. Evidence suggests that the curved formation of horns on the males is the original form. Hair is usually short and smooth, though it can vary between short and medium-long as the seasons, climates, and geography change. Various shades of hair color exist, from white to light browns and reds as well as grays, silvers, and blacks, often with frosted tips. Females generally do not possess a beard, though it is possible. Males can develop a beard and mane that are both long and full.

Like other goat breeds, pygmy goats are highly adaptive animals and can easily adjust to different geographies and climates. Food and nourishment requirements are fairly basic, as the goats are easy to feed, requiring only greens, grains, and fresh water. Due to their diminutive size and easy going manner, pygmy goats are often used solely as pets in many settings, including rural, suburban and urban with no intent by the owner or breeder to acquire milk or meat.

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Discussion Comments
By anon267650 — On May 10, 2012

Although owning the Nigerian Dwarf goat may sound like a good idea from a pet owner's perspective, there are some things to consider.

One, should the dwarf goat become agitated, it might line up directly with your reproductive organs and cause general or harmful discomfort should it head butt you in the genitalia. Men are more prone to to reproductive injury then women. Other considerations may be cost, dwelling, and general upkeep of the Nigerian Dwarf goat.

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