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What is a Miniature Goat?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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A miniature goat is a type of goat which is significantly smaller than other goats. Several specific breeds of mini goat are raised around the world, and hybrids are produced by crossing these goats with larger goat breeds. The animals are also sometimes called mini goats or pygmy goats. Much like their larger scale brethren, miniature goats are intelligent, curious, and mischievous. They also make excellent companion animals.

One of the most commonly distributed miniature goat breeds is the pygmy goat, a breed which originated in Africa. Pygmy goats are stocky, small, and very agile. They do not produce very much milk, and are used primarily as companion animals, especially in stables. A related African miniature goat, the Nigerian Dwarf Goat, is a milk producing animal. The Dwarf Goat was used in Africa to produce milk because it did not require the extensive area and feeding that full grown goats do.

Many breeders create hybrid goats by crossing a normally sized doe with a miniature buck. These hybrids are raised for various traits. Miniature dairy goats are common, made by crossing breeds such as Nubians, Toggenbergs, and Saanens with dwarf goats. A miniature goat which produces dairy can be very handy for a small farm or a family with limited space. Miniature angoras are also bred, and some breeders have created miniature myotonic goats, also known as fainting goats.

When hand raised and frequently handled, a miniature goat makes a superb pet. The animals are often selected to accompany horses and cattle, and they tend to have a calming influence over a barn. The affectionate animals prefer to have friends around, so people contemplating the purchase of a goat should plan on getting two. In addition to being companion animals for other animals, these goats can also keep members of the family company, produce milk, and help to clear brush and scrub.

Like all pets, a miniature goat benefits from a healthy diet, shelter, and regular veterinary care. A routine of checkups at the veterinarian's office combined with a healthy diet will keep the goat fit and content. In terms of shelter, if a miniature goat does not have access to a barn, a small shelter can be built for the animal to use in inclement weather. Would-be goat owners should be aware that goats bore easily, and they can also get into trouble quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a miniature goat?

A miniature goat is a small breed of domestic goat, typically kept as a pet or for small-scale farming. Unlike their larger counterparts, these goats are bred to be compact and manageable, making them ideal for hobby farms and backyards. They retain the playful and friendly nature of standard goats but require less space and food.

How big do miniature goats get?

Miniature goats generally reach a height of about 16 to 23 inches at the withers, depending on the specific breed. For example, adult Nigerian Dwarf goats, a popular miniature breed, can weigh between 60 to 80 pounds, according to the American Goat Society. Their small stature is a defining characteristic that differentiates them from larger breeds.

What are some common breeds of miniature goats?

Common breeds of miniature goats include the Nigerian Dwarf, Pygmy, and the Miniature Silky Fainting Goat. The Nigerian Dwarf is known for its high-quality milk production, while the Pygmy is more of a meat breed. The Miniature Silky Fainting Goat is recognized for its long, flowing coat and the myotonic condition that causes its muscles to freeze when startled.

Can miniature goats be kept as pets?

Yes, miniature goats can be excellent pets due to their friendly and sociable nature. They are intelligent, playful, and can form strong bonds with their owners. However, they require proper care, including a suitable outdoor space, companionship, as goats are herd animals, and a diet that meets their nutritional needs.

What kind of care do miniature goats need?

Miniature goats need a well-fenced outdoor area to prevent escape and protect them from predators. They require a diet of quality hay, grains, fresh water, and mineral supplements. Regular veterinary care, including vaccinations and deworming, is essential. They also need shelter from extreme weather and plenty of mental stimulation and social interaction.

Are miniature goats productive in terms of milk or meat?

While miniature goats are smaller and produce less than larger dairy or meat breeds, they can still be productive. Nigerian Dwarf goats, for instance, are renowned for their high butterfat content milk, making it excellent for cheese-making. Pygmy goats, though not primarily raised for meat, can provide a smaller yield of quality meat for those interested in sustainable farming practices.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By letshearit — On Aug 01, 2011

Does anyone know where you would buy a miniature goat if you were looking to keep one as a companion pet?

I have never actually seen a miniature goat for sale in any pet store or at any local farm.

I took a peek through our city classifieds and didn't have any luck there either. I am wondering if you might have to special order one from a breeder like you would with a purebred dog or cat. If so, are miniature goats restricted in some areas like some exotic pets?

I haven't looked into local bylaws yet, but am curious if anyone else has had trouble keeping a miniature goat due to local laws.

By Mae82 — On Jul 31, 2011

Adding a miniature goat to your family is a big decision and shouldn't be taken lightly as they really do require quite a lot of care. Miniature goats also require more space than your average dog or house cat.

Before you get a miniature goat you should make sure you either have a large yard or a small farm so that you can supply enough grass for your new friend to eat. A good idea is to also refrain from using any and all pesticides on your lawn at least a season before your purchase so that the goat's food isn't contaminated. You can actually buy organic bug killers that won't hurt your pet.

By Eviemae — On Jul 31, 2011

Pygmy goats are great animals to have with a few conditions thrown in.

It is important to realize that while these goats are small, they are still goats and as such they require a lot to eat. Don’t get fifteen of them and expect them to live off the grass of a couple of acres, because that is not likely to happen.

Also, you should be very aware that goats have their very own unique personalities; don’t get them if you want purely generic animals. They like other people and animals, so it would be hurtful to try to keep one secluded.

Just make sure you know what you’re getting in to before you buy them; it can be hard to give goats away to good homes.

By Agni3 — On Jul 30, 2011

I am not exactly sure what the purpose of miniature goats are in the grand scheme of things, but I know that a friend of mine had several that she raised like pet dogs.

It was hilarious to go over to her house, walk in the front door and be greeted by excited, tiny goats. Yes, there was a Rover, as well, but the goats beat him to the door.

She loved her goats, but they did manage to stink the place up a bit. And, they were pretty expensive to feed. Luckily for her, she had several acres on an unused farm, and she used the little fellows to mow the lawn.

You just had to be really careful walking through the grass, because they fertilized as they mowed.

They were great little pets for her, but really not my cup of tea. I think I’ll stick to fish.

By LTimmins — On Jul 29, 2011

@orangey03 - Even though you did mention that fainting goats act that way as part of their natural condition, it still sounds quite alarming! How would you know when they are actually seriously ill or injured? Do they act the same way in those cases?

By nefret — On Jul 29, 2011

@ALevine - More than having the time to care for a miniature goat everyday, don't forget that on average, miniature pygmy goats live about ten to fifteen years. Anyone considering buying one (or more!) should ask themselves whether they'll be able to responsibly commit that many years to taking care of the animal.

By EricRadley — On Jul 28, 2011

@OeKc05 - Adding to what ALevine said, keep in mind that miniature goats like to be around other animals too. If your daughter is at school during the day and the adults are at work, chances are that a single goat left at home could become bored and even destructive. They'll eat just about anything, including paper and cardboard!

By ALevine — On Jul 28, 2011

@OeKc05 - I would definitely recommend doing some more research before buying and possibly have a long chat with some miniature goat breeders about the animal's requirements, temperament and so on. So many families buy pets for their kids, only to realize after a short while that they can't properly commit to the time and care that is needed. It's a shame to have to do this to an animal and then send it off elsewhere or worse, have it put down.

By wavy58 — On Jul 28, 2011

I owned a miniature goat, and I have a bit of advice for you potential goat owners out there. If you get one, do not leave it alone for very long. It is a highly social animal, and it will seek out other animals or people.

I had my goat for about seven months, and I had gotten really attached to it. My family and I were going on vacation for a week, and I felt anxious about leaving the goat behind, but my parents were going to swing by and check on it every other day.

The first day they came by, the goat was overjoyed to see them. When they got in their vehicle to leave, he hopped up on the hood to try and stop them. When they came back two days later, the goat was gone.

By orangey03 — On Jul 27, 2011

My friend has one of those miniature fainting goats. It is the most astounding thing to watch. Whenever it gets scared or excited, its legs lock up, and it falls over to the ground.

This doesn’t hurt the animal. It’s part of its genetic makeup. Fainting goats are born with a condition that makes them freeze for ten seconds when overstimulated. They sometimes even bleat while they are lying there. They always get back up and resume their normal activities.

If she brings out its favorite food as a special treat, it will fall over. If it has been a couple of days since the goat has seen her, it will tip over when she pets it. It is the most up and down animal I have ever seen.

By lighth0se33 — On Jul 27, 2011

@OeKc05 - My sister-in-law has a miniature goat, and it acts just like a dog. It should be totally safe for your daughter.

She has twelve dogs, and the goat believes that it is one of them. It wags its tail when a person comes near, it tries to get in people’s laps, and it has even tried to chase cars with the dogs. It eats mostly hay, so all you have to do is keep a bale around for it to munch on as it gets hungry.

When she first got the goat, she kept a diaper on it so that it could stay in the house. Be aware that these goats do go to the bathroom wherever they please, so I hope you are planning on making it an outside goat.

By OeKc05 — On Jul 26, 2011

Has anyone here ever had a miniature goat as a pet? I am considering getting one for my daughter to play with, but I want to make sure it does not behave aggressively toward other animals.

My only experience with a goat was not a good one. As a child, I tried to pet my grandmother’s goat through the fence, and it used its head to smash my hand into the fence. Ever since then, I’ve stayed away from goats, but I want to conquer this fear. My child has been begging for a little goat the way most kids would beg for a pony or a puppy.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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