The Pygmy Goat
The pygmy goat originated in Africa. It was imported into this country at the end of the 19th Century as a zoo animal. It is smaller than the dairy goat and is usually kept as a pet, however it may produce a small amount of milk for its owner's consumption if required.
A full-grown nanny or wether (castrated male) can be16 to 23 inches (40 - 57cms) at the withers and usually weigh 40 to 70 pounds (18 - 30 kg).
Pygmy goats are year round breeders so kids may be available at any time of the year. A kidding usually consists of 1-3 goats, each weighing 2 to 4 pounds (1-2 kg). Pygmy goats are adaptable animals and fit into most environments. They are small, easy to handle, easy to house and are not prone to the many ailments of sheep. Kidding is usually trouble free and the females make excellent mothers, feeding twins and even triplets without help. Male kids are popular, if wethered (castrated) and make lively and rewarding pets. Entire males do not make good pets, the kids are charming but as they grow they become strong willed and will certainly develop an unpleasant smell. This comes from musk glands around the horn and the front legs, the adult male spends much of his time spraying his head and body with urine to enhance the odour. Wethers do not develop any smell and have no objectionable habits so making ideal pets. If you are thinking of buying a female kid or an adult female remember that they may become noisy when they are in season, calling for a male, especially if you have an entire male in your locality. So check with your neighbours before going ahead.
Pygmy goats can live for fifteen years or more and are a long term commitment. You can keep wethers and females together without any problems. Keeping an intact male with only one female will drive him insane and could result in her being chased (when in season) to complete exhaustion and collapse. In a breeding herd the ratio of females to males should a minimum of four to one.
We castrate all our boys unless we are asked to leave one entire for breeding purposes - a castrated male is called a wether.
Wethers do not smell 'goaty' and have much smaller horns than their dad as well as nicer personalities. Wethers make ideal pets being inquisitive and playful.
A well goat is bright eyed and takes a lively interest in its surroundings.
The law requires that all goatkeepers:
The procedure for obtaining a Holding number / Herd number / Movement Licences is as follows:
1. Obtain Holding Number - to register your address as a holding for livestock, including goats, telephone Rural Payments Agency 0845 6037777
and Press 5 (Customer Registration line). Ask for application to register a property as an agricultural holding. You can look under www.rpa.gov.uk but it does not allow access to application forms.
2. Obtain Herd or Flock Number - telephone DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) at Bury St Edmunds 01284 778150 for a Herd or Flock Number and for Movement Licence forms.