After bantam chickens, mini pigs and mini cows, you can now have your own miniature goats. As long as you have enough space in your backyard and you comply with certain rules and precautions, adopting such a lovely pet is totally feasible.
But you should not engage in this activity before having some knowledge about the long term consequences of having a mini goat in a backyard. Most importantly, you should understand the goat’s behavior and needs. You can thus avoid mistakes that beginners do, and enjoy the experience.
As we noticed there is a lack of useful material on the subject, so we thought we could gather in one article, in the form of a comprehensive guide, all the information and piece of advice necessary. We hope it will help you perform this activity in a cost effective, time saving and enjoyable way.
Meet the miniature goats
Miniature goats are the miniature version of a normal goat. The little animal is 20 inches at shoulder tall and weights between 24 and 40 lbs. for the doe and 60 lbs. for the buck. Behavior wise, we can compare miniature to dogs. Their reactions are similar. For example, mini goats manifest obvious signs of happiness when you come near to them. They recognize their owner and are not aggressive whatsoever. They quickly adapt to backyard life and get along very well with family members, especially kids.
The animal is at the same time solitary and gregarious. Hence, you are not obliged to get many of them. Still, having 2 goats is better for them not to be bored.
The most popular miniature goat breeds are the Nigerian dwarf goats and the pygmy goats.
The Nigerian dwarf goat
Nigerian dwarf goats originated in western Africa.
They have elegant well proportionate bodies. Their strong head has erect ears and a straight nose. Their coat is generally short and soft. It can be in a many colors or combinations of colors. Females are around 20 inches at shoulder tall and males are 25 inches.
Females are excellent milk producers. With up to 2 liters of milk per day, they represent a major asset for cheese lovers. In their homeland, milk production is their first function. Studies have shown that it is richer in protein and lower in fats compared to other breeds milk.
As for their temperament, Nigerian dwarf goats are calm and family friendly which makes of them the perfect pet. You can thus easily domesticate. Furthermore, they can live in community with other farm animals like horses, llamas and cattle.
The Pygmy goat
This breed has the same western African origins as the Nigerian dwarf goat. It was called the Cameroon dwarf goat.
Their body shape is very similar to that of the Nigerian dwarf goats. The main difference is in the coat characteristics. Pygmy goats have medium-long soft coats that can be in many colors. That is, the most popular color is the agouti.
Like their bigger relatives, they are generally raised for their meat and milk. Their main characteristic is their ability to leap very high, so enclosures must be suitable. As they are preys to many predators, the location of their shelter is to be carefully chosen and should be safe.
Environment and shelter
Your backyard ground should have some basic characteristics to be suitable for the goat. For optimal life conditions, the animal needs between 800 and 1200 square feet of space. The mini goat being a ruminant, the more grass your ground has, the better. But this does not mean the goats should have total freedom in the backyard. Rather, all types of vegetation are good for them: roses, trees, bushes and all other kinds of plants. In no more than 15 days, they can devastate the whole backyard!!
To avoid such a disaster, the space provided to this little animal should be well enclosed. A grid will do the job. You can install an electric enclosure for more safety like the one used for dogs. Of course, you will also need a shelter where your animal can spend the night and hide when scared (mini goats get easily scared for unknown reasons). You can get the shelter in a pet store. The following dimensions are more than enough: 8 feet high, 12 feet wide, and 6 feet deep. In this way, you animal can freely move inside the house.
Provide for enough straw. The goats need to feel warm during the night. Some hay and some water should also be available inside the shelter.
Mini goats need much less food compared to their bigger cousins. At a minimum, some grass should be at their disposition, which is generally available in all backyards. Some hay in the case the goat wants to eat during the night. From time to time, give your little pet some fruits and, why not, some plants and bushes that you get when you trim your backyard plants and trees.
Some foods should banned for their potential danger on your pet. For example, wheat can be harmful to them. If you have other pets that consume high proportions of it, make sure your little goat does not have access to their feeder. Also, cedar is highly toxic for miniature goats. As a general rule, each time you have a doubt concerning a food, better avoid it until you can be sure it presents no risks. Mini goats are very sensitive and can suffer a lot or even die from intoxication.
The miniture goat is quite rustic and rarely suffer some diseases. But if you treat the symptoms, the situation can quickly worsen. So, always keep an eye on your pet and try to detect early signs of illness. For example, if you notice his hair is in a bad shape or that the goat permanently scratches, he may be suffering. Other signs are lack of rumination, high body temperature (between 38° C and 40°C), and excessive salivation.
Deworming is paramount. It enables the mini goat to better resist to parasites like strongyles and tapeworms. Before deworming, it is important to know exactly the weight of your pet because the amount of the dewormer you use depends on it. For this matter, we highly suggest you to contact your veterinarian to make sure the dose you are using is adequate. Deworming frequency depends of the goat’s way of life, meaning it should be more frequent if the mini goat spends the majority of its time inside the shelter.
To this day, vaccination is not mandatory. You can still use a the anti-enterotoxaemia vaccine. Enterotoxaemia is deadly disease that is caused by an exponentially growing bacteria that naturally exists in the digestive system of the goat after any digestive disorder. We also recommend using anti-pasteurellosis and anti-chlamydia vaccines.
You should also perform some other non-medical care. For example, you’ll have to cut your little goat’s nails at least once a year. Using scissors, cut excess nail while immobilizing the animal by taking him between your legs. Also, don’t hesitate to peel your goat’s coat from time to time. It is important for your pet’s mood and hygiene.