Have you been wanting a new, personable pet that is more unique than a cat or dog? Do you want goats but you don’t think you have enough space? Do you just want a larger amount of goats or an easier amount of work than you would have with full-sized goats? Are you sick of mowing your lawn? If any of these are the case then mini goats might be right for you.
Goats as Pets
It might sound strange, but miniature goats make great pets.
When socialized they can be very friendly and have quite varied and fun personalities. It usually costs less to take care of a mixture goat each year than your average pet animal. Like face it, even with a lizard the cost of special lightbulbs and feeder insects stacks up fast in comparison and that isn’t even looking at cat and dog food. They also live 10-15 years, so they can be a good family pet without being a lifelong or multigenerational commitment like parrots or turtles.
Miniature goats can easily be kept solely outside, so it can help keep your place pat damage and allergen-free. On the other hand, if you do want your pet inside people have even been successful with potty training them indoors.
Aside from hauling hay in the winter months, miniature goats are usually pretty low maintenance pets with just needing a dog house or something similar for shelter, food, and water (easy if they are eating your grass) a hoof trim every month or so, and health care and you should be set. And let’s just face it, who can resist adorable miniature goats in pajamas?
How Easy is it to get a Miniature Goat?
Fortunately with the booming popularity of the dwarf goat all over the world recently it has gotten easier and easier to acquire one. Searching online or on goat web pages and groups will often help you find multiple breeders of miniature goats in your area. I have even been in several generalized goat pages that people have suggested be relabeled as specifically miniature goat pages due to how many miniature goat breeders compare to large goat breeders there were.
Depending on your breeder, breed, and location, unregistered miniature goats often run from between 100-300$ with whether more likely to be on the less expensive end of the scale and does more so. Registered animals are likely to run from 350-500+$ depending on its breeder and lineage. Goats need companionship so you need to get at least two. Be sure you budget and get a big enough shelter accordingly.
The Question of Size
Ok, so miniature goats being well… miniature, kinda goes with the name, but how tiny are we talking about, and how much space do they need? The smallest breeds are the Nigerian Dwarf and the Pygmy goats from Africa, each standing at about 15 to 20 inches at the shoulder when adult and weight about 6o pounds.
The rest of the mini breeds are results of breeding larger goats with either the Pygmy or Nigerian Dwarf and are between 20-30 inches tall and usually weigh around 100 pounds. Even though they are bigger than the previously mentioned breeds, they are still smaller than their full-sized counterparts at ranges of around 200 pounds. In addition to this, they combine greater utility from the full-sized breeds with lower food and space requirements of the dwarf goats to create a goat many people prefer for the small family farm.
How to House a Miniature Goat
Miniature goats have similar housing requirements to standard goats, just on a smaller scale. They need a shelter to keep them warm and dry, food and water stations, and a yard for them to run around in.
Your goats will need a three-sided shelter facing away from the wind for them to get out of the elements. It should be big enough for all of your goats to get inside with some room to spare. In addition to this making sure the shelter is ventilated and slightly raised to prevent rainwater from seeping in will make things healthier and more comfortable for your goats. It does not need to be that large, however, for a few goats you can even house them in a dog house.
Now as far as space in the yard is concerned, I haven’t answered that yet. Miniature goats can be easily pastured on as little as 1/10 of an acre per animal. If you are willing to bring in all of your goats’ food instead of them gazing, they can be in areas as small as 200 feet per goat.
In addition to dwarf goats needing less space, and so less fencing, they also don’t need as high a fence as full-sized goats do, a three foot high barrier should be enough. Keep in mind, that baby miniature goats can be as small as 2 pounds, so especially if you are getting babies or you are looking into breeding, you should get a fence with holes small enough they can’t get through.
Cattle panel and field wire, even though fine for keeping dehorned standard goats, are usually not the best fencing for miniature goats. Woven wire, chain link, or electric fencing with chicken wire tend to be good fencing for mini goats.
Breeds of Miniature Goat
With the wide assortment of miniature goat breeds, you can find something for basically all of your needs (Aside from heavy lifting needs like backpacking or pulling a cart XD). Depending on what looks and/ or abilities you are looking for, you are bound to find the mini goat that works for you.
Even though smaller, these goats can often produce between a half to a full gallon of milk a day. A key factor when choosing a future dairy animal, if finding a doe with teats big enough that you will have comfort milking her. In addition to this, there are many mini breeds to choose from.
Nigerian Dwarfs – The original miniature dairy goat breed. Being the smallest it is also the least producing on this list(up to 2 quarts of milk a day), but it also eats the least. They can come in all colors and have blue or gold eyes and have high butterfat, because of this all of their crosses have higher butterfat too and have the possibility of blue eyes.
Mini Oberhasli – A cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and Oberhasli breeds. These goats have upright ears and are mahogany red-colored with a black belly and points. They stand between 21 and 30 inches at the shoulder and produce about 3 quarts of milk a day.
Mini Alpine – A cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and Alpine breeds. These goats have upright ears and come in all colors. They stand between 23 and 30 inches at the shoulder and produce about 3 quarts of milk a day.
Mini Toggenburg – A cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and Toggenburg breeds. These goats have upright ears and are brown with cream points. They stand between 23 and 28 inches at the shoulder and produce about 3 quarts of milk a day.
Mini Sannen – A cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and Sannen breeds. These goats have upright ears and are either white or sable. They stand between 23 and 32 inches at the shoulder and produce about 3 quarts of milk a day.
Mini Guernsey – A cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and Golden Guernsey breeds. These goats have upright ears and long golden or cream coats. They stand between 23 and 29 inches at the shoulder and produce about 2 quarts of milk a day.
Mini Lamancha– A cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and Lamancha breeds. These goats have no or reduced ears and come in all colors. They stand between 23 and 27 inches tall and produce about 3 quarts of milk a day.
Mini Nubian – A cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and Nubian breeds. These goats have long pendulous ears and come in all colors. They stand between 23 and 31 inches at the shoulder and produce about 2 quarts of milk a day.
Now rarely used for meat, because really, they are too cute, these breeds are bred with a stockier more meat-type build. That way if you need to put your meat animals in minimal space these ones can fit your needs. They still can be wonderful pets even if you don’t want to go that route though!
Pygmy goats – These have upright ears and come in all colors.
Kinder – A cross between the Pygmy and Nubian breeds, these goats are more of a dual-purpose breed for meat and milk. They tend to have horizontal ears and come in all colors. They stand between 20 and 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh about 135 pounds.
Australian Miniature Goat – A cross between the Cashmere, and Nubian breeds with Australian brush goats. They still have characteristics for fiber, milk, and meat production, but were bred primarily for the pet trade with their ability in those categorize marginalized. They come in all colors. They stand about 20 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 50 and 80 pounds.
Goats can produce two different types of fiber, mohair from the guard hairs and cashmere from the under layer. In standard goats, there is the Angora goat bred for mohair and the Cashmere goat specifically bred for cashmere. Since Pygmys and Nigerians often produce more cashmere than most regular goats though, people have bred them with Angoras to get a goat that produces both!
Pygora- A cross between the Pygmy and Angora breeds. These goats have upright ears, come and come in all colors and stand at a minimum of 18 inches at the shoulder.
Nigora- A cross between the Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf breeds. These are similar to the Pygora but of more slender build. There is no specified height for the Nigora.
Because… when the goat is to be just a pet anyway what else does it need to do than simply be fabulous?
Silky Fainting Goats- A cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and Mytonic Fainting Goat breeds. Not all silky goats faint, but they are bred for a long silky coat that nearly brushes the ground. They have upright ears, and although they come in all colors, most tend to have predominant white spotting. They stand between 22 and 26 inches at the shoulder.