Pygmy goats make good 4-H projects or pets, as long as you buy two, so that they can keep each other company. Pygmy goats, like full-sized dairy goats, are herd animals and love to socialize. Pygmy goats are good for milking and meat use, too. Their feed to food conversion is efficient as they reach maximum weight fast. The small goats are easy to handle, even by young members of the family.
Pygmy goats were imported to the United States from Africa in the 1950s. They became popular for meat and milk and were a natural solution to rid their owner's yards of weeds. Pygmy goat's popularity rose with their playful disposition and friendly nature.
Pygmy goats look just like standard dairy goats, only with shorter, sturdier legs. They grow horns just like other goats and need to be polled, that means have their horns removed. Pygmy goats come in several colors--caramel color, mostly black with black legs and solid black.
Full grown, a pygmy doe or wether (castrated buck) weighs between 40 and 70 lbs. and stands between 16 and 23 inches at the withers (the bone at the base of the neck). They breed year-round and have litters of between one to three kids weighing between 2 to 4 lbs. each.
Pygmy goats need to be kept clean and would rather starve than eat from dirty dishes and would thirst to death rather than drink from a bucket of water with hay floating around. They need quality legume hay and sweet feed to provide them with roughage and energy. Baby pygmy goats can't eat roughage like their parents as their rumens are not developed. This development takes between eight to 10 weeks to complete. Pygmy goat feed is available at feed stores.
Running pygmy goats with cattle benefits the rancher in that the goats eat the weeds, leaving the grass for the cattle. Using this method the rancher feeds both his goats and cattle and has no field waste. Goats also bleat wildly if predators are nearby, thus alerting the rancher to danger to his livestock.