Pygmy Goat Care
Goats are herd animals and must live in company with other goats, but will be happy living with other livestock as well, including sheep and alpacas. If grazed with horses, they must have a safe area that they can retreat to if they are being chased.
Pygmy goats will happily live out at grass all year round providing they have a shelter to escape the rain and the wind. An adequate windproof and waterproof field shelter is essential, as they cannot tolerate wet weather as they are not waterproof like sheep. They will also require a secure stock proof fenced paddock which is of the utmost importance as goats can be good escape artists. It is a good idea to ensure there are no large objects near the fence lines as goats are also notorious for jumping and playing on things which may allow them to jump the fence and escape. Enriching their enclosure with benches and logs to play on will make them far happier. They should not be tethered.
If living out in winter, hay should be readily available as the grass quality is poor. This should be fed in a hayrack (not a haynet, as they can get caught up in it) as they are very wasteful with hay if fed on the floor. A small amount of feed daily is recommended. Many people do still feed small amounts through the summer months to keep them friendly but if plenty of grass is around and they are keeping at a healthy weight, it shouldn’t be required. Hay should be fed all year round in their enclosure if the there is little grass or the grass quality remains poor. Fresh water should be available to them at all times and they should have access to a mineral lick to ensure they get a balanced diet.
We are happy to advise on anymore information on husbandry.
Worming is required three to four times yearly depending on the land they are kept on and the stocking density. Wormers are available from vets or farm retail outlets. Some vets now recommend taking a faeces sample and having a worm count done to determine whether they actually need worming. This is to avoid unnecessary worming hence avoiding resistance to the wormer. It is also advisable to change the drug category of wormer yearly on a three yearly cycle. Your vet would be happy to advise you further.
Feet need to be done every 8 weeks. The excess hoof then needs trimming and is best done with foot trimmers. Checking the feet regularly is essential as overgrown feet or mud stuck between the toes can make them lame. It is also an ideal time to check for any signs of foot rot. Keeping them in good shape reduces further problems.
Goats are vaccinated yearly for clostridial diseases (Most vets use Heptavac or Lambivac for goats – please consult your vet). Contact a large animal/farm vet for this as small animal practices may not stock it. This can be started a few weeks after they arrive at their new home, once they have settled.
Goats can sometimes get lice, particularly in the spring and autumn when they are changing their coats. It is important to keep a look out for lice all year round so that they can be treated promptly to avoid any discomfort. Common symptoms of lice are having a coarse coat, rubbing on fences and stamping feet. They are easily seen to the naked eye and although can be anywhere on the body, they are usually found in the wither area at the base of the neck, down the shoulders towards the top of the front legs and on the rump.