We have received many questions on raising and caring for goats. Here are some of the questions and answers that we have received. If you would like to ask a question, please feel free to e-mail us at: Triplei@embarqmail.com
Q: What is the difference between an African Pygmy Goat and an American Pygmy Goat?
A: The American Pygmy Goat as it is commonly referred to is a Nigerian Dwarf Goat. Nigerian Dwarf Goats and African Pygmy Goats are two different breeds with different breed characteristics. The Nigerian Dwarf Goat is a smaller version of a dairy goat with a body and coloring similar to that of dairy goat breeds. The African Pygmy Goat is usually much smaller with a heavily boned body and will only reach heights when mature of 16 - 23 inches tall. Many Nigerian Dwarf goats will reach mature heights of almost twice that of an African Pygmy Goat. The African Pygmy Goat makes a popular pet because of their unusual small compact size, hardiness, and ability to adapt to different climates.
African Pygmy Goat Nigerian Dwarf (American Pygmy Goat)
Q: At what age should I breed my does?
A: It depends on the breed of the doe. We generally breed our boer and boer-cross does between 7 and 9 months of age depending on their body development. It is recommended that you wait slightly longer for pygmy does 10 to 12 months of age. We generally like to breed them during or after their second heat cycle.
Q: Where can I give a CD/T shot so it is not obvious on a show goat?
A: In some cases the CD/T vaccine will leave an injection site reaction which will leave a knot or lump that can be present for up to a few months. To minimize the visibility of a lump should it occur, we generally give the shot on the stomach or in the brisket area located just between the front legs in the extra skin of the chest (if injecting into the brisket area, it may be necessary to use a longer needle for proper penetration). Generally in either of these two locations the knot or lump will not be visible during show. We do not recommend giving the injection in the front shoulder or just under the front leg in what would be the arm pit area. If there is a reaction, it is very noticeable on the front shoulder and if it is given in the arm pit area, the goat will keep the area irritated from walking and constantly rubbing the area preventing healing.
Q: Do Wethers urinate on themselves?
A: No, when a buck is castrated, they make wonderful pets. They do not urinate on themselves or smell like bucks.
Q: I am looking for a pet what do you recommend boers or pygmies?
A: If you are looking for a pet, pygmies are what I would recommend, either wethers or does. Pygmy goats are much healthier and hardier than boers and require very little maintenance. Pygmy goats often require little or no hoof trimming and if you decide to breed them, they do great at kidding and raising kids with little or no help from you. Just remember if you want a weed-wacker, pygmy goats will only eat about 1/3 of a regular sized goat so it will take a little longer to get rid of the weeds:)
Q: Is it possible to house train a goat?
A: Yes, they are often easier to train than a dog. I have several goats that I have sold living in peoples homes. There are a couple different ways of training them, you can train them to do their business outside, or you can litter train them to do their business in a litter pan filled with straw. Often times, the goats will automatically recognize the difference between your floors and the outdoors and will hold themselves until they are placed outside again.
Q: At what age to goats mature?
A: It depends on the breed of the goat. Fullblood boer goats reach maturity at three years of age. They are a little smaller when they are born than a cross bred boer and take a little longer to start maturing than a cross bred boer. Cross bred boers are recommended for show wethers because they will mature earlier generally looking really nice around 6-8 months of age. Fullblood boers have the majority of their growth at a later age generally 7-12 months of age and will not reach full maturity until 3 years of age. Cross bred boer generally reach maturity around 2 1/2 years of age. Pygmy goats reach maturity around 2 - 2 1/2 years of age.
Q: At what age to goats lose their milk teeth?
A: Goats will start losing their milk teeth at approximately one year of age. Their milk teeth will become loose and begin to fall out being replaced by permanent teeth at this time.
Q: I have a goat that doesn't want to come to me what can I do to make them come to me?
A: Goats respond very well to treats. First you will have to find out what they like for a treat. Most goats will like one or more of the following: bread, marshmallows, cookies (not chocolate), animal crackers, some cereals, etc. When you find out what that goat likes, they will be your best friend. My goats really like bread and as soon as they see a bread bag, they come running.
Q: What are wattles?
A: Wattles are little folds or tufts of skin covered in hair located on the neck under the jaw (sometimes they can be located slightly higher under the ear). Wattles are sometimes called "bells" or "skin tags". Wattles are most commonly found in dairy-cross boers, dairy goats, and pygmy goats. Goats can either have one wattle or two. They serve no purpose and are believed to be "left over" from evolution. The photo below is a picture of a wattle (circled in orange). They are a genetic trait just like beards, horns, etc.
Q: Do triplets come from the doe or the buck?
A: In my experience it seems to be more from the buck than the doe. If we use a certain buck almost every doe he breeds will have triplets time and time again. We can take those same does and breed to a different buck and the next time they will all have twins.
Q: What can you do for boers with folded ears?
A: If a goat has folded ears you need to address the issue within the first several days of life. Unfold the ear and using duct tape, place a piece on both sides of the ear until the ear lays the correct direction (if needed, you can also tape a piece of cardboard to the ear to help it lay flat). This can be done with ears that are folded both vertically and horizontally. Leave the duct tape on until it falls off on its own. If necessary repeat by reapplying duct tape until the ear is correct. Doing this while they are kids is training the cartilage to grow the way you want it to. If the ear is folded and attached by skin it is recommended that you leave the ear folded instead of cutting the skin.
Q: Is your herd CAE (Caprine Arthritis-Encephalitis) free?
A: Yes, our herd is free of disease. We have a closed herd which means that we do not add any goats to our herd from other farms. When we were building our herd, new additions were kept in quarantine pens for 6 months and vet tested to be sure that they were healthy before they were released into the herd.
Q: If I buy one goat as a pet will it get lonely?
A: If you buy one goat when it is young, it will get used to being alone and will do just fine with human companionship. One goat will be more likely to bond to you. If you have two goats, they will bond with each other.
Q: Can I breed a boer or regular sized buck goat to a pygmy doe?
A: Definitely Not. A pygmy doe will not be able to carry the kids to term because they will be too large. Breeding a pygmy doe to a regular sized buck will usually result in the death of the doe and her unborn kids or the kids will have to be aborted.
Q: Will goats get alone with other animals?
A: Yes, goats will get along with a variety of other animals such as cats, chickens, ducks, geese, miniature horses, miniature donkeys, llamas, sheep, and some dogs, etc. It mostly depends on their personalities and at what age you introduce them to other animals.
Q: I noticed that my one goat has a red watery eye do you think it is pinkeye?
A: There are different kinds of pinkeye. The highly contagious kind is unlikely unless they were exposed to another animal with it. Most forms of pinkeye are not contagious and come from simple things in the goats environment. Kids will often get red irritated eyes from dusty hay because they are short and generally hay feeders are taller than they are, when they eat some of the dust will fall into their eyes, or if they run something into their eye, it will be red and irritated, and sometimes cloud over. Treat them with terramycin eye ointment twice a day for seven days or Penicillin applied directly to the eye twice a day for seven days and it should clear up. If you feel that it could be contagious remove them from the herd immediately and place them in a wellness pen to stop it from spreading. In the event that the eye ulcers, a prescription medication may be needed.
Q: How can I tell if my goat is bloated and what do I do for it?
A: If a goat is bloated, it will have a very round full looking stomach and will appear swollen. Sometimes they will be frothing at the mouth and not eating. Bloat can appear on one or both sides of the goats stomach and will take a good eye to detect the sudden change in the goats appearance or the sudden change in their behavior. It is a good idea before you let your goat onto fresh lush green pasture or if you do rotational grazing to feed them grain and hay in the evening and then let them out just before bed time so they wont over eat and become ill. Goats can also bloat on very small amounts of grass especially during the early spring when grass has been abscent from their diet all winter and the new growth of grass becomes available. Keep bloat release on hand at all times because goats will die from bloat very quickly if they are left untreated. Although I have never tried it, I have heard of people using a baking soda drench to release the gas (2-6 ounces depending on the size of the goat). Do not change their feeds suddenly. If you are changing them to a different kind of grain, gradually mix the two for several days mixing the new grain lightly at first and then heavier until you get them changed over to prevent bloating. The onset of Bloat can be caused by different dietary changes and if left untreated the goat can die suddenly with seemingly no symptoms.
Q: Why do you feed hay and grain in the summer?
A: We feed hay and grain year round. During the summer months, the grain and hay is not fed in abundance. We feed healthy amounts of grain and hay to pregnant or lactating does that require a higher nutrition level and young kids. The dry does only get enough grain to have a taste of it in the evenings before dark. Then the manger is filled with hay to ensure that they will spend the night in the barn and not in the pasture in search of food where they could fall prey to predators. It is a safety precaution that we take to ensure that they will bed down in the barn and not in the pasture and also this gives you a chance to inspect them to make sure they have not become ill or injured.
Q: How can you tell if a goat is getting sick?
A: The first signs of a goat not feeling well is they will have their tail down, not eat, have diarrhea or stand with their head pressed against the wall. Any change in their usual behavior will signal to you that something is wrong. It depends on the symptoms and what lead up to this behavior as to the diagnosis.