national pygmy goat association of australia

FIRST STEPS BEFORE PURCHASING A GOAT

The Pygmy Goat exhibits hardiness, good nature, and genetic smallness. It has a cobby and compact frame with short head, neck, and legs in proportion to body length. Compared to other breeds, its body is full-barrelled and well-muscled, with a circumference that is proportionally greater in relation to its height and weight. Additionally, the Pygmy Goat’s sexual characteristics are distinctly defined.

Government Regulations

View your Agricultural Department requirements to keep goats.

Be aware of the need for:

  • Property Identification Number (PIC).
  • The need to have a completed National Vendor Decloration (NVD),
  • Identifying the animals, listing what medications they have had administered, showing their origins and transport method.
  • Become aware of the need to abide by the National Herd Identification Scheme (NHIS).
  • Be aware of the State Health Declaration requirements

BASIC NEEDS OF GOATS

Goats are herd animals and require an area with enough space to run around and play. They require protection from the elements, proper nutrition and minerals, and constant access to fresh and clean water.

Never take home a single goat

If this is your first-time purchase, be prepared to take home at least two animals of similar size.

A goat should not be kept as a solitary animal. Experienced goat breeders will not sell a single goat to a potential buyer who does not have at least one other goat already.

Goats are a herd animal and rarely do well without another goat as a companion.

A single goat will fret for the herd and for company, and will vocalize loudly, and often end up depressed and unhappy.

In nature sibling kids and family groups stay together for a lifetime, displaying the inherent need for company.

In some cases, an alpaca, sheep, horse, or a donkey maybe a companion but it is known they do prefer another goat for companionship.

What animals to actually start with?

A simple question with a complex answer.
One must first assess their own experience level in small ruminant management.
If the entrance level is zero, it is suggested to start with wethers.
If the entrance level is medium and knowledge had been gained from experience and education, start with two does or wethers.
If the entrance level is confident, then all options are on the table.

Talk openly with a registered breeder and learn as much as you can about the health, nutrition, and needs and the genetics of the animal you are purchasing.

From what age should kids be taken home

While bottle raised kids are part of every Pygmy stud, due to birthing mishaps, it is not the routine. The temperament of the Pygmy goat is docile and their confidence is easily one over, by patting and feeding.

Weaning of kids from their mothers can be achieved sensibly from 10 weeks of age. At this age the kids can be vaccinated, tagged and castrated if required.

Goats live for 12-15 years similar to dogs. When choosing to bring goats into your family or farm, please consider this a long-term commitment.

Health Test

Two ‘Viral Type’ diseases to avoid are Johnes (JD) and CAE, both of which are very rare in Pygmy goats and are more often evident in dairy goats, but all goats may be infected if they met the bacterium.

Either have the animals directly tested or ask for a National Health Statement or documentation to substantiate the health of the animals in question.

Lice External Parasites.

All goats have or will get lice or mites. Evidence of external parasites are the animal biting at their flanks and lower legs, or constantly rubbing along a wire fence.

There are commercial products today made specifically for livestock that can be used to eliminate and treat lice and mites. It is recommended that two treatments are required ideally two weeks apart to eliminate the parasites and to break the lifecycle.

Australian Regulatory body conditions and moving livestock

PROPERTY IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (PIC#)

A PIC is a unique eight-character code assigned by Local Land Services to properties with livestock. This system holds information identifying land including property names, locations and further details of the trading entity and the property owners or managers. A PIC number allows the movement of goats from one property to another. Getting a PIC number is easy. To find out more, contact Lands Services in your state or territory.

In applying for a PIC number you will be asked to complete an online series of questions relating to stock management.

NLIS documentation

https://www.integritysystems.com.au/identification–traceability/animal-identification/

The goats you place in the back of your vehicle to take home should be documented by the Breeder or previous owner. The Document is a legal Government requirement, it will list the vendors PIC, your PIC, the NLIS ear tags permanently fixed in their ears and their timely medical treatments.

Now you have them home

FENCING

There is a need to constrain the animals from day one. You have bought home intelligent creatures willing to learn what ever you teach them. Teach them they can wander all over town by having inadequate fencing, are lessons they best not learn in the first place.

Goats quickly learn where and what home is. Constrain them in a small area to begin with ie the area of your average kitchen/horse box before releasing them to larger areas while learning their new routine. The first area they are kept in should be their future night pen or kidding area.

Remember that even if you start with mid % Pygmy’s the size of kelpie dog, future animals and babies born can be far smaller.

Pygmy goats cannot jump very high, they are too heavy and stunted, Wire 900mm high fencing is sufficient, the distance between the vertical wires is important as is the tension on the horizontal wires. Pygmy’s will go under or through wire well before ever thinking to go over. Look into 8 90 15 for distant fencing and 10 90 5 Stiff Stay for high pressure guaranteed imprisonment.

It is important to keep predators out as it is to keep vulnerable animals in.

An electric out rigger 30cm from the ground can be useful in some circumstances as is a barbed wire 3 cm from ground level to stop animals squeezing under depressions.

WEATHERPROOF SHELTER

Goats can tolerate both rain and wind, but they cannot cope with both together, particularly at 15 degrees and below.

 For this reason, weatherproof housing is fundamental to their wellbeing. It also gives them ventilated shade on hot summer days.

Shelters don’t need to be huge or elaborate, large shaded dog kennels can be comfortable enough to provide shelter from the elements. There is always a bully and always one struggling to enter the shed, so make allowances.

The ground surface must be clean and well drained to prevent odour and rotting material.

Water

Goats are very water efficient, but still need access to it most of the day. Purchase small float valve units that reflect the purpose of the pen and the stock numbers. Avoid drowning of young stock.

Nutrition

Goats are ruminants. Ruminants include other species such as deer, camels, cattle and alpacas. To understand their means of digestion is to understand your goat is two animals in one. There is the external animal you see and adore and there is the symbiotic alien that lives at the end of its oesophagus. This creature is houses billions of bacteria and protozoa that welcome the constant source of non varying nourishment. The alien has the job of digesting the goats forage and feeding acids and complex products including vitamins into the intestine. Another product of fermentation the symbiotic relationship gives the goat is heat, a very important component in cooler climates or thin animals.

Be very careful not to change the source of feed to the rumen  too quickly, as you can change the end products drastically. If the end products are greatly out of balance they enter the small intestine and cause major physical damage that can lead to death. Early warning signs are pain, depression, and feed and bacterial scours.

To avoid issues feed your goats pasture hay to supplement the seasonal level of grazing. Higher energy or higher protein hay can be offered as needed.

Concentrates such as grains and pellets mixes, serve as good supplements to keep animals in good body condition. 400 ml am and pm is adequate. Place concentrates in feeders at the height the animals cannot stand in it.

Sultanas, crackers and weetbix make excellent treats and are great motivation when training. Training can also mean rewarding animals when they call, resulting in goats that will call every time they see you. Be careful.

GENERAL CARE OF YOUR GOAT

To fully thrive and prevent illness, goats need the following care:

HOOF TRIMMING

Pygmy goats feet grow very slowly and rarely need trimming. To tidy the feet just use sharp trimmers to remove folded nail and flatten the pad.

WORMING

Goats may need to be wormed periodically. (Good management of pastures, stocking rates, nutrition and climate can also asist in the reduction in worming being required.)

Goat wormers come in a drench (administered orally) and are available from farm shops or produce suppliers. Not all wormers treat every worm, so to be sure you are treating for the correct worms (if required).

It is a good idea to have a faecal count done.

This costs about $35 and will give you a good indication of the type of worms present and the number of worms (load) and is reported as ‘eggs per gram’ ie epg. With good care and diligence, worms need not become a problem. 

The Worm-boss website has lots of detailed information and advice on how to manage and control worms in goats. For more details visit https://wormboss.com.au/wormboss-resources/

Another great site is Wormcount. John offers a count with samples sent via mail at $35.00 for up to up to 10 goats (payment after result’s are received) if you contact him prior he will also send a kit to get you started  wormcount.com.au 

MINERAL LICKS

Goats have a high mineral requirement. They need to gain their minerals from  all the various parts of their daily feed intake. Deep rooted plants, commercial pellet and grain blends, and mineral licks supplements all help.

Mineral blocks can be purchased from farm shops in either 2 or 20 kg blocks that can be broken up if required.

CONSIDERATIONS TO MAKE BEFORE BUYING MINIATURE GOATS

PETS

Any miniature breed of goat will make great pets however intact males (bucks ) should only be kept for breeding puposes , Wethers ( castrated males) and Does are the better option.

BREEDING

Again, any of the Miniature breeds are appropriate for breeding though you will need to consider your end objective to decide which breed will suit.  If breeding any miniature breed, it is recommended to purchase the very best animals you can afford and to purchase from a reputable, registered breeder.

DISBUDDED OR NOT?

Most goats are born with horns, unless naturally polled (born without horns). It is common practise to prevent horn growth when the goat is under a week old. This is referred to as disbudding. Disbudding is the act of cauterizing the horn buds, to prevent the growth of horns. This is done for a number of reasons including the safety of handlers, especially children, from injury caused by goat’s horns, as well as for showing purposes.

Disbudding must be done by a person competent in the task, so you may wish to ask a fellow breeder or mentor, or a veterinarian to complete any disbudding on goats which you breed, or ask for them to teach you. The procedure is painful for the goat so it is recommended to talk to your vet about pain relief options.

VACCINATIONS

As with any pet or livestock, goats require vaccinations against some common diseases these are; Tetanus, Enterotoxaemia (Pulpy Kidney), Caseous lymphadenitis (cheesy gland), Black disease, Malignant oedema & Blackleg. Contact your local veterinary clinic for the right information regarding vaccinations. Using Glenvac 3-1 is generally recommend for Goats

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF OWNING GOATS

PROPERTY IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (PIC#)

A PIC is a unique eight-character code assigned by Local Land Services to properties with livestock. This system holds information identifying land including property names, locations and further details of the trading entity and the property owners or managers. A PIC number allows the movement of goats from one property to another. Getting a PIC number is easy. To find out more, contact Lands Services in your state or territory.

EAR TAGGING

Different states have different regulations in regards to ear tagging. A nationwide system was established in 2006 to standardise livestock identification in Australia, this is the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS). In general a goat should not be purchased or leave your property unless tagged, and have correct paperwork, such as a health declaration and Waybill.

Ear tagging is also a requirement of the Association and an integral part of identifying livestock in the pedigree system throughout their lifetime.

WHEN TO CALL THE VET

It is important to establish a relationship with a local vet that has prior experience with goats. A general cat/dog vet is not recommended.  It is normal for the new person to contact an experienced breeder first, but if you are still in doubt about your goat’s health or welfare, call your vet without delay.

The first signs of concern are flat or listless, off food, runny or wet poo, keeping away from the herd, won’t get up, or stopped chewing cud. 

Goats by nature are alert, curious, robust and active though, like all animals, they can become ill. Goats can go downhill quickly so it is prudent to know your goats and check them daily. Goats show pain by vocalizing (calling out) pawing at the ground, grinding their teeth and pressing their heads against something. If your goat is listless, flat, has wet droppings, is not eating, bloated or behaving oddly, make the call! Do not leave it until it is too late to contact your veterinarian.

Goats dropping can tell you a lot about their health. Healthy droppings look like little pellets. They should not clump together. If you see droppings that are mushy or clumped together then they have likely eaten something they shouldn’t have and likely have an upset rumen. If they have runny or watery droppings, they are at risk of dehydration and will need urgent vet attention.

Poisonous Plants

Some household plants are poisonous to goats. Most goats instinctively know not to eat poisonous plants but there are some goats that don’t. To be safe, it is best to avoid growing these plants in your garden or if they are there already, restrict your goats’ access to them. The most common poisonous plants are: Oleander, Arum lilies, Avocado, Azalea, Bracken, Some Eucalyptus (Sugar Gum), Fireweed, potato’s, Lilac, Laurel, Peach, Red Clover, Rhubarb, Paterson’s Curse. This list is not exhaustive. Please conduct your own research to be certain the plants at your property are safe for your goats.

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