Miniature Goats A New Solution for the Backyard Homesteader

Miniature dairy goats are relatively new breeds of goat that are the product of a standard size American goat bred to a Nigerian Dwarf. Miniature goats generally stand between 23 and 29 inches and are larger than pygmy goats which stand between 16 and 23 inches. Miniature dairy goats are documented through the Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MDGA).

Miniature goats are intended for people with small plots of land and are looking to include a milk-producing animal as part of a sustainable green lifestyle. The miniature varieties of goats are easier to handle and care for and generally have a gentle demeanor than their standard size cousins but will produce more milk than the pygmy varieties.

Six breeds of dairy goats are now registered through the MDGA and include Mini-Alpines, Mini-Oberhasli, Mini-LaMancha, Mini-Saanen/Sable, Mini-Nubian, and Mini-Toggenburg.

Miniature goats can produce anywhere between 2 lbs (1 quart) to 10 lbs (1¼ gallons) of milk per day, depending on the particular breed and genetics of the animal. Miniature goat milk is high in butterfat which means that miniature goat milk is also excellent for making cheese and soaps.

Keeping dairy goats is not necessarily the best option for urban dwellers as the goats will need at least 130 square feet area outdoors to roam and a 10 square foot shelter. Goats love to forage for bushes and fencing should be put up, not only to keep the goats in but to keep the goats out of certain areas such as the garden or the prized rose bushes.

Having a healthy goat also means keeping the goat intellectually stimulated. Goats are herd animals and a minimum of two goats should be kept to ensure companionship and to keep them sane. Goats love to have things to jump and lounge on and platforms, large rocks, or other type of play area should also be provided. The more play items made available to the goats the less space they will require for exercise.

Maintaining a healthy goat also includes regular visits to the veterinarian for annual checkups, vaccinations, and deworming. Goat’s hooves need to be trimmed regularly, about every one or two months unless the goats are able to naturally wear their hooves down from regular climbing and play. Goats also need mineral supplements, especially copper,

Keeping goats is a long-term commitment and a long-term benefit. The average goat lifespan is between 12-15 years. They can be fantastic companion animals that will also provide dairy products and hours of amusement just watching their playful antics. -KATHY FAIRCHILD

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