More than just bouncy little bundles of goat joy, pygmy goats provide a viable source of milk for homesteaders and individuals interested in living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Although it is not bred to produce large quantities of milk, the African pygmy goat can give up to 1.81 Kilogram of milk per day, according to Jerome Belanger, author of "Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats." Weighing a diminutive 24.9 Kilogram and measuring approximately 19 inches tall at the shoulders, the average adult female pygmy goat (called a doe) can easily give enough high-butterfat milk for a small household, provided you practice good dairy goat husbandry.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Adult female pygmy goats
- Goat barn/shelter
- Straw bedding
- Milk stand
- Dairy goat grain ration
Purchase adult, female African pygmy goats from a reputable breeder that can provide you with stellar references from other satisfied buyers. Try to find a breeder that uses her pygmy goats for milk rather than meat production, since she'll have bred her goats to give a higher volume of milk. Opt for pregnant pygmy does or does that have already kidded so you'll have a ready supply of milk.
Contain your pygmy does in a secure area with a sturdy fence such as a 32- or 48-inch tall woven wire fence. Provide approximately one acre of pasture land for every three to five pygmy goats in your goat herd to ensure that each goat has adequate access to forage. Give your pygmy goats constant access to draft-free shelter, which should ideally be a barn with a large sliding door that you can keep open for ventilation during hot summer months. Provide a bed of straw, especially during cold winter months.
Milk your pygmy does twice daily for four to six months, before drying them off in preparation for kidding. Secure your pygmy does in an elevated milk stand to make the task of milking them easier on your back. Dry off (stop milking) your pygmy does over a one- to two-week period, gradually decreasing the number of milkings so their bodies slowly stop producing milk without developing udder inflammation.
Feed your pygmy does a grain ration mixed for dairy goats, which should provide at least 16 per cent protein to maintain adequate milk production. As a general rule, plan on providing, on a daily basis, approximately 1/2 pound of grain for every pound of milk that your goat produces. Remember to provide 24-hour access to high-quality hay, such as alfalfa, as well as fresh water.
Breed your does to kid once yearly, so you'll always have a supply of fresh goat's milk. Opt to breed your does to a high-quality, registered African pygmy buck or a Nigerian Dwarf buck, a miniature goat breed known for its high milk production.
Enlist the aid of an experienced goat owner when kidding time arrives, so you'll be prepared to help your does give birth to their kids, if necessary. Sell the goat kids, retaining some of them for your goat herd if you wish to increase the size of your milking herd.
Tips and warnings
- Trim your pygmy goats' hooves regularly, preferably once every one to three months.
- Take a fecal sample to your veterinarian at least every six months to check for worms. Worm your pygmy goats based on the type of worms your veterinarian finds in the fecal sample.
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