Helpful Articles for Raising Pygmy Goats in Florida

 


Maintenance Requirements for Pygmy Goats In Florida

by:

Gary Dixon
Oak Haven Farm, Sarasota, Florida
Past President - National Pygmy Goat Association
Past President – Florida Pygmy Goat Association



When you take your Pygmy home for the first time there are a number of responsibilities that go with the ownership of your animal. Aside from feeding and shelter requirements, there are shots and worming to be kept up with, as well as other monthly maintenance for the animal. Below is a listing of shots and other procedures related to the ownership of a Pygmy Goat in Florida.

Monthly Procedures

1. Each month you should check your goat's feet. The heel should be level and not rolling to either side of the hoof. The outside edge of the hoof should not fold, bend, or overlap the hoof. If it does, it can create an area for dirt, mud and manure to accumulate, leading to hoof or foot rot. Trimming of hooves is an easy thing to learn. An experienced breeder in the Florida Pygmy Goat Association will be happy to show you how. One thing to remember is that the hooves of an adult Pygmy should look identical to that of a week old kid. Flat, well- heeled with a clean smooth bottom surface. While you’re at the hoof, check in between each hoof, and look for any signs of cuts or sore spots.

2. After checking the hooves, look at the bottom of your goats mouth. (Inside, below the tooth line) It should be pink in color and not white. White gums are an indication of internal parasites (worms). A fecal sample can be taken to your vet. to determine exactly what types of wormers you need to treat your goats. If you are not on a wormer rotation schedule, your vet.. or experienced breeder in the Florida Pygmy Goat Association can help you develop a sound worming schedule.

3. Check under the tail for scours (diarrhea). Diarrhea in goats can mean a number of things. It can mean the goat is ill or that it has gotten in to a flush of new pasture. Too much alfalfa given to a goat that is not used to it will sometimes cause scours also. Before calling the vet. note the color of the diarrhea and try see if the goat ate something new. Check with the vet. for a definitive answer on all medical problems, especially in a young animal.

4. Check the hair and the skin. Here you are looking for lice and mites. Ivermectin, co-ral, or seven dust can stop these guys fast. A poor hair coat can also mean a lack of essential vitamins and minerals. Make sure your goat is getting loose mineral salt or a mineral block, and a feed formulated just for goats.

5. Lastly, check nose for any discharge. Traveling in an open trailer can cause a runny nose that is not associated with a cold. If you haven't been traveling, it might be time for some anti-biotic.

If you think you have a problem with one of your goats, before
you call the vet., get some valuable information first:

1. Sex and age of the animal.
2. Take the animals temperature first with a veterinary thermometer
    rectal temp. = 103 degrees (+/-) Worry if over 105 degrees!!
3. Note any unusual change in goat’s disposition, or trauma.
4. BE VERY CALM AND EXPLAIN EVERYTHING TO THE VETERINARIAN


Adding Value and Your Herd

Gary J. Dixon - Oak Haven Farm
Sarasota, Florida
Past President - National Pygmy Goat Association

In the livestock industry today the term added value is used to identify a process by which specific measures have been taken to increase value in one’s crop. There are many steps the Pygmy goat breeder can take to add significant value to their animals at sale time. We may be taking some of these steps now, we just may not have known what we were doing.

Look around at the breeders today and you will find the first option to increasing the value of your herd. Take Whirlwind Farms animals for example. Who is the premier buck that many in our breed want a sire from? Merlin. To have a premier animal or PGCH in one’s line means an added value to your herd at sale time. If you breed to a specific line and if the breeding was successful for correctly confirmed kids, then this line breeding, if marketed correctly, will add additional value to your herd.

A second way to add value is sound breeding decisions. That will usually mean success in the show ring. Champions; junior through grand, all impart a certain added value to your herd. Your breeding decisions should make definite improvements in the confirmation of your animals and then success in the show ring. Market your success. Design and keep show records on your herd to impress potential buyers.

A way to insure that potential buyers have some anxiety taken out of their purchase is to have your herd tested. Many of us already do this as a preventative to a disastrous disease running through our herd. Some of the tests that are run on our animals will certify that our herd is free from a specific disease. The state of Florida will certify your herd free from TB and Brucelloisis and they will provide an official certificate as proof. CAE, Johnes and CL are other diseases that can tested by outside labs, but to date, there is no official certificate recognized by the state of Florida to certify your herd free from those diseases. Testing brings us to another way to add value to your herd. And that is your record keeping system linked to your worming, vaccination, and testing procedures. Nothing beats showing your complete records on a single goat to a potential buyer.

Another way to add value to your herd is to maintain a farm that can be thought of by you and the potential buyers as a show place. I’m not saying that you should go out and redo all the fences and build a spectacular barn with thousands of dollars in landscaping to make it all look pretty. The simple things go along way in making a very good impression on that potential buyer of your animals. The easiest things are sometimes are the things that get taken for granted. Keep everything clean and neat around the barn. Keep the fences tight and free from potential danger. Clean and wash out the water buckets or troughs to keep them free from algae and slime. Make sure the feed dishes are clean and free from manure and water. Keep the clutter in the barn and pasture to a minimum. Remember you are trying to make a good impression so that you can sell an animal. No one wants to leave your place thinking that they would never leave a goat off at your place let alone buy one from you!

Finally the last way to add value to your herd that is being developed for our Pygmy goats is a process of identifying, recording, and displaying Estimated Progeny Differences or EPD’s. Our friends in the pork, beef and sheep industries already have a process for this. By recording specific traits we can determine our superior animals. Birth weight, number in birth, and weaning weight or weight at 90 days are traits that fit nicely with our little animals. By recording these factors over a long period time, a breeder can identify superior bucks that sire multiple smaller kids that pack on weight quickly. Other traits can also be recorded and interpreted such as: dystocia, length of twist, or even color.

As we invest in better and more expensive animals to upgrade our herds, we need to justify our kid prices to potential buyers. A pedigree on the registry certificate just won’t do the job if we want to sell these kids at the prices we want and deserve. Take some time and decide where you want your herd to go. The value of your animals is important. Taking some or all of the steps outlined above will certainly add value to your herd in the end and will make all your hard work a little more appreciated at sale time.


FEEDING AND HOUSING PYGMY GOATS

by:
Jamie White
Heavenly Blessings Farm / Past NPGA Region 8 Director
Wildlife Rehabilitator
Crystal River, Florida


Feed Requirements

Pygmy goats should be fed a diet of fresh water, a grain ration formulated specially for goats, and a good quality hay. A mineral salt block should also be offered free choice to the goats.

It is good practice to clean out water buckets and change the water for the goats everyday. In Florida, with our high heat and humidity, it very likely that algae will grow very quickly in the water bucket. Manure often times gets into the water bucket. Goats are very particular about what they eat and drink. Manure in the water fouls the water and the goats will not drink from the dirty bucket.

The amount of grain for each pygmy will vary with sex, age, climate, and pregnancy. If you poll every breeder of Pygmys, you will find each probably has a different method of feeding their animals. A general guideline used on our farm is as follows. The wethers get the least amount of feed to guard against bladder stones. They receive one-half cup of feed in the morning and evening. Our growing kids and open does receive one to one and a half cups of feed twice daily. The pregnant does are slowly increased to two cups twice daily during the latter part of their pregnancy. This is not a hard and fast rule. Each goat has different metabolism and the caretaker should notice body condition on a daily basis. If the goat is too fat, cut down the feed. If too thin, add extra feed.

Hay is fed twice daily. Hay racks are important as goats are picky about their feed staying clean. They may refuse to eat hay if it has been trampled or defecated on. Coastal hay is the popular choice for Florida.


Housing: Pygmy goats need a simple draft free shelter. Goats are prone to pneumonia when exposed to wetness. Be very sure there is room in the shelter for all goats in your herd. Our goats enjoy sleeping on benches in the barn when the weather is fair. When the weather is cold they cuddle under the benches.

All goats like to frolic, jump, and play. Provide “toys” for them to help keep their condition and build muscle. This is especially important for the bucks. Old wire spools, wooden boxes, or anything that they can climb and play king of the mountain will help to build a strong, well-conditioned herd. Build a goat teeter-totter and stand back and watch the fun and games!

Hay types available include: Alfalfa (highest protein, highest cost) , Timothy/alfalfa mix or Orchard grass/alfalfa mix (slightly lower cost and protein content), Peanut hay (can be grown in north and central Florida which reduces cost - good protein levels), Pangola, Bahia, and Bermuda grass hay is easily available lowest cost and protein content. When buying any hay look for it to be green and smelling fresh. Yellow hay means less nutrition for you animals. Take back any moldy bales to the place of purchase, it can cause disastrous problems if fed to your animals.

Your feed choices will be either a pelleted feed or a sweet mix.  Mostly all feeds mixed for goats will be 16% protein.  Check with you feed dealer for brands and mixes available in your area.