Our miniature goats are a mixture of two breeds, half American Pygmy and half African Dwarf. The original domesticated goats came from Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. This process started at least 10,000 years ago, making the goat one of the first species of animals that humans domesticated. Since then, many many breeds of goats have been developed until we finally thought, “Wouldn’t this look SOOOO cute in miniature form?” and here we are!
No – that’s not how that happened at all. The dwarf goats were used by small men with beards to carry their freshly mined ore up and down the mountains. Because of the weight of the precious minerals, their legs became shorter and shorter until they stood at less that two feet tall!
I’m now being told those are the dwarves’ goats. The actual Dwarf Goats are found in West Africa where the extremely harsh weather conditions favored smaller animals that could survive with less food and less water. From there, you have the development of multiple breeds including the American Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats.
There are a couple of things that you are going to notice fairly easily when looking at goats. The first is that most of them are going to have horns, boys and girls – it does not matter. That is because goats are some of the only animals we have been unsuccessful in having polled, which is what they call it when you genetically breed an animal to lose it horns. The major problem stems from the horn trait and sex trait being closely linked. So polled individuals have an unusually high chance of being sterile. What is a horn? It’s a base core of bone surrounded by keratin, the same stuff our fingernails and hair are made out of. A couple more head ornaments to note; beards are found on male and female goats depending on the breed (original bearded lady) and wattles, dangly bits of flesh coming off the neck. Those look kind of gross, so it’s a good thing our goats seem to lack them.
The most striking feature of a goat is going to be their eyes! Why? They have horizontal pupils! This is not a feature exclusive to goats, as cattle, sheep, and many horses have the same. What is different is that typically a goat is going to have a more pale colored iris to show off that pupil a little bit more. So why have a horizontal slit for a pupil? This design allows for panoramic vision, meaning goats have extended peripherals far beyond what we have. The advantage being that they can scope out their surroundings for any potential signs of danger.
A male goat is called a billy or a buck. The females are called nannies or does. All babies are referred to as kids. Typically does will give birth to 1-3 kids per litter once a year. Once the does give birth, called kidding (and no we’re not kidding), they will start producing milk to feed their babies. Dairy goats will produce up to 10lbs of milk per day, while the rest usually just have enough to feed their kids. Goat milk is 2% of the world’s milk production and is commonly made into goat cheese and goat butter.
We got our miniature goats from Safari Bob’s in November of 2022. They were born there in the spring, but they didn’t want to run out of room and wanted to make sure they went to good home, so they chose us! Tulip is tan colored, which is the dominant coloration, so if a goat receives the tan gene at all it will be a tan goat. Violet and Billy-Ray are black and white with blue eyes. Cole’s mom says he looks like Ray Liotta, so he is NOT named after singer Billy-Ray Cyrus.
Pictured Above: Tulip (doe), Violet (doe), Billy-Ray (buck)