Some information about Me, the Herd, and the Breed in general.......
The Marshview Herd of Pygmy Goats was formed in 1974 with the purchase of a 'small' castrated male goat from Ashford Cattle Market for the princely sum of £3 ! Once we realised he was not a 'normal' breed of goat we began to research what exactly he was. Soon my mother saw an advertisement in the Rare Breeds Survival Trust magazine for a pair of pygmy goats not too far from where we lived. These were purchased and that original female 'Charlotte' became our Herd Matriarch and we still have her descendants here nearly 40 years later ! Incidentally, the herd got its name from where we used to live, on Romney Marsh.
When I met my future husband we divided the herd and I moved my group of goats to his farm.
My son William was born in 1991 so motherhood became my main focus for his first few years, although I did manage (somehow) to take him to some shows while he was still in his pushchair ! As soon as he was mobile he began to show his own kid and he continued to enter Junior Handler classes until he reached his teens.
The Herd now numbers over 60 goats and with a selective breeding programme much success has been achieved in the show ring.
I judged my first pygmy goat show in 1990 and have enjoyed building my experience in this field over the years. I was also a founder member of the Pygmy Goat Club of Great Britain and held the office of Registration Officer for 18 years.
I am very fortunate to be married to a farmer as this has allowed my hobby (obsession he says!) to grow. My goats have been given free range of a 7 acre field and some redundant farm buildings have been modified to house them in indivudual pens.
Origin of the Breed
Average pygmy goat lifespan; 10-15 years
Normal body temperature; 102-104°f (39.1 - 40c)
Normal pulse rate; 70-95 beats per minute (faster for kids)
Normal respiration rate; 20-24 per minute
Rumen movement; 1-1.5 per minute
Gestation period; 145-157 days (average 150 days)
Heat (oestrus)cycle; 18-24 days (average 21 days)
Length of heat; 12-48 hours (average 1 day)
Weaning age (recommended); 12 weeks
Males sexually mature; 10-12 weeks
Females onset of heat; 7-12 months (we recommend that females are mated for the first time at around 18 months of age)
Dehorning (by veterinary surgeon); By 7 days
Castration; Using elastrator ring – 7 days
Surgical method (by vet’) –No age limit
Care of the Pygmy Goat
The Pygmy Goat is a hardy, good-natured animal; a gentle and responsive pet. Pygmy goats are NOT a dairy or commercial breed.
PYGMY GOATS NEED COMPANY OF THEIR OWN KIND AND SHOULD NOT BE KEPT ALONE.
Modest; an 8' x 6' shed, furnished with a bench and hay-rack being suitable for two pets. Access from the shed to a well-fenced play area will provide space for exercise and fresh air, both essential for the fun loving Pygmy Goat. Two pet pygmy goats will require an area of at least 20m².
Tethering is NOT a suitable means of restraint.
A basic diet of hay and clean drinking water should be supplemented by 2-8 oz of concentrate a day, depending on age and condition. Pygmy goats are browsers not grazers - they should not be considered as lawn-mowers. Vegetables and fruit should be added to their diet along with twigs, leaves etc. Care must be taken to avoid poisonous plants.New food should be introduced gradually.
You should provide your pygmy goats with a red 'rockie' mineral lick in their goat shed.
Their hooves should be trimmed every 6-8weeks. They will need to be wormed at least twice per year and should be treated against lice during the spring and autumn.
Vaccinations will be required against entero-toxaemia. Your vet' will advise you on this.
Owners not wishing to breed should choose two wethers. These castrated males make excellent pets with none of the drawbacks associated with the entire(stud) male.
ALL goat owners are required by law to register a holding number and a herd number. This applies even if only two goats are kept in a back garden. To register contact your local DEFRA office. All goats must be identified by ear-tags and/or tattoo and goat movement between properties must be accompanied by an official license. All reputable breeders will advise and arrange this.
The Pygmy Goat in the UK
Dwarf goats are distributed over a very large area of equatorial Africa from the south of the Senegal through Central Africa to Southern Sudan.
Two types of dwarfism occur in goats in Africa. These are 'achondroplasia' which results in a goat with disproportionally short legs, plump body and short head, and 'pituitary hypoplasia' giving a small but normally proportioned goat.The first of these types is typical of the west African dwarf goat found in the Guinean zone of West Africa. The slender, normally proportioned goat of the second type is found in the Southern Sudan region. These two types represent the extremes, with many intermediate types in existence. The height to withers for both types is given as 40cms to 50cms (approx.16" to 20") with the bodyweight of the West African type ranging from 44lbs to 55lbs and the Southern Sudan type from 24lbs to 55lbs. All colours and combinations of colours are said to occur in both types.
It is clear that the British Pygmy Goat owes more to the West African dwarf than it does to the dwarf goat of Southern Sudan. It seems likely that our Pygmy Goat is not the extreme form of 'achondroplasic' origin but a transitional type of more pleasing appearance.