Little Goats Working
My first two goats were small in size. My little doe was a Kinder and my buck a Nigerian Dwarf. No, I was not breeding them at the time. They each learned to pack with a small day pack (albeit a bit too big for them) and to pull a little wagon just their size. I do have photos, but need to scan them at a friend's home to get them up here.
Pygmy, (pygmies/pgymys), Nigerian Dwarf, (dwarves/dwarfs), Pygora, Kinder, Mini, Miniature Nubian, (Nubians), Tennessee Fainting Goat, Russian White, (whites), West African Dwarf, or any other small or mix there of can be considered "little, mini or small" goats. Each of these breeds are small in size, but given the chance and raised and trained just and fairly, they will have a big heart and big personality. And yes, each of these breeds can and do work.
The little breeds can and do work. They of course could never carry or pull the same weights as the larger breeds do. You will need smaller equipment for them to safely use. But boy are they cute all decked out in a harness with a small wagon or cart.
It is very important for your little goat's equipment to fit correctly. An over sized harness or pack for them to wear is like putting a human carpenter in over sized steel toed boots, with over sized pants and no belt and sending him up and down a ladder carrying tools and boards. It would not be easy for this man to work and he would not be getting the job done as well then if he had proper fitting clothing and boots.
These photos were for me to decide if one of these wagons I have will be the right size for Atia, our little Pygmy Goat. Sometimes, taking a photo of your animals with the equipment you are hoping to use, will give you a better perspective of the sizes, how the equipment looks with the animal, better then your "naked eye" can/will.
It is also important to use the correct type of equipment. Just because the goat is small does not mean it does not need a Sawbuck Saddle for packing any loads larger then a sandwich in it's packs. What might qualify for a "light load" for a large breed may indeed be a lot to carry for a small breed goat. A dog harness might fit the smaller breed goat, but will be safe for the goat to use? Will it protect the goat going through a hilly terrain without a butt strap? Is it the correct type of harness for a cart (if it is a cart you are using)?
If you use a harness without a butt strap the cart will not fit right, the cart will not track right nor will it be safe for human and or goat. A wagon, with a harness without a butt strap, will come up on the animal and hit it in the butt, and believe me when I tell you, more working animals have been ruined this way then you could shake a stick at. Animals that have had the vehicle come up and whack them in the butt are not really excited to pull for you again. A person that lets the cart and or wagon hit their animal in the butt will have an animal that is fearful in harness and some will be quite dangerous and frantic trying to get away from the vehicle attached to them.
Your vehicle needs to fit the animal that is pulling it. You need the proper sized vehicle for the animal, not for the job/load, not the one you have in the garage, not the one you use for your larger goats, one that is the proper size for the animal pulling it. Vehicle fit matters and it matters a lot. It is not just that a large cart will be heavy for the smaller breeds of goats, the shafts will not line up with the goat's body correctly and the cart can pull the harness up on the belly of the goat, not only uncomfortable, but can actually lift up and keep the animal off balance as it tries to move. The strap belly can and often does cut into the animals body. When you add the weight of a human, many times weighing more then the goat, you can even lift the animal off the ground...no it is not funny or cute or exceptable.
The smaller breeds are perfect for Agility, Obstacle Courses and Tricks! It is easier to dress them up cute, easier to find outfits and garb, I am saying, for the little breeds then some of the bigger goats.
No, it won't do! Don't be tempted to just use any ole thing saying "It will do." "Any ole thing" is not safe for either the animal or the human using them. Proper equipment is very important.
Obviously your little goat will not be able to pull or pack as much as the larger breeds can/do. If in doubt, weight your goat, weight the load. Your small breeds can carry/pull the same percentage as the larger goats, but not the same amount of weight.
If you are buying a goat because you would like, as an adult, for your goat to pull you around in a cart or wagon, or if you want your goat to carry all the weight on your next packing trip, get a larger breed of goat. The little breeds can and do work, but please be fair to them. One option though is to get more then one....have two, four, if you are overweight, little bred goats pull you, or two or three to pack for you in little Sawbucks just their size with the proper amount of weight percentages carried per each little breed of goat.
When I "packed" with my first two goats it was more of a fun little walk then packing. I would walk them down to our mailbox, 3/4 mile from the house and have one of them carry the mail back in the little dog pack we borrowed from our Siberian Husky. The goats looked forward to this little "hike" and so did I.
YES, YOU CAN MILK THEM TOO
You of course are not going to get a lot of milk, and that might be just what you are looking for with smaller families. The smaller teats are not near as easy to palpate as the Dairy Breed goat's teats are. Rather then using your whole hand many people use just their first two fingers on each hand and their thumbs to milk the smaller breeds of goat.
As I have said before on this page, you will need smaller equipment and that goes for milking equipment too. The larger stainless steel bucket for milking might not even fit under your Pygmy Goat. So a smaller bucket or bowl is needed.
Our small stainless steel bowl that I milk into and 6 1/2" stainless steel milk can work well for our Pygmy. I bought both at a Garage Sale and paid $1 for the pair (no, they were not using them for goat's milk LOL)
See our Milk Goat page for more goat milking information. I have a section there on Milking Small Breed Goats.
Yes, they are cute and tiny and funny and full of spit and vinegar! Yes, they are lovable, and bold and sweet....but do not spoil that baby goat. Don't "spar" (push on the head or push back the little horns) with a baby goat. It will cause them to be butters as adults. If you spar with a baby and laugh, the animal will think this is the behavior you are looking for and will continue to spar with people it's entire life.
Don't let the baby sit on your lap, unless you are going to let it sit on your lap when it is a muddy, dirty, unruly adult. The same goes for your furniture.
"Pretty is as pretty does". "Cute is in the eye of the beholder". So no, your friends and family will not think your little goat is cute when it is misbehaving when it is bigger then a little bitty kid.
Start training your little bitty bundle of joy as soon as you bring it home. Teach your goat, as soon as you bring it home, the words "off" (not to put it's front feet on you and not to be up on things like furniture and or your vehicle), "no" (surely you know what this is for), "back" (to back up out of your way or back up from what it is doing it should not be. I have an article here on this site on teaching your goat manners, check the tricks page.
Yes, the smaller goats can be man handled or manipulated into working and or preforming. But that is not fair to the animal. Spend the time it takes to train your animal correctly. If you spend the time training your little goats they will enjoy being with you and learning, they will want to please you, they will have fun and look forward to being with you and working.
There is no difference in training the small goat breeds then the other breeds. Well, you will have to bend over further, they might have to jump higher unto a pedestal, but as far as training technics, all the same. So any of our training pages might help you to train your small breed working goats.
I wish I had a nickle for every working animal photo we missed. For all the times we were out with animals and did not have the camera. For all the miles on trails without taking photos our of wonderful, hard working animals.
I only have a couple of photos of my first two goats and one photo of my third goat. Time passes so quickly and goats age and then are gone from our lives. Not only is it a proud moment to see your working goats/animals but also wonderful to be able to look back at photos and remember those times for years to come..... Photos are also your best proof of owning and showing off your animals too. Many people just do not believe that animals can work, in today's world, until they see it in "black and white", or of course, color photos.
Unfortunately, we are still bad about getting photos....but then we usually have animals in one hand, equipment in the other, or so much to load and pack that we forget to take those photos.
This photo of Deron with Atia was taken before her feet hit the ground at her new home.
I had wanted a Pygmy Goat for several years. It just never worked out for me to get one. Then came Atia (pronounced At-TEA-a). Atia measures 19 1/2" tall with a 25" girth and is 50" if you measure her from the breast bone back to the tail and on around back up to the breast bone. Just a tiny thing....and once trained, I have a little bitty wagon she can/will pull.
Atia blessed us with Octavian (pronounced Oc-TAY-vee-an). I am sure I will be writing more about him as he grows and learns. He lloks much like his mother and I picture them, in my mind, pulling a little wooden buckboard (that is not built yet) in tandem.
This page, Little Goats Working, is still under construction. It, like most of our website(s) is/are a work in progress. Please check back to see more information and photos coming soon.