Pygmy Goat (American Pygmy)
Pygmy goat is a small American goat known for its compact body stature and stocky build. They belong to the category of achondroplastic goats, with dwarfism being one of their prime features. One of their significant physical traits displayed in most dwarf goat breeds is their short legs and arms, though their torso appears of a regular length. Like the Nigerian pygmy goat, their other American dwarf counterpart, the American pygmy also derives its lineage from the domestic West African dwarf breeds originating in the coasts of Western Africa and Central Africa. Despite sharing their name, the American Pygmy isn’t the same as the British Pygmy that gets its ancestry after the southern Sudan goat.
|Also Known As||Pygmy goat, African pygmy goat|
|Physical Characteristics||Small, stocky, well-muscled, deep, broad barrel, flat, wide and short nose, rounded muzzle, short legs, and thick horns (primarily seen in males)|
|Temperament/Personality||Docile, even-tempered, gentle, adaptable|
|Color||Caramel with markings of black or brown, black, agouti, brown agouti, gray agouti, solid black, black and white|
|Coat||Straight, with long hair; beard remains sparse or absent in females, but in abundance in males|
|Weight||25-40 kg (55-88 lb)|
|Height||40 – 50 cm (16-20 inches)|
|Uses||Meat, as companions, for research|
|Diet||Mostly hay (in their wild habitat)|
|Lactation Period||6 months|
|Country of Origin||United States of America|
|Standard and Qualification Information||National Pygmy Goat Association|
History and Development
Several miniature goats belonging to the West African dwarf breeds were imported to the U.S from German zoos between 1930 and 1960. The purpose of bringing these dwarf goats to the United States was to use them for research and put them in zoos for exhibition. Their utility altered a little when private breeders gained access to them and began petting these goats as companions.
Of the two distinct varieties that developed from these dwarf breeds in the 1970s, one was stocky and compact while the latter a little delicate replicating dairy goats. The first variety became the American Pygmy, while the less muscular type was the Nigerian Dwarf. The American Pygmy gained formal recognition in 1975 when a herd book and breed society developed for this breed.
There has been a decline in the population of these goats over the period. In 2017, the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) marked them endangered. In 2019 the DAD-IS (Domestic Animal Diversity Information System) put the status of these goats to be “At Risk” in their database.
Due to their compact, muscular build, the Pygmy goats are mostly reared for their meat.
They do not serve as milk goats due to their small size, yet the American pygmy goat produces 1-2 quarts of milk each day during the 6-month lactation period.
Because of their docile, adjustable, and well-behaved nature, the American pygmy makes for great companion goats, suited for all age groups, from kids to adults.
For Research Purposes
Since they are small and easy to handle, the American pygmy goat has been used for scientific research.
They have a gestation period of 145 to 153 days, with most does giving birth to twins. However, a litter may have between 2-5 kids on average.
- The American Pygmy contributed to the development of two of the modern breeds, Kinder and Pygora. While the first resulted from the Pygmy-Nubian cross, the second owes its parentage to the Pygmy and Angora.
A pet Pygmy comes $75-$200, however, show pygmies are costlier, costing up to $500 or even a little more depending on the bloodline.
The primary difference between the two is in appearance and even usage. The American Pygmy appears stockier with short legs. In contrast, the Nigerian dwarf goat is leaner, with long and thin legs. While the former excels as a meat goat, the latter does better as a dairy breed.