Who doesn't love a compact version of their favorite animals? Isn't that why toy dog breeds are so popular? The mini craze has made it's way to the homestead in a variety of miniature goat breeds.
Miniature goats are small versions of large, or standard, sized breeds. They will generally weigh under 100 lbs and stand around 2 feet tall. Some of the more popular miniature goat breeds are Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Pygmy goats, Australian Dwarf Goats, and Kinder goats (which are actually a hybrid breed).
What Is A Miniature Goat?
There is no set standard for a miniature goat. This is because miniature goats are not simply one breed. But rather a group of similar typed goats. Much like dairy goats are all bred for milk production as a common trait, miniature goats are a group of goat breeds that are bred for their smaller size.
Miniature goats are simply goats that are bred to be significantly smaller in size (height and weight) than standard breed goats. For example, standard breed goats, like an Alpine, can range in size from 30 inches and 135 lbs for a doe up to 32 inches and 170 lbs for a buck. A Sanaan is even bigger with the buck growing as large as 35 inches and 185 lbs!
In contrast, a miniature goat breed, like Nigerian Dwarf Goats, will typically get no taller than 24 inches and weigh 75 lbs or less. As you can see, miniature goats are just about half the size of their larger breed counterparts.
Why do you want a mini goat?
Aside from the fact that they are super adorable, there are many other reasons raising miniature goats can be preferable to standard sized goats.
One of the most appealing reasons people keep mini goats is because they take up such little space. That means if you have a small back yard (and a not-too-strict HOA) you can fit 2 or 3 goats back there comfortably. Outside of the neighborhood scene, smaller lots of property can fit a larger herd since they won't need as much space to graze per goat.
And since we are talking about their eating habits, miniature goats eat much less than larger breeds do. Since they eat less, they will also cost less to feed. Eating less means a field of grass will have the chance to regrow last longer and they will go through hay less quickly.
Aside from their compact size, miniature goats are capable of the same uses as standard sized breeds. The 3 main types of goats are dairy, meat, and fiber which can all be found in mini sizes.
Being smaller, with less feed requirements can make miniature goats easier to manage as well.
Mini goat breeds
If you are familiar with our farm, you know doubt know of Nigerian Dwarf Goats. But they aren't the only miniature goat breed out there. There are many others that meet the miniature requirements as well as some hybrid breeds.
|Organization||Miniature Breeds Accepted|
|American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA)||Nigerian Dwarf|
|American Goat Society (AGS)||Nigerian Dwarf|
|Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MDGA)||Alpine|
Nigerian Dwarf Goats (NDG)
Size: Around 17-20 inches tall; 40 - 75 lbs
Personality: Very loving and fun to be around
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Nigerian Dwarf Goats are great milkers. They are bred to have a high butterfat content so their milk is more like cow's milk than what you would typically think of with goat's milk. You can expect to get anywhere from ¼ to ½ a gallon of milk a day from a doe in full production.
Size: Around 20 inches tall; 35-60 lbs
Personality: Energetic and love to be around people
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Pygmys have gained popularity all over the world for the fun personalities and ease of milking. Their size makes them perfect for a small homestead. They are also a dual purpose goat in that they are used for both dairy and meat.
Australian Miniature Goats
Size: Around 20 inches tall; 50-80 lbs
Personality: Full of energy, lovable, and loyal
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Descendants of Australian Bush Goats, AMGs have been crossed with several other breeds, such as Cashmere, Boer, and Nubians, to get the minis we know today. Because of their size, friendly personalities, and adorable demeaner, they are primarily used as a domestic pet breed.
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A hybrid, or cross breed, miniature goat is when a traditional mini goat (NDG, Pygmy, etc) is crossed with a standard sized goat. This is typically done by breeding the buck of the miniature breed to a doe of a standard breed. Their offspring will have traits of both breeds and often a smaller size.
Why would you want a hybrid mini goat?
Sometimes you want a specific goat breed for one of it's traits. For example, Angora goats are known for producing the fiber angora. Breeding a standard sized Angora goat with a miniature breed will give you the chance to raise fiber goats in a much smaller area.
Kinder (NDG & Nubian)
Size: 28-28 inches; 115-135 lbs
Personality: friendly and sweet disposition
Lifespan: up to 18 years!
Kinder goats are a cross between Pygmy goats and Nubians. Their milk is sought after for dairy products like cheese. They are also bred to be particularly muscular for meat production.
Size: 28-29 inches; 65-75 lbs
Personality: Sweet, energetic and expressive personalities
Lifespan: 8-12 years
Mini Alpines are primarily used for milk production. Like their standard sized counterparts, their milk is preferred in making all sorts of dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
Size: 29-31 inches; 60-80 lbs
Personality: calm and laid back
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Saanens are completely white in color. A Sable is a Saanen that is colored. Mini Saanens, like standard Saanens, are heavy milk producers and are raised for that purpose.
Pygora (Pygmy & Angora) & Nigora (NDG & Angora)
Size: 25-27 inches; 65-95 lbs; Nigora - 19-29 inches; 85-190 lbs
Personality: Pygora - attentive, good-natured, inquisitive; Nigora - peaceful, friendly, easy going
Lifespan: Pygora - 12-15 years; Nigora - 12-15 years
Angora goats are raised for their angora fleece. Depending on the goat, you can yield either angora or cashmere; both highly sought after fibers. The main distinguishable difference between Pygora goats and Nigora goats is Pygoras are a little bit heavier.
Mini Goat Comparison Table
|Mini Alpine||28-29 inches||65-75 lbs|
Sweet, energetic and expressive personalities
|Australian Mini Goat||Around 20 inches tall||50-80 lbs||Full of energy, lovable, and loyal||Pets||10-15 years|
|Kinder Goat||28-28 inches||115-135 lbs||friendly and sweet disposition||Dairy, Meat||up to 18 years!|
|Nigerian Dwarf Goat||17-20 inches||40 - 75 lbs||Very loving and fun to be around||Dairy, Pets||10-15 years|
|Nigora||25-29 inches||85-190 lbs||peaceful, friendly, easy going||Fiber||12-15 years|
|Pygmy||Around 20 inches tall||35-60 lbs||Energetic and love to be around people||Dairy, Meat||10-15 years|
|Pygora||25-27 inches||65-95 lbs||attentive, good-natured, inquisitive||Fiber||12-15 years|
|Mini Saanen/Sable||29-31 inches||60-80 lbs|
calm and laid back
|Dairy, Meat||10-15 years|
Frequently Asked Questions
We came across a lot of questions about mini goats while researching for this post. Here are some of the more common ones:
Q1. Are miniature goats good pets?
Miniature goats are fantastic pets! Their size and quirky personalities make them non-stop fun. Keep in mind, they do need other goats to stay healthy since they are herd animals. You do not want to keep only 1 goat. You will need at least 2.
If you want to keep them as pets and you only have a backyard or small plot of land, Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy goats are probably your best pet options.
Q2. Do miniature goats stay small?
Miniature goats will stay small for their entire life. For example, a full grown Nigerian Dwarf Goat will grow to the size of a medium sized dog (think a large Labrador Retriever).
Q3. What type of goat stays the smallest?
Out of all the miniature goats, Nigerian Dwarf Goats will stay the smallest. Does (females) will generally stay in the 50-60 pound range and stand around 18 or so inches at the shoulders. Bucks (intact males) may weigh a little bit more and are usually an inch or two taller. Wethers goats (fixed males) will generally fall somewhere in between.
Q4. How much is a miniature goat?
How much a miniature goat costs is going to vary depending on a couple of different factors. The breed, pedigree, purpose, and herd name will all affect the price you will pay for a miniature goat.
An unregistered wether that you find on Craigslist or similar marketplace can be under $100. However, these sellers often can offer no health assurances and are unlikely disease tested. It is generally better for the health of the goats and your herd to buy from a reputable breeder that disease tests their herd. (Disease testing is just one factor when deciding how to buy a goat.)
A wether from a tested herd can average around $100 to $200 but many breeders will offer discounts for purchasing multiple goats at once.
Registered bucks and does will cost more depending on the herd name and genetic lineage. Bucks can run anywhere from $250 up into the thousands if it is from a champion line. Does will usually start around $400 and can increase into the five figure range for champion lines.
Look around, ask questions, and find a breeder that fits your quality and budget comfort level.
Q5. Can you milk mini goats?
You absolutely can milk miniature goats! In fact, Nigerian Dwarf Goats were bred specifically to have a very high butter fat content. Often times, their milk is creamier and sweeter than cow's milk.
Q6. Do miniature goats stink?
Goats live outside so they do have a typical barnyard or livestock smell to them. But they are not too terribly stinky. And if you are already raising other livestock, you will likely not even notice.
The one exception to this is when bucks are in rut. Bucks will make an extra effort to draw the attention of does when they are in heat. There are several goat heat signs.
Some of this extra effort includes urinating on themselves to the point that their coat will develop an orangish-yellow sheen to it. During this time, it is safe to say that miniature bucks are pretty stinky.
Q7. How long do mini goats live?
Miniature goats have a fairly long life span. Assuming they have adequate shelter (there are lots of easy goat pen ideas you can use), a healthy diet, and active parasite control, they can live up to 15 or 16 years old.
Q8. Do miniature goats and dogs get along?
It is not reccomended for dogs and miniature goats to mix (aside from livestock protection dogs). Domestic dogs are one of the top dangers, sometimes leading to injury or even death, to goats. It is not usually an act of aggression. Dogs are usually being friendly and want to play and they just play a bit rougher than goats are able to handle.
Obviously, there are exceptions. But, as a general rule, it is best to keep dogs and goats seperate (again, unless you have a trained livestock protection dog).
Q9. Are miniature goats easy to keep?
The ease in which miniature goats are kept is relative. Goats can require a lot of work, in general. They need to have reliable shelter that stays dry, warm or cool, and has good air flow. You will need to keep their living space and grazing areas secure with quality fencing. Goats need a consistent and healthy diet as well as frequent health checks to keep parasite levels low.
Once you have the initial infrastructure taken care of, you will start to develop a regular care routine. After that, the level of care isn't too bad. Because they are outdoors and are exposed to more threats (like parasites) they require a little more work and upkeep than a family pet, like a dog or cat.
You will also want to make sure they have plenty of room to run and toys to keep them from getting bored and exploring for weaknesses in the fence.
As you can see, miniature goats hold just as viable and important of a spot as standard sized goats. We are particularly fond of mini goats (Nigerian Dwarf, to be specific) and are thrilled that they are starting to become more commonplace.
Hopefully you are enjoying your or are planning to get some in the future!
If you need more help keeping your goats healthy and well taken care of, check out the G.O.A.T. Herd Management System - worksheets, calculators, supply management and more to keep your goats in tip top shape while cutting down on time.