Thursday, February 12, 2009

Goat Justice

This past weekend I attended a fantastic event. It might not be called life-changing, maybe just life-affirming. The meeting was hosted by the Goat Justice League and I suppose it would be classified as a "social mixer". What better way to spend your Friday night than in the company of Seattle's "Top 25 People Most Interested In Goat Herding"?

Although I cannot currently call myself a goat herder, I (like yourself) have a long-standing interest in goats. In high school was lucky enough to be voted "Most Likely to Own Goats". In college, the Homestead raised three of the fattest goats in North American history (you haven't seen anything until you have seen goats raised at a private, liberal arts college); and this winter I really fine tuned my goat milking skills (see photo above).

As you probably know, Seattle passed a law in 2007 allowing goats to be kept at home:
Here is the municipal code:

"B. Miniature goats. Within thirty (30) days of entry of any miniature goat into the City of Seattle, the owner of the miniature goat must obtain a valid license for such animal with the exception of nursing offspring born to a licensed miniature goat. A valid license much [must] be obtained for offspring of a licensed miniature goat upon being weaned. Along with the fee for the license or renewal, the owner must present proof that the miniature goat is dehorned, and if the miniature goat is male, that it is neutered. (Ord. 122508 , Section 5, 2007; Ord. 119998 Section 16, 2000; Ord. 116694 Section 7, 1993.)"

By now you are probably asking yourself, "What's the deal, are these things? Miniature goats, dwarf goats or pygmy goats? and "How did they get so darn small?" and "Are you really qualified to answer my questions?".

As I understand it, dwarf goats are supposed to retain the same proportions of regular sized dairy goats (only smaller), whereas pygmy goats are more barrel shaped or stout and not directly proportional to full sized goats. Common vernacular suggests that the term "miniature goat" refers either a dwarf goat or a pygmy goat.

However, some goat associations (of which there are many) define a miniature goat as a cross between a dairy goat and a dwarf goat. The crazy thing about breeding a mini-goat is that you can breed any dairy goat (doe) with a Nigerian dwarf (buck), and the resulting offspring will be miniature.

Mini-goats are commonly used for: milk production, meat production, land-clearing, and companionship. You can check out more fun goat facts at the National Pygmy Goat Association . The statistics for mini-goat milk production are somewhat shady, but here is a quote from the Miniature Dairy Goat Association:

"Miniature dairy goats have been reported to produce anywhere from 2 lbs a day (1 pint) to 10 lbs a day (one and a quarter gallons) with the average around 5-6 lbs (3 quarts) of milk daily. Genetics and management will play an important part in milk production. Unlike many of the standard breeds, Nigerian Dwarfs breed year around which this makes it easier to have a steady supply of milk all year - many of the miniature dairy goats are also year round breeders."

According to Gail Damerow, the dwarf and pygmy goats produces approximately a third as much milk as a standard breed.

I obviously can't cover all of the essential questions about goat-rearing in this posting, but before you think about getting goats at least think about this: if your gonna have goats, you need at least two goats(to keep each other company); also, they have to be impregnated every year to keep milking; and you should have at least 400 sq ft. for your goat yard.

For a whole lot of good information, read "Barnyard in Your Backyard" by Gail Damerow.

Other resources:

National Miniature Goat Association

Seattle Times

Seattle Weekly


Cheryl said...

Readers should also check out The Miniature Goat Registry ( I was unaware of the registry you mentioned and they seem to have no address info.

Also people raising miniature dairy goats should be aware of the new book "Goat Health Care" as a resource. www.goathealthcare.compe

Anquan said...

haha goats that's great. you guys should check out what they're doing in Detroit in terms of Urban Farming

i think i could work in other cities as well.


Lindsay said...

Urban goat milkers should check out the Henry Milker at