Would you say ND's make good companion pets?

Discussion in 'Mini Mania' started by Ellie L. F., Mar 5, 2019.

  1. Ellie L. F.

    Ellie L. F. New Member

    Nov 18, 2018
    I've kept ferrets for years, they made great pets for an apartment dweller and I loved them. but now that I'll finally have a yard of my own next year, I've been thinking about getting a different kind of pet.

    • I'm allergic to cats, boo!
    • Dogs are cute and lovable, but I'm always on the fence with dogs. The big ones scare me, and they all seem really needy. They get into stuff (worse than ferrets) and I don't like dog poop.
    • After having kept ferrets, I'm painfully aware of the lack of good exotic vets in my small town, and I'm done driving 4 hours to get them taken care of. No more exotics for me.

    My Mother in law said her niece kept pygmy goats, I googled miniature goats and discovered Nigerian dwarfs. I've been obsessed. My yard will be big enough for a pair of Nigie wethers, there's a breeder in town who I'm sure will let me bottle feed. Our house will be on multi use land, so I think it will be okay. I also found a few reputable goat vets in town. There are a lot of goat people around to offer advice and help.

    When I talk about the idea with others, they automatically assume I want them for dairy, I don't eat dairy so no. And so now I'm wondering if it's considered weird to want them just as pets?

    so I thought I would ask you, the Nigerian Dwarf community. Would you recommend ND's as companion pets? Would you, or do any of you, keep Nigies for reasons other than dairy?

    I have a sort of list of pros and cons for getting goats, let me know if you have anything to add.

    1. They're said to be affectionate and gentle
    2. I'm not afraid of getting bitten
    3. They're small!
    4. They're vegan, like me!
    5. Hay is cheaper than dog food
    6. You can teach them tricks
    7. It will be fun to build toys and things for them to climb on
    8. Super cute!
    9. I can use their poop for the garden
    10. They're said to be hardy
    11. You have to get two!
    12. I can take them on walks and hikes around town.
    13. Sweaters
    14. Getting to watch them hop and head butt each other
    15. Might let me pick them up
    16. More independent than a dog.
    17. If we go away on vacation, It'll be easy for my Dad to watch them.
    18. They live way longer than ferrets.

    1. I'm afraid of them getting attacked by dogs! So many people let their dog off leash in my town, it makes me nervous.
    2. Can't keep them in house. Might be able to put a diaper on them and let them hang out and watch a movie with me.
    3. They like to escape. Jump Out.
    4. They might eat something poisonous or bloat.
    5. Could get their head stuck
    6. Got to watch those horns! (still I'm not planning to disbud them)
    7. Not sure I can take them with us when we go to visit family, Not sure if they can handle long car rides.
    8. Wouldn't want them to get in the garden.
    9. I'm not as familiar with them, and am unsure of how challenging they might be compared to other types of pets
    10. Probably won't go swimming or want to play in the water.

    1. They like to jump on stuff.
    2. They make goat noises instead of barking
    3. Have to have a shelter and a tall fence

    I'm aware that every animal comes with challenges and needs a responsible person to look after them. I've heard that miniature goats are sort of trendy right now, and unfortunately people get them only to get bored with them and ditch them. I'm not that kind of person, and that's why I'm doing research now. So pretty please if you could tell me more about your nigies. And feel free to dish out the advice.

    Thanks so much!
    Trollmor, Kath G. and Dwarf Dad like this.
  2. Dwarf Dad

    Dwarf Dad Well-Known Member

    My wife and I have 5 wethers and 4 does, all pets. They are really fun. Easy to feed. I have one that will jump a four foot tall fence. If I were you I would plan on a six foot fence to keep them and dogs seperated. Two would be an ideal number of goats as pets. Read posts about mineral requirements.
    A really good place to get health information.
    Maybe even think of harnessing to pull a small wagon.

  3. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    The biggest hurdle will be if the zoning includes agricultural. Even if it is multi use land, you still may not be able to have livestock on it. But it is great that you are researching it thoroughly.
  4. cbrossard

    cbrossard Well-Known Member

    Oct 4, 2014
    Nigies are sooo sweet and I am sure you would adore them!

    A few things to consider based on your pros/cons list:

    Hay may be cheaper than dog food, but depending on where you live, care for your goats may not be cheaper than dogs. I might spend more on my goats than my dogs and I buy expensive dog food...

    You are going to have a hard time picking up an adult ND wether. They are small, but they are not That small! (Although they may happily climb into your lap. Especially if they were bottle babies!)

    While dogs certainly could attack your goats, I don't think the majority of pet dogs are going to look at goats as prey. In my area coyotes don't even look twice at my goats.

    Some goats are escape artists for sure, but none of my Nigerians are! I have a pretty crappy 4 foot field fence right now and none of them escape. If they do get out, they either come to the house, or come running to me as soon as they see me!

    Goats can have a LOT more issues than just eating something poisonous or bloat: colds, pneumonia, goat polio, Johnes Disease, CAE, CL, lice, mites, worms.... Just to name a few!

    And one last thing to consider, I have only had one bottle baby and when I weaned him, he was SO LOUD whenever he saw me... like screaming. It took a couple months before he quieted down. And he wasn't alone, he lived with another goat that he was raised with! So depending on where you live that could be an issue!

    I hope that was helpful! Happy researching!
  5. OpieDoodle

    OpieDoodle Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2015
    Dayton, OH
    Make sure you check your town laws as well. Some exclude livestock within so many miles of the city. I personally am a huge fan of pygmy goats but I've never owned nigerians so I don't know how they compare. All goats will need a very secure area that they can't escape, trust me its harder than you think too...

    I'd be really worried about the loose dogs as I know many that have had goats killed by dogs. So you fence would need to be dog proof and goat proof. You will also need a shelter for them to get out of the elements. If the yard is small you'll likely end up with a mudlot which can lead to hoof issues so you'll want to look into having places the goats can stay dry. Goats don't generally just eat grass, they will but they prefer brush. Something else you'll need to remember is food, wethers generally don't need fed grain but you'll need hay so you'll want to find a good area to store that as depending on your area its very expensive to try to buy hay as needed rather than buying during the growing season and storing it.

    There's definitely a lot for you to consider. I'd first start looking at if you'll be able to have the goats, worst thing that can happen is the city gets involved and makes you get rid of them after you got attached to them.
  6. Ellie L. F.

    Ellie L. F. New Member

    Nov 18, 2018
    That was helpful thank you! I'll have to call the city for sure. I'll have some cows and llamas for neighbors, so I think it should be okay, but I'll find out. I'm going to ask my neighbors first too, and warn them about possible screaming. Lol

    I noticed there's a lot things to make the goaties sick. I'll need to get a book or find a list some where. I'm used to ferrets who only have a couple diseases to watch out for, but they're the kind that undoubtedly happen, and they are baaaad when they do.

    Thanks for your wisdom I appreciate it!
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  7. Ellie L. F.

    Ellie L. F. New Member

    Nov 18, 2018
    Thanks! The list is handy! And I love the idea of a small wagon!
    groovyoldlady likes this.
  8. MadCatX

    MadCatX Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2018
    We have Bonnie and Clyde, Bonnie is a pygmy and Clyde is Nigi X Pygmy, and full Buck lol. I personally agree with @Dwarf Dad , they are lovable and full of energy. They have a ton of personality. Just know Clyde is close to 2 and pushing over 50 lbs, and roughly the size of a mid size dog. So be ready to handle that sort of weight. Like DD, Clyde could flat hooved jump 4 feet. (he literally looked at us and jumped it). They are fairly robust animals. They need a dry enclosure to sleep in to keep out of wind and rain. Clyde will eat most anything so, our leafy table scraps etc they eat. We also buy them the reduced for sale veggies, they love 99 cent carrot slices or apples.

    I recommend checking into goat vets just for emergencies. Minerals and such depending on where you are can be found at TSC. The Tennessee goat links they provided above are phenom for answers as well as Mini Mania area here.

    I never had goats before and we got these two and its been a real blessing.
  9. Treva Brodt

    Treva Brodt Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2019
    West Union, Ohio
    While you may not be able to pick up an adult wether, one of mine will still sit in my lap. He is one of my bottle fed goats and remains the worlds biggest baby. You probably won't let an adult goat in your house for too long of a time. They get into everything: trashcans looking for paper, books, magazines, ash trays (if you have them), climb to the top of positively everything AND get on counter tops looking for snacks. You will both have a lot more fun on a nice cozy deck or screened in porch.
  10. MadCatX

    MadCatX Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2018
    This is 100% true, mine love ash trays..dear God. Oh, and they are acrobatic...they can run, and jump clearing several obstacles.
  11. Treva Brodt

    Treva Brodt Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2019
    West Union, Ohio
    My little buddy will EVENTUALLY settle down and snuggle but Oh the destruction that occurs first. The cats that tormented him when he was little must pay for it now. Good thing he can't get under the sofa hehehe.
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  12. MadCatX

    MadCatX Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2018
    Yeah now both of mine were bottle babies so they laid in our lap and slept, and still Clyde will sometimes try to get in my lap. Stanking Joker. But it was funny, Bonnie would get in my lap and finally get settled and sleep. Clyde would jump up there and knock her out of the way to lay down on my lap lol. I got berried a couple of times though lol..standing on my chewing da cudz and start poopin lol.
  13. cbrossard

    cbrossard Well-Known Member

    Oct 4, 2014
    You are welcome! Honestly, this forum will be Super helpful for you when it comes to managing their health and how to treat any ailments! There are a lot of really knowledgeable goat people here!
    Trollmor and Ellie L. F. like this.
  14. singinggoatgirl

    singinggoatgirl Well-Known Member

    Apr 13, 2016
    the deep south
    I have them as pets and for breeding/milk to off-set my feed bills. They can definitely be affectionate! I've never had one bite me unless I already had fingers in their mouth (giving meds...). If they are upset, they'll try to head-butt.

    They are small for goats. My matriarch weighs about 55 pounds. I can lift her for short distances, but not for pleasure. When she was fat and pregnant, she weighed more like 70 pounds.

    Hay is cheaper than dog food. They also need loose mineral salt, dry and draft-free shelter, and most likely deworming.

    They are definitely capable of tricks! There is a member here, Damfino, who trains her much larger goats to do all sorts of fancy tricks, and to pull a cart!

    They are definitely more independent than dogs, and mine are less aloof than my cat.

    About your cons:
    Dogs are a threat. If you are out and about a lot with your goats, you could get some sort of dog deterrent sound device. Build them a REALLY good fence. If dogs are trying to force their way in, you can put an electric wire near the ground on the outside of your fence to discourage digging.

    Technically, you can keep them in the house... It's not widely culturally acceptable, but none of us would judge you at all! I've got a house buckling right now because of this extreme cold snap. He wears one diaper over his tail to catch poo and one over his belly to catch pee. I had to buy adult human Depends diapers to move my goats to my new house without them peeing/pooping all over my vehicle... I got some funny looks from the folks helping us move.

    They are much less likely to try to escape if they have a friend and have all their needs met. They are still escape artists, but less motivated if they have their needs met.

    Maybe not so much as babies, but in my experience the adults know exactly where their horns are. Yes, you need to look out for them, but they won't wave them around willy-nilly unless they are upset and mean you harm, which you can discipline out of them while they are young.

    Mine handled being in the car for long periods of time in a large dog kennel. I moved them across the country that way. Damfino took her large wether on a car trip, I think. Diaper them if not in a kennel if you care about your car. Have hay available to them the whole way, and give them lots of opportunities to drink water if you can't have it available freely in the car. When you stop to stretch, let them stretch, too.

    They HATE water. That's why a spray bottle is a great way to discipline moody "teenaged" yearlings who think they are hot stuff.

    They can be fearful because they are prey animals. They are not meek like sheep, though. They'll turn and fight a threat. They like their herd hierarchy. Their drive to be on top of that hierarchy depends on the individual. You need to be on top. They headbutt anyone below them. You can read up on how to discipline (as in teach) your new "kids" so you can have a good relationship with them. You don't have to be cruel, but you do need to be firm and confident.

    Sorry for the book. Hope it's somewhat helpful. I love my dwarf goats.
  15. Ellie L. F.

    Ellie L. F. New Member

    Nov 18, 2018

    This is awesome! Thank you so much!
    toth boer goats likes this.
  16. Treva Brodt

    Treva Brodt Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2019
    West Union, Ohio
    Rocking recliners make an amazing launch pad.
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  17. Tab Carloni

    Tab Carloni Active Member

    They definitely make good companion pets and I would 100% recommend them!

    I have both goats and dogs and while goats are said to be low maintenance this is not true until you perfect their headquarters and your routine. I live in Canada and this winter has been brutal, since they don’t live inside like the dogs I have to bring them water 3-4 times a day and I work 9-5 so my mom lucky does that for me! You also will need to clean out their home ever so often. Ive accumulated a lot of waste (shavings, straw and wasted hay) and you need to have somewhere to dispose of it. Our town does not take it with the trash LOL. Also, if you travel a lot or are not home a lot, they are not like dogs where you can bring them to a kennel for a week!

    These are just a few things that have stumped me along the way.

    It all comes with research, practice and asking questions. I just got mine in August and I finally feel more comfortable with them, although I still ask 1000 questions. But they are amazing animals and I am so attached to them!

    If possible, I would recommend getting them as kids. I got mine at 2-4 months of age and they are so attached to me. We got another one who was 2 years old and I just can’t seem to form the same bond with her. Also, if you get them young you can get them used to traveling in the car. If they are not used to it it may be stressful!

    Goodluck :)
  18. ReNat

    ReNat Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2019
    Who will love goats, will never stop loving them.
  19. Kath G.

    Kath G. Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2017
    Tab has lots of great points! And absolutely, Nigis (and Mini Nubians!) make absolutely wonderful pets! I'd encourage you to contact area breeders and spend time with their animals, as different breeds tend to have distinctly different personalities, and even if you know you want a small goat, there's quite a few breeds to choose from. I so appreciate you taking the time to ask lots of questions and doing research before bringing your new goaties home.
    Ellie L. F. and Trollmor like this.
  20. Trollmor

    Trollmor Well-Known Member

    Aug 19, 2011
    Goatless in Sweden
    Welcome! Here we love goats, and know they make wonderful pets! Bottle fed goats usually treat their human like their mother, which you of course will be, in a sense. The gender of your pets does not matter, as long as you don't let them breed uncontrolled. Personally, I even prefer fertile bucks, they are most often very friendly.

    A very good thing that you think first and get the animals afterward! Prevents many problems!

    What is weird? In my opinion the weirdest thing you could do is to let others decide what kind of life you shall live, provided you do not damage anyone! Have you seen the pictures of Goat Martin and all the children he meets?

    Even if you plan to have them purely as pets, do remember that they one day must die, like all of us. Maybe goats and ferrets are dissimilar as to how we best help them on that day.

    Your "13. Sweaters" - I do not understand.
    "17. If we go away on vacation" - or to hospital! If you go hiking, you can bring them.

    "2. Can't keep them in house." WRONG! They are easily house trained. Only let them out more often than a dog. I have not tried, you may be the first to train them to use a litter box for cats.
    "3. They like to escape. Jump Out." Wrong. They like to escape - Come in to you! Especially if they look at you as their mother. If they run away, check that the feed contains everything they need. Their natural behaviour is to take foraging walks of some kilometers, feeding on bushes and grass, and then return home for cudding. Several times a day. "If they do get out, they either come to the house, or come running to me as soon as they see me!" Very true. You are their leader, they trust you will lead them to food and security. An old friend said to me: "They will escape even strong fences if they need something, but if they have all their needs met, they will respect a simple string!" This is almost true!
    "6." Horns can be good to scare away a dog. I am grateful :) :) you do not plan to disbud them. I hope you will think it over to castrate them as well, for similar reasons. :)
    "... the adults know exactly where their horns are" - true, but I have had some who just did not care! One, for example, always got his horn into my pocket, and Ritsh! That pocket only a memory! :p
    "They headbutt anyone below them." This should not be tolerated! To teach them manners, remember the trick of stopping the petting! It can be VERY effective!
    "7. Not sure I can take them with us when we go to visit family, Not sure if they can handle long car rides." Does your family accept having them during your visit? They have to get a break during long car rides, but so do you! They usually poop and pee as soon as the car stops.
    "8. Wouldn't want them to get in the garden." The fence might be a problem, but you have to fence dogs out as well, so do make a sturdy fence before getting them! :)
    "10. Probably won't go swimming or want to play in the water." Correct. They are adapted to mountain conditions. But a few goats actually go swimming with their humans, for example Goat Martin.
    "I've heard that miniature goats are sort of trendy right now, and unfortunately people get them only to get bored with them and ditch them." Here I do not fully understand the language, but I have an idea of the problem you mention, and I am very grateful to you that you so obviously dislike the behaviour of some people! :)

    "You are going to have a hard time picking up an adult ND wether" My bottle fed adult rural breed billy loved to lay his head in my lap when I sat down.
    "Goats can have a LOT more issues" - True. But then you can ask here for advice. The sum of knowledge in this forum is admirable!
    Sounds: A friend of mine often said: "Goats are like human babies; if they are totally silent, they are mainly either content or dead. Or, in rare cases, not there at all!" They make little m-m sounds to tell you they have seen you and you are welcome! :inlove:

    Book: David Mackenzie. Goat husbandry. Compulsory reading: Foreword and Control of Goats. :)

    Having only two will make it necessary to have a plan for the survivor when one dies.

    Do not overfeed dwarf goats, they can easily get too fat. Their main food in nature is leaves, bark, and twigs. So hay is recommended, carrots and apples make nice treats!
    "I've never had one bite me" - I have! :ahh: They communicate with their front teeth, quickly gnawing a piece of skin, or just scratching, to tell me I have forgotten something essential.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
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