Sunday 22 August 2021

Pygmy goats becoming popular because they are cheaper to buy than pedigree dogs

The high price of puppies during Covid-19 lockdowns because of high demand has led some people to adopt a pygmy goat instead as they are, relatively speaking, incredibly cheap at £150 for a castrated male and around £250 for a female ready for breeding compared to a few thousand for some dog breeds. I don't know what a spayed female costs, but probably a price similar to a castrated male. It seems that celebs and influencers are pushing this market.

Bella Hadid and a couple of pygmy goats. Photo: News Scans.

They are the size of a small-to-medium-sized dog but they do need to be adopted in pairs, at least, because they are a herd animal. And it seems to me that you need to have acres of land around your home to allow them to enjoy the outside. Therefore, they won't suit everybody but clearly they appeal to a lot of people because adoptions have risen fivefold during the Covid pandemic.

Like all companion animals they need to be weaned properly. They need to suckle from their mothers for the first 12-14 weeks of their lives. The same basic rules apply to cats and dogs. If you wean a kitten too early, they can develop behavioural problems such as sucking on people's earlobes or arms, as an example. And they'll do that as adults for their entire adulthood, at least potentially. Some people believe that pica (eating non-food items) is due to early weaning.

Another issue with pygmy goats is that they are considered by Defra (in the UK) to be "agricultural holdings". They need to be formally registered with this government agency.

Also, their calls can be quite loud which might disturb neighbours and the RSPCA warns that they are likely to cause damage to fences.


Comment: it is incredible how distorted the pet market has become in the UK thanks to the pandemic. The dog market went mad and I am not the only one who has noticed it very distinctly in the local park where I go for walks. There are many more French bulldogs for example and I see lots of Dachshunds. All, it seems, recently adopted. This has fuelled illegal importation of puppies into the country and the government is taking steps to curb that by banning all imports of puppies below six months of age. Some breeders import pregnant females and there will be a ban on that as I understand it.

Sadly, commercial market forces result almost inevitably in animal welfare issues. It is humankind's way. The problem with pygmy goats is that you are likely to get some people becoming fascinated with the idea of adopting one without having the facilities to become a proper caregiver. That, too, will potentially lead to abandonments just as it happened with many of the dogs impulsively adopted during Covid.

Pygmy goats are much cheaper to buy than purebred dogs but are they cheaper over their lifetime when factoring in maintenance? That's the key.

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