Los Angeles Times
A trend to get your goat
As with most hobbies, livestock trends change. “Five years ago, potbellied pigs were a big fad,” says Phil Carter, owner of Red Barn Feed & Saddlery in Tarzana. “People were paying $1,000 for them. But that craze is long gone.”
So what’s taken the place of the potbellied pig? Pygmy and dairy goats and Nigerian dwarf goats, according to several experts and breeders.
“We are selling more goats and see more people buying them for pets in the past three to four years,” says Debbie Hosley, a registered breeder and co-owner of Amber Waves Pygmy Goats in Norco, Calif.
In 2014, Hosley sold about 150 goats. “I’m already over that number so far this year,” she says.
As of July 20, the National Pygmy Goat Assn. (npgapygmy.com) reported 118,049 goats registered in the U.S.
Business manager Dori Lowell, who has been with the NPGA for 15 years, says “interest in goats in urban situations is up by about 30%” in the first five months of this year, compared with the same period in 2014.
“Most of the calls are from people who are in an urban setting, asking about livestock restrictions,” Lowell says. “It’s typically one or two goats,” she adds.
Veterinary surgeon Jay Griffiths, a registered goat breeder and owner of Griffiths Pygmies in Meadow Vista, Calif., has been raising goats for about 10 years.
“They make great pets” and they’re easy to manage, he says.
Four years ago, Griffiths says he fielded about 25 goat-related calls annually from families and hobby farmers.
“This year, I would suspect we are already around 170 inquiries. It’s a rising trend. There are some residential restrictions with goats, but we have definitely seen an uptick in it.”
Pygmy goats may be easy to care for, but goat soap manufacturer and Chivas Skin Care co-owner Donna Johanson said dairy goats require a lot more work.
“Raising goats and hand-milking is a labor of love, even if you’re going to keep [goats] as pets. You have to be able to milk them twice a day, no questions asked,” Johanson said. Can’t live without a goat? Expect to pay $150 to $250 for a wether (neutered male), $300 to $800 for does and $500 to $800 for bucks.
Look for a registered breeder who regularly checks the animals for diseases, ask for health records, visit the farm and check online reviews.
For information on registration and care of pygmy goats, visit the National Pygmy Goat Assn. (npga-pygmy.com), call (425) 334-6506; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.