The Lovable African Pygmy Goat
The African Pygmy goat is a breed of goat that was first created in the United States after miniature goats were imported from Africa in the 1930s, though some suspect earlier illegal shipments may have been made. Additional shipments continued to arrive in the country until the 1960s. These original goats were not selectively bred by man to be smaller but instead were the result of insular evolution, the smaller goats held an advantage over the larger goats when food was scarce and thus had a higher breeding success rate, creating their own semi-feral breed. In the US they were originally used by zoos to feed to other animals.
Once they came into the states it was realized that this shipment of goats displayed two distinct types of goats, those that were dwarfed but looked proportionally the same as larger milking breeds, and those that were born with achondroplasia. These animals were smaller with stalky builds and disproportionately large heads. The standard miniature goats were separated out from the achondroplasic ones and went on to form the foundation for Nigerian Dwarf Goats while the acondroplasic goats were cross bred to the standard miniatures to form the foundation of the African Pygmy Goat breed.
Achondroplasia is a gene that effects many forms of mammals. In humans it's considered a disorder but it's been purposely bred into dog and cat lines to create corgis, dachshunds, and munchkin cats (among others.) The same was done for the goats. Acondroplasia is a dominant gene meaning that if you breed an achondroplasic animal to one who is not 50% of the offspring will display the achondroplasia gene. However with much tinkering man has been able to tweak the breed to their own specifications.
The breed is classified as a milking breed, sometimes producing over half a gallon of milk a day. The milk is higher in fat and protein content then cow's milk and is known for making good butter, cheese, and soaps. Because of their size, ease of handling, easy kidding, and productivity this breed is a great starter goat. Females can safely be bred at a year of age and can produce up to two litters a year. Their first litter is usually one or two kids but more mature females can routinely birth three or four kids per litter. Exceptionally productive mothers have been recorded as having as many as six kids in one litter.
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