Spunky Minnesota goat could be the world's smallest
RICE LAKE, Minn.—Susan and Geoffrey Bennett raise pygora goats on their Rice Lake farm for their fleece, which produces a prized fiber that can be like mohair or cashmere.
Bigger goats produce more fiber; hence, it's a matter of pure economics that bigger is better.
"I don't want to raise miniature goats," Susan said earlier this week at their Amity Creek Pygora Goat Farm, currently the only registered pygora goat farm in Minnesota.
But a buck named Hagrid apparently didn't get the memo. Though healthy-sized himself, Hagrid sires goats that tend to grow up on the small side, she said.
One of those offspring, a doe named Ivy, hardly could be said to have grown up at all. In fact, although it is not yet official, she may prove to be the world's record holder in the category of goat — smallest.
Ivy was born 14 months ago. After four weeks, Susan said, Ivy simply stopped growing, while a couple of other pygoras born at the same time shot past her.
Last fall, the Bennetts took Ivy to their veterinarian, Justin Dahl at Happy Tails Animal Hospital in Superior, and learned their littlest goat was perfectly healthy.
"There's apparently some sort of genetic factor," Dahl said over the phone this week, but added that there's no reason Ivy shouldn't live a normal pygora goat lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
During the long winter, Susan did some research. She discovered that the Guinness Book of World Records doesn't list a smallest goat, but it does say that to qualify, an adult goat would have to measure at no more than 40.5 centimeters, roughly 16 inches.
The Bennetts knew that Ivy was smaller than that. On Monday, they took the goat back to Dahl for an official measurement to meet Guinness standards. The verdict, from hoof to withers (the highest point of the back): 14.5 inches, the equivalent of 36.8 centimeters.
That's not only shorter than any other known grownup pygora goat. It's shorter than breeds that are supposed to be smaller than pygora, Susan said, such as pygmy and Nigerian dwarfs. Pygora, a cross between pygmy and angora goats, are considered midsized in the goat world.
But in a farm that includes dogs, cockatiels, chickens, peacock guineas, golden pheasants, Cayuga ducks, horses and an affectionate llama as well as 40 pygoras, Ivy appears unintimidated.
On Monday afternoon, she was easily the loudest critter in the menagerie. Her bleat sounds like a cross between an angry cat and an angry baby, sometimes drowning out conversation. Ivy, whom Susan sometimes calls Itsy or Itsy-Bitsy, uses her size to advantage. Earlier in the day she briefly had gone AWOL, squeezing through the mesh wire fence that contains her larger peers.
Ivy weighed in on Monday at 16 pounds, compared with 65 pounds for the average pygora doe. Although the goats normally stop growing at 1 year, they bulk out until age 3, Susan said, so she will get heavier. Nonetheless, she won't be bred.
"What am I going to do, put her with my smallest buck, which is 50 pounds?" Susan asked.
She produces fine fleece, though less than a normal-sized goat.
"I just couldn't believe that we would have the smallest goat," said Geoffrey Bennett, who away from the farm is an optometrist at the Duluth Target. "But if they're saying if it's below 40.5 it's smaller than what we know about, then we definitely have something smaller than that."
Susan now has the documentation to submit to Guinness. After that, they're in for a wait: It can take up to 12 weeks for Guinness to confirm or deny a world record application, according to the organization's website. The Bennetts could pay for expedited processing, but they said they have no interest in that.
Nor do they have anything to gain by having a world record goat. "I'm just saying I've got this really small goat and I want to share the fun," Susan said.
To learn more
Learn about the Bennetts' farm online at amitycreekpygora.com.