Features

Tiny goats at home with Lake Leota family

dwarf goats

Goat mama Mason says, "Nigerian Dwarf Goats make great pets." The three goats pictured are less than two weeks old, and will grow no taller than knee-height.
Photo by Jeff Switzer/Woodinville Weekly.

dwarf goats by Karen Diefendorf
When Sandra Mason first became infatuated with miniature goats 14 years ago in a class she took at the Topeka, Kansas Zoo, it was because of their gentle, friendly personalities.
   Then, when she and husband David moved to Woodinville from Texas in 1985, one of the requirements for their new home was that there be room enough for Sandra's Nigerian Dwarf goats. They found that home in the Lake Leota area of Woodinville.
   Now, the goats, who only grow to a height of 18 or 19 inches, are not only pets for the Mason family, they have also become a business. Sandra's Nigerian Dwarf goats have become known nationwide, and the babies are shipped all across the country.
   Also, because of the large amounts of milk they produce coupled with their diminutive size and ease of raising, they are prized as a source of non-cow milk for those who are allergic.
   But not all the Mason's goats are shipped off: Many remain a part of their family, like 15-year-old Rusty. "The old guy has earned his place in our family," Sandra said.
   Bottle babies--those whose mothers can't or won't nurse after birth--are brought into the house and fed by bottle and kept in a playpen. Sandra laughed as she explained that it was the goats who were in the playpen, not her daughters, Laura, now 10, and Molly, 6, when the girls were small. The small goats usually spend several weeks in the playpen with the family using a regular baby bottle to feed them. "But once they can jump out of the pen, outside they go," Sandra said.
   The whole family takes a hand in caring for the small goats. David is in charge of building fences and barns, and the girls help with the day-to-day care.
   In fact, one time when Sandra was not home, Laura, who was eight at the time, played the part of midwife for the birth of a Nigerian Dwarf baby.
   As to why Sandra became hooked on these small goats, she explained they are very easy to care for and do not carry diseases. They are also incredibly gentle, playful, personable animals who love human contact and do not fight.
   Besides all that, they are adorable.