Everything You Need to Know About the Nigerian Dwarf Goat

Posted by Tori Holmes

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The Nigerian Dwarf goat was brought to the United States in the 1950s. Since then, these little goats have been used as both milk production and companionship animals.

Nigerian Dwarf goats are known for their even tempers and gentle, playful personalities. Due to these qualities and their small size, they have made a name for themselves as a great family pet. They are easily trainable and wonderful with children, making them attractive to youth or first-timers participating in 4-H or FFA clubs. Their personalities also make them perfect service animals for nursing homes and hospitals.

Size and Characteristics

According to the Columbian Park Zoo, this West African breed are found all over the world today. Does stand between 16 and 21 inches tall at the withers and bucks can grow to be 23.5 inches tall at the withers. These goats weigh between 60 and 80 pounds, on average, and because they come in a variety of color combinations, you can assemble a distinctive and beautiful herd.

Care and Feeding

They are hardy animals that thrive in almost any climate and due to their size, require less space to graze and play than full-size dairy goats. They are also very adaptable, able to live comfortably with other livestock such as cattle, horses, llamas, and donkeys.

These goats may be small in size but they require lots of room to play and explore. Their living areas need to include "toys" such as tree stumps, rocks, and other large climbing structures that they can entertain themselves with. Adequate fencing is another requirement since a miniature goat can be quite the escape artist.

Nigerian Dwarf goats also require proper feed in order to thrive. Most importantly, your goats will need free-choice access to quality hay and forage. In addition, goats will need free-choice access to a goat mineral to help balance their diets. Pregnant does or nursing does as well as young kids will also need grain to help supplement their diets. And, of course, be sure to also provide plenty of fresh, clean water.

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Body

Does (females) stand about 22 ½ inches (57 cm) at the withers and weigh between 25 and 35 pounds whereas bucks (males) stand about 23 ½ inches (60 cm) at the withers and weigh 30 and 45 pounds. The Nigerian Dwarf Goat has balanced body proportions that give it the appearance of a larger breed of dairy goat.

 

Coat

The hair of the Nigerian Dwarf goat ranges from short to medium in length. Both short and medium length hair should be fine and straight.

Hair of nearly any color combination is acceptable. The only color considered a fault is silver agouti. The coloring of Nigerian Dwarf goats is unknown until birth, and even then can change as the kids age.

The main color families of the Nigerian Dwarf goat are black, chocolate, and gold. In addition to these three colors, random white markings, spots, and other color combinations are common.

Head

The face of the Nigerian Dwarf goat is straight, with a small break or stop at the eyes. No preference is given to eye color, but brown eyes are the most common. However, Nigerian Dwarf goats with china blue eyes are becoming increasingly popular and available. Their eyes are medium length and should be erect and alert, not floppy.

Temperament

Nigerian Dwarf goats are known for their even tempers and playful personalities. They are great with children and other animals, making them suitable for families and busy farm life.

Milking

For many people, the appeal of the Nigerian Dwarf goat is the combination of their milking ability and compact size. When milking, they produce between three and four pounds of 6% to 10% butterfat milk per day. One Nigerian Dwarf goat produces a surprising amount of milk and is essentially a miniature dairy goat.

What makes Nigerian Dwarf goats unique as milking goats is that their milk is higher in protein than milk from most dairy goat breeds. The higher percentage of butterfat also gives this goat milk a rich, sweet taste that can't be beat.

Breeding

When it comes to breeding, Nigerian Dwarf goats are able to be bred year-round. Does can be bred as early as seven months, but it is recommended to wait until they are fully grown at one year in age. Bucks are ready to be bred at seven or eight months of age, but they have been know to be ready at ages as young as three months.

The gestation period is between 145 to 153 days and does usually have between three or four kids at a time. However, it's not uncommon for this number to be five or more. Nigerian Dwarf goats generally have easy births with few problems and kids are born at an average of around two pounds. When cared for properly, the Nigerian Dwarf goat can have a lifespan of between 12 and 14 years.

Buying a Nigerian Dwarf Goat

If you're looking to purchase your own Nigerian Dwarf goat, the best place to start at one of their North American or global registries. Currently, they are registered in five registries:

? Nigerian Dairy Goat Association (NDGA)
American Goat Society (AGS)
International Diary Goat Registry (IDGR)
American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA)
Canadian Goat Society (CGS)

The cost of purchasing a Nigerian Dwarf goat varies depending on the quality of the goat you are looking to purchase. For breeding or pedigree quality goats or those with unique or rare coloring, the cost is between $200 or $500 per head. A pet-quality Nigerian Dwarf goat will range between $50 and $100 per head.

These small goats can make wonderful pets and may be the perfect choice for a homesteader or family. They produce a decent amount of milk given their small stature, and require minimal acreage when compared to larger breeds of goats.

Do you have a Nigerian Dwarf goat? Show us in the comments below. 

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Everything You Need to Know About the Nigerian Dwarf Goat