Nigerian Dwarf Goats

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About Nigerian Dwarf Goats

The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature goat of West African origin. Nigerian Dwarf goats are small in size and have very colorful markings. Their small stature means they do not require as much space as their larger dairy counterparts. Their gentle, friendly personalities make them good companion pets and easy to handle. Even small children are safe around these little goats. Nigerian Dwarf goats are a true dairy goat and have been approved as such by the US Department of Agriculture making them eligible for youth 4-H and FFA projects.

Is That a Pygmy Goat?

Although both Nigerian Dwarfs and African Pygmies are both of West African origin, they are two separate and distinct breeds. It can be easy to confuse the Nigerian with the Pygmy because of the similarities of size and origin, but the similarities stop there.

African Pygmies are bred to be "cobby" and heavy boned. They are almost as wide as they are tall. Nigerian Dwarfs are bred to have the length of body and structure in proportion to their larger dairy goat counterparts. This makes breeding and birthing easy. Nigerians Dwarfs are also still somewhat rare in the US, compared with the numbers of Pygmies residing here. 

Color!! Color!! Color!!

Color, along with ease of kidding, were my main reasons for choosing the Nigerian Dwarf over the Pygmy. You can never be sure what color the kids will be until they are born; even then you can't be sure, because many times their color may change. Main color families are black, chocolate and gold with virtually every color combination imaginable being produced.

Besides every color of the rainbow, every color-pattern you can dream up can pop out and some you can't imagine. Dwarfs can be dalmation-spotted, pinto-patterned, tri-colored, or solid. One of my favorite patterns is called "buckskin" and is described as contrasting facial stripes, a "cape' around the shoulders with a coordinating dorsal stripe and leg markings.

While brown eyes are most common, dwarfs also have china blue-eyes, which can be very striking.

A True Dairy Goat

A healthy Nigerian Dwarf doe can produce a surprising amount of sweet milk for her small size, as much as two quarts per day. Nigerian Dwarf milk has between 6% and 10% butterfat, with higher protein content than most other dairy goat breeds. So if you wish for your pet to provide you with milk, she most certainly can.

Care

If these little caprines are stealing your heart, the first thing you need to understand is that they are a herd animal. As such, if they do not have one of their own for companionship, they will be very sad and lonely. So when considering ownership, consider purchasing two or more. Getting two dwarfs is not the hard part... getting only two is the challenge. You can house does or bucks together, or you may decide to get a little "wether" (male goat that has been fixed) or two. Wethers can get along well with both bucks or does.

Housing

Goats should be kept in clean pens free of dampness, drafts, and pests such as biting flies and rodents. Please take into account dwarfs goats' small size and fence accordingly. My personal recommendation is four-foot high 2x4 no climb woven wire fence. Goats are extremely intelligent and can keep you on your toes when trying to keep a gate shut, so plan accordingly. If you only have a few goats, a large doghouse or two can be adequate shelter for them. These adorable little ones will let you know just how spoiled they like to be as well. They will tell you that they do not like it too hot or cold, too windy, and God forbid you let a single raindrop fall upon them!

Health Care

Dwarf goats, like all other animals, need some basic care for good health and long life. Hooves should be trimmed regularly. Since we don't have a lot in the way of natural wear and tear on the farm, we trim hooves about every two months. Vaccinations such as CD&T and rabies should also be considered. Check with you local vet for recommended vaccinations in your area. Worming is also essential to good health. Parasites are livestock animals' number one killer here in the south, so we worm regularly.

Diet

A goat feed, or general livestock feed of 12-18% protein is recommended or a dairy ration.  The amount of grain fed can vary due to pregnancy, male or female, age, and how much browse or pasture is available. Good hay or pasture should always be available. Fresh water in clean containers should also be available at all times. We also supplement our feeding program with minerals, baking soda and a salt lick free choice.  For feeding any grain to bucks we only use feed with ammonia chloride in the ingredient to help reduce risk of Urinary Calculil.

Breeding

Dwarf goats can breed year around. The gestation period for a doe is approximately 145-153 days. For the most part, Nigerian Dwarfs are a hearty breed, which seldom have kidding problems. New babies are about 2 pounds at birth and grow quickly. Little bucklings have been known to breed as young as 7 weeks old so watch out!! Generally, though bucks are ready to be used for service as young as three months, and easily by seven months. Does can be bred at seven to eight months of age if they have reached a good size. We tend to wait till they are about a year old though. Dwarfs can have several kids at a time, with triplets and quads being common. Dwarfs are generally excellent mothers and take great care of their kids should you decide to let mom raise them.

Lifespan

Average Lifespan: Nigerian Dwarfs live between 10-14 years.

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