Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Breed For The Need: The Nigerian Dwarf Goat

This week's "Breed For The Need" series will be covering my second favorite breed of goat: The Nigerian Dwarf!

The Nigerian Dwarf Goat:

  A breed of African descent, the Nigerian Dwarf has quickly become America's most popular dairy goat. And why wouldn't they?? Knee-high when full grown, found in an array of dizzying colors and patterns, able to be bred year around, and capable of giving up to a 1/2 gallon a day of the sweetest milk of all goat breeds... This pint-sized caprine has earned every bit of its celebrity status. I tried keeping Nigerians a few times, but these little guys are smart as whips and always found the holes in the fence that the Nubians created... Sigh. I did enjoy them though, and would love to get a herd of them going this year!

  While the Nigerian is certainly capable of giving the 1/2 gallon of milk that I stated above, please note that such production is *usually* only seen in the super high quality stock, which generally cost $800 to $1200 to buy. In short, if you buy a $200 doe off of Craigslist, please don't expect to get that amount of milk. She might, and there are still amazing little producers here and there, but the average quality Nigerian will most likely reward you with 1 to 4 cups of milk each day. So buy more than two if you're wanting a good amount of milk!

  Nigerian Dwarfs are subject to the same conformation standard as all the other dairy breeds, but unlike their larger relatives, they have the addition of having a height standard. This is made all the more confusing by the fact that there are three different registries, with different standards. Oy vey. The American Dairy Goat Association and the American Goat Society both require does to be less than 22.5 inches at the withers, and bucks to be 23.5 inches at the withers. The Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association says  does should be 17–19 inches at the withers, with a maximum allowed height of 21 inches, and bucks should be 19–21 inches at the withers, with a maximum allowed height of 23 inches. 

  And yes, you really can breed these pint-sized goats any time of the year! At a glance this sounds like a really great thing, and it is for the most part. The downside to it? Stinky bucks. Standard breed bucks come into rut only during the fall breeding season, and yes they stink too, but at least it's not year around! Nigerian bucks will stink all the time. A lot of breeders tell me that these small fellows have a stronger scent than the big boys, but I won't claim this fact to be absolute truth. But consider yourself warned that it might be, and build your buck pen as far from your house as possible!

Pros: Their small size makes them easy to keep anywhere! They're easy to find, easy to sell (Nigerian kids are the cutest of all goat kids, hands down.), and their wild colors are so much fun! They're great for kids (human ones) to handle, and you won't have to worry about dealing with an ornery buck who weighs more than you. Their creamy milk is to die for! And you'll never be able to buy half-and-half for your coffee again once you've tasted Nigerian Dwarf milk in its stead. 

Cons: Teat size. These girls can be the biggest pain to milk since most of them have teeny, tiny teats. Some have decent sized ones, but most don't. So if you have big hands, or carpal tunnel, then you may want to invest in some sort of milking machine. The "year-around-stinky-buck" thing is also a bit of a con. Keep a good supply of goat milk soap around since that's about the only thing that will get the pungent aroma off your skin! Height can also be a hassle if you want to keep registered animals; you may have a gorgeous doe or buck that would do great in the show ring, but if they grow even a half inch too tall, then they can't be registered! Aargh!

Best Fit For: Anyone who doesn't have a lot of room to spare, doesn't want too much milk, has small children who want to care for the goats, or just likes a wide variety of color! The Nigerian Dwarf is one of those animals that can easily adapt to any situation. If you wanted Saanens, you'd have to make sure you had enough room. If you wanted Nubians, you'd have to make sure that the noise level wouldn't bother anyone. But the Nigerians don't have any of those prerequisites. They're a great choice for anyone, on any level of experience. Just please remember to keep an eye on your fencing! They'll find the tiniest holes and pop right through them!

1 comment:

Tina said...

Goats! Just love them! We got our first goats three years ago and have found them to be addictive as potato chips. You can't stop at just one or two! We started going to goat shops just to meet "goat" people and learn more about goats. We have met some wonderful people in the process. And we got to see all the different breeds and get an idea of their sizes, temperaments, and noise levels. I loved watching people walk their Nigerians on leashes like little dogs or carry those little babies around like Paris Hilton and her Chihuahua. And I love all the colors they come in, however I would be tempted to get one of every color if I had Nigerians. :)