Nigerian Dwarf (goat)
Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat, show clip, in milk
|Country of origin||Nigeria|
|Height||Male: 19–23.5 inches (48–60 cm)|
|Female: 17–22.5 inches (43–57 cm)|
Capra aegagrus hircus
The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat breed of West African ancestry. Originally brought to the United States on ships as food for large cats such as lions, the survivors originally lived in zoos. Nigerian Dwarf goats are popular as hobby goats due to their easy maintenance and small stature. According to the show association ADGA, it is considered a dairy goat breed.
There are two different height standards for the Nigerian Dwarf goat. The height standard maintained by the American Goat society and the American Dairy Goat Association requires does to be less than 22.5 inches (57 cm) at the withers, and bucks to be less than 23.5 inches (60 cm) at the withers. The Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association states does should ideally be 17–19 inches (43–48 cm) in height, with a maximum allowed height of 21 inches (53 cm), and bucks should ideally be 19–21 inches (48–53 cm), with a maximum allowed height of 21 inches (53 cm).
They come in many colors: white, black, red, cream and patterns such as buckskin (brown with a black cape over the head and neck along with other black markings) and chamoisee (similar to an Oberhasli goat), with or without white spots. Some have white "frosting" on the ears. Both the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association and the American Goat Society websites feature pages that include color descriptions, disqualifying features and conformation. Although most are naturally horned, generally breeders disbud them at a young age (usually less than 2 weeks of age) for safety to the goat, its herd mates, and human caregivers. Some Nigerian Dwarf goats have blue eyes, which is a dominant trait in goats.
Nigerian Dwarfs give a surprising quantity of milk for their size. Their production ranges from one to 8 pounds of milk per day, with an average of 2.5. Since Nigerians breed year-round, it is easy to stagger freshenings (births) in a herd so the entire herd is never dry. Thus, they are ideal milk goats for most families. Their milk has a higher butterfat content than milk from full-sized dairy goats, usually about 5%, but going as high as 10% at the end of a lactation. The milk has a sweet flavor. This makes Nigerian Dwarf goat milk excellent for cheese and soap making.
Nigerian Dwarf goats are gentle and easily trainable. This, along with their small size and colorful appearance, makes them popular as pets. Some breeders bottle-feed kids, which makes them more bonded with humans. Others prefer to let their mothers raise them naturally, finding bottle-fed kids to be overly clingy. With either method, they can be very friendly and can easily be trained to walk on a leash and some enjoy coming into the house with their owners. Some people have even gone so far as to potty train their Nigerian Dwarf Goat so they can live in their home.
Nigerian dwarf goats' small size also makes them excellent "visitor" animals for nursing homes and hospitals. Some goat supply houses even sell small harnesses and tiny wagons that fit Nigerian dwarf goats. As with all goats, does or neutered males (wethers) make the best pets, as bucks can have an objectionable odor. Nigerian Dwarfs, especially does and wethers, do well with children.
"Nigerian Dwarf Goats Care: Dairy Goat Information Guide to Raising Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats as Pets" by Taylor David
Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats: Breeds, Care, Dairying by Jerry Belanger
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