Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Nigerian Dwarf Goats 

A family of nigerian dwarf goats.
A family of nigerian dwarf goats.

The origins of the Nigerian Dwarf Goat are somewhat unknown, as can be true of many breeds. There are many popular theories as to where the Nigerian Dwarf Goat originated– the most popular of which states they were brought along with big game cats like lions and tigers as food for the long ocean voyage. As the theory goes, the goats that survived the journey found welcome homes due to their diminutive size, easy maintenance, and butterfat rich milk that is excellent for making cheese. It was quickly discovered that the Nigerian Dwarf goat was an ideal dairy source for a family and today they are bred across the country in dairy farms for their rich milk which they are able to produce a surprising amount of given their stature.

It is also known that earliest records of Nigerian Dwarf Goats in the US are at zoo exhibits. It was through these exhibits the general population learned of the goats. When they bred and the zoo owners had excess kids they didn’t want, people readily bought the breed up. There was a common conception that these Nigerian Dwarf Goats were Pygmy goats, but over time, breeders began to notice differences about them (particularly they are more refined and angular looking) from the pygmy which eventually led to their separate distinction as Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

Since their introduction, the breed has continued to grow in popularity. By 2002 the Nigerian Dwarf Goat had been accepted into the herdbook of the ADGA. Today, Nigerian Dwarf Goat shows can have upwards of 200 entrants. The breed has become so popular that the ADGA even held their first Nigerian Dwarf show in 2010.

 Characteristics of the Nigerian Dwarf Goat

Nigerian Dwarf Goats are friendly, happy goats.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats are friendly, happy goats.

The most significant characteristic of the Nigerian Dwarf is its diminutive stature. There are, however, two separate standards on how tall a Nigerian Dwarf can be to still be considered a Dwarf. According to the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) and the American Goat Society (AGS) does should stand less than 22½ inches and bucks should be no taller than 23½ inches. On the other hand, if you refer to the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association (NDGA) standards, does should stand between 17 and 19 inches in height and no more than 21 inches while bucks should stand between 19 and 21 inches and no more than 23.

The Nigerian Dwarf Goat is known for its varied colors. They can come in almost any color from black to cream to white to red to brown and with or without patterns like buckskin or chamois. Most Nigerian Dwarfs naturally have horns, but breeders tend to disbud the goats for safety reasons in the first few weeks after they are born. Nigerian Dwarfs can also have blue eyes.

Raising Nigerian Dwarf Goats

While it is true that the Nigerian Dwarf is the ideal family milk goat – they are also ideal in the production of goat cheese and therefore are often bred in herds on dairy farms. This is because of the relatively high butterfat concentrate in the Nigerian Dwarf Goat’s milk when compared to full size goats.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats have straight ears and upright ears.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats with straight ears and upright horns.

As for raising, the breed is known to be gentle and can easily be trained. This, coupled with their variety of colors, small size, and ability to produce milk explains why they remain a favorite across the country. If bottle fed by humans, the kids will more readily bond and become friendlier to humans – making raising and milking them even easier than working with other sometimes obnoxious breeds. They also tend to be safe around children as well. Adults, however, need to consume a lot of grass or hay each day so they should not be kept in doors and need room to roam and feed.

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Are Nigerian Dwarf Goats the same as Pygmy Goats?

While many refer to pygmy goats and Dwarf goats when describing the same animal, they are in fact, two different breeds. The name, pygmy goat, generally refers to goats bread to be especially small. The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a specific breed of goat that has been selectively bred to demonstrate the features demonstrated with the Nigerian Dwarf Goat.





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