Photo Credit – Old Mountain Farm
The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature dairy goat of West African origin. It’s conformation is similar to that of the larger dairy goat breeds. The parts of the body are in balanced proportion. The nose is straight. The ears are upright. The coat is soft with short to medium hair. Any colour or combination of colours is acceptable.
Because of their small size, Nigerians are often sought out by people with young children or older people downsizing to smaller more readily managed goat. With their small size comes ease of handling and transporting. They can be transported in an X-Large dog crate in a standard size vehicle.
Male: 48–60 cm
Female: 43–57 cm
Ideal weight is suggested to be about 35 kilograms.
Nigerian goats come in a delightful assortment of colours and often with colourful patterned coats. In fact, their colours are one of the reasons they are so popular and it’s always a surprise what colour the babies will be when they are born.
Nigerians are intelligent, gentle, loveable and easy to train and handle, even the breeding bucks! They are fantastic pets for all ages and they blend in well with their herd. Of course, there are differences as each goat, just like humans and other domesticated animals, have their own personalities and idiosyncrasies, which makes them so rewarding.
Nigerian Dwarf goats breed year round. Mostly they are bred once a year but some breeders breed their does three times in two years, giving the doe a 6 month plus break. This is of course a personal choice for each breeder.
At birth, kids average about 1kg – 1.5kg but rapidly grow and put on weight.
They reach sexual maturity at a young age necessitating the removal of buck kids from their mothers quite early. Buck kids have been known to breed and be fertile as young as 7 weeks of age.
Does can be bred at 7 to 8 months of age if they have reached good size. Some breeders prefer to wait until they are at least 1 year or older.
The Nigerian Dwarf breed is known for having several kids at a time, 3 and 4 being not uncommon and sometimes even 5 & 6! They are generally good mothers and able to take care of their babies.
Buck kids are able to be used for breeding as young as 3 months of age and are vigorous breeders and are gentle enough to be used for hand breeding or pasture breeding. Both methods are used successfully.
Nigerians can provide a surprising amount of milk for their size. They give on average 1.8 ltrs per day and up to 4 ltrs for exceptional does. Their butterfat percentage ranges from, on average, 6%-10% with the protein content being correspondingly higher than that of standard height does. Since butterfat is what gives milk its sweet flavour, it’s the sweetest, richest milk of all the dairy goat breeds.
Cheese produced from Nigerian Dwarf milk is smooth with a silky texture which makes it very popular with artisan cheesemakers.