The Nigerian Dwarf goat is one such animal that is equally popular as livestock as well as pets. As the name rightly suggests, this goat breed is compact in size. Though they are small, Nigerian dwarfs produce a good amount of milk.
The history of this breed dates back to the eighteenth century, when their ancestors - miniature goats of West African origin, were brought to the United States via sea. At that time, they were mainly used for feeding the predators in the zoo.
These imported goats consisted of two types - one with a compact body and short legs and the other with a more streamlined and slender body and comparatively longer legs. Until the 1970s, there was no obvious distinction between the two types.
Later, they were bred selectively and this resulted in two different breeds - the slender and dairy type Nigerian Dwarf and the compact and stout African pygmy. Nigerian Dwarf goats are popular as pets and as livestock dairy goats.
How Do They Look Like
Nigerian Dwarf goats are of small size and their body is well proportioned with a straight nose and upright ears. They are seen in various colors, color combinations, and markings. The common colors are white, black, cream, red, gold, and chocolate. Their coat patterns include buckskin, chamoisee, Swiss marked, sundgau, moon spots, roaning, frosting, etc.
While some of these goats have blue eyes, some individuals have white color on the tip of their ears. Normally, Nigerian Dwarfs have horns, but most of them are dehorned (horn removal) within two weeks of their birth. This is done for the safety of other members of the herd as well as that of humans.
According to the American Goat Society and the American Dairy Goat Association, the height standards set for this goat is less than 22.5 inches at the withers in does and less than 23.5 inches for bucks.
As per the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association, the height of does should be between 17 to 19 inches, with a maximum of 21 inches. The same applies to bucks, but the minimum height set for them is 19 inches.
Behavior and Breeding
Nigerian Dwarf goats are very gentle in nature, and it is very easy to train them. Being small-sized, they require less space. Their gentle nature makes them good pets for kids and elderly. Generally, does (females) and wethers (castrated males) are preferred as pets, as the bucks (adult males) have an unpleasant odor.
There is no specific breeding season for this goat, as it can breed year round. The gestation period is 145 to 153 days and usually, this animal gives birth to two to five young ones. While the bucks can be bred at a young age of seven weeks, does need at least seven to eight months to reach a mature size.
Milk Yield: An average Nigerian Dwarf goat can yield up to two quarts of milk per day. The milk of this goat has 6 to 10% of butterfat and is rich in proteins. The milk is sweet in taste and is very good for making cheese, fudge, soap and other goat milk products. As this goat can breed year round, there can never be any shortage of milk throughout the year.
You may raise a Nigerian dwarf goat as a pet or for dairy purposes. Either way, this animal is perfect to serve your purpose.