Photo by Sue Weaver
Ozzy and Iggy, Nigerian Dwarf twins born prematurely, were added to our miniature goat family this month.
Mom has two new bottle babies. They’re our smallest goats yet! They’re Nigerian Dwarf preemies born 21 days before they were due. Ozzy weighed just 16 ounces when he was born, and his brother, Iggy, weighed a little more than 2 pounds. They are teeny goats!
All of the recent additions to our family are miniature goats. Spike is a first-generation miniature Nubian goat and Modo is a miniature Myotonic goat. Then came Sweetie, a Pygmy goat, and now the twins.
We asked Mom why anyone would want miniature goats instead of big, strong goats like Uzzi and me. She says miniature goats are popular because they require less housing space, pasture and feed than we do. Because they’re smaller, they’re easier to handle and less intimidating, especially for beginners, children, old folks and the physically challenged. Sometimes mini goats are acceptable where zoning laws disallow keeping full-size goats, even in big cities!
When most people think of miniature goats they think of Pygmies. Short, wide, strongly built and ultra-friendly, Pygmy goats have been popular pets for many years. Their ancestors came from West Africa, where people raised them for meat, but Pygmies are decent milk goats, too. Does give between 1 and 2 two quarts of high-butterfat milk that the National Pygmy Goat Association says is higher in calcium, phosphorus, potassium and iron than milk from full-sized dairy goats, and it’s lower in sodium, too. Maximum height is 22¾ inches for Pygmy does and 23? for bucks.
Nigerian Dwarfs are the quintessential tiny dairy goat. They came from West Africa, too, but they are scaled-down miniature dairy goats. Several organizations register Nigerian Dwarfs so ideal heights vary; they average 17 to 19 inches for does and 19 to 21 inches for bucks. Well-fed Nigerian does bred for dairying rather than pets give up to 1 gallon of high-fat milk per day. Nigerian Dwarfs are cuddly and colorful, too.
Mini-milkers are cute, productive miniature dairy goats, too. They’re scaled down versions of big goat breeds, like Alpines, LaManchas, Nubians, Oberhaslis, Toggenburgs, Saanens and Sables. They were created by breeding Nigerian Dwarf bucks to full-sized does, then breeding those offspring to registered miniature dairy-goat bucks and so on. Like Nigerian Dwarfs, mini-milkers give a lot of rich, creamy milk. Minimum heights for mini-milker goat breeds are 23 inches for does and 24 inches for bucks; maximum heights vary by breed. To learn more about mini-milker goat breeds, check out page 2 of our Dairy Goat Breeds Information Chart.
The Pygora goat breed was born in the early 1970s when hand spinner Katherine Jorgensen began breeding to recreate the fiber she saw growing on Navajo goats living on an Arizona reservation. To do so, she bred Pygmy bucks to full-sized Angoras. Pygora does average 22 inches tall and weigh 65 to 75 pounds; bucks and wethers average 27 inches tall and 75 to 95 pounds. Individuals grow one of three kinds of fiber: mohair (like full-sized Angora goats), cushy cashmere or a combination of both.
The first Nigoras had Angora moms and Nigerian Dwarf dads. They’re about the size of Pygoras, though they often aren’t as heavy and they grow the same kinds of fiber.
And if you want tiny goats that turn heads wherever you go, try Miniature Silky Fainting Goats. Developed by Renee Orr in Lignum, Va., by breeding long-coated Myotonic bucks to long-coated Nigerian Dwarf does with Myotonic goats in their background, they have soft, flowing coats that sweep the ground and lots of facial hair, including long bangs and cheek muffs. Adult does can be 23½ inches tall and bucks can be 25 inches. These goats personify cute!