PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
Heidi Strawn
February 4, 2011

Use: Nigerian Dwarf goats are perfectly scaled miniature dairy goats. Nigerian Dwarfs give up to two quarts of 6- to 10-percent butterfat milk per day. Nigerian Dwarfs, particularly bucks, have been used to develop a number of other small breeds, including the six breeds registered by the Miniature Dairy Goat Association (Miniature Alpines, Miniature LaManchas, Miniature Nubians, Miniature Oberhaslis, Miniature Saanen/Sables and Miniature Toggenburgs), the Miniature Silky Fainting Goat and the cute, fleecy Nigora.

History: Like Pygmy goats, Nigerian Dwarf goats originated in West Africa. The first documented imports of both Pygmys (short-legged and cobby, they’re used for meat and milk in Africa) and Nigerian Dwarfs (a more svelte, proportionate dairy-type goat) arrived to the U.S. in the 1930s to 1950s and found their way to private and public zoos and preserves, then to everyday owners and breeders.

Conformation: Four organizations register Nigerian Dwarfs, and their standards differ somewhat. Generally, the ideal height for a mature doe is 17 to 19 inches, with does up to 22½ inches tall acceptable. Mature bucks should be 19 to 21 inches tall with up to 23½ inches accepted. Ideal weight is around 75 pounds. Nigerian Dwarfs have soft, short- to medium-length hair, upright ears and straight profiles. They come in all colors, though Pygmy-specific markings are penalized in the show ring.

Special Considerations/Notes: Nigerian Dwarfs are sweet, friendly goats that make wonderful pets. Kids weigh about 2 pounds at birth. They are precocious breeders, and bucklings can be fertile at 7 weeks of age. Most doelings are mature enough to breed at 7 to 8 months of age, though it’s better to wait until they’re at least 1 year old. Bucks can be used for service as young as 3 to 6 months of age. Nigerian Dwarfs breed out of season, and litters of three and four kids are the norm.

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