Capra hircus: Breed Facts
The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature 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 color or combination of colors is acceptable, though silver agouti (roan) is considered a moderate fault.
Dwarf goats are gentle and loveable. Even breeding bucks are handled easily. They make wonderful pets and great animal projects for young children in 4-H. Nigerian Dwarf goats are a true dairy goat and have been approved as such by the US Department of Agriculture making them eligible for youth 4-H and FFA projects.
Height of the Nigerian Dwarf is generally 17" to 19" with 22.6" being maximum height for AGS. The height for Bucks ranges 19" to 20" with 23.6" being maximum height for AGS. Animals are disqualified from the show ring for being over-sized for the breed standard, curly coat, roman nose, and pendulous ears or evidence of myatonia. (This is associated with fainting goats.) Ideal weight is suggested to be about 75 pounds based on HES evaluation information.
The most commonly asked question about Dwarf goats is: What is the difference between these and Pygmy goats? Although they have similar origins, they are separate and distinct breeds. Pygmies are bred to be "cobby" and heavy boned. (The best pygmies look like beer kegs with legs.) Dwarves are bred to have the length of body and structure, in proportion, of a dairy goat.
Dwarf goats come in many colors. Main color families are black, chocolate and gold. Random white markings are common, as are spots and other color combinations such as red, white, gold and black. Color is one of the BIG factors that makes breeding Dwarves so popular. You never can be sure what color the babies will be until they are born; even then you can't be sure because many times their color will change.
Breeders of other types of goats find that their Dwarves blend in with the rest of their herd well and do not need special quarters, just adequate fencing to contain them because of their small size.
Dwarf goats breed year round. Many 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. 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. New born kids average about 2 lbs. at birth but grow quickly. They reach sexual maturity at a young age so be sure and separate the bucks and does. Those little guys have been know to breed and be fertile as young as 7 weeks of age.
Dwarf does can have several kids at a time, 3 and 4 being common and sometime even 5. Dwarfs are generally good mothers and able to take care of their babies should you leave them to do the raising of the kids. They can also provide a surprising amount of milk for their size. They can give three to four pounds per day of 6 to 10% butterfat.
Bucks are able to be used for service as young as 3 months of age and easily by the time they are 7 or 8 months old. Dwarf bucks are vigorous breeders but are gentle enough to be used for hand breeding or pasture breeding. Both methods are used successfully.
Dwarf goats are register-able in the following registries. American Goat Society (AGS), International Dairy Goat Registry (IDGR), Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association (NDGA) and Canadian Goat Society (CGS). The American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) officially opened a heard registry in January of 2005. Nigerian shows are growing in popularity and becoming more and more available.
While the Nigerian Dwarf's numbers are still very small (only 7,000 animals are registered in the USA) they have a very bright and profitable future ahead