Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Introduction to the Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goat

Nigerian Dwarf goats are a dairy breed with roots in West Africa. They come in a huge variety of colors and coat patterns that do not breed true. This means that any combination of colors will not reliably produce offspring of those colors, eye color included (though blue eyes are said to be dominant).
According to ADGA and AGS breed standards, does should be between 17 and 22.5 inches at the withers, and bucks no taller than 23.5 inches. There are no coat colors excluded, though a curly coat is not acceptable.
The milk production average for the Nigerian that I see written most often is a quart a day over a 305 day lactation. This could me much more or slightly less, however, depending on genetics as well as how many freshenings (times giving birth and making milk) the doe has had, and how many kids she supports at the beginning of her lactation. First freshening udders are generally not as capacious or productive as second, and third is usually even better.
Their milk is rich and sweet, with the highest butter fat content of all the milking breeds. This makes the Nigerian an excellent choice if you are interested in milk for cheese or soap making, and it is absolutely delicious. Most of our friends and relatives who try our Nigerian milk for the first time compare the sweet, creamy, rich flavor to half and half.
These little goats are extremely easy keepers, requiring only hay and loose minerals if not in production. If a doe is in late pregnancy or lactating, anywhere from one to four cups of a quality grain mix containing around 16 percent protein (depending on browse availability and quality) is needed daily.
If you're trying to decide on livestock for your homestead, or a new pet, these little goats are definitely deserving of a second look!