The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature dairy goat originating from West Africa and developed in the United States. The balanced proportions of the Nigerian Dwarf give it an appearance similar to the larger, Swiss breeds of dairy goats. Shorter height is the primary breed characteristic of the Nigerian Dwarf, with does measuring no more than 22 1/2” at the withers and bucks measuring no more than 23 1/2″ at the withers.
Nigerian Dwarfs are gregarious, friendly, hardy animals that thrive in almost any climate. And as an added bonus they come in a wild variety of coats colors and patterns.
Reasons to add them to your prepared homestead
- Their small size makes them easier to handle, transport or evacuate, and the most likely injury they might cause is from you tripping over them.
- Two Nigerian Dwarf does need just slightly more room and feed than a single larger breed doe. Goats are herd animals so regardless of size they need a companion. So in the space of two large does you can keep three Nigerian Dwarf does quite easily.
- They have the highest butterfat of all dairy breed, which results in a higher yield of cheese per gallon of milk. It is also easier to extract cream to make butter.
- Large breeds mostly just have a fall breeding season, but Nigerian Dwarf does come into heat every 21 days, thus you can stagger breedings between 3-4 does and keep your family in milk year-round.
- Nigerian Dwarf does tend to have twins, triplets or even quadruplets more frequently than their larger sisters, thus replicating themselves more quickly.
- Nigerian Dwarf bucks are usually friendly, mellow guys that can be handled by most homestead raised children from about age 6 or 7. Their smaller size also means less stink during fall breeding season.
- Due to their small size and mellow nature, if there is a natural disaster or SHTF situation and you need to keep a close eye on them, you can bring them into your garage or even your house. In other words you can visually HIDE them if needed – although they can be vocal when expecting to be fed, so keeping someone from hearing them might not be so easy.
Additional points to consider when getting goats
- You have to do your due diligence when purchasing a Nigerian Dwarf doe or buck. Some breeders may only be breeding for the pet market, or only for show with capacity and ease of hand milking not being a top priority.
- If you don’t do your due diligence you may end up with a doe with tiny “raisin” teats and small orifices. Or one that barely produces enough to feed her kids with nothing leftover and as soon as her kids are weaned she dries up. This can happen with any breed.
- Veterinarians may not be familiar with caprines, and if they are, they may not have the tools to work on little ones. This means you will learn to do a lot of things yourself, which ultimately saves you money and means you are better prepared in a grid-down situation as many of the veterinary skills you pick up to work on your goats will translate to other animals and even sometimes to humans.
Cities and towns are starting to allow for “pet” Nigerian Dwarf goats on lots of a certain size. They usually only allow 2-3 and never allow a buck, but if you lot is big enough, and you have made arrangements for off site breeding it is a good way to start getting a hands on education about goats.
They work well for small “ranchettes” of just a few acres too and between having your own dairy animal and chickens you can provide your family with some high-quality protein no matter what the economy or solar flares are doing.
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