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Nigerian Dwarf Goat Information PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dawn Bihlmaier   
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 17:01

History and Information on Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats 


     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 the dairy goats. Shorter height is the primary breed characteristic of the Nigerian Dwarf, with does measuring no more than 22 1/2 inches at the withers, and bucks measuring no more than 23 1/2 inches at the withers.

     They are known for their high quality milk, often with exceptionally high butterfat content. Nigerian Dwarfs are friendly, hardy animals that thrive in almost any climate. The medium lenth ears are erect and alert. The face is either straight or slightly dished. The coat is of medium length and straight. The Nigerian Dwarf is the only dairy breed known to occasionally have blue eyes. Both brown & blue eyed animals are encountered with no preference being given to either eye color. Any pattern, color, or combination of colors is acceptable.


     Dwarf goats are gentle, loveable, and playful. Thier calm, even temperament and engaging personalities make them suitable companions for all, including children, the disabled, and the elderly. The temperment is what sold us on this breed, we have even taken them to nursing homes to visit. They make wonderful pets and great animal projects for young children in 4-H of FFA. Even breeding bucks are handled easily. Many Nigerian Dwarf goats share pasture peacefully with other livestock such as cattle, horses, llamas, and donkeys. In fact, they will often improve a pasture by removing lots of brambles, undergrowth (including weeds), and Ivy (even poison Ivy) that other livestock won't eat.

           We have so much fun with our little goats they make such wonderful ambassadors to the goat world. Our goats have gone to Nursing Homes, to festivals to do milking demo's, and to a school for an Ag Day. We are hoping to find other places to take them to brighten up other peoples day as they do us. We take our goats even to Tractor Supply with our 4-H Group to help promote agriculture awareness. Laughing

 Breeding Nigerian Dwarf Goats

    Remember that every goat keeper has their own way of doing things, and goats appeciate a routine. Mine let me know if I am late getting down to them.

     Dwarf goats can be bred year round. Some owners breed their Does three times in a two year period, and give the Does a six month break between births. I prefere to only breed my Does once a year. Of course this is a personal choice for each indiviual breeder on how they run their breeding program. The gestation period for a Doe is 145 to 153 days. Nigerian Dwarfs are a hearty breed with few kidding problems, of course there are the rare exceptions to this case. New babies average about 2-3 pounds at birth, but grow very quickly. Bucklings can be fertile at as young as 7-8 weeks of age, so make sure you seperate those little bucklings to avoid unintentional breedings.

     Does can be bred at 7-8 months of age if they have reached a mature size. Some breeders prefer to wait until they are a least 1 year or older. Nigerian Does can have several kids at a time, 3 and 4 being  a common litter with some quintuplet births occurring at times. Nigerian Dwarfs are generally good mothers able to take care of their babies if you decide to let the Dam raise them. We have Dam raised all of ours so far and spend a lot of time with them which has made them very friendly.

     Bucks are able to be used for service as young as 3 months of age and easily by the time they are 7-8 months old. Dwarf bucks are a vigorous breeders but are gentle enough to be used for hand breeding or pasture breeding. Both methods are used successfully by many breeders.

     Kids can be bottle-raised if the owner wishes, and most breeders will wean the kids between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Kids should have access to high-quality hay and grain from an early age, and will often begin to nibble alongside their Dam by two weeks of age.

     A healthy Nigerian Dwarf Doe can produce over 2 quarts of creamy milk each day. We however were hooked by their gentle, lovable personalities, and their playfulness. Nigerians have a calm, even temperament making them ideal for children, the elderly, and disabled.

     Color is one of the big factors that make breeding the Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat so popular. You can never be sure what color the babies will be until they are born, but even then you can't be sure because many times their color changes as they mature. The main colors are black, white, chocalate, red, and gold with any number of varying shades and pattern combinations. Any color or pattern are accepted in the breed standards.

Housing Needs

     Nigerian Dwarfs are a hardy, naturally healthy breed. They can thrive in all climates, but do need shelter from extreme weather especially from rain. They do not like to get wet. If you have only a few goats a big dog house will work just fine. When I first started I used a dog Igloo for our two wethers it was great and easy to clean out. As for me the Nigerian goats are like potatoe chips, and you just can't stop at two you want more. We needed a few more shelters due to the herd growing more, so we were thinking of a design for some without a lot of money being spent. One day we were on our way out of town and saw some big wooden crates outside a factory, and thought that was a perfect size. We were able to get two of them , and just added a roof to them. A good quality of alfalfa hay, grass, or pasture should be the mainstay of their diet. With the milking Does and growing kids grain should be given in accordance to their needs. If the Doe is in milk I feed 2 cups of feed twice a day, sometimes a little more if she is dam raising her babies. The life span of Nigerian Dwarfs average 12 to 18 years old.

This is the finished crate shelter we made for our growing herd.


     A vaccination program is usally recommended. Commonly given are Clostridium Types C&D Toxiod, also known as C&D and tetnus. Ideally, the pregnant Doe is given shots 2 to 4 weeks before kidding to boost her antibody levels to better protect her kids at birth. Kids are born with no immunities thier protection comes from the immunities in their Dam's first milk, or colostrum. If the Dam was Vaccinated, then the kids should be vaccinated at 6 weeks, and boostered 2 to 4 weeks later. Adult goats should be boostered annually. You should also have a deworming program set up. I usally deworm my herd three to four times a year. To check a goat for worms, look at their eye lids and gums. A healthy goat will look pink, a wormy goat will have pale pink to white/gray. Loose clumpy to runny stools can be an indication of a worm overload. All goats will have some degree of worms, but if they are stressed they can't fight them as well. Ask your vet for any other vaccinations that might be needed in your area. This information is to be used as a guide to help you with the everyday things that might come up, please call a vet if you have questions about a diagnosis.

Registries and shows

     Dwarf goats are registered in 5 registries: four in the United States (NDGA, AGS, IDGR, & ADGA), and one in Canada (CGS). Dwarf shows are growing in popularity and are becoming more readily available all over the country. Shows are fun, educational, and a great way to meet other breeders and owners. They are also a place to sell your goats, or obtain superior stock for breeding. We have learned so much from the other breeders in just the two years that we have shown.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 October 2014 07:48