Keeping Goats | Nigerian Dwarf Goats

April 18, 2012

The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat of West African origin.

Nigerian Dwarves have three different color lines -- black and white, brown, which can be broken with white, and the third is gold, which can also be broken with white. Bucks are to be no more than 23 inches at the withers, and does no more than 21 inches.

Dwarf goats are gentle and lovable. Even breeding bucks are handled easily. They make wonderful pets and great animal projects for young children in 4-H. 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.

Kidding is always an exciting time for Dwarf breeders. New babies are too cute! They average about 2 lbs. at birth but grow quickly. Watch out for those little bucks! Those little guys have been known to breed and be fertile as young as 7 weeks of age. Make sure you wean does and bucks separately so this does not happen.

Does can be bred at 7-8 months of age if they have reached good size. Some breeders prefer to wait until they are at least 1 year or older. Dwarf does can have several kids at a time, 3 and 4 being common and sometimes even 5. Dwarf are generally good mothers 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 if you decide you want your own delicious goat milk. 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.

Most breeders feed a 16-18% protein goat feed or dairy ration. It must not contain urea as this is toxic to goats. Free choice grain may be fed to kids via a creep feeder or just whatever they can get "mom" to share. Many breeders give less grain if good pasture and browse is available. Hay or pasture should always be available free choice. Fresh, clean water in clean containers should also be available at all times.

Dwarf goats, like all other breeds, need some basic care for good health and long life.

• Hooves should be trimmed regularly, about every 4- 8 weeks. A properly trimmed hoof should be shaped the same as a kid goats'.

• Vaccination for tetanus, types C&D enterotoxemia are the basic types given. Check with your local vet for further information or other vaccinations recommended for your area.

• Worming should be done several times a year. Your vet can suggest a good schedule for your particular herd's needs.

• Goats should be kept in clean pens free of dampness, drafts and pests like flies and rodents. (not air tight buildings; they need to be well ventilated)

Dwarf goats are registrable in 3 registries. American Goat Society (AGS), International Dairy Goat Registry (IDGR), and Canadian Goat Society (CGS). Dwarf shows are growing in popularity and becoming more and more available. Most are sanctioned by (AGS) and some by an organization that provides alternative sanctioning (NDGA).