Important Info for New MN Dairy Goat Breeders:
http://www.bah.state.mn.us/diseases/scrapie/scrapie_erad_prog_webform.html (online form)
Just as a reminder YOU MUST register your herd w/ the MN Board of Animal Health!
MN Board of Animal Health
651-201-6807 / 651-296-7417 Fax
History of the Nigerian Dwarf
The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature dairy goat which originated from West Africa. There are several breeds of dwarf goats in West Africa and it is from these herds that the first dwarf goats were introduced to the United States. The ancestral dwarf goats of West Africa contained two distinct types. One had a large head, wide body, and short legs. The other was a true miniature whose head and body are proportional for its short size. Through selective breeding, these distinct types evolved into todays Pygmy (which is a meat variety of dwarf goat) and the Nigerian (which was developed for its dairy qualities). Although both breeds have ancestors from the original African dwarfs, both are considered to be American breeds. The Nigerian Dwarf is officially recognized by the American Goat Society (AGS) and the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA).
Nigerian Breed Standards and Characteristics
The conformation of the Nigerian Dwarf is similar to the standards of larger dairy goat breeds. The body should be proportional to its small stature and reflect femininity, refinement, and dairy character. The Nigerian should exhibit the appearance of a standard sized dairy goat of miniature size (slender, long bodied and long legged). Faults include animals which reflect the shorter, stockier body type of the Pygmy. There is no minimum height requirement. Does must not exceed 22.5 inches at the withers and bucks must measure no more than 23.5 inches at the withers. Any color, pattern, or combination of colors is acceptable. The wide range of colors and patterns of the Nigerian adds to their appeal. Eye color is typically brown but blue eyed animals are occasionally encountered. Ears are of medium length (sometimes relatively long in comparison to head size) and should be alert and erect. The neck should be long and slim and blend smoothly into the shoulders. Ideal body appearance is long and wide with high, sharp withers. Legs should be straight and set squarely apart with a noticeable width in the rear legs to accommodate the udder.
The Nigerian is a working, producing, dairy animal and they are known for their high quality milk and exceptionally high butterfat content. They are also friendly, hardy, gregarious herd animals which can be raised in almost any climate. The herd animal aspect is particularly important since Nigerians need companionship. An individual Nigerian will be an unhappy Nigerian and will likely fail to thrive.
The Nigerian’s Appeal
The Nigerian is an ideal production animal for today’s small, hobby farm. They are known to be “easy keepers” which require a minimal amount of space for either housing or pen size. Their small size makes them ideal for the average person to handle and transport in a medium to large sized dog kennel. They are hardy and generally healthy animals if given proper food and care and require significantly less feed than the larger dairy breeds. For their small size they produce a large quantity of sweet milk. A properly cared for doe should easily produce 1-2 quarts of milk per day. Nigerians can breed 12 months of the year and staggered breeding can provide a year round supply of rich milk for drinking, making cheese, or soap making.
Nigerians are intelligent and loving animals who eagerly seek the attention and affection of their herd owners. Their small size, calm temperament, flashy colors, and engaging personality makes them an ideal, non threatening companion animal for family members of all ages to enjoy. For those who have an interest in 4-H or showing animals, the Nigerian is an excellent choice as their small size allows for most children and family members to handle them. Showing your goats can be a very rewarding experience and provides the opportunity for families to share in the activity and to meet new friends. Even very small children can typically handle a gentle, well trained miniature goat. Shows also provide an excellent learning experience and many include showmanship classes for youth.