The Nigerian Dwarf Goat
The Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goat is a miniature dairy goat of
West African origin that were originally called Pygmy's or possibly the West African Dwarf goats. These little goats were primarily used as food and were brought over on the ships, many years ago, as a meat source for the large cats that were being delivered to zoo's. Some of these small goats made the trip unharmed and were left at the zoo's as an added attraction. Some ended up at Glady's Porter Zoo in Brownsville Texas. After a few years there were some distinct differences developing within the herd. Some stayed stocky much like the meat goats they were used for and others were developing more dairy characteristics. The goats showing the most dairy character were used by a handful of dedicated breeders to develop a new breed, the Nigerian Dwarf.
The two ladies we believe to be responsible for the development of the Nigerian Dwarf, are Kathleen Clapp of Goodwood Farms and Sharla Parker of Willows herd name. The first of these goats were named after Gladys Porter Zoo and you will see that name in some pedigrees today. The dairy characteristics of the Nigerian has become more defined over the last 20+ years as well as focusing more on higher milk production.
The Nigerian has also been enjoying a rise in popularity due to their small size, colorful markings, dairy characteristics and their wonderful easy temperament. Their small stature means they do not require as much space or feed as their larger dairy goat counterparts. Their gentle nature and friendly personalities make them good companion pets and 4 H project animals for the younger children.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also approved the Nigerian Dwarf Goat as a livestock dairy goat, which makes them eligible for youth 4H and FFA projects. The milk they produce is also higher in butterfat and has a sweeter taste.
Nigerian Dwarf Standard
The balanced proportions of the Nigerian Dwarf give it the appearance of the larger breeds of dairy goats, but the does stand no more than 22.5” and the bucks no more than 23.5” at the withers. Any color or combination of colors is acceptable. The medium length ears are erect and alert. The face is either straight or dished, and the hair is short and fine.
The Nigerian Goat Temperament
Nigerian goats are gentle, loveable and playful.
Their calm, even temperament and engaging personalities make
them suitable companions for all, including children, the disabled and the elderly. Even breeding bucks are handled easily. They make wonderful pets and great animal projects for young children in 4H
or FFA. Owners often find their Nigerian goats blend in with other
farm animals and do not need special quarters; they do require adequate fencing that will be able to contain them due to their small size.
Many Nigerian goats share pastures peacefully with other livestock
such as cattle, horses, llamas and donkeys.