About Nigerian Dwarf Goats
The origin of the Nigerian dwarf goat can be traced back to the African continent where their ancestors (West African Dwarf, or WAD, goats) provided local populations with milk and meat.
It is generally believed that in the early 20th century, the Nigerian dwarf goats were used to provide meals for lions and other large carnivores, destined for zoos, during transoceanic shipment from Africa to the United States. The first report of imports of WAD goats into the U.S. was in 1918, though there may have been unreported earlier shipments. Imports continued until the 1960’s. Over time, the lucky goats which had not been consumed en route also found their ways into the the zoos. It is a fact that the first miniature goats in the U.S.A. were part of zoo exhibits, and it was from zoos that excess animals were acquired by private owners who began breeding them
At the beginning of the 1980’s two breeders petitioned the International Dairy Goat Registry to open a herd book for Nigerian dwarf goats and in 1981 (July 24) the first Nigerian dwarf goat was registered.
In 1984 the American Goat Society (AGS) opened a Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goat herd book. This herd book was closed on 31 December, 1997. Since that time, only offspring of the animals in the AGS herd book have been registrable as purebred Nigerian Dwarf goats. It is from the AGS herd book that all animals registered with the American Dairy Goat Association and the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association are derived.
The development of the Nigerian dwarf goat into significant dairy goat breed, has principally been the result of breeders in the United States, and it is through the interest and dedication of these breeders that the Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goat today shows such strong and refined dairy characteristics combined with a petite size.
Appearance and Temperament:
Unlike their Pygmy Goat relatives which are also derived from the WAD goats, and which are principally a meat goat, Nigerian Dwarf goats are less stout and stocky, being instead well proportioned miniature versions of some of the larger standard dairy breeds, (such as Alpine dairy goats.) Does up to 57cm (22.5in.) are accepted by ADGA. For bucks, the ADGA accepts bucks to 60cm (23.5in.) The NDGA standards are 2.5cm (1in.) lower for both sexes. Animals are disqualified from showing if over height standard. The standard is for adult goats to have been de-horned though some Nigerian Dwarf goats are naturally polled.
Nigerian Dwarf goats come in an astonishing variety of colours and patterns.
Colour patterns include buckskin, chamoisee, Swiss marked, sundgau, cou clair and cou blank, and solid colour.
Colours include (in various intensities) gold, black, cream,chocolate, solid white,
Additional colouring variations are moon spotting, roaming, frosting, white overlay, scattered white, colour and white
Coupled with this array is the possibility of having either brown, gold or blue eyes.
Kidding time is therefore always a surprise, resulting often in very beautiful goats.
Nigerian Dwarf goats are gentle, and loveable. Their calm even temperament and engaging personalities, as well as their “manageable” size, make them suitable companions for all, including children.
A healthy Nigerian Dwarf doe can give a surprising amount of milk for her size, up to 1.8 litres per day.
The breed produces the most full bodied milk of all recognised dairy goat breeds, meaning it has the highest butterfat content. The fresh milk has almost no “goaty” taste and can be used to make excellent iced cream, deserts, yogurt, and especially, cheeses.
Cheese maker Gianaclis Caldwell of Pholia Farm Creamery in Rogue River, Oregon, U.S.A., refers to Nigerian Dwarf milk as the cheese maker’s “secret weapon” because of the 6 to 10 percent butterfat content (with some does producing a much higher content), making it ideal for cheese. Nigerian Dwarf milk also has more of the alpha S1 protein, commonly referred to as the “cheese” protein. A high percentage of alphaS1 protein leads to higher yield, as well as producing cheeses with exceptionally rich characteristics.