About Nigerian Dwarf Goats
The Nigerian Dwarf Goat is a miniature goat of Western African origin. They are enjoying a rise in popularity due to their small size and colour variations. They are easy to handle and eligible for 4H projects.
We chose to raise Nigerian Dwarf Goats for the above reasons and the simple fact that they are just so much fun to have around the farm. They have the most playful personalities and we absolutely love to watch them run around the yard. They're easy for our small kids to handle and did we forget to mention they're a dairy goat?
A healthy Nigerian Dwarf doe can produce a surprising amount of milk for her size. Their milk tends to be higher in butterfat than most dairy goat breeds.
The Canadian Goat Society states that standards for Nigerian Dwarf Goats are as follows:
A miniature goat which must have erect ears and a straight face. Any color is allowed however, it is a serious fault to have “agouti” coloration (agouti defined as the intermingling of light and dark hairs.) It is also a very serious fault if the animals do not conform to the body measurement chart. This goat must have erect ears and a straight face.
24 months of age: male or female maximum height at withers: 22 inches
30 months of age: male maximum height at withers: 23 inches
30 months of age: female maximum height at withers: 22 inches
Note: Nigerian Dwarfs are of dairy type and are judged according to the dairy goat scorecard
Disqualifications: Convex or dished profile, pendulous, gopher, or elf ears, over maximum height.
Nigerian Dwarf goats, like all other breeds, need some basic care for good health and long life. Hooves should be trimmed regularly, we like to do about every 6 weeks even if it's just a quick touch up.
Vaccinations should be done yearly. We vaccinate with Covexin Plus.
Deworming is something that we recommending only doing when necessary. We suggest running fecal samples to your vet or doing them yourself if you know how before administering any medication. Nigerian Dwarf Goats are notorious for building a tolerance to deworming meds. Checking FAMACHA scores regularly and watching your goats for any abnormal behaviours is a good way to keep an eye on things. If anything seems off, we always will advise to check with your vet.
We like to give our goats a good once over each time we do hoof trims to check for anything concerning.
FEEDING YOUR GOATS
What our goats eat always depends on the time of year. Their needs will change with the seasons.
For the summer + fall months, everyone is on a combination of high quality orchard grass mix hay, forage and grass. We don't feed any grain at this time.
Once we get closer to breeding season, we will re-introduce the does to a mix of feed that we find works for us, including alfalfa pellets, haysaver cubes and BOSS.
We don't ever feed our bucks grain. To encourage them into their shelter for the night, we do give them a small handful of Timothy pellets each. For optimal health, numerous studies have shown that it's safest to keep male goats on a diet of 2:1 calcium to phosphorus. Always remember to have your water tested as this will help determine needs and ratios. If we find that rut is a little tougher on some of the boys, we have a mix of beet pulp, calf manna, BOSS and Timothy pellets that we use to keep weight on them during stressful times.
During winter, we switch our does over to a high quality alfalfa hay for extra protein during pregnancy and after kidding. They will continue on a grain mix with a few extra things added once they are in milk.
All of our goats have 24/7 access to 2 different types of loose copper, zinc and kelp. Goats are very good at only taking what they need.
Always discuss your goats needs with your vet. What is good for where we live, may not be good for where you live. We are not nutritional specialists where feeding goats is concerned. We only can share what works for our herd.
Supplying your goats with adequate shelter is something that is needed and often overlooked. Protection from the elements and from predators is the biggest reason we recommend having some type of closed in housing. Most first time buyers don't think of this and are often left struggling once the goats are in their care.
A 3-sided shelter works well and can easily be closed off in the front to keep your goats safe with a latched gate so they can freely move in and out during the day and be locked up at night. We find this gives enough space for a small herd of goats to be comfortable in.
Your goats will need access to shade during hot days and their shelter on the windy, rainy or snowy days.