The Nigerian dwarf goat is a miniature domestic goat that is found originally in West Africa, precisely the eastern part of Nigeria and Cameroon, where they are reared for their delicious meat and as pets (but are not allowed into the house – due to their never-ending-food-surfing-and-devouring characteristics). And of course their dairy characteristics (Milk & Butterfat) has become more defined over the last 20+ years in other parts of the country and the world.
The amazing thing about the Nigerian dwarf/pygmy goats is their ability to adapt to all kinds of weather conditions and climate but this can only be understood if we know the characteristics of the Nigerian dwarf goat/pygmy goat.
Characteristics of the Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy Goats
These four stomach chamber ruminants come in an astonishing assortment of colors, from white, black and brown-red to patterns such as buckskin and chamois. You can never be sure what color the babies will be until they are born. Brown eyes are the most common.
According to Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association, the female goat called the Doe attains a maximum height of 21 inches (53cm), and the male – known as Buck has a maximum height of 23 inches (58cm). Their smooth shimmery furs and high body fat content has given them a great advantage over all climatic conditions; The nose is straight, the ears are upright. They grow full horns except that most times, their horns are removed to avoid predatory acts among them.
Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy Goat Temperaments
This grandfather Buck looks like the animal version of santa clause, I’d bet it can even scare the king of the jungle itself, but on the contrary, grandpa Buck is gentle and harmless.
The Does are natural mothers, bearing and raising up to 2 – 4 kids at once. They have a unique way of beckoning their kids when it’s time for breast-feeding while the kids are the cutest, obedient little rascals who can recognize their mother’s call. Just at the slightest MEEEHHH!!! cry from the Mother gets the kids scrambling for who gets to mama’s milk first.
Fighting? Not so cute looking now, are they? But contrary to what you think, the Nigerian dwarf/pygmy goats are completely harmless, gentle, shy and easily trainable. But there’s a hitch there, and let’s face it, which animal doesn’t indulge in mischief every now and then. The dwarf is definitely no exception, they are disobedient (their loyalty goes to whomever has the food at hand), nonchalant, curious (because they stare a lot) and annoyingly fearless, speaking of which, see a demonstration of just how annoyingly fearless they can be as demonstrated in the video below – The dwarf can be daring, I bet the dog is amused by this self-defense mechanism and so will other predators.
The kids make wonderful pets but they don’t like to be cuddled too much like pet dogs, they would rather hop around and play with each other or with you; just as in this video. Or snuggle with mama doe.
Accommodating Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy Goats
The Nigerian dwarf goats are kept in clean, damp-free pens stacked with hay or a wooden flooring, away from pests and with adequate ventilation for optimum health. They should also be released to go out in favorable weather conditions for proper grazing and exercise in a fence field – because they are stubborn wanderers. Tree stumps, rocks or large cable spools can be mounted for their entertainment.
Breeding the Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy Goats
They are bred all year round though many owners prefer to breed theirs three times in two years, allowing the doe at least a 6-month break. The gestation (pregnancy) period for a doe is 145 to 153 days. With the doe’s easy kidding nature, new babies weigh an average of about 2 pounds at birth but grow quickly. Bucks can be fertile at as young as 7 weeks of age while Does can be bred at 7-8 months of age (more preferably 1 year). Therefore, to avoid unintentional breeding, Does and Bucks should be weaned separately.
Feeding Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy Goats
Eating is generally a habit, but you can’t eat more than the dwarf since you don’t have four stomachs. Primarily classified as herbivores, they also eat raw or cooked foods rich in carbohydrates (except raw cassava tubers or cassava leaves), cooked proteins (not raw proteins), fats & oil, Vitamins ans other yummy delicacies. They really know how to pick the best weeds, and water (not that they drink lots of water and you can tell by their dung). Don’t be surprised that I said the eat cooked protein foods , it is so that you don’t have a heart attack if you catch your goat devouring your pot of soup containing meat and fish. Trust me, I’ve been there. Or do you think you’re the only one who knows how to enjoy delicious cooked meal?
Health Care of Nigerian Dwarf/Pygmy Goats
Like all other breeds, Dwarf goats require basic health care such as; Vaccinations for tetanus and Clostridium botulinum (vaccinated animals produce neutralizing antibodies against clostridium botulinum serotypes C&D). Also check with your local vet for advice and other vaccinations available for your area. De-worming should be done several times a year. Hooves should be trimmed about every 4-8 weeks or more often if needed. All these plus other physical health care should keep your Dwarf goat healthy and happy.
Differences Between The Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy Goats
With all their similar behaviors and origin (West Africa), Nigerian dwarf and pygmy goats have recognizable differences. Nigerian Dwarfs have an overall refined body appearance. Their bones are flat and the ideal body build is more delicate, with the refined angularity of a dairy animal. Its overall body length is lean. The structure of the hind quarters is very important to allow for good udder development, milk production and longevity of the mammary system. In the show ring, the udder accounts for 40% of the total score. Note: The size of the udder does not determine the quantity of milk produced.
Pygmy goats on the other hand have a round, stockier body structure. The body circumference is wide and full barreled. The necks are thick and short and the overall body length from head to tail is short. The head is square with the forehead being wide. Colors vary with white “frosting” on black and brown being very common. While Pygmy goats can be milked, the udder’s primary purpose is for the nourishment of the young. Their major purpose is for meat. It can be milked after having kids, however, the amount obtained will be very small compared to a well-bred Nigerian Dwarf.
Even though they are not cost-effective, with the average cost for registered breeding stock being between $200 and $500 per head, with champion pedigrees. Milk production recorded animals with unusual coloring at premium prices. Pet quality stock often costs much less with wethers (neutered males) generally available for N10,000 and N20,000.
The Nigerian dwarf/pygmy goat meat is most delicious with a smoky aroma, used to prepare one of Nigeria’s special delicacy – Peppered Goat meat or Goat meat pepper soup.