Raising Nigerian Dwarf Goats: Perfect for a Small Farm
Why Drink Raw Goat's Milk?
- Many lactose intolerant people are pleasantly surprised to find that they can easily digest goat's milk. It contains considerably less lactose than cow's milk.
- Goat's milk has been used to aid in the treatment of ulcers due to its capacity to buffer acids in the stomach.
- Goat's milk contains bioactive components that help protect against the growth of harmful bacteria.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats: Little Milkers that Yield a Big Return
Raising Nigerian Dwarf goats for milk has become increasingly popular among small farmers. These little goats, with their sweet disposition and diminutive size, are excellent milkers and are easier to handle than most other goat breeds. One or two well-managed goats can be expected to produce an average of one to two quarts of milk per day, enough to feed most families. Because of the high butterfat content of their milk, ranging from 6% to 10%, it is perfect for use in cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. Another popular use for this high-fat milk is as a base for a rich and creamy soap that is relatively easy to make at home.
Raising Nigerian Dwarf goats has benefits and rewards beyond the contribution of tasty and healthful milk to the family diet. They are intelligent and affectionate, making them a fun and entertaining addition to the farm. Children will love the goats’ friendly and inquisitive nature; if they are properly handled these adorable little goats will come when called, “talk” to you with their human-like voices, and beg you for a scratch on the head or belly.
Physical Characteristics: Small, Colorful, and Pretty
Typically, Nigerian Dwarf does are 17 to 19 inches tall and bucks are 19 to 21 inches tall; adults weigh around 75 pounds. Their bodies are well-proportioned and look like perfect little miniatures. Unlike many goat breeds , they come in an assortment of pretty colors, from white to gray roan to calico and more. Much of the fun in raising them from birth is not being able to predict the color of a kid before it is born. This little doeling’s mother is a solid dark gray roan.
Shelter: Simple, Clean, and Protected from the Elements
While raising Nigerian Dwarf goats is relatively easy compared to other breeds, they still require certain conditions to be happy and healthy. Goats especially do not like to be wet, so a shelter from the rain is essential. Nigerian Dwarf goats do well in chilly weather as long as their shelter provides a barrier from the wind and rain. Straw can be used to cover the ground and will act as insulation from the cold. It is actually beneficial not to clean the straw too often in the winter. Just add a new layer of straw every 3 weeks or so during the winter months and your goats will stay warm and happy. In the heat of the summer, cleanliness is more important, so the straw should be completely raked out and replaced every two or three weeks.
The Myth of Goat as Garbage Can
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot feed a goat just anything and expect it to thrive. Goats are “browsers”; they eat leaves, stems, and even bark from a wide variety of plants and shrubs and will stand on their hind legs to reach delicacies on a tree. To be successful in raising Nigerian Dwarf goats on a small farm, one must have a good understanding of their nutritional needs. An informative book, such as “Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats” by Jerry Belanger, is a good place to start, and much information can be found online. Because they are small, Nigerian Dwarf goats require less feed than larger goats, but it is important that they receive a well-balanced diet, especially if they are producing milk for a family.
Two is Better than One
In addition to nutritious food and adequate shelter, Nigerian Dwarf goats need companionship and play to be happy. Goats hate to be alone, so it is essential that a small farmer raise at least two goats. Besides being unhappy, a lone goat will drive its family crazy crying for attention. Goats love to play, run, and jump and are especially fond of climbing on rocks and other high objects. Many small farmers provide rock piles, wood piles, and even jungle gyms for their goats to play on.
A Happy Goat is a Healthy Goat
Raising Nigerian Dwarf goats is not only a great way to provide healthy goat milk for your farm, it is fun and rewarding, and children will particularly enjoy taking care of and playing with these affectionate little goats. Just remember, a happy goat and healthy goat is one that has companionship, good nutrition, and a safe and dry place to take shelter from the elements.