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Raising Nigerian Dwarf Goats: Perfect for a Small Farm

Nigerian Dwarf Goat Herd--Minnie Jewel Farm, Photo:  S. Thorn, Mar 2011

Nigerian Dwarf Goat Herd--Minnie Jewel Farm, Photo: S. Thorn, Mar 2011

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.

Arctic Sun was born 2/10/11 on the coldest morning of the winter on Minnie Jewel Farm, Mountain Grove, MO.  Photo:  S. Thorn, Feb 2011

Arctic Sun was born 2/10/11 on the coldest morning of the winter on Minnie Jewel Farm, Mountain Grove, MO. Photo: S. Thorn, Feb 2011

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.

Arctic Sun's mother is a solid dark gray roan.   Photo:  S. Thorn, Mar 2011

Arctic Sun's mother is a solid dark gray roan. Photo: S. Thorn, Mar 2011

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.

This 6' x 9' goat barn provides ample shelter from the wind and rain and plenty of room for up to a dozen Nigerian Dwarf goats to snuggle together.

This 6' x 9' goat barn provides ample shelter from the wind and rain and plenty of room for up to a dozen Nigerian Dwarf goats to snuggle together.

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. 

Gizmo and Spike are the best of friends.  Minnie Jewel Farm, Mountain Grove, MO. Photo:  S. Thorn, Mar 2011

Gizmo and Spike are the best of friends. Minnie Jewel Farm, Mountain Grove, MO. Photo: S. Thorn, Mar 2011

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. 

April loves to climb and jump on the wood pile.  Minnie Jewel Farm, Mountain Grove, MO.  Photo:  S. Thorn (March 2011)

April loves to climb and jump on the wood pile. Minnie Jewel Farm, Mountain Grove, MO. Photo: S. Thorn (March 2011)


Judy on September 23, 2019:

I have 2 beautiful Nigerian Dwarf sisters...twins, Reba and Dolly. Just love these girls!!!

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 12, 2017:

Thanks. This is really cool to read. We thought about having a goat but changed our minds. This information is worth considering though because we live in an area filled with many types of food and cultures, and I am a fan of goat cheese. Keep up the great articles and wonderful comments in the forum.

hazelbrown from Central PA on September 05, 2014:

Oh, I love goats! I got to play with some babies last spring and it was so much fun. At this little farm, a horse, two adult goats, two kids, two turkeys, a couple guinea hens, chickens all slept together! It was amazing, and so cute.

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on July 26, 2014:

Hi Jackie, there is nothing wrong with putting them with a horse, if the horse will tolerate them. A horse could easily kill a goat, though, so if it hasn't been raised with them I would be hesitant to put them together.

Jackie on July 14, 2014:

Do you recommend putting them with a horse?

Alan from West Georgia on June 15, 2014:

My hub on ND goats is the first one on the related hubs list. I get a lot of traffic from your hub, so I figured I should have a look. This is a terrific article with great photos, no wonder I get so many views linked to my hub. Your hub is listed first on the related hubs links on my hub. I hope you get a little traffic from mine. Great hub, voted up.

SHIZAH AND ROHA on October 25, 2012:


ptosis from Arizona on September 04, 2012:

Has anybody tried to 'get your goat'?

DYK? Mini Livestock is the supposed food for the world in the future? Gag - it's a euphemism for insects -no joke - or is it? Dunc's Cockroach Recipe http://www.yoursinclair.co.uk/wiki/Main/Cockroach

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on July 08, 2012:

Hi Bunny. Thank you for your comment. I'm not too worried about the DOJ or the FBI, since we make sure we know and follow the laws.

BunnyOlesen on July 07, 2012:

OMG They're sooooo CUUUUUUTE - eeeee - those baby goats are just Disney Adorable. hahaa

HEY watch out with the raw milk, the DOJ will send the FBI to arrest you, didn't you know, it's the governments job to tell us we are not allowed to drink raw milk of any kind, and to spend TONS of taxpayer money to do an investigation on AMISH people who sold some raw milk and ARREST THEM?

Cause I mean THAT'S criminal activity, right? sheesh. ?_?

I learned to milk a goat when I was a kid & my dad said goat cheese & milk is the only kind that could really be 'good for your body' and that's all he eats or drinks. I could definitely get into that & would love to learn how to make the delicious cheese as well.


Flying G Farms on May 14, 2012:

The comments about the goats in Nigeria are so interesting. Pygmy goats were the first ones imported, and breeders selected the more dairy individuals to improve them. Even though they are called Nigerian goats, I think they might have come from South Africa, and the pygmies there are milked sometimes, I believe. They kept at least one hospital supplied with milk, for instance. Pygmies and Nigerian Dwarf bucks are known for the low odor. Only bucks have an odor, but sometimes diseases like hoof rot can cause a bad smell, too. This article was good. I am a Nigerian Dwarf breeder from SE TX, from Flying G Farms. We are just getting started in showing, so wish us luck, OK?--Kristin

olodarkwriter from Arkansas on April 08, 2012:

We got 2 dwarfs a month ago and love them! They are so much fun, my favorite pets ever.

Bleieshia from Alabama on December 30, 2011:

You have done a great job with this Hubpage. You have given some interesting facts on these beautiful goats that can be very useful for anyone wanting to have one of their own. Thank you for sharing this with everyone.

Rebecca Long from somewhere in the appalachian foothills on December 20, 2011:

I have been considering goats for a while now. I have decided that if I do it, I will get minis. This is a very interesting and informative article. I found it while doing research and am bookmarking.

Blueyes49 on May 23, 2011:

These little sweeties are perfect for a couple of old goats like ourselves. They are easy to handle and a little wholesome milk is sooo good, and I sure extreme spoiling of certain goats would be in order(: Can't wait to get a couple for my grandchildren when they visit...

Fay Paxton on April 26, 2011:

Congrats on winning the contest. It's an excellent article, but after raising children, I've had quite enough of raising things. :)


Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on April 15, 2011:

As a Nigerian, a mix between Igbo and Yoruba, I must say, this is a great article. As a child, I got some of these goats as a gift from my uncle and step-grandma during my first visit to my village. That was some decades ago. I remember how they followed me everywhere and ate out of my hands. They were so an adorable.

Laura Writes on April 14, 2011:

Wow! These are adorable. A nice twist on training the boring cat or dog. Great hub, voted UP! :)

Garnet Greene from Lovely Town, USA on April 13, 2011:

So cute! I want one :-)!

Golfgal- Lisa on April 13, 2011:

All I can say is AHHHHHHHH. They so cute. I love the way they climb on things. We had goats at a store we used to shop that climbed all over a huge tree that was downfallen. It is amazing how they grip onto the tree to climb all over it. My dogs loved watching them.

mikecoder from Maryland on April 13, 2011:

fantastic. I was once in Nigeria in early 2009 and saw those pretty dwarf goats. Lol! I can't wait to breed them. Thanks for sharing with me today, keep them coming.

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 11, 2011:

Thank you for the interesting comment, cuteuniverse! I have not experienced the strong odor; our goats have less of a smell than our dogs. Perhaps the breeding here in the U.S. has resulted in an emphasis on different characteristics, such as an increased milk supply.

I have always wanted goats, and before we even moved to a farm, I told my husband that I wanted two goats as pets. After doing some research, I settled on the Nigerian Dwarf goats because of their small size and calm disposition. Our first two goats were our pet wethers, Spike and Gizmo, and my husband fell in love with them, too, so now we are expanding our herd. They are enjoyable as well as useful on the farm.

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 11, 2011:

cat on a soapbox, while I don't personally think these goats are too much work, I want to make sure not to give the impression that there is very little work. They do require attention and time as well as diligence to make sure they are properly fed, watered, and all health concerns are addressed. I did not mention parasites in the article, but just like any domestic animal, they need to be kept free of worms, fleas, and lice.

cuteuniverse on April 10, 2011:

As an Igbo Nigerian, your hub caught my interest. In my culture in Nigeria, the 'dwarf goats' are called 'Mpi'.These goats are generally regarded of a lesser value than their larger counterparts because they emit a strong odor and are usually cheaper to purchase than the other breeds. We do not drink goat milk,so I am curious to find out how you developed an interest in this particular breed of goat. Nice hub.

Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on April 10, 2011:

Many of us think of raising any kind of livestock as too much work, but you have taken away that myth with your well written hub. Congratulations on your win!

pocketsaviour from Derby, UK on April 10, 2011:

Great hub! I am a big fan of goats :)

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 09, 2011:

Frogf, I recommend you get one of the books listed in the hub so you will have a good understanding of a goat's nutritional needs. Grass should not be the primary food for goats; they prefer shrubs, leaves, and other plants. If you will be keeping them in a small pen, you will need to provide a good quality hay, a mineral lick, and some goat feed to make sure they get all the necessary nutrients.

Peggy W and Mrs. Menagerie, thank you!

Mrs. Menagerie from The Zoo on April 08, 2011:

I had no idea! Great hub on a great subject!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2011:

What an interesting and informative article about raising Nigerian Dwarf goats. They sure are cuties! If I lived in the country, I would be tempted to get a couple of them after reading this. Congrats on your win!

Frogf on April 07, 2011:

Thanks for answering. I will definatly consider getting two wethers now. How much grass do you think they will need for grazing. Also does a female need to always be pregnant to milk her.

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 07, 2011:

Native Gardener, you're welcome and thank you for stopping by!

Frogf, we currently have six goats. Two goats will need a small leak-proof shelter (even a large dog house would do) and a reasonable amount of room to run around in their pen. We tend to provide much more space than needed, but we like our animals to have plenty of exercise. If you're going to milk them, you would probably want a shelter big enough for a milking stand (unless you like to stoop!) and perhaps tall enough that you don't keep bumping your head. If you're going to get two goats just for pets, than I recommend you get two wethers (neutered males). They grow up sweet and friendly. (Spike and Gizmo, pictured in the hub, are wethers.) One thing I did not address in the hub is the need for adequate fencing. Goats are escape artists so your fencing must be secure.

MobyWho, I'm sure your mother was happy to do it. Mothers are like that! :-)

MobyWho from Burlington VT on April 07, 2011:

Great win! and great subject. In the 1930s, my mother used to drive 15 miles each week to a goat farm to buy goat's milk for me - bad allergies to milk, eggs, wool; I must have been a pain in the neck.

Frogf on April 06, 2011:

These goats are so cute!!!! I want one. This is really good info on here. How many goats do you have and how much room will a Pair of them need.

Native Gardener from Topanga Canyon, California on April 06, 2011:

Thanks for sharing these cuties with us!

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 06, 2011:

akirchner, we have two golden retrievers who would love to play with the goats, but the goats will have none of it! lol

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on April 06, 2011:

Congrats on your win - what cuties - they'd have some fun with my malamutes!

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 05, 2011:

Emdi, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Les Trois Chenes, I know what you mean about being a handful, because even the little ones can be difficult to contain, especially when they would rather be somewhere else.

Viryabo, thank you for saying this hub is deserving. That feels great!

viryabo on April 05, 2011:

Congratulations PrettyPanther, this is a fantastic informative article on those cute little goats.

It makes me want to begin rearing a few. Thanks for the detailed info. It deserves the prize.


Les Trois Chenes from Videix, Limousin, South West France on April 05, 2011:

I kept the full sized goats and they were lovely, great characters but a real handful. At least with the smaller variety if you want to go one way, and they want to go another, you have a sporting chance of winning! Congrats on your win.

emdi on April 05, 2011:

i love this hub

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 05, 2011:

Thank you, WannaB, and yes, they really do eat poison oak!

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on April 04, 2011:

Congrats on winning the Sunday contest. I loved the pictures. Goats are about the only animal I would think of having, but still don't know if I can make the time commitment. Do they really eat poison oak?

Jason Reuter from Portland, Oregon on April 04, 2011:

Congrats! You deserve it, plus those goats are really cute.

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 04, 2011:

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Ruby and Paradise. Winning today's contest certainly took me by surprise!

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on April 04, 2011:

Nice! Congratulations on winning the contest for Sunday.

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on April 04, 2011:

I've always thought about getting a couple of goats! Very informative article, thanks.

Congratulations on the contest, way to go.

PrettyPanther (author) from Oregon on April 04, 2011:

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. We have a great time raising our goats. They are so entertaining!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 04, 2011:

Wow, these goats are so cute! You've offered a great introduction to Nigerian Dwarf Goats - I really appreciate the photos and tips. Voted up and useful!