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About Nigerian Dwarfs:

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(From the AGS website)

The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature dairy goat originating from West Africa and developed in the United States. The balanced proportions of the Nigerian Dwarf give it an appearance similar to the larger, Swiss breeds of dairy goats. Shorter height is the primary breed characteristic of the Nigerian Dwarf, with does measuring no more than 22 1/2” at the withers and bucks measuring no more than 23 1/2" at the withers.

They are known for their high quality milk, often with exceptionally high butterfat content. Nigerian Dwarves are gregarious, friendly, hardy animals that thrive in almost any climate.The medium length ears are erect and alert. The face is either straight or slightly dished. The coat is of medium length, and straight. The Nigerian Dwarf is the only dairy breed known to occasionally have blue eyes. Both brown & blue eyed animals are encountered with no preference being given to either eye color. Any pattern, color, or combination of colors is acceptable.

Now this is what I think everyone should really know about Nigerian Dwarfs if you are serious about showing or raising them: (Most of these are lessons learned on my own and I sure wish some one had told me!)

Nigerian Dwarfs are sexually mature early. Males at 6 weeks old are quite capable of taking on a female around the same age, or a female years older. Don't accept this as gossip - I have seen it with my own eyes! Now even though there is a lot of common knowledge of the buck's sexual maturity, there is little about the doe. Doelings can come into heat as young as 6 weeks also! An experienced buck being quite larger than a doeling can and will push himself on a doeling as young as 2 months old as well. Now if the doeling takes, only time will tell but I have seen this happen and it is a fact. My best advice is not only to separate the bucklings at 6 weeks of age, but also to make sure that your doelings are completely separated from any bucks of any age at 6 weeks of age. I know the thought of a 6 week old doe actually conceiving is almost impossible to comprehend. But I know of 3 cases where this has happened and I do know they will come into heat and a buck will breed them. It is not worth the risk. The best thing to do is get them separated by 6 weeks old.

As with any animal the most important thing you can do for your goats is to feed them the proper way! Understand that green stuff is just a plus!! They can't survive on pasture alone. They need grain and mineral daily. We feed alfalfa during winter months especially when there is no green available and oat hay all year long. We feed a high protein pellet (17 %) along with steamed rolled oats and steam rolled barley. We also have a molasses mineral tub available to them at all times in our pasture. They don't need much of any of it (because Nigerians will get fat!) but they need a little of it all on a daily basis in my opinion to ensure the best health and the most milk production as well as the easiest kidding process and healthiest kids. Just like kids, feed them good stuff and they'll develop and remain in excellent condition through the years.

Keep the CDT vaccine and the antitoxin at all times. We lost our favorite baby goat one year and had we known to have a bottle of antitoxin, she would still be here with us. It is a really sad and unnecessary event to lose a goat to a bottle of medicine that costs $10. At the first signs of the entero sickness, the antitoxin can and most of the time will save their life. I've had this happen 2 times with my herd. The first time was with Melody and I didn't know what was wrong with her until it was to late. I couldn't find the antitoxin anywhere. Most vets do not keep it in stock. Since then, I asked my local farm and ranch supply store to keep it and they have. The second time this happened, I was able to inject the antiotoxin as I now keep 2 bottles on hand in my fridge at all times and you would never know now that goat ever got sick. A link to one of the best articles I've read on the subject:

If you are going to raise and show goats, the state of Texas requires you to have a scrapie ID number. It is no big deal to get. Took me less than a minute once the people call back. You need the scrapie ID number to put on health certificates in order to show at most shows, especially the bigger ones. Some vets require it to provide you with a health certificate, some don't. But you don't want to take that chance with a trailer loaded down at the vet office only to find out you can't get a certificate. Call 512-719-0778 and ask them for a scrapie premise ID number for your farm. This is the number for Texas of course. If you are looking for a different state, they may be able to give you the number.

A good goat vet is hard to find. I hate to say anything negative about anyone but most vets are clueless when it comes to goats. It is best that you learn all you can and save yourself some money because more than likely, you will know as much as the vet when it comes to your goats. This is not true in all cases but vets have little training in goats. They don't spend the extra money learning because goats don't pay like dogs and cats and horses - animals they can make good money on. I don't know about other states, but for me in Texas, I've had a very hard time finding a knowledgeable goat vet. I suggest asking other breeders questions, like the many goat groups on Facebook, if something comes up you are not sure about. Unless it is life threatening I stay out of the vets office. It is not unheard of to take a goat to the vet and have the goat die from a a toxic shot that most vets do not even know will kill goats.

Do yourself a favor and buy a disbudding iron, small animal tattooer, green tattoo ink, tattoo letters and numbers, and a kid box. These things may be an initial cost to you but after the first kidding season, you will have your money back in them by using those items instead of taking them to the vet to have their horns burned and their ears tattooed. I personally do not like burning horns but I have made myself do it because I love my goats and I do a much better job than any vet I ever used. I only want to burn once and vets really don't seem to care if they do the job right or not. After all, it isn't their animal running in the pasture with those nasty scurs or worse after you leave. Again, the internet is a great resource to find information on burning horns and tattooing. Watch a few You Tube videos and get it done! This is the link to my favorite video of all I watched on the subject:

Notice he is disbudding a buck, which requires an extra burn making a tear drop shape that you don't do with does. But everyone is different so you may find your own and that is great. I do suggest the iron in this video. When I first started out, I purchased a different iron and would not use it ever again. The only one for Nigerian Dwarfs is the Rhinehart X30 in my opinion. I also suggest buying or building a kid box. You can find plans for them online or you can buy them online. Some people have no trouble holding the kid and disbudding at the same time - and never have an accident. I personally just wil not risk it. I would rather spend a little time and/or money and make sure my kid can't move to avoid burning them or me.

Should you choose to bottle feed or if you take in an orphan, never feed the fake powder mixed with water. If you can find raw goat milk that is best (but pasturize it). If that is not available, use whole cow milk out of the grocery store. Even though it is processed, it is still a lot better for them than the fake powder. I only use a pitchard nipple when bottle feeding goats. I've tried just about every one out there. You have to cut the tip off the nipple after you purchase it and the more you cut off, the more milk that will flow through - and faster. When I start out with newborns, I use a nipple I've barely cut at all. Then I have additional nipples I begin to use at around 1-2 weeks that have been cut more and have a greater milk flow. The pitchard can be found at Tractor Supply, online, and a lot of local feed stores keep them as well.

I don't medicate a lot because these are milk goats and I do not want to compromise the milk quality. Other than the CDT vaccine and the antitoxin, I keep Nuflor on hand at all the times that can be purchased from any vet or online vet supply company. We also worm twice a year, regardless of how they look but it is either 24 hours after kidding, or during the dam's dry time.

For wounds like cuts and burns (after disbudding the horns for example) I use AluShield Aerosol Bandage. It is invaluable for farm life and the best thing I have ever found to protect an injury until it can heal. It can be found almost everywhere in stores and online.

One of my favorite websites to read on is Fias CO Farm. Lots of good stuff here:

In particular, here is a really great article on ketosis - please read and be informed before having kids. It could save the does life:

Herd Management Tips

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Everyone lately has been asking us for a list of products we use in our herd mangement.....well here you go! Most of these products can be found at a local feed store, tractor supply, or at online places like Some require a prescription and you can only get them from your vet.

  • Thermometer (average temp is 101 to 103.5)
  • CDT vaccine (given yearly, we do the majority of ours in May)
  • Antitoxin (detailed information on this medicine above)
  • Penicillin, Dura-Pen, Liquamycin-LA 200, Dutvet Duramycin 72 (a cheaper alternative to LA 200), and Tylan 200 (all anitbiotics available without a perscription - but do your research on them!)
  • 20 gauge and 16 gauge needles
  • disposable 3 ml and 6ml syringes
  • pastuerella vaccine (given yearly, we do the majority of ours in October)
  • Nuflor, Naxcel, and Draxxin (antibiotics only a vet can get for you - used when they are running a temperature)
  • Aureomycin medicated crumble feed
  • Bar-Guard-99 (from Jeffers)
  • Wormers (We use Cydectin Pour On, Ivomectin Plus Injectable, Equimax, and Safeguard - all given orally)
  • Calcium Gel paste (to be given to does in milk)
  • Jump Start probiotic gel for newborn kids
  • Probiotics paste (given every time you worm or medicate, and in times of stress)
  • Red Cell (given at least weekly)
  • CopaSure Copper bolus (given every 3 months)
  • Selinium and Vitamin E (paste form, liquid form, or an injectable form you have to get from a vet called BoSe)
  • MultiMin vitamin shot (only from your vet and given to bucks and does 3 times a year)
  • Vitamin B's (paste form or an injectable form you have to get from a vet called Thiamine)
  • Specto Gaurd Scour Check (for when they get the runs due to gorging or being nervous)
  • Di-Methox (The kind you add to water for the goats over 6 months old that are NOT in milk, the injectable solution for the goats under 6 months old, given orally. Both treatments are for 5 days of every month to prevent coccidiosis)
  • Children's liquid Benadryl (for allergy related problems like watery eyes at a dose of 1 ml per 20 lbs)
  • Good quality textured feed with at least 16% protein for milkers
  • Good quality medicated pellet with at least 16% protein for anything not milkingm especially kids, mixed half and half with the textured feed
  • coastal, sudan, oat, and/or alfalfa hay (alfalfa use sparingly)
  • loose dry mineral (we use Sweetlix Meatmaker), baking soda, kelp meal, and molasses mineral tubs for goats - all free choice
  • hoof trimmers
  • dog clippers (We use Andis brand clippers. For summer clips, I like a #7FC on the body, #10 on their neck and feet and legs, and a #40 on the udder. Winter clips for shows are harder - you have to clean up without clipping! So we use the big, 3/4 Ultra Edge AG/BG blade for the neck and feet and legs, and under belly. Udder clip is the same.)
  • Small animal tattooer and letters and numbers (when you have your kids)
  • Rinehart X-30 Horn Burner with a Nigerian tip
  • AluShield Aerosol Bandage (for after you burn horns)
  • Kid Box (to hold the kids for burning and tattoing)
  • Pitchard Nipple (for bottle feeding kids)

Fencing: We only use the no climb horse wire (2 X 2 squares) with 2 strings of barbed wire on top and one on bottom. We have found the best defense to keep wondering dogs who pack up at night to be a very strong fence. They will hunt for easier targets.

Lights: Another important defense to keep predators away is to light that area up like a foot ball field. Wild predators, like coyotes, will stay clear of lighted areas. However, lights will bring domesticated dogs in so have that fence ready - and a very relaible LGD is a life saver!

Housing: We use everything from regular metal barns to Extra Large dog houses. I have found the Nigerians to enjoy the tighter corners and smaller spaces though. The most important thing is to get them off wet ground so make sure it is rain proof. And open to the east.

I hope this helps you get better prepared to own goats for the first time!

Helpful Images

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Digestion diagram:

Summary Explanation of stars and pluses:

Know your worms! Vets are very unreliable at diagnosing worm types. If you find a good one, stay with them.
Now because parasites are the number one killer of goats, here are several helpful references:

This is why a quick look at the vet's office can, will, and does misdiagnose those worms - these 3 types look so much alike, the eggs have to be incubated and hatched to tell the difference.

The most helpful articles I have found to help keep parasites under control:

Best reference I have found:

What to look for in a Nigerian Dwarf

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Examples of what you do not want to see from the rear view of an ideal Nigerian (The one on top is the ideal Nigerian):

Examples of udder faults in Nigerians:

What the ideal Nigerian should look like from the rear:

Examples of what you do not want see from a side view:

The ideal Nigerian from a side view:

Not a Nigerian, but a really great diagram:

A Nigerian:

Love this diagram showing bone and skin!

A quick illustration of udders accoring to LA score card. A more detailed version is listed in a link with the title Linear Appraisal Guidebook in the links section:

A great example of how to clip for winter shows!

A diagram with buck parts!

Love great diagrams, even though this is not a pretty goat!

Our Recommended Links

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(Anyone who is interested in purchasing a dairy goat or getting into the dairy goat breeding and showing business will find these links very helpful!)

 For me, this is the most important article and I believe EVERY person who owns any dairy animal should read:

 For help getting on DHI, this is great article put together by Kathy Winters!

 Starting on Milk Test

 If you are looking for something to do with all the milk:

 Online stores to purchase goat related items:

 Helpful articles on goat health and care:

 The different Dairy Goat Associations to register with: (We only register with ADGA and AGS, however there are others.)

 Linear Appraisal guidebook - a LIFESAVER:

*Lots of people ask me what is Linear Appraisal? I tell them it is a guide to what ADGA defines as the perfect goat on a scale of 0 to 100 points. Tho the highest I have ever seen is a 94, and only one in my lifetime, we all strive for that 100! This will show you what you should look for when purchasing a dairy goat and what the results should be when breeding your own*

 Two great articles on maintaining healthy goats through nutrition:

 A GREAT article on having the right attitude when breeding and showing goat:

Loosing Doesn't Mean You're Bad (And Winning Doesn't Mean You're Good)

 An advanced, but SUPER article on the importance of breeding for confirmation, NOT color:

Genetic Parameters of Linear Confirmation

 Article explaining goat pedigrees:

Understanding ++ ** and titles

 A great article on the relationship between dairy traits and milk production:

 For a link to the ADGA Scorecard, click here

 For a link to the ADGA Showmanship Scorecard, click here

 This link is to the Holstein Foundation and does not include Nigerians specifically, but page 7 is very informative and is applicable to all breeds of goats!



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This is a link to a facebook page a fellow goat breeder began to help our military - a very worthy operation!:

This is a link to another fellow goat breeder's facebook page - her words are 'raising natural food the old fashioned way. Hosting tours of the farm and all the wonderfulness that resides here':

A link to a website of another goat breeder who offers a variety of products - and all sensational!:

A link to a website of another fellow goat breeder who offers hand crafted, custom, and hard to find products for goats!:

A website link to a fellow goat breeder who offers a variety of products - way too many to list!:

A facebook link to another fellow goat breeder making some fabulous soaps!:

A facebook page to another talented goat breeder who makes home decor.....lovely stuff!

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