We’ve put a lot of thought into adding goats to our farm, and have been planning their entrance for almost two years. When considering goats, we selected Nigerian Dwarf Goats for a wide variety of reasons.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats are a miniature breed originally from Africa. They’ve quickly become one of the most popular backyard family goat breeds in the United States, as they are relatively easy keepers, a great size for a small farm, and produce a large quantity of milk for their small stature. Their small size makes them great pets, but they are functional as a dairy goat breed as well.
This diminutive breed of goat usually is under 23″ at the withers, making them very manageable for those with limited space. Even if you have plenty of room for goats at your farm, the Nigerian Dwarf is a great breed to consider. For our farm, part of the process of getting goats was considering the amount of undergrowth we need to clear.
You’re all familiar with the stereotype that goats will eat everything, even laundry off the line. While this isn’t exactly true, it is a characteristic that can be utilized for a farm with overgrowth problems. With some moveable fencing, we plan to use goats to help trim back the bracken around our stone walls, and generally clean up the farm. This won’t be our only defense against the overgrowth, but they will help us get a head start on the property.
Our main goal with adding goats to the farm is to provide milk, cheese, and other dairy products for our family and friends, and possibly the public. Nigerian Dwarf Goats produce milk with some of the highest butterfat content of any goat or cow, approximately 6 – 10%. This makes their milk creamy and sweet, some of the richest milk of any dairy goat.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats also can produce milk year round, unlike most milking goats. While not all farmers do this, it is an excellent option to have a goat that could be bred at any time of year.
This small breed of goat is also very cost effective to keep, the price for a purebred goat being less than larger dairy breeds, and the cost to maintain them and keep them healthy also less than some larger breeds, and the return on your investment is excellent. A single Nigerian Dwarf doe will produce approximately 2 quarts of milk a day, and can be milked for over 200 days a year without having to be bred again. Larger breeds produce more milk, but have a greater initial investment and their percentage of milk for their size is often less.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats are the perfect package for a farmer starting with goats. Relatively inexpensive, easy keepers, and generous producers of sweet, delicious milk, they will also help us tame our property and, undoubtably, provide us with hours of entertainment and companionship.
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