The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat breed of West African ancestry. Originally brought to the United States on ships as food for large cats such as lions, the survivors originally lived in zoos. Nigerian Dwarf goats are popular as hobby goats due to their easy maintenance and small stature. Though, now it is considered a dairy goat breed, according to the show association ADGA.
They come in many colors: white, black, red, cream and patterns such as buckskin (brown with a black cape over the head and neck along with other black markings) and chamoisee (similar to an Oberhasli goat), with or without white spots. Some have white "frosting" on the ears. Both the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association and the American Goat Society websites feature pages that include color descriptions, disqualifying features and conformation. Although most are naturally horned, most breeders disbud them at a young age (usually less than 2 weeks of age) for safety to the goat, its herd mates, and human caregivers. Some Nigerian Dwarf goats have blue eyes, which is a dominant trait in goats.
Milk Nigerian Dwarfs give a surprising quantity of milk for their size. Their production ranges from one to 8 pounds of milk per day, with an average of 2.5. Since Nigerians breed year-round, it is easy to stagger freshenings (births) in a herd so the entire herd is never dry. Thus, they are ideal milk goats for most families. Their milk has a higher butterfatcontent than milk from full-sized dairy goats, usually about 5%, but going as high as 10% at the end of a lactation. This makes Nigerian Dwarf goat milk excellent for cheese and soap making.