I know, I'm throwing you a curve ball right? You thought maybe I'd pull out Pluto again since it was discovered this day in history... or maybe the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.... but no, out of left field with the goat question. But that's how these questions originate... random conversations about things I don't know, but have gained enough interest in to do some research. A friend sent some pictures of his friend in Arizona who just got 3 Nigerian Dwarf goats (so she can make cheese), and of course threw in the "oh and I told her to send one to your house"... but of course I'm going... well, maybe not the worst idea (I am my mother's daughter after all). So the question today is, "How big do Nigerian Dwarf goats get?" ... and also if I need one as a pet/lawnmower!
Nigerian Dwarf goats are compact, docile, and productive animals. Unlike Pygmy goats, they are proportionate in size, so they just look like a shrunken version of a regular-sized goat. There are two "standards" for Nigerian Dwarfs depending on whether they are being used as dairy goats or not. AGS (American Goat Society) standards require Nigerian Dwarf does to be no taller than 22.5 inches at the withers, and bucks to be no more than 23.5 inches. The NDGA (Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association) standards allow does to be no taller than 21 inches at the withers, and bucks to be no taller than 23 inches.
Now, as for the pet part... because they are smaller than standard goats, and have a friendly disposition, they are easier to manage and live with, making them popular as pets. But they are also low-maintenance dairy goats, giving a surprising amount of high-quality, high-fat milk despite their small size. Nigerian Dwarf does give 1-8 pounds of milk per day when lactating, with an average of 2.5 pounds per day. Their milk averages 6.5% butterfat, but can reach as high as 10% late in lactation.
The Nigerian Dwarf goats were originally bred in West Africa, where they were valuable for being easy to care for in harsh conditions, requiring less feed than other goats, but still being a source of meat and milk. In the early- to mid-twentieth century, the goats were imported on ships along with big cats and African predators destined for American zoos. They were intended to be a low-maintenance food source for African predators on the long journey across the ocean.
Apparently, many goats survived the trip, and found a home in American zoos, where they became extremely popular in petting zoos due to their small size and friendly nature. Children are immediately attracted to these handsome, approachable little animals, and they soon found their way onto farms and pastures as pets.
Nigerian Dwarfs are adaptable to a variety of weather conditions and are pretty low maintenance animals. They require less space and feed than a regular sized goat, but as mentioned before, can be high milk producers. They are very social animals, so having just one would mean a person couldn't be gone for too long or else the goat would likely suffer in health and happiness.
All in all, they are super cute and friendly, and would likely make for a wonderful lawn care/milk provider, but I probably won't get one. I'm not big on responsibility... my Daily Doodle is about as much day to day responsibility as I can take, and even that I'm struggling with (see yesterday's post about Bread Clips). What do you think? Would you want one as a pet?