Nigerian Dwarf Goats
The Nigerian Dwarf Goat is an American-bred breed whose ancestors can be traced back to miniature goats that were imported to the United States in the early 1900s, though some suspect illegal imports were made at an earlier date. At the time two distinct types of dwarfism could be seen in the imports, dwarfism caused by achondroplasia and dwarfism caused by pituitary adaptation, both types of goats were likely perpetuated due to insular evolution (naturally smaller animals would have an advantage over larger ones when food was scarce, causing the smaller ones to have a higher breeding rate, ultimately becoming their own natural breed.)
The achondroplasic goats were shorter with stalky builds and bigger heads. These animals were weeded out of the stock to create the leggier and normally proportioned Nigerian Dwarf Goat. These goats were quickly picked up as being good milking goats. They produced up to 2 quarts of milk a day with a 6-10% butterfat ratio and a higher protein content then other goat milk.
However it wasn't until they were picked up as good pets that their popularity was boosted. Now there are an estimated 7,000 registered Nigerian Dwarf Goats in the US, and likely hundreds more who aren't registered. Their friendly natures have made them ideal for petting zoos, farms, and the small hobbyist. They come in such a large variety of colors that breeders found favor with them, even breeding some with blue eyes that are becoming more popular. Standing at 17-20 inches these little goats can be kept in larger numbers on the same amount of land as their larger counterparts, which also makes them appealing.
Because of the ease of their handling many of these goats have found themselves in FFA and 4-H programs, teaching children the ins and outs of farm husbandry. They can be bred year round and does have been known to have 3-4 kids at once, with at least one family of 5 kids being recorded. Babies weigh a good two pounds at birth and are full grown by a year, although bucks can breed as early as 3 months and does can get pregnant as early as 7-8 months (though this is not suggested for the obvious reasons.) In the end these goats can cost anywhere from $50-500 for pets and breeders, not a bad investment for this prolific breed.
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