Baby Nigerian Dwarf Goats for Sale!
Striving for Excellence in Breeding Nigerian Dwarf Goats
Reading Time: 4 minutes
by Rebecca Krebs Breeders offer thousands of registered baby Nigerian Dwarf goats for sale each year. The brisk demand and the ever-growing number of enthusiasts reflect this relatively new breed’s explosive popularity, contributing to its establishment and rapid improvement as a practical dairy goat. However, the popularity has also resulted in many sellers capitalizing on the demand by flooding the market with poor-quality Nigerian Dwarf kids advertised and sold as “excellent” registered breeding stock. This is a significant issue that we breeders must address if we are serious about improving and promoting the Nigerian Dwarf breed.
Nigerians have a unique set of dairy merits — their small size makes Nigerian Dwarf goat care and handling easy compared to larger dairy animals. Their milk’s superior butterfat content is ideal for cheese, butter, and soap. These merits guarantee that the Nigerian Dwarf’s popularity will continue to increase with the current trend toward homesteading. The only danger is that the propagation of so many inferior, unproductive goats will undermine public confidence in the breed’s dairy potential. I have already seen many breeders with low standards harm their own herds’ reputations; educated customers become wary of them as word gets around that “you have to be careful what you buy from so-and-so.”
Some of these “breeders” are, of course, no more than kid mills with the sole goal of pumping out kids for cash. Others are well-intentioned individuals trying to make their homesteads profitable by selling most of their kids as registered breeding stock since they can charge more for those than for unregistered pets. Or they might mistakenly equate cute and colorful with conformationally correct. However, dairy goat breeders that understand and adhere to high standards for breeding stock selection ultimately realize more profits because they earn customers’ trust. These breeders can promptly sell kids while commanding top-dollar prices. For both the success of the breed and our reputations as breeders, it behooves us to institute careful selection policies and offer only quality baby Nigerian Dwarf goats for sale as registered breeding stock.
A quality Nigerian Dwarf dairy goat conforms to the Nigerian Dwarf standard for correct conformation, dairy characteristics, and productivity as recognized by registries such as the American Dairy Goat Association, the American Goat Society, and the Nigerian Dairy Goat Association. We must familiarize ourselves with the standard to make proper decisions about which kids qualify to register and sell as breeding stock. Studying dairy goat judging scorecards and training material, linear appraisal scoring systems, and program information about milk production offer deeper insights. Registries provide these resources on their websites or in their membership material.
It is helpful to supplement study with attending shows or linear appraisals to see real-life examples of good and bad traits in dairy goats. Participating in these events with our goats is beneficial, but if we cannot do so, simply watching and listening as veteran dairy goat judges and breeders share their wisdom is an invaluable learning experience.
Once we understand dairy goat conformation and production, we can adequately evaluate our goats’ genetic potential. Poor-quality goats are unlikely to give rise to high-quality offspring spontaneously. Dairy goats are female-centric livestock (female traits are the most economically valuable), so it is necessary to consider the dam’s, sire’s dam’s, and other close female relatives’ conformation, udder structure, and milk production when analyzing a kid. To this end, long-term milking and recording milk production are important routines to include in a breeding program. They verify whether a doe has the production capacity and stamina over a complete lactation to make her a genetic asset for breeding Nigerian Dwarf goats.
Selecting a kid for traits that won’t be apparent until adulthood, such as milk production, relies entirely on the information collected from its mature relatives. On the other hand, many of a kid’s structural traits are obvious within a few weeks of birth and should be evaluated for conformity to the standard before the kid is considered for breeding stock. Just because its pedigree is impressive doesn’t mean the kid is. Some say that it doesn’t matter what the kid looks like — as long as the parents are nice, it carries the genetics to produce excellent offspring. In my observation, this argument is only valid for kids coming out of highly consistent, genetically homogenous herds. Even some top-performing Nigerian Dwarf herds are not yet consistent enough to ensure that a mediocre bloodline representative will produce superior offspring. While there are notable exceptions, a so-so goat is a genetic gamble unless it has mature, full siblings that dependably produce quality offspring.
We should hold buck kids to an exceptionally high standard before registering or selling them as breeding bucks. A doe produces relatively few kids, so working a fault out of her line has little negative impact on the rest of the herd if appropriately planned. But a buck can contribute genetics to every kid born in the herd, potentially setting the entire breeding program several years behind if he passes on a problematic fault.
So, what do we do with kids that don’t qualify as breeding animals? The current market comes to our aid here, and castrated male kids (wethers) easily find their niche as loving family pets. Unregistered doe kids are often in even higher demand than wethers because there tend to be fewer females available for pets.
No goat is perfect. Each breeder must decide which faults they will tolerate and which ones they won’t. Breeders also naturally emphasize different features in their herds — for instance, breeders that use milk machines may not have a size preference for their does’ teats. In contrast, hand-milkers are sticklers for large teats since they are decidedly easier to hand-milk. Breeders must make these types of program policies individually with due consideration as to how they will affect personal satisfaction, breeding goals, sales, and the future of the Nigerian Dwarf as a respected dairy goat.
Originally published in March/April 2022 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.