Nigerian Dwarf Goats are a miniature dairy breed. Nigerian Dwarf goats have been listed as a breed to watch by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy in Pittsboro, NC because of their relatively low numbers. 

They are bred for their small size, manageable milk production, beauty and variety of gorgeous colors, curious and friendly personality, ease of management, and browsing forage control. All goats are ruminants with a four compartment stomach. The rumen in a goat is proportionately larger than the rumen in cows, sheep, and deer. They do chew their cud like a cow does, just cuter! As a result they probably need more minerals and roughage (half to two-thirds of their diet should be roughage, a grass/legume hay is good.) Goats do not live up to the malicious rumor that they will eat anything. They prefer brushy weeds to grass and relish thorned blackberry plants, vines, and even poison ivy. That's how they have gotten a reputation for being excellent clearers and cleaners of woodlands. My goats have destroyed every nuisance cedar tree within their reach. 

They make excellent pets if handled from the day they are born. They prove to be acrobatic and playful during herd interaction. They can be shown in Goat Shows around the country and are excellent for 4-H animals because of their diminutive size and simple husbandry. (They can be adequately sheltered from the elements by a large dog house.) We raise (and love) this wonderful breed of intelligent and playful goats. 

The Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association has just formed (12/96) as a registry dedicated to this breed alone. The International Dairy Goat Registry and American Goat Society both register these goats also. 

For more information contact:

"You will have plenty of goats' milk to feed you and your family and to nourish your servant girls." Proverbs 27:27
Route 1; Box 730 
Alvarado, TX 76009 
Email or
American Goat Society 
RR 1; Box 56 
Esperance, NY 12066-9704
Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association
1414 Wilson Road
Lancaster, TX 75146 
phone: (972) 227-7060
fax (972) 227-7075
Publishes Dwarf Digest Magazine
International Dairy Goat Registry 
P.O. Box 309 
Chickamauga, GA 30707
Goat Kingdom

American Dairy Goat Association
P.O. Box 865
Spindale, NC  28160
828-286-3801 or

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Leonard, the Opportunistic Goat

    There are some things in life that take maturity or at least a mid-life crisis to come into focus.  That must explain why my fortieth birthday and a move into the country on a parcel of land brought miniature goats to the forefront of my consciousness.  I cannot even remember the first goat I ever saw, but suddenly I wanted not one, but some.  This is the story of one who will live forever in my heart, Leonard.
The first purebred Nigerian Dwarf goat I ever owned was Leonard's mother, Precious.  She was rather nondescript being solid brown, with none of the beautiful random markings that are so desirable in the breed.  Since Nigerian Dwarf's are indeed a miniature breed she was very small and had been gentled by the loving arms of a five-year-old child both characteristics endeared her to me immediately.  Her purchase along with a purebred buck named Runaway is a story of literal horse trading that is worthy of a telling all it's own.  Suffice it to say, they became my first miniature Nigerian Dwarf pair.
     I looked forward to breeding time in the fall when the hope of a toy-sized late spring kid might become a reality.  But as all things work, summer came first and we were going on vacation.  I carefully went through the process with the temporary caretaker and left with the warning, "The one thing I don't want is the buck to get in with the doe."  I am sure that all shepherds have tales of this sort, but when I got home I was aghast to see Runaway in the same pen with Precious.  I called the person and she said, "He got in with her the first day and we couldn't get him out."  We'd been gone 10 days.  Plenty of time for....
Well, as novice shepherding would go, Precious got larger and larger in the dead of winter.  I knew the worst (or so I thought) had happened.  I calculated the five months gestation to put the baby due in January.  January!  Of all times!  For goodness sake it snows in Tennessee in January and is very cold.  When the time was near I put her together with another goat for company in the back of the pickup truck.  Bedded nicely with straw and snug with a camper top.  (I was using the resources I had and doing the best I could at the time!)  At least I could check her easily and regularly.
    A friend came by one day to see if we'd had a baby yet, so I bundled up in my coat and as we were heading to the truck heard a rather distressed, "baaaaah!"  Precious was laying on her side in the throes of labor and the companion goat was butting her!  Poor Precious!  That goat quickly lost residence in the comfy winter-proofed truck.  When I checked Precious an ominously large hoof was showing.  Providence smiled on us in my panic.  My husband who happened to be home for an afternoon off was immediately drafted as truck ambulance driver.  (Talk about a multi-purpose vehicle!)  I prayed and comforted Precious, telling her repeatedly that she was on the way to the vet and that we were doing the best we could.
    The veterinarian seemed most professional and nonplussed as we entered in quite a huff.  Obviously, he did not feel the situation was as urgent as I did.  He inspected and x-rayed and a C-section was the safest course of action.  I wanted both mother and baby to live very badly.  My husband and I assisted (forever after earning for my husband the "goat-midwife" designation), because of course it was after normal office hours.  A large buck was delivered much to exhausted Precious' relief.  He was alive, but looked very strange.  I was needed to help hold Precious while she was being stitched, so I placed the pathetic little kid on the floor securely wrapped in towels to warm him.  I kept an eye on him.  At one point I asked with some urgency," Does it look like the baby has stopped breathing?"  The vet told me to pick him up and gently sling his head down to remove any mucus and then to rub him vigorously.  All of which I did as I whispered, "Breathe, baby, breathe."  He did breathe and I got a good look at him as I cradled him in my arms to provide extra warmth.
    What a sight he was.  Black as the ace of spades, as they say.  But he appeared horribly deformed.  His lower jaw was extended way beyond his upper.  His tongue was bright red and swollen as big as my finger.  His forehead and eyes were misshapen with one side horribly lumped up higher than the other.  He was pitiful.  My husband later told me that the vet said it would be a miracle if he lived.  I'm glad I didn't hear.  The vet said as we were leaving, "If he lives and turns out to be normal name him after me!"
Because of the trauma of surgery his mother did not bond with him.  I knew how important it was for him to get the first milk (colostrum) for warmth and immunity.  So I went out into the freezing night, laid in the crunchy hay and milked his mother's tiny udder.  He would have no bottle, so I forced milk into him with an eye-dropper while he baaed, "Bloody murder."  Talk about lack of appreciation!  I was only trying to help.  I bedded him in a basket under a warming lamp for the night.  The next morning he was standing, but I noticed his leg.  It bent under at the first joint above his hoof.  Half a popsicle stick became a splint and I hoped for the best.
    Wonderfully, he began to eat well and to look more normal.  He could walk on his little splinted leg.  I tried to reintroduce him to Precious and to make a long story short she went from biting at him to ignoring him and licking the truck wall, to licking him and letting him nurse.  Success!  He lived, was accepted by his mother, and by two weeks of age looked perfectly normal in every respect, even his leg.  (His appearance abnormalities had been caused by being pressed into the birth canal for so long before the surgery.) And he loved me, too.  Leonard (my vet's name) was home to stay.
    The story doesn't end here, however.  Precious developed mastitis on one side.  I treated her, but Leonard, who was out in the pasture with the other goats now did not like the reduced diet.  So opportunist that he was...would wait until another goat with a full udder would busy herself with the grain at feeding time and then he would latch on to the inviting udder with gusto until she realized it wasn't her baby helping itself to a quick snack and without much ado sent Leonard sprawling.  He scrambled to his feet and proceeded to the next available spout until feeding time was over.  I had to hand it to him for initiative!  And spunk!  He weathered that trial quite well and became the picture of goat health.
Two or three months later a visitor came by and I was showing her the adorable miniature goats and telling her what nice pets they were.  I told her how easy they were to care for and how intelligent they were compared to other livestock.  With one of those disbelieving tones she said, "Well, they don't come when they are called do they."  (It really wasn't a question.)  I did not respond.  I turned, spotted my target and called, "Leonard!"  He stopped grazing, looked up, wagged his cute little tail in joy and came at a run.  I clapped my hands.  He rose up on his back legs placing his front legs in my hands and I picked him up.  Question answered.  I rest my case.  It was a crowning moment.
    Only he and I knew what had brought us to this moment.  It had to do with perseverance and good care and fortuitous timing and a lot of love.  Now whenever life is stressful Leonard and I have a goat-therapy session - seated in a verdant pasture, gazing at a  beautifully peaceful pastoral scene, with a black wonder-goat contentedly asleep in my lap - I thank God for "seeing us safe thus far."

Copyright - Deirdre D. Tarr