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Nigerian dwarf goats are members of a species of miniature goats that are originally from West Africa and are notable for their small stature and milk production. This goat has a straight nose, upright ears and short hair with a straight coat in a variety of colors, including gold, black and chocolate. The coat might be a solid color or have a pattern of stripes or spots. Female Nigerian dwarf goat does are 17-19 inches (about 43-48 cm) tall, and male bucks are 19-21 inches (about 48-53 cm) tall. They can weigh as much as 75 pounds (about 34 kg).
In West Africa, the goats are thought to have been bred for dairy uses because they better withstood the bite of the tse-tse fly compared to traditional dairy goats. As they bred and became numerous, Nigerian dwarf goats were taken overseas to the United States and Europe in cargo ships containing large carnivores such as tigers and lions, as food for the beasts. The surviving goats often were then imported to zoos.
Nigerian dwarf goats gained popularity as dairy animals when it was discovered that they produce a large amount of milk for their size. Additionally, the milk that is produced contains a high amount of protein and butter fat. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the use of Nigerian dwarf goats as dairy livestock in the U.S.
These goats often are shown in livestock competitions for youths. This, along with their size and colorful markings, has made Nigerian dwarf goats popular show animals and farm pets. In order to qualify as a show-quality Nigerian dwarf goat, the goat may not have flat ears, a roman nose or signs of myotonia, a fainting disease. The goat's coat also must be straight and flat, not curly like an Angoran goat.
A Nigerian dwarf goat's temperament typically is gentle and playful. This combination makes the goat easily trainable. Nigerian dwarf goats also are calm around other livestock animals, making them a common companion for horses and cattle. The dwarfs can be bred year-round, with the animals reaching a mature size when they are about 8 months old. The price of Nigerian dwarf goats will vary based on their pedigree, milk production and whether they are show-quality of pet-quality goats.