Nigerian Dwarf Goats- What to Know Before You Buy

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Nigerian Dwarf Goats- what to know before you buy

Nigerian Dwarf Goats- What to know Before You Buy

A couple of years ago we had the opportunity to buy two Nigerian Dwarf Goats, one Doe in milk and one doe kid. At the time, I knew nothing about: buying goats, owning goats or caring for goats. I had never milked a goat and my only experience with them was from a petting zoo at a county fair. 
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
Pablo Picasso~ 
I am happy to announce that two years later my goats are alive and thriving and I am still married!
The Nigerian Dwarf goats were a perfect breed for us because of their small stature, they fit well within our tiny piece of land (1/4 acre) which made them easily manageable.  I fell in love with NGD’s at first sight and they brought us into a whole new level of homesteading that we had never dreamed of- the ability to have fresh milk. With all of their cuteness and personality, there were many things I wish I would have known before we bought, but then again, hindsight is always 20/20.
Recently I interviewed a friend of mine, Tamara Lake who owns a Nigerian Goat Farm called Crosby Lake Farm here in South Carolina,  and asked her several questions that may help the newbie before making a huge commitment like owning goats.
TCH (The Coastal Homestead): How long have you been raising goats?
CLF (Crosby Lake Farm): I have had Nigerian Dwarf goats for about four years. I had goats off and on growing up, as well.

TCH: What breeds have or do you raise?
CLF: Currently, I only have Nigerian Dwarf goats. I have had a few large breed dairy does in the past few years. As a child growing up I had Boer goats.

TCH: Which breed is your favorite and why?
CLF: Nigerian Dwarf goats take the cake. My main reason for liking the little guys is because they are so much easier to manage. I have a three year old, a baby, and also have an in home daycare. Large breed goats would certainly run over my four legged children! Nigerians also have a great feed to milk ratio. My comparison I have found to be true here is I can feed 3-4 Nigerians for what 1 large breed goat costs. Who wouldn’t want more goats, right? I also like Nigerians because they can have blue eyes and come in any color you can imagine.

TCH: Do you raise for milk, meat or both?
CLF: I raise for the hobby. I do milk, but I usually only feed the milk back to the babies. I don’t eat my Nigerians because they simply don’t get large quickly. If I had large breed goats, I would be interested in butchering occasionally.

TCH: What Organizations/Associations are you registered with or a member of?
CLF: There are lots of goat organizations, but I chose to only be a member of ADGA when I started with Nigerians. I do have some that are AGS registered as well, but that paperwork transfer will stop with me because I do not use AGS.
ADGA is for dairy goats of all breeds. There are organizations for Boers, miniature dairy goats,and more! I am simply not familiar with them.

TCH: What is the difference between registered and unregistered goats?
CLF: A registered goat is sold with paperwork to register it with a registry (what registry will depend on what registry the parents were registered with, or if they are being registered as grade goats, etc). An unregistered goat is simply that, it is sold with no paperwork and typically sold with no history of parents, etc. Most of the time, there is a major price difference between registered and unregistered animals. Another thing to consider, is a lot of bucks are sold as unregistered and are usually wethered (wethered means neutered). In that case, you may have parent history, etc, but the breeder is choosing to sell a goat without papers. That is the seller’s prerogative.

TCH: When looking to buy a goat, what questions should a potential ask the breeder ?
CLF: If I were to buy a goat, the first question I would ask is for copies of negative CAE and Johnes testing. After that, I would want pictures of the goat from all angles and would like to make sure it has appropriate teats. I would then make sure all paperwork to register the goat (if I am buying a registered goat) will be included at the time the sale takes place. From there, I would probably ask about worming and feeding practices, general maintenance,etc. I tend to do my own research on pedigree information once I am interested in a goat, but if I wanted any pictures of the parents, grandparents, etc, I would also ask for those.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats- Papers


TCH: What type of paperwork would a buyer receive when buying a registered goat?
CLF: Through ADGA, there are two options of paperwork to include with a registered animal. The first option is the actual registration papers for that animal. These come from ADGA, and are blue in color. Once the goat is purchased, the buyer would send this paperwork in and pay a transfer fee to have the goat put in his or her name. The second option is a application for registration through ADGA. This will come filled out from the breeder. The buy will have to send this in and pay the registration fee AND transfer fee. This will make the goat “registered” as well as in the buyers name. What lines should be filled out on a registered paper?For a blue ADGA registration certificate, the seller should fill out at minimum the DATE of sale, and sign the bottom. For a registration application, numbers 1-12 should be accurately filled out by the breeder. Can you explain what service papers are?A service memo is given in order for the owner of a doe to register kids born that are sired by a goat that the owner of the doe does NOT own. Typically the service memo is “paid” for with the stud fee.


TCH: What are some red flags that should warn a potential buyer?

CLF: Major red flags for me are related to the questions I would ask the breeder. Red flags would include lack of CAE and Johnes testing, lack of pictures, lack of teat pictures or understanding of what I’m asking, and lack of paperwork (I ask for pictures of what paperwork the seller is including with the goat that way there is no confusion when I get there to purchase). Pictures I will let slide, because I am a terrible picture person. If I am interested in a buck, the seller should be able to provide any and all information on the buck’s dam, as well as put me in contact with the current owner if the goat has been sold.


TCH: What health records should come with a goat purchase?
CLF: The only records I am concerned with are proof of a recent negative CAE and Johnes test. It would be nice to have a deworming and supplementing record, but people with small herds don’t always keep up well. If the goat is healthy when I look it over, I’m not too worried about the last time their feet were trimmed, etc.


TCH: What fees are generally involved in registering a goat?
CLF: There are fees to become a member of whatever organization you chose, and then there are registration/transfer fees.


TCH: Do breeders generally offer a health warranty?
CLF: With the sensitive nature of goats, generally a health warranty is NOT offered. As soon as a goat leaves my property, I am not longer responsible for anything that happens to it. The only case in which I would likely replace the animal is if there is something genetically wrong with it that was going to result in death no matter what was done for the animal.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats- what to know before you buy

TCH: What other advice do you have to offer anyone looking to buy a goat?
CLF: For anyone looking to buy a goat, I would say do your research. Not only research breeds but also the needs of goats. Goats are not easy animals to raise. Starting with healthy and hardy animals will be worth it in the long run. I would also research breeders and if you hear of anything you don’t like, move on and find another. I would also recommend finding a goat mentor who lives in a similar area as yourself and has a similar herd. A seasoned goat breeder has a wealth of information stored, and most are willing to share their knowledge.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats- Udder or Color?

TCH: Is udder or color more important?
CLF: I would say it depends on your goals. If you want to milk, I say udder is most important. Breed of dairy goat would be next, and lastly color. The udder is the most important because it is what you actually have to deal with in order to milk. A saggy baggy udder is more prone to infection if it touches the ground. It is also hard to milk both sides at the same time, which will result in you spending twice as long milking. The teats on the udder are important as well. If you plan to hand milk, you want nice sized teats for doing so. Tiny ones or overly large ones make the task much harder. Breed is more a personal preference, but there are some differences that would sway you either way. For example, Nigerians tend to have the highest percentage of butterfat in their milk versus a large breed goat. Color is last because it really makes no difference in regards to milking ability.
TCH: When asking for pictures if you are looking at buying a dairy goat (like NGD’s) so you ask to see pictures of both sides, the dam’s and sire’s udder’s?
CLF: You want to see udders at the very least from the dam and the sire’s dam. It is great to see grand dams and such as well. The sire has just as much impact on a goats udder as the dam, so you have to consider what both sides have to offer or lack.
TCH: What do you look for when you are looking for a good udder?
CLF: You look for a well attached udder that is capacious…teats that are easy to handle and in good placement….generally, the higher and wider, the better, and you should have even “thirds”…from the side view, a third of the udder should be in front of the leg, a 1/3 should be behind the actual leg out of view, and a 1/3 should be showing from behind the leg.
Here are examples of good udder qualities when looking for milking Nigerian Dwarf Goat
Nigerian Dwarf Goats- What to know before you buy
To see more of Tamara’s goats or to see what she has for sale visit her website at:

 http://crosbylakefarm.webs.com and I also have a Facebook group, called Crosby Lake Farm.

3 Comments

  1. Deb on April 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm
    I'm wondering about kidding difficulties? Are they more common in Nigerians?
    • The Coastal Homestead on April 16, 2016 at 6:05 pm
      I will contact the breeder for more detailed information but not in my experience. The problem lies when you breed a large buck to a smaller doe.
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