Frequently Asked Questions

Goat Terminology:
ADGA - American Dairy Goat Association
AGS - American Goat Society
Buck - intact male goat capable of breeding
Buckling - young intact male
Disbud - the act of burning a young goat's horn buds so that horns will never grow
Doe - female goat
Doeling - young female goat
Freshening - birthing
Kidding - birthing
NDGA - Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association
Wether - male goat incapable of breeding (neutered)
Are Goats Friendly?
Nigerian Dwarfs Goats are gentle, loveable and playful. Their calm, even temperament and engaging personalities make them suitable companions for all, including children, the disabled and the elderly. Even our breeding bucks are handled easily because we raise them to be that way. They make wonderful pets and great animal projects for young children in 4H or FFA. Breeders of other types of goats find their Nigerian goats blend in with the rest of their herd and do not need special quarters; just adequate fending to contain them because of their small size. Many Nigerian goats share pastures peacefully with other livestock such as cattle, horses, llamas and donkeys. In fact, they will often improve a pasture by removing brambles, undergrowth (including weeds) and ivy (even poison ivy) that other livestock won't eat.
What kind of housing do they need?
Nigerian dwarves only require 1/3 to 1/4 the amount of space and feed as the standard size dairy goats. We keep ours comfortable and happy inside a 1,400 squar foot area.  Goats should be kept in clean pens free of dampness, drafts and pests like flies and rodents. They also require adequate fencing due to their small size (2"x4" field fencing to keep the babies in).  Nigerian goats should not be housed in airtight buildings; they need to have ventilation for optimum health. For just a few goats, many owners find that an oversized dog house or two does the job. Pens or houses should be kept clean with fresh hay or straw for bedding. Many owners find that providing a few "toys" for the goats provides them with hours of caprine entertainment. Tree stumps, rocks or large cable spools are great for "king of the mountain" games and jumping. Just be sure to keep them away from the fence to avoid giving herd escape artists means to roam your neighborhood!
Can I just have one goat?
You shouldn't keep a goat all by itself.  Goats are very social animals and will require the company of other goats. When making the decision to bring a goat into your family, please plan to start out with at least two. They can get lonely and become depressed which can cause health problems.  As an alternative, you could keep your goat with other friendly, social livestock like sheep, llamas, horses, donkeys, etc.
How do I get milk from a goat?
Female goats will produce milk when they have a baby.  Babies can be weened from their mother after a few days and bottle fed goat milk replacer.  Then you can milk your doe twice a day.  Nigerian Dwarf goats are a dairy breed bred for milk production.  They can provide 1 to 3 quarts of fresh milk a day, depending on the goat and where they are in their lactation cycle.  However, you must milk your goat twice a day, every day in order to maintain the supply of milk.  Goats only produce enough milk to meet demand. If you stop milking, she will stop producing.
How long is the gestation period for a goat? (How long will she be pregnant?)
The normal pregnancy for a goat last about 5 months from the time of breeding.
How often do Nigerian Dwarf Goats breed?
Nigerian Dwarf Goats breed year round. Many owners breed their does three times in two years, giving the doe at least a 6-month break. Of course, this is a personal choice for each breeders. The gestation period for a doe is 145 to 153 days. For the most part, Nigerian goats are a hearty breed with few kidding problems. New babies average about 2 pounds at birth but grow quickly. Watch out for those little bucks! Bucklings can be fertile at as young as 7 weeks of age. Make sure you wean does and bucks separately to help you avoid unintentional breeding.

Does can be bred at 7-8 months of age if they have reached a mature size. Some breeders prefer to wait until they are at least 1 year or older. Nigerian goat does can have several kids at a time, 3 and 4 being common with some quintuplet births occurring. Nigerian goats are generally good mothers able to take care of their babies should you leave them to do the raising of the kids. They can also provide a surprising amount of milk for their size if you decide you want your own delicious goat milk or cheese.

Bucks are able to be used for service as young as 3 months of age and easily by the time they are 7 or 8 months old. Nigerian goat bucks are vigorous breeders but are gentle enough to be used for hand breeding (contained) or pasture breeding where one buck is available for several does as they come into estrus. Both methods are used successfully.
What do goats eat?
Goats are browsers by nature and will eat many weeds and woody shrubs that don't look to appealing to us.  However, this doesn't mean they don't need other good quality food. Goats should have fresh clean water available at all times & salt and minerals free choice. They should have all of the good quality hay they will clean up in a day.Milking animals and growing kids need supplemental grain or goat feed..
How much do Nigerian Dwarf Goats eat?
My goats eat about 1 square bale of hay per month per goat.  I also suppliment my doe with 2 cups of goat feed/grain twice a day when I milk her.  My goats also get a daily walk around the yard to browse on grass, weeds, and leaves.  I DO NOT feed my bucks grain or feed as it causes urinary stones.  Fresh water in clean containers should also be available at all times. 
What's the difference between a Nigerian Dwarf and a Pygmy goat?
Although they have similar origins, Nigerian Dwarfs and African Pygmies are separate and distinct breeds, with recognized differences. Pygmies are bred to be "cobby" and heavy boned. Dwarfs are bred to have the length of body and more elegant structure that's similar to their larger dairy goat counterparts. Pygmies are also primarily "agouti" patterned, with black, silver and caramel being the most common colors.
How Much Do They Cost?
Average cost for registered breeding stock is between $300 and $500 per head, with champion pedigrees, milk production recorded animals and unusual coloring at premium prices. Unregistered or mixed-breed pet quality stock often costs much less with wethers (neutered males) generally available for $50 to $100.  Beware of auctions or breeders who sale for less.  Cheaper prices often indicate poor quality, health problems, or troubled goats. 
How long do goats live?
The life span of a goat is similar to that of a dog.  A goat is considered mature at 4 to 5 years of age. An 11 year old goat is an old goat.  Does tend to live a little longer than bucks.