Raising dairy goats sounds more like something you’d do on a big farm, but when you choose the Nigerian Dwarf there are many benefits to raising them on your homestead or urban property, including the fact that they can thrive even in the smallest of backyards. Whether you’re interested in starting your own dairy operation or just want these cute creatures for pets, Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats are definitely worth considering. To learn more about why I chose this breed, keep reading!
The Best Starter Goat
Not all goats are made equal, and the differences in size can be dramatic. If you’re looking to start a homestead or small farm and want to keep goats for milk and cheese (or just for their adorable faces), consider the best starter goat—the Nigerian Dwarf. Unlike larger breeds, these super petite goats stand just about 21 inches tall at the shoulder. But don’t mistake their tiny stature for weakness; they are remarkably hardy animals that can thrive anywhere from hot dry deserts to mountainsides with heavy winter snows. What makes them particularly well-suited for beginners is that as long as you provide plenty of food, water, shelter and clean bedding, they are fairly low-maintenance.
The Best Breed for our Homestead
There is not a lot of space on our homestead, but I didn't want to give up my dream of having goats on the farm. After lots of research, I decided to go with Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats because they don't require a lot of space and are easy to manage. In addition, these lovely creatures are among the smallest breeds which means they don't require a lot of food or water, making chores easier. They can even fit in the backseat of my car if I need to transport them, very convenient! We also appreciate their milk which is naturally high in butterfat; perfect for butter and cheeses! Nigerian Dwarf goats produce an impressive amount of milk for their small size – up to two quarts a day.
The Power of Goat's Milk
What are some of the benefits of goat's milk? Goat’s milk is often consumed by infants and toddlers with allergies to cow's milk because it is easier to digest and doesn't have A1 casein proteins. It has less lactose than cow’s milk, so it is also a better alternative for adults with lactose intolerance. In fact, the fat content is much simpler for human digestion than cow milk. Full of essential fatty acids, and thicker and creamier than cow's milk, Nigerian Dwarf goat milk is proven to be more nutrient dense than cow's milk. One of the many reasons that goat milk is excellent for us is the larger amounts of protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamin A that it provides.
Small Space Requirements
One of my primary concerns was space. As a new homesteader, I was limited in how much land I could devote to livestock and even though goats are small and portable, they still need room to roam, browse and play. A part of our yard was entirely devoted to our first two goats and an old playground was converted into a goat shelter. We added obstacles such as boards set atop bricks and tires, tree logs and wooden spools to climb on. Climbing is one of a goats' favorite activities, so anything they can scale and stand on like the King or Queen of the Mountain will keep them happy.
Most homesteaders choose small animals for their simplicity and their ability to do more with less resources; raising miniature dairy goats fits right into that way of thinking! Depending on the quality of forage, a 75-pound adult Nigerian Dwarf goat (the size of a typical adult female) will consume from three to five pounds of roughage a day, and it is not uncommon for standard-sized goats to eat more than twice that amount.
In order to milk a dairy goat, it needs to be calm and friendly to make the job enjoyable. Nigerian Dwarf goats make ideal dairy goats because of their sweet temperaments and easy handling. Even my goats that were not very well socialized when I got them became friendly with us very quickly.
They're Hella Cute
It’s hard find another animal that’s as cute as a tiny little goat. Each goat has their own personality and quirks. They come in a bunch of colors and patterns. As well as being playful and social, they are also very intelligent and curious. As a result of their inquisitive nature, they are constantly seeking out and exploring unfamiliar objects. I take them for walks around the property so they can browse on different plants, find new things to jump on or rub on, and just break up the monotony of seeing only their living quarters most of the time. It's the best part of my day on the homestead when I can spend time with my goats, shepherding them around, scratching their itchy spots, and watching their antics.
More Than Livestock
Goats aren't just livestock to us, they are companions that deserve the best care possible as well as lots of love and attention. This is why we decided to raise Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats. We wanted a way to provide milk and cheese for our family while also giving our goats a happy life on our homestead.
Nick & Casi
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