Monday, January 10, 2011

Come Spring

I want these kind of goats.  They are Nigerian Dwarf Milk Goats, and are part of the future of Applegarth Farm.  A dream that I've had for years is to have my own small creamery and make cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream, milk and kefir.  Today I've been researching them, a day that is cold and snowing lightly outside, and is perfect to be sitting by the fire planning.  Come Spring we'll have new life around here with baby chicks, bunnies, and in March or April we'll be getting Nigerian Dwarf goats.   Maybe 2 does and a baby doeling,  I've been studying bloodlines and looking at Washington State breeders with proven milkers.  I want the best quality does, so I can start my herd off right, and will breed them to fine quality bucks.
This is From Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats: 
The Nigerian Dwarf is of particular interest to backyarders. Introduced in the early 1980s when they were seen mostly in zoos, some of these little imports are excellent milkers for their size. As more serious breeders continue to develop them, their milk production is constantly increasing. What's more, they are considered dual-purpose animals, providing both milk and meat. The Nigerian Dwarf was the breed chosen for the Biosphere 2 experiment, in which eight people spent two years along with 3,500 plant and animal species and no outside supplies or support except electricity. Biosphere 2 was designed as a space-colony model, though ecological research became the primary, scientific goal. At any rate, future space travelers might be milking Nigerian Dwarfs!
One Nigerian Dwarf doe gave a whopping 6.3 pounds of milk on test day, and another had 11.3 percent butterfat. (2006 Update: the new one-day high is 6.8 pounds of milk!) A well-bred and well-managed Dwarf can be expected to produce an average of a quart a day over a 305-day lactation. Many of these good producers have teats as large as those of the full-sized breeds and are milked just as easily.

More information. 

Nigerian Dwarf goats (NDs, Nigerians) originated in West Africa.  They are small milk goats that produce very high protein and butterfat percentages, resulting in high cheese and cream yields.  Producing 1-2 quarts of milk per day, consisting of 6-10% butterfat, these little does are very productive for their size.  They are also very efficient at converting feed into milk.  According to the NDGA breed standard, Nigerian does must be 21" tall, or less.  Nigerians make excellent pets.  They are very playful and easy to keep.
     One of the most frequently asked questions about our Nigerians is: how are they different from Pygmy goats?  The Pygmy breed standard requires them to have a barrel "giving an impression of perpetual pregnancy".  Nigerian Dwarfs are shaped like dairy goats, with a wedge-shaped body.  The original purpose of the Pygmy breed was meat.  Pygmy goats may only be found in black, agouti, or caramel color patterns.  Nigerians may be any color or color pattern.

These sound like the perfect fit for our farm.  I like their small size, 50-60 lbs I can move with relative ease, and haul them in my landcruiser.  I may even have my daughters show them, that's why it's important to me to get the best I can.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Enjoyed looking at your site. If you havent already, take a look at Poppy Patch website. Their Nigerians are heavy milk producers per all their milk stars. I intend to buy a buck from them this coming year. I bought my doelings from Camanna Petite Paradise in 2009 at 8 weeks. I have the two does and only one of them got pregnant last year. She had 2 kids, buck and a gorgeous little doeling. Needless to say, I now have 3 does and am hopelessly in love. ^^ My suggestion is to have a buck of your own - if not the first year, definitely the 2nd time around. Best to you. Melissa