How big does a Nigerian Dwarf get?
This is a good question and there is some variety. According to the breed standard of the American Dairy Goat Association, one of several associations that register Nigerians, an adult Nigerian doe should be no shorter than 17 inches and no taller than 22.5 inches (not at the top of the head but at the withers – highest point of the back). A buck should be no taller (at the withers) than 23.5 inches. But there is some controversy about this as it is not uncommon for bucks to be ‘overheight.’
In terms of weight a full-grown doe generally runs between 50-75 pounds, and a buck somewhat heavier. When a baby is born it generally weighs between 2-4 pounds, but smaller kids are not uncommon with multiples, and a big single maybe somewhat heavier.
How much does a Nigerian Dwarf milk?
A really good Nigerian Dwarf doe will milk over a thousand pounds in her 305-day lactation. A solid average doe should milk between two (a quart) and three pounds a day, or somewhere between 600-800 lbs over a lactation. Extraordinary milkers can milk anywhere from 11-1200 pounds up to 2000 pounds, although 2,000 pounds would be right up at the top of the all-time charts. Lactation is always a curve; production generally rises until somewhere between day 60 and 90, then slowly (one hopes) declines.
How long does a Nigerian Dwarf live?
Goat lifespans are similar to dogs, and like dogs smaller goats do seem to live a bit longer. 10-12 years would be about average for a Nigerian Dwarf, but teenagers are not uncommon.
What are their most common health problems?
Nigerian Dwarf goats are prone to the same problems as other goats, including environmental problems like parasites (lice, ticks, worms, mites). They are also susceptible to goat polio, enterotoxemia, listeriosis in addition to a range of serious contagious diseases. Most knowledgeable breeders will test their animals for cae (also known as SRLV), a viral infection that has been well controlled by prevention in recent years. Always ask if an animal you are thinking of buying has been tested for cae. The two other main diseases of goats are cl (caseous lymphadenitis), and Johne’s, a wasting disease of ruminants. In addition animals being used in dairies might also be tested for Q Fever and tuberculosis; both are quite uncommon.
Wethers (fixed males) can be susceptible to urinary calculi, which is generally fatal if untreated. If you have wethers be sure to balance their diet correctly – most cases of calculi are caused by an imbalance of calcium and phosphorus. Despite the name, it is an excess of phosphorus that is usually the problem.
In addition to all the general goat problems, Nigerian Dwarf goats appear to be more susceptible than other goats to certain conditions, including squamous cell carcinoma and a condition known as carpal hyperextension.