West African dwarf goats raised in Wellington
Cattle, horses and other ranch animals are a common sight in Northern Nevada – but what about Nigerian dwarf goats?
Linda Brown, of Wellington, has been raising Nigerian dwarf goats for seven years.
Brown works at Jesse’s Hairport in Gardnerville. Her family moved to Wellington from the Gardnerville Ranchos around 12 years ago.
She both sells and shows her goats.
Nigerian dwarf goats are a miniature dairy breed of West African origin. Their gentle dispositions make them suitable for good companion pets for the whole family. But what makes these goats so special is their rarity – there are only 7,000 total in national registries.
Another trait that makes these goats so unique is their wide range of color. The color of baby goats is often unpredictable despite the parents’ coloring, and even after birth the color may change. Many combinations can appear out of the primary coat colors of black, dark brown and gold, ranging from dalmatian spots to tri-colored patterns. Most Nigerian dwarf goats have brown eyes, although dwarfs with clear blue eyes are becoming increasingly more common.
Brown’s goats are registered by the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association. She also has some registered with the American Goat Society.
“If you want to show them you have to be registered,” Brown said.
When a person registers with the NGDA, he/she will be assigned a herd name and an acronym to use to tattoo the goats. Goats participating in shows have to be tattooed. Brown’s herd name is “R’Destinys Ranch,” with “RDY” as the indentification acronym.
Dwarf goats can produce up to two quarts of milk a day, quite a bit considering their small stature. Nigerian dwarf milk is higher in both butterfat and protein content than most other dairy breeds. However, many Nigerian dwarf goat owners keep the goats for company and enjoyment rather than for the dairy they produce.
“They make really good pets,” Brown said. “They are easy to raise and are not aggressive at all.”
Brown also said they are not hard to take care of.
“They need their hooves trimmed every two months, and anyone can do it,” she said.
“They eat alfalfa, grass, hay,” said Brown’s daughter Danni, 13, who is a member of 4-H. “We also have a greens mixture we give them. They like peanuts and cornflakes, too.”
Danni said she helps a lot with the goats, and even made clothes for the kids during cold weather.
“We made them clothes by cutting holes in old T-shirts,” she said.
Many of Brown’s goats are used for show. Things that judges look for during show include the quality of milk and udders and the physical appearance of the goat.
“They look for straight, long backs,” Brown said. “People want short, stubby little ones for pets, but for show they look for long and slender features.”
The Browns also have a ranch in Idaho, which is where many of their goats get a chance to graze. Brown has 38 Nigerian dwarf goats and said that there “are more babies coming.”
Brown’s “wethers” (fixed male goats) range from $100-$150, while “does” tend to sell for around $300. Prices go much higher for goats active in the show ring.
If interested in learning more about Nigerian dwarf goats, or to see some of Brown’s goats, call Linda Brown at 230-2873.