We are often asked what makes our goats special, or why we chose to raise Nigerian Dwarves over the many other breeds of dairy goats. Our Nigerians really have become the little mascots of our farm and their personalities win over just about everyone who comes to visit. While it was not in our original plan to make goat milk products, their wonderful milk has been an added bonus as our herd has grown and developed into a business.
When we first made the decision to add goats to our farm about eight years ago, they were intended to be a 4-H project for our kids. Since our kids were younger, we wanted a smaller breed that would be easy for them to handle, since they would be doing the day to day responsibilities, as well as milking. And of course, we wanted goats that would be gentle, easygoing, and fun to have around 😊
After much research into dairy goats and various breeds, all roads led us to choosing Nigerian Dwarves. One of the biggest factors was their small size, since the maximum height for a Nigerian is 22.5 inches. This makes them roughly half the size of some other breeds, and much easier to work with! Nigerians also have sweet, gentle dispositions and bright personalities. This has certainly been true throughout our years raising goats. They are truly so entertaining! We enjoy the personalities of our current goats daily, as they love to play in their yard, run, and jump around. Many know their names, and it’s not uncommon for a couple of our goats to follow us around the yard when we are out working.
As our goat herd began to transition from a 4-H project to a business, we began to discover another benefit of raising Nigerians…their milk! Nigerians do produce less than other breeds – we get about two quarts a day from each of our girls, while larger breeds can produce up to a gallon or two each day. However, the smaller quantities of milk are more than made up for in terms of the quality of milk Nigerians produce. In fact, the butterfat content in Nigerian Dwarf milk is three times that of other breeds! This butterfat content is SO important because it makes our products smooth, creamy, and rich, whether it is soap, lotion, or cheese! It is really a difference you can feel.
Even with Nigerians producing on the lighter side in terms of dairy goats, we are still getting quite a bit of milk each day from our does! We are approaching three gallons a day, which I am happy to be processing and filling the fridge and freezer with. All this milk has also given us the opportunity to sell our milk and new products, including cheeses! The cheeses and milk can only be sold from our farm, so a nice drive to the country may be in order.
Our Nigerians really have become the hallmark of our farm, and we are so glad that we chose them so many years ago! We believe that to make the best products, you have to start with the best ingredients, and for us, that has been our wonderful Nigerians and their milk!