There are over 200 distinct goat breeds in the world, and like many farm animals, goats can be divided into different purposes. There are goats that are great choices for milking (La Macha, Nigerian Dwarf, Nubian, etc), for meat (Boer, Pygmy, etc), for fiber/wool (Angora, Cashmere, etc), and even for use as a pack animal. At our farm, we started with Nigerian Dwarf goats because of their smaller size and higher butterfat content. It seemed like a win-win. Then, this year, the Mom saw a Nubian kid and loved how she looked — just not the size that she’ll get to. Then we found the Mini Nubian. While the Mini Nubian is larger than the ND, it is not to large, and I must say that they are more pleasant to milk. The ND teat is just so small. The breed is not recognized by the ADGA or the AGS but is being actively founded by the MDGA.
Speaking of national groups, we are members of three. The American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA), the American Goat Society (AGS), and the Miniature Dairy Goat Association (MDGA). Also used abbreviations are ND for Nigerian Dwarf and MN for Mini Nubian.
The Nigerian Dwarf originates in West Africa. They can come is a large variety of colors and patterns, often consisting of random white spots. They’re gentle and lovable — even the bucks. They are not supposed to be under 24 inches at the shoulder, so they’re small enough that even (supervised) children could handle them. They make a great project goat for 4H and FFA. You can even train them to walk on a leash. There is a couple nearby that likes to take their goats on daily walks instead of dogs. They can produce about an quart of milk, on average, per day with a 6% butterfat content. When breeding, the often birth more than one kid at a time, and they are great mothers if you choose to leave the kids with mom. This is our herd.
The Nubian breed originates out of Britain, and the Mini Nubian is a cross between the Nigerian Dwarf and the Nubian. A good MN has the look of a Nubian, stand 23-31 inches tall, and produce a half-gallon to gallon of milk with a similar butterfat content of the Nubian. Notable things to look for are the ears, which should be dropped against the head and bell shaped, and the nose, which should be convex (think the roman nose) or at least straight but never dished the way the ND nose is. This is our herd.