It’s like car shopping…
Except with goats.
And, well, without sleazy salesmen.
Most people are excited about the prospect about bringing a new goat to the homestead, but it can be confusing on which breed to choose.
Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats seem VERY similar and to the novice goat owner, and it’s easy to get them confused. All I knew when I first went “goat shopping” is that I wanted one small, and cute, and easy to milk.
So, which is best? Well, that depends on what your end goal is. Let’s get started!
The difference between a Nigerian and a Pygmy goat.
Size and Color
To a newbie, Nigerian Dwarfs and Pygmy goats can look very similar. They can, many times, be the same height and weight, but pygmy goats tend to be stockier, and have shorter legs. Pygmy goat’s genetics are designed for meat production, so they tend to have a much thicker build in general. Nigerian Dwarf goats have a more slender neck, and thinner, longer legs.
Pygmy’s tend to have a limited amount of colors and markings and only have brown eyes. Nigerians have lots of different color combinations and can have bright blue eyes.
My goat friends and I always say the same thing about miniature goats; they can be naughty. The same goes for Nigerian and Pygmy goats. They are hilarious as babies as they jump and run around with surprising agility, but they also are sneaky, can climb fences, and jump long distances. They tend to be the best escape artists of all goats, so my best advice on goat fencing is to place the posts on the OUTSIDE of the pen, so they don’t have anything to use as a point to get higher.
Nigerian and Pygmy goats are as friendly as their mother is, so if you’d like a more friendly goat, I’d recommend bottle feeding instead of letting the mother raise. If your mother goat is very friendly with humans, then the baby should be just as friendly, assuming you’re petting and touching the babies from Day 1.
Here’s where you’ll see a stark difference between Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf goats. Pygmy goats have smaller teats and smaller udders. Their energy production goes into their thick muscles and not into their milk. Some people do try to milk them, but honestly, the small teat size and short legs makes it much more difficult. Nigerian dwarf goats, on the other hand, are milking stars! They can produce as much as 2-3 quarts a day, though most produce about 1-1.5 quarts per day on average. Also, another little fun thing about Nigerian goats is the TASTE of their milk. It is known as the best tasting goat’s milk around. It’s sweet and creamy and nothing like any other goat’s milk you’ve ever tasted. If you don’t like the taste of goat’s milk, get a Nigerian. I’ve fooled many people into thinking my Nigerian’s milk is cow’s milk. It’s THAT good.
Pygmy goats are primarily meat goats. Most people who are looking for a goat as a pet hate to hear that their adorable miniature goats are often used for meat, but it’s true. Pygmy goats have thick muscles, and that produces great meat production. So, you’ll see two types of people purchase pygmy goats; those that want to raise them for meat and those that want to raise them as pets:) The two don’t often get along either.
Nigerian vs. Pygmy Goats: Which is best?
So, which is best? For our farm, the Nigerian Dwarf wins out! We primarily raise our goats for milk and we make glorious cheese, yogurt and soap from it.
I have tried goat meat, but we primarily raise chickens and lambs for meat, so we don’t have a need for meat goats.
- If you’re looking for a great milking goat that is smaller in size but is great for production, go with a Nigerian Dwarf goat!
- If you’re looking for a meat goat that is smaller, then go with a Pygmy goat!
- If you’re looking for a pet, you can choose either a Pygmy or a Nigerian, because they both have great (albeit naughty) behaviors. When choosing your first goat, be sure to check out my guide here.
What about Nigerian/Pygmy mixes?
Nigerian/Pygmy crosses are really common, and if you’re trying to decide if you’d like to have a mixed breed there are a few things you need to know…
- If you get a mixed breed, you’ll need to understand that you won’t be able to have it registered, which means you won’t be able to show the goat or do 4-H.
- If you’re wanting to raise for milk, MAKE SURE the mother’s teat and udder size is decent and you might even want to ask if you can milk or see her be milked to make sure.
- If you’re wanting to raise for meat, MAKE SURE the genetics are more stocky in nature.
Which is my favorite breed? Well, you can probably guess from my youtube channel🙂