Nigerian Dwarf Goat (Capra aegagrus hircus), known as Ewure in parts of Nigeria, fulfil the role rabbits take on in the English Countryside; a nice family pet, a nuisance to your plants if you are a farmer or a gardener and a delicious, tasty, tender source of protein if you are not a vegetarian. Nigerian Dwarf Goat is common along the Southern part of West Africa, from Nigeria in the east to Gambia in the west. The small size of the dwarf goat and the fact that it requires very little in up keep and its gentle, friendly nature makes it very popular for milk, meat and as a pet in many parts of the world.
Nigerian Dwarf Goat is particularly popular in USA where the breed has been improved and standardised. From an American viewpoint, the gooat is descrived and defined as follows:
The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat breed of West African ancestry. Originally brought to the United States on ships as food for large cats such as lions, the survivors originally lived in zoos. Nigerian Dwarf goats are popular as hobby goats due to their easy maintenance and small stature. According to the show association ADGA, it is considered a dairy goat breed.
Just like Kennel Club in the UK have specifications for dog breeds, in US, where the Nigerian Dwarf Goat seem to be immensely popular, The Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association have specification for goats that can qualify as Nigerian Dwarf Goat, the specification as is as follows:
Female Goats (Does) must be 17 to 22.5 inches in height.
Male Goats: (Bucks) must be between 19 and 23.5 inches in height.
Back in Nigeria, the ancestral home of the dwarf goat, there are no organisation/association responsible for breed standards or anything else to do with the improving or promoting the breed. Dwarf Goats in Nigeria are mainly kept in rural areas where they do a good job of converting household food waste such as stale yam, cassava peel, previous day’s leftovers, leaves and stalks of harvested sweetcorn into protein.
There tends to be a slight confusion between Nigerian Dwarf Goat and African Pygmy Goat. Pygmy Goat originates from Nigeria’s neighbour to the East, Cameroon. If you observe the two goats carefully, you will notice that Nigerian Dwarf Goats are small with erect ears, short to medium length hair. The same characteristics except the erect ears is present in the Pygmy Goat as well.
One feature that seem to completely differentiate the two cousins is that Nigerian Dwarf Goat’s head, limbs etc are proportionate to its size whilst Pygmy Goat does appear to have shorter legs that is not proportionate to its heavy body.