Goats are probably the most spirited animal that we keep here at Tarheelbilly Farm. We maintain a small herd of registered goats, and have experimented with several breeds over the past several years. Currently we have mini-Nubians, a standard Nubian, a Saanen, and Nigerian Dwarfs. When we started keeping goats 8 or so years ago, Nigerians were on the ALBC’s list of threatened livestock. Given our interest in preserving breeds along with our desire to have a backyard milking source, we started with Nigerian doelings and grew from there.
Over the years, we’ve secured great genetic pedigrees for our Nigerians, but have not been enthusiastic about their ability to produce the amount of milk we need for our family. Their milk is creamy and sweet, and they have great personalities. We did acquire a standard Nubian and a Saanen to provide enough milk for cheesemaking.
Two years ago we decided to use our Nigerian Dwarf bucks with our full sized does to see whether minis more milk than Nigerians. This year we finally have a doe in milk to compare our Nigerians to, and the difference is amazing.
My first freshener Dwarfs typically produced a pint to a pint and a half per day. My mini-Nubian is producing a quart to a quart and a half per day. The Dwarf stands 21 inches at the shoulder; the mini-Nubian is 23 inches at the shoulder. (For comparison, the Nubian and Saanen are roughly 27 inches at their shoulders.)
So, what does this mean? If you are considering a goat for backyard milk production, a standard-Dwarf (mini-Nubian/mini-Saanen) cross may work well for you. Nigerian Dwarfs are wonderful animals with great temperaments and good milk capacity for people who don’t use a ton of milk. High production strains are out there (THB Dwarfs all came from * milking lines and creameries), but they may require great feed or high inputs to produce what an average mini will produce.