I’m going to assume for the moment that you know if goats are permissible on your small property, if your neighbors are okay with you having goats on your property, and that you have enough property to have goats on your property in the first place. Assuming all of those details have been researched, now it’s time for you to choose what kind of goats you want. It might be an obvious thing to say, but if your aim is to develop a small urban farm, the smaller goat breeds are what you want.
On my 1-acre urban farm, I have a Nubian nanny (Coco Chanel) and a Pygmy buck (Goatier), so all of their offspring have the great milking abilities of the Nubian in the smaller (and adorable) package of the Pygmy. I’m not so interested in breeding full blood goats for high-dollar sale — my focus is to simply have a few good milking goats whose size enables them to live happily on my small farm. Want a few good choices? Check these out:
NIGERIAN DWARF: Of West African origin, Nigerian Dwarfs are likely one of the most popular of the small breed goats because of their irresistible features and good milking ability. They are proportionate between legs and body, have a straight nose and upright ears, and short to medium hair. Although many different colors are available, the main colorations are black, gold, and chocolate, often with white markings. Newborn kids average about 2 pounds, while a full-grown adult often reaches 75 pounds and about 20” tall at the shoulder. Nigerian Dwarfs are also valued for their disposition — these cheerful, good-natured goats are great with children and other animals.
MINI NUBIAN: Mini Nubians are a cross between standard sized Nubians and Nigerian Dwarfs, making them ideal milkers with compact bodies. They have long, floppy ears, Roman noses, and high milk production. Full grown, they are 90-100 pounds and about 26”-28” tall at the shoulder, so while they are larger than Nigerian Dwarfs, they are decidedly smaller and easier to manage than a large breed 200-pound relative. Kids’ dispositions tend to mirror those of their mothers, so if your mama is a head-strong standard Nubian, plan to handle her babies a lot to socialize them, or consider bottle-feeding to calm their wild streak.
PYGMY: Pygmies are similar in size to Nigerian Dwarfs, but the proportions are different. While Nigerian Dwarfs are small but proportionate in build, Pygmies tend to have shorter legs and stockier bodies, leading them to be prized more as meat goats than as milk goats. (One reference I came across described them as “a beer keg on short legs.”) Their dispositions tend to be very friendly, with adult males being a bit more aloof — which describes my Goatier perfectly. He kind of doesn’t care if you’re around unless you a) have food or b) are offering up a female playmate.
About the Author:
Jenny Peterson is a landscape designer and urban farmer living in Austin, Texas. She comes from a family of gardeners and her gardens include drought-tolerant plants, herbs, veggies, and a wildflower pollinator garden. As a breast cancer survivor, Jenny specializes in gardens that heal from the inside out.