FAQ About Our Farm, Nigerian Dwarf Goats, and Goats in General
How do you pronounce Sans Gene? Sans Gene is pronounced "SAW-ZHEN." Itis a French phrase literally translated means "without care". Generally it means carefree in a sassy sort of way. Our herd was named after a distant ancestor, Cathérine Hübscher, wife of Marshal of France and Duke of Danzig, François Joseph Lefebvre. Joseph Lefebvre served under Napoleon, and when Napoleon became emperor, Joseph was titled Duke of Danzig. Cathérine, of common birth and having been a soldier's wife most of her life, was known to speak plainly rather than take on "courtly airs," and thus the duchess was dubbed Madame Sans Gene, or "Madame Cheeky One." As goats pretty much do as they please, caring little for our silly human conventions and contrivances, I thought the name was a perfect fit.
How big do Nigerian Dwarfs get? ADGA and AGS, the two largest dairy goat registries in the US, define height limit for Nigerians as 22 1/2" for does, and 23 1/2" for bucks. Neither should stand under 17".
How much milk can I expect from a Nigerian Dwarf doe? A very good question that is often asked, but does not have a straightforward answer. A mature doe (at least 2 years old and with 2 or more freshenings) from proven milking stock, might be expected to produce about 2 - 4 lbs, about one to two quarts per day, over a 8-10 month period. This works out to around 600 - 1000 lbs of milk for a 10 month lactation. That said, some will produce a bit more, and some less, and almost all does will produce more early in their lactation and less and less toward the end. Age, nutrition, husbandry, and health all play a big role in production as well.
The top 10 best milkers participating in DHIR milk production testing through the USDA for 2011, produce an average 4.23 lbs of milk a day, just about a half gallon, over 9-10 month lactation. A very good milker may well milk this much or even quite a bit more at the beginning of her lactation, but not many produce half a gallon a day during the second half of their lactation. In our herd, we prioritize steady lactation over big peak numbers then a big drop off. We also prioritize animals with a good will to milk, yet do not produce such excessive amounts that they cannot maintain health and body condition without heroic measures and are at constant risk of metabolic disease.
As Nigerians make wonderful pets and companion animals, many are bred for color and perhaps show, and not milk production. An animal with this type of background may have a greater chance of not producing much milk or for very long ~ though she could surprise you! The breed is very young, and as only a small percentage of Nigerian Dwarfs have official milk records and data, there are many "wildcards" out there. While a pedigree full of milking awards won't guarantee a good milker, it certainly improves one's chances. The closest sure bet for knowing how a doe milks is to purchase a doe in milk with an established milk record, give her great care & nutrition, and of course keep milking her!