Like much of the history of the Nigerian Dwarf, exactly when breeders began noticing the breed's exceptional milk production is somewhat a mystery. Whether it was the breed's similarity in type to the Swiss breeds of dairy goats or the fact that even young Nigerian Dwarf does routinely gave birth to triplets, quads or more, and was able to raise the kids unassisted, that prompted the early breeders to measure milk production, we'll never know. What we do know is during the relatively short time that the breed has utilized DHIA/DHIR testing, some remarkable achievements have been noted.
The first Nigerian Dwarves to be on the official test were Willows So Forth and Goodwood Rosa Parks, both owned by long-time Nigerian Dwarf breeder Kathleen Claps, now of Dripping Springs, Texas. The year was 1988. In the next 10 years, a total of more than 261 lactations would be officially recorded from over 150 different individual does from at least 14 different herds. In addition to official DHIA/DHIR testing, many does in recent years have participated in American Goat Society sanctioned one-day tests.
In the early years of milk testing Nigerian Dwarves, most herds did not practice herd-wide testing. Instead, a few does were selected to be milked and tested. While this provided invaluable information and was an excellent starting point, it did not give an accurate picture of the breed's potential as a dairy animal. Fortunately, since 1994, the herds on DHIR through AGS have practiced whole-herd testing, and there is a much better view of the breed's true ability. Each year more and more herds, with more and more does, are participating in this valuable program. With the breed's recognition by the American Dairy Goat Association, even more, milk testing records will be available.
The AGS Advanced Registry requirements for Nigerian Dwarves are the same in concept as the AR requirements of the standard-sized breeds. In 1997, the AGS Board of Directors adopted a standardized formula, based on the requirements of the standard-sized breeds used by both ADGA and AGS. For a Nigerian Dwarf to earn her *D through AGS, she must produce a minimum of one-third the pounds of milk required by the standard-sized breeds. For butterfat, as an acknowledgment of the breed's superior butterfat production, a standard of 5% of the milk requirement was established. In other words, a doe freshening at 2 years, 0 months, or younger, would need to do 500 pounds of milk or 25 pounds of butterfat. Like the requirements of the standard-sized breed, the amounts go up with each additional month of age, to a maximum level reached at 5 years, 0 months. Interestingly, 34 individual lactations by 26 different does would have qualified for AR status using the requirements of the standard-size breed for butterfat.