Nigerian dwarf goats are a miniature goat breed originating in West Africa.
These playful goats are often kept as pets but are also prized for their excellent milk production.
Dairy goats must be tattooed before they can be accepted into the American Dairy Goat Association registry.
Since Nigerian dwarf goats are so small, they need a smaller tattoo size than full-size goats.
So, what size tattoo is best for Nigerian dwarf goats?
The most commonly used tattoo size for a Nigerian dwarf goat is 5/16″ of an inch. This size is small enough to fit inside the goat’s ears while still legible. The tattoo needs to be easily read for proper identification and registration.
Tattoo kits are available, and they usually include a set of letters and numbers as well as tattoo paste.
Extra letters and numbers may be purchased if you need duplicates.
Read on to learn why tattoos on goats are so important and how to tattoo your herd.
The Importance of Tattoos on a Goat
Every goat needs to be tattooed within a few weeks of being born as a means of lifelong identification.
Proper tattoo identification is crucial for production testing, and it is usually required to enter the goat in shows or have it appraised.
Tattoo identification also aids in recovering stolen goats and is more reliable than microchipping.
These tattoos are valuable for selling the herd when a goat owner dies.
A goat with ear tattoos allows a purchaser to positively identify where the animal came from.
Without permanent tattoo identification, the goat herd is likely to be discarded.
Tattoos allow tracing a goat’s lineage, allowing you to research the production history.
If the goat’s mother or grandmother were good milk producers, it is more likely to be productive.
Production records are usually only kept for registered goats.
The American Dairy Goat Association does not register castrated males, so there is no need for them to be tattooed.
Other methods of assigning identification to goats are used, but they are often unreliable.
Microchips are sometimes used, but not every association or registry will have a chip reader.
It is also more difficult to recover a stolen goat if the identification is not immediately visible.
Ear tags are also not a suitable identification method because they may be ripped out easily.
How To Tattoo a Nigerian Dwarf Goat
Tattooing a goat for identification is not difficult, but it is crucial to ensure it is done correctly since it is permanent.
Goats are usually tattooed in the ears, except for the American Lamancha breed.
American Lamancha goats do not have ear flaps, so they are tattooed on the webbing at the base of their tail.
The right ear of the goat will have the herd of origin tattoo, and the left ear tattoo will have a letter representing the animal’s birth year followed by a number indicating its birth sequence.
For example, a goat born in 2015 will have a left ear tattoo starting with the letter “F.”
If the goat were the third one born in the herd in 2015, the full tattoo would read “F3.”
The herd name is unique for every farm, and you must choose a name not already used.
When you apply to the American Dairy Goat Association, you will also present a tattoo application for your name of choice.
If you do not choose a herd name, the ADGA will assign one to you when your application is accepted.
There is a limit of four letters or numbers used in the herd tattoo sequence, and it must contain at least two letters so it is not confused with the birth identification tattoo.
You must also include the correct tattoo sequence for each ear on your registration.
If a tattoo revision is made, it must also be reflected on the registration papers.
Once you have your assigned tattoo and gather your supplies, you are ready to tattoo your goats.
The following steps outline the tattoo process.
Gather Your Materials
Having all the tools, you need for tattooing your goats will make the job go more smoothly.
A tattoo kit from a reputable supplier usually contains all the materials required.
You will need to gather the following supplies ahead of time:
- Restraint method
- Latex gloves
- Alcohol pads or rubbing alcohol
- A soft, clean cloth
- Tattoo paste
- Tattoo pliers
- Selection of letter and number plates
- A thin piece of rubber sponge
To avoid the spread of disease, it is crucial to sanitize all of your equipment before and after each tattoo.
Properly Restrain the Goat
Tattooing a goat when it is very young is much easier than tattooing an adult, and it may be done when the animal is only two weeks old.
A baby goat may be restrained by your legs for the process since they are so small, but you may also use a disbudding box.
You may have one of these left from when you dehorned your goats.
Learn more about dehorning your Nigerian dwarf goats in our article.
An adult goat is likely to be more unruly and too large for you to hold while tattooing, so a muzzle and halter will be needed in addition to another person restraining the animal.
A stanchion or chute is also an excellent option to keep the adult goat from moving.
Clean the Ears
Thoroughly clean the goat’s ears with an alcohol pad or rubbing alcohol and a soft, clean cloth.
This will remove any traces of dirt, wax, and grease that interfere with the tattoo imprint.
Ready Your Tattoo Pliers
Disinfect your pliers and insert the correct symbols.
Check the placement of your symbols by impressing them into a sheet of paper.
This step is very important because the tattoo must be accurate.
Press the thin sheet of rubber sponge onto the tattoo needles to allow for an easy release once the impression is made.
Smear the Paste
Smear the tattoo paste onto the skin where the tattoo will be placed.
The area must be free of warts or freckles because they might distort the tattoo.
Green tattoo paste is typically used to be more visible on dark-skinned animals.
The tattoo symbols must be parallel to and between the veins or cartilage ridges of the ear to avoid bleeding.
Make the Imprint
Firmly and quickly close the pliers to make the imprint.
As soon as you release the pliers, you will smear more tattoo paste onto the imprint.
Use your fingers or a small, stiff brush to rub the ink into the imprint.
A child’s toothbrush works well for this purpose.
Do this for at least 15 seconds to ensure the ink has penetrated the imprint.
Gently wipe away any excess tattoo paste without disturbing the imprint.
Sanitize all of the equipment you used with rubbing alcohol.
Allow to Heal
Leave the imprint undisturbed until it has fully healed.
The healing process usually takes between 5 and 21 days, depending on the goat’s age.
Once the imprint heals, the ink will dry and flake out of the ear, leaving behind a permanent identification mark.