Dairy Goats

The Things My Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats Have Taught Me

The first thing I will say about this article is that it will continue to grow as I continue to learn....

When I first started begging my husband to get some dairy goats a couple of years ago I never thought about how much I had to learn.  And boy did I have a lot to learn.

I read books before we got the goats.  Ronnie even bought me a book on raising dairy goats for Christmas one year.  I read what I could find on the Internet and more.  I read about breeds, breeding, breeders and everything else you can think of that makes you end up with a quality goat.

So now I am educated and can get some goats, right?  Yeah right!    Information about Nigerian dwarf goats is available on the Internet but it is scattered all over the place, bits and pieces.  Another problem with the information on the Internet is it seems every website says something slightly different.  Basically is is enough information all over the place to thoroughly confuse you.   As far as books go most goat books only refer to Nigerian dwafts as a sidebar at the most. 

So lets get started on what my goats taught me.......

Feeding

Feeding, like most everything I researched with the goats, was not as simple as I had thought it would be.  Oh it's not that the goats can't eat on thier own or need any help there but what to feed them in another subject.  You will find there are again as many opinions of what to feed a goat as their are types of feed out there.  I had thought that goats just ate hay, grass and weeds etc.  I wanted to raise my goats as natural as possible and I wanted that to include what they ate.  I wanted my goats to eat what they were made to eat and not what man has decided they should eat.  A lot of article would reference "quality" pasture as a good feed source for goats.  Our goats have access to about a little over a 1/3 of an acre but I wasn't sure if it would be considered "quality".  The goats appeared to be getting fat enough off of it.  But I decided to feed them a little of othe goat pellets twice a day, about a cup at a time.

Grains are an area that I had questions on.  Should the goats eat grains or not.  Well some say yes and some say no.  Goats are ruminents and they process food pretty much the same way a cow does.  Corn is harsh on cows and though they like to eat it, it seems it is not the best thing for them to eat.  I decided for that reason I didn't want to feed my goats corn.  What I did know is that my goats really liked the chicken feed I was serving the chickens and it had milo in it.  They seemed to really like the milo so I started researching feeding milo to goats.  I was thinking if I could feed them a little something that they really like then they wouldn't try to break into the chicken coop all the time and wipe out the chicken feed (again another story for another time).  The milo research went pretty much the same way the corn research went.  Some said it was okay to feed to goats and others very strongly recommended against it stating it could actually be harmful.   I decided to not to feed them milo with their daily feeding.  Next on the list was whole oats.  After a lot of research it seems that it is perfectly fine to treat the goats with whole oats.  As a bonus they really like the oats too and it has the bonus of giving them some extra protien and this is good when they are lactating.

The big thing is goats need a 16% protien diet.  I opted to mix their additional feed with Dumar goat pellets, a touch of milo (they dig around looking for it in the feed) and about whole oats in the following porportions - 50 pounds of Dumar goat feed and 15 pounds of whole oats. 

Another thing I learned about goats is they do not and I repeat do not eat everything.  My little goats are actually pretty picky.  Oh sure they browse our little pasture (their part of our 1 acre property) but depictions of goats I have been lead to believe that goats would eat anything that was tied down. 

The fact is, goats are like people in that matter.  Some goats eat some things other goats eat what they will not.  Tsarina loves carrots while Buckets "eats" carrots.  Buckets loves apple peels while Tsarina snubs them.

I did find an odd thing that the bucklings and my does both liked to eat.........my hair.  If you have long hair I would keep it put up and out of the way of nibbling goats that will eat more than you could believe possible in such a short amount of time.

Breeding

This is, in my opinion, was the biggest shock I got about a my goats.  Nigerian dwarf goats go into heat or estrus cycle every 17 - 24 days.  I say 17 to 24 because again it depends on which website or book you read as to the length they say.  I found mine were about 18 days.  The cycle can last anywhere from a few hours to 3 days so basically you need to have a buck ready and waiting just before you suspect your doe is going into heat. 

I also learned that there is what is called "standing heat".  Standing heat is basically when your doe will stand and allow the buck to mate with her.  The rest of the time he makes a lot of really stinky smells, makes some really noxious noises and makes some faces that only his mother could love.  The buck does all of this while chasing your doe around and snapping at her.  I actually started feeling bad for my doe having to run from that ugly beast and the buck because he just couldn't get lucky at first.  Then all of the sudden in a spit second (and literally don't blink) she stood there for him to do his thing and he walked away happy.  They pretty much left each other alone after that.  And then the next doe went into heat and it all started again.

The breeding buck

If you are going to be keeping a buck then you will need to build a separate buck pen.  If you keep your buck with your does they will be exhausted from the constant harrasment.  There is a difference of opinion when it comes to if a buck is odorous or not.  My opinion is that they are too odorous for my liking to keep one around all the time.

Buck fencing is another thing to take into consideration.  We have chainlink fencing and found it was just barely capable of holding in our visiting buck.  We could and probably will at some point do an article on goat fencing alone.

The buck we borrowed to breed our goats with fit nicely into the standards of a Nigerian dwarf buck ( no taller than 23 inches to the shoulders) and as bucks go he was a brutus looking fellow.  What we did not know and now do know is that he was a very bad mannered buck.  Yes, you will find that goats can be good mannered if taught young and others can be bad mannered.  This visiting buck was bad mannered to the point that after mating with our first doe I was mad enough to crate him up and send him home early not knowing if he had bred our second doe or not.  Turned out he did breed our second doe also but at that point I did not care.  He spent hours ramming our house, the fence to the point that it actually came unwired in spots and charging me.  Yep, one of his favorite past times was charging me and pinning me in whatever corner he could.  I had to call in backup the last time he pulled it and I demanded he be deported back to his home. 

The little bucklings that he help produce were really sweet little fellows.  The first born was more rambuncious like him but still sweet and I had to really force myself to visualize him as an adult buck to let him go to his new home.  Is brother was the spitting image of our little doe so he was really hard to let go of.  I checked several times to confirm he was a boy just hoping he would be a girl so I could keep him.  Needless to say they both went to their new home together where they now happily harrass a miniture donkey on a daily basis.

Another thing I learned about goats is they do not and I repeat do not eat everything.  My little goats are actually pretty picky.  Oh sure they browse our little pasture (their part of our 1 acre property) but depictions of goats I have been lead to believe that goats would eat anything that was tied down. 

The fact is, goats are like people in that matter.  Some goats eat some things other goats eat what they will not.  Tsarina loves carrots while Buckets "eats" carrots.  Buckets loves apple peels while Tsarina snubs them.

I did find an odd thing that the bucklings and my does both liked to eat.........my hair.  If you have long hair I would keep it put up and out of the way of nibbling goats that will eat more than you could believe possible in such a short amount of time.

Worming

 When I first got the goats I knew that I wanted to raise them without chemical additives and other things that were unnatural to goats.  I started doing some research on worming goats and found that goats seem to get infested rather easily if they are not rotated on pastures.  Well we only have the one yard and therefor the one pasture so there was not a place to rotate them to.  Most books and references said to worm the goats about every 6 - 8 weeks and to change wormers because they don't all work on all worms and so you should rotate your wormer to try to get as many types as you can and to prevent the worms from becoming immune to the wormer (again kind of like humans and antibiotics).

I really didn't want to use some harsh chemical and who-knows-what  wormer.  I wanted something natural.  I read that you could use black oiled sunflower seeds to help reduce worms.  So I started adding a little to each of their grain mixes, literally just a pinch or so because they are also high in protien which can be good but you don't want your goats too fat either.  You really have to be careful that they get what they need when they eat and not too much of any one things or not enough.  They really like the Black Oiled Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) so it takes nothing to get then to eat them.

I was still worried that they could still get worms so I continued to look for a natural/herbal blend of a wormer.  I did find an herbal blend that came very highly recommended and had great reviews so I ordered some - Molly's Herbals Herbal Worm Formula System -  Several people said their goats ate it right up.  I of course did not have that luck with my goats.  My last attempt to work them I even tried to mix the herbs in with pureed apples and carrots hoping it would cover the smell and they would eat it.  They wouldn't even go near it.  One wiff and they stuck their noses up and walked away.  There are several recommendations with the insturction on stuff to try if you happen to have a picky goat that won't eat it.  I figure I will keep trying a differnt recommendation until I find the one that will work to get my girls to eat this herb. 

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Comments   

 
0 #6 Christine 2014-01-15 02:21
@Mary I don't think I would add honey to their milk. If anything try giving them some electrolytes separately fed in a bottle. Mother's milk should have most of what they need. When Malia was struggling I used the electrolytes and she loved them. They are sweet and the babies find them tastey.
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0 #5 mary guimaraes 2014-01-15 00:59
I have been raising Nubian goats for several years. I have 3 little babies who are small and seem a bit week, I am feeding them by bottle but their mamma's milk. They don't eat as well now that the colostrum (sp?) is gone and the mlk is not sweet anymore. I am thinking about adding a teaspoon of honey to their milk (they are drinking out of an 8 oz baby bottle now). What do you think? Is there a danger of botulism? Thanks in advance for your input.
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0 #4 Christine 2012-09-30 03:20
@Kris
Thank you for sharing your recipe. I will be sure to give this a try.
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0 #3 Kris 2012-09-30 00:56
I use Molly's wormer and my goats wouldnt eat it either so I started making them into little balls with raw honey and slippery elm bark hey love them they eat them like they are candy.
1/2 cup wormer
1/4 cup slippery elm powder
1/4 cup honey or molasses
Mix into a dough brak into 16 pieces roll into balls and then roll into slippery elm powder to coat.
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0 #2 Christine 2012-09-24 22:17
@ Sage
Hi! I am glad you found our website. I can not say that I have found a book yet that I would consider the most helpful but I have found several websites that I like. One of my favorites is www.backwoodshome.com and www.fiascofarms.com. There are many websites and blogs out there with wonderful information. Now if one of them would write a good book that would be wonderful. I have taken the best from each website, printed it and made a binder with the information. Not exactly high tech but it works for me. If I find a great goat book I will be sure to write about it right away.

Hope this helps a little,

Christine
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0 #1 Sage 2012-09-20 02:38
Hello! I just found your website because I have dairy goats (Alpine and LaMancha) and have been wondering about their best diet. I would like them to eat what Nature intended also, not just "goat chow". Thanks for your writings on this. Do you have any recs for sites, books, etc?
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