Those First Few Days
As kids are born they are dried off and moved away from their dam so that no bonding takes place. Kids are bottle-fed their own dam's colostrum or a colostrum replacer if necessary. Umbilical cords are dipped in iodine, BoSe shots are given. Kids are in the house for the first week or so, mainly for our convenience, then when bouncy and strong are moved to the nursery room in the barn. All kids are on a strict bottle-feeding schedule, fed pasteurized goat milk or goat milk replacer. We bottle-feed so that the kids bond with us, not their dam. This makes the goats much easier to handle and extremely friendly.
The First Several Months
Kids are bottle-fed until they are eight to twelve weeks old. During this time they are introduced to grain, Chaffhaye, and grass hay. They are given a first CD&T vaccination and then a booster. They are wormed regularly with an herbal wormer. Chemical wormers are only used when absolutely necessary. They are handled daily and frequently and given much love and attention. There's nothing cuter or sweeter than a baby Nigerian Dwarf goat, so the love and attention is very easy to provide.
From Kindergarten to Teenager
The only job kids in this age bracket have is to grow and play. At about three months bucklings are separated from doelings. They are fully weaned, eating a diet of Chaffhaye, grass hay, and organic grain. When doelings are ready to be bred (at about 7-8 months) they are moved into breeding pens with their chosen buck. When settled they are then moved into the adult doe herd in the main goatyard. Bucklings are housed separately, and when large and strong enough, are introduced to the adult bucks for permanent quarters.
Does in milk are dried off no later than two months before kidding. Once dry, they are fed good quality orchardgrass hay and Chaffhaye. Four to six weeks before kidding they are fed a small amount of grain daily and are gradually increased so that by the time they kid they are just about where they need to be nutritionally for the milk they will produce (this amount varies widely). Does are given extra selenium, Vitamin E, and a CD&T vaccination during their last five weeks of gestation.
All births are attended. Nature is left to take its course as much as possible, but help is given when required. We try to use natural methods as much as possible but are not at all opposed to standard medical intervention when needed. Fortunately most kiddings are problem free, but the occasional kid must be repositioned inside the doe or pulled. After kidding the does are given fresh warm water with molasses and a B-Complex injection. They are milked out and returned to the main doe herd. They are checked frequently during those first several days especially.
Milking, Milking, Milking
Does are milked twice a day, every day. The milk is strained and quickly cooled, or immediately pasteurized to use for bottle-feeding kids. Milk for our family's use is always left unpasteurized. This milk is turned into delicious yogurt, mozzarella, ricotta, chevre, and hard aged cheeses. The does are milked for seven to ten months. They are rebred each Fall to kid again in the Spring.
Newborns - colostrum, then pasteurized goat milk or goat milk replacer,
or a combination of the two
Kids - Chaffhaye, grass hay, and organic whole grains
Dry Does - Chaffhaye and grass hay
Bucks - Chaffhaye, grass hay, pasture, and organic whole grains
Does in milk - Chaffhaye, grass hay, and organic whole grains
All goats - have free choice minerals, baking soda, and kelp available
Find more information about Chaffhaye and our organic whole grains on our companion
website: Sweet Garden Farm and Feed
Housing - Goats don't require much, but do need to be able to get away from wet and wind.
calf hutches or large dog houses make great easy shelters.
Fencing - Fencing is very important. Goats are incredible escape artists.
A sturdy four-foot fence
is the minimum needed to control Nigerian Dwarf goats.
Predators - Goats are prey and are easy targets for dogs, coyotes, and other predators. Be sure that your fence not only keeps your goats in, but will keep digging/climbing dogs and other animals out. If necessary, consider a Livestock Guardian Dog to protect your goats. So far we have had no problems with predators.
Water - Fresh water needs to be available every day at all times. Warm water is appreciated in the Winter, and cold in the Summer. Make sure they have unfrozen water in the winter. We use heated water buckets.
We are listed at Stackyard.
Nigerian Dwarf Colors is a great website that describes all the different colors
and patterns for Nigerian Dwarf goats along with some other cool stuff. Check it out!