Goat Info

First off, let me say that I am by no means an expert on goats or their care, but I wanted to address some of the basics of caring for a Nigerian Dwarf Goat.  

We have two stanchions built for our goats - a standard size for our Nubians and a smaller sized one for the Nigerians.  It is much easier to take care of hoof trimming and grooming when you can restrain the goat in a stanchion.   

Goat Basics:

Body Temperature (taken rectally) - 101.5 to 103.5 F
Gestation Length - 150 days
Estrus Cycle - 21 days
Rumen movement - 1 to 1.5 per minute

Housing -  Goats should be housed in clean, dry, draft free shelters.  Draft free does not mean air-tight, because any shelter still needs ventilation, but be sure to make sure that your goats are able to bed down in draft free locations.  One of the best things about Nigerians is that dog houses can be used as shelters. We have an assortment of housing types here on the farm and I have learned that no one type is any better than another.  Each goat seems to have their own preference, but we make sure they have plenty of options.  

Feeding - Most breeders feed a 16-18% goat ration or dairy goat ration.  We currently feed a specialty mix from a local feed store and give good quality grass hay every day.  Amounts vary depending on condition of individual goats.  Bucks and wethers should be given special attention to make sure they do not consume too much grain because it can cause urinary calculi.  Some feeds have ammonium chloride added to help prevent calculi, or it can be purchased separately and mixed into buck/wether rations.  Goats also need more copper than other livestock.  Feeds made specifically for goats usually have higher levels of copper but if the label states for sheep and goats, it will not contain enough copper.  Free choice minerals will help, but even with feed and free choice minerals, some goats may need additional amounts of copper.  We currently bolus our goats one or two times per year depending on the individual animals condition.  Grain and hay rations should be adjusted based on the amount of pasture and browse that the goats have available.  We tend to feed a lot more hay during winter months because the goats are not able to browse during the day.  Access to fresh clean water is essential for all goats.  

Hoof Care -  Hoof trimming is not hard to learn to do, but it is easiest if you have someone show you how to do it.  We buy the orange handled hoof trimmers and use a hoof planer if needed.  Hooves must be trimmed regularly.  Some recommend every 4-6 weeks, but we don't normally trim that frequently.  We feed all the goats while they are on the stanchion and most don't even realize that we are doing anything to their hooves.  To make the job as quick and easy as possible, make sure the trimmers are sharp.  Trim small amounts at a time to help reduce the chance of cutting into the quick.  Always make sure to have blood stop powder on hand any time you trim just in case too much is trimmed at a time.  

Grooming -  We don't show our goats, so grooming is not a huge issue for us.  We brush a lot in the spring to help remove the undercoat as it sheds out.  Girls get a trim before kidding time so that we can keep an eye on how things are progressing and also to help her stay clean during/after giving birth.  

Worming - This can be a very controversial issue for a lot of people, and it's important to remember that what works for one person won't necessarily work for someone else.  Parasite load will vary based on many factors and there is not an easy fix.  I highly recommend taking fecal samples to your vet and working with them to find your best worming schedule.  We do not worm on a set schedule and worm according to fecal sample results and condition of the animal.  I have found that some animals seem to be more susceptible to worms and will need closer monitoring.  

Pests -  One of the most difficult things to deal with when you have livestock animals.  In our barn we use the Sticky Roll Fly Tape System by Mr. Sticky.  We tried just about everything you can think of to control flies in our barn, but nothing comes close to the Mr. Sticky fly tape.  It catches huge numbers of flies and is very easy to replace when needed.  We also use diatomaceous earth (DE) in the barn and as a dust on the goats in the spring.  DE seems to help prevent issues with lice.  I can't say that we never have any, but since we started using, any lice outbreaks in the spring are easily controlled.  Early spring is the worst time for lice and it is easy for them to get out of control if you don't check your goats regularly.  Spring rains and warmer temperatures combined with a thick undercoat make the perfect conditions for lice.  As the goats start to shed out their undercoat in the spring, we pull each out to the stanchion for hoof trims and brushing.  This is the perfect time to check for any lice.  If I find any, they get dusted with DE and we will spread DE in the barn.  I will recheck in a few days and if needed, use different control methods.