For anyone new to goats...
When we were getting into goats we just wanted some cute does that could milk. We bought our first goats from Craiglist. As our herd evolved and I learned what the little goats were capable of doing milk wise. My view of our herd changed. I wanted to get the best genetics I could afford to improve my herd. Our herd has turned into a highly productive herd with Linear Appraisal scores to back it up.
My advise to anyone new to goats...
1) Only buy from herds that have actually done their own disease testing.
2) Don't buy from pet breeders that don't milk their goats on a daily basis. Their are a ton of pet breeders out their now. There are lots of over priced flashy blue eyes babies for sale. Be very careful of the blue eye trap!
3) Learn to read a pedigree and know what all the *B, *M, LA, SG mean.
4) Invest in a good buck. He is what makes your herd great.
About Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats
The Nigerian Dwarf is a miniature dairy goat of West African origin. They were introduced in the early 1980's and found mostly in zoos. Nigerian's do not require much space. You can fit 3 Nigerians in the space requirements of a full sized dairy goat. They are gentle and friendly which makes them ideal pets.
Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats can produce a surprising amount of milk for their size. Their milk is higher in butterfat (6-10%) and higher in protein than most dairy goat breeds.
Nigerian Dwarf conformation is similar to that of larger dairy breeds. Their nose is straight and ears are upright or erect. Their coat is soft with short to medium hair. Any color combination is acceptable. Eye color can be brown or blue.
ADGA/AGS Height Requirements: Does up to 22 1/2" and Bucks up to 23 1/2"
Nigerian Dwarf are the only breed with a closed herd book. This means that only purebred goats with registered parents can be registered. Nigerian Dwarf can not "breed up" like full sized breeds.
Normal goat body temperature is 102-103 F. Goats are ruminants. You should be able to feel the stomach muscle move several times per minute.
The typical breeding season for goats is July/August until January/February. Nigerians can breed year round. Heats can be harder to detect in the off season. Goat gestation is 145 to 155 days. Nigerians tend to kid before 150 where as larger breeds tend to kid after 150. Nigerian babies can weigh 2-4 pounds at birth. We have had a couple single 5 1/2 pound babies from larger Nigerians. The average is 3-4 lbs. Does can have 1-4 kids. Genetics and health play a large roll in the number of kids a doe has born.
Our herd does receive a yearly CD/T. Babies get a CD/T at 5 weeks of age and a booster CD/T at 8 weeks of age for protection. After that they get a yearly CD/T. Our pregnant does receive a CD/T 4 weeks before their due date to pass protection to their unborn babies. Our pregnant does also receive a dose of Selenium/Vitamin E gel to help prevent white muscle disease in unborn babies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I have just one goat? Why do I need to buy 2 goats together?
Goats are herd animals. To be healthy and happy they need other animals. They can be kept with other goats or sheep. If kept w ith sheep care must be given to keep the copper higher for the goats. Goats need copper for proper health, but copper is toxic to sheep.
Can we keep a doe and a buck together?
No, you should not keep an intact buck with a doe past 10 weeks of age. Nigerian Dwarves are very fertile at an early age. Bucks have the ability to breed at 8 weeks old. Some does start to cycle as early as 11 weeks old. A doe can be bred by a buck in about 10 seconds. You can blink and miss it, it's that fast.
Yes, you can keep a wether with a doe. The wether may act like a buck when the doe is in heat. Bucks can be a bit obnoxious when a doe is in heat. Since, does cycle every 18-23 days it can be a bit annoying to have a wether constantly harassing and mounting the doe.
What type of fencing should we use?
There are a number types of fencing that will work. The main thing is that it keeps your goats safe and secure. It needs to keep goats in and predators out of the pasture. We use several types of fencing on our farm. Our does are kept in Goat Fencing that is 4"x4" opening. Our bucks are rotated frequently and live in a mobile house with Premier 1 Electric net Goat Fencing with a solar charger. Electric netting works well unless there is a lot of snow. In that case our bucks are moved to a smaller buck shed with permanent Goat Fencing. Woven wire fencing for goats needs to be stretched and pulled tight when installed. Fencing needs to be secured to posts with t post clips or nailed into wooden posts. If your goat can escape it will! For some of our larger summer rotating pastures we use field fencing. The downside is the smaller babies can slip right through it.
What type of shelter do we need for our goats?
Shelters should be dry with good ventilation but out of the wind. We plan for 10-12 square feet of indoor space per mini goat. Alpines take about double the space of a mini. In the summer we clean our pens daily and keep bare flooring in our wooden floor barn. In the winter we use the deep bedding method. We allow bedding to accumulate to about a 12" thickness. This method only works if the weather is quite cold. Once temperatures stay above freezing bedding needs to be changed regularly. We also use Poly domes for our goats housing. These work great for a couple of goats. They are very easy to move and keep goats quite cozy in the winter with deep bedding.
Can I use my goats to mow my grass?
NO! Goats are browsers. They will trim your shrubs and debark your trees. They may nibble on your grass but they will not mow it unless forced to do so. If you want a lawn mower buy some sheep.
How do I register my goats?
If you have purchased goats from us as registered they will either come with the actual certificate or an application for registration to ADGA. If you have the certificate and bill of sale you send it to the registry with the transfer fee. They will send you a new certificate, with you as the owner. The certificate needs to be in your name to register any kids born from those goats. If you buy a goat and it comes with the application for registration, you fill out your portion as "buyer" and send it to the registry with the application fee and transfer fee. They will send you back the certificate in your name. The goat now belongs to you.
If you purchase unregistered goats from us they can not be registered in most cases.
If you happen to lose your paperwork or certificates before they are transferred please contact us and we can help you secure new ones. We charge a fee for this, because replacement certificates are not free from the registry.
Can my brown eyed goat give me blue eyed babies?
No. The blue eye gene is a dominant gene. At least one parent must have blue eyes to pass the blue eye gene to kids.
When purchasing goats please know that if someone advertises a brown eyed goat that carries the blue eyed gene, this simply is not true. We were told that when we bought a brown eyed buck. He has never given us any blue eyed offspring.
What books do we recommend?
Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats
Raising Goats Naturally: Complete Guide to Milk, Meat and More by Deborah Niemann
Can I use my non Livestock Guardian Dog as a LGD?
NO! LGD's are bred to guard. They have a natural instinct to protect the animals they live with and have a bond. Non LGD breeds each have their own characteristics. Yes, they may be ok with you goats but they may also injury or kill your goats. No, herding dogs can not be kept with your goats. They have a natural instinct to herd and chase and goats do not respond well to this. Herding dogs are better suited with sheep. Many people misinterpret their house dogs "playing" behavior with their goats. Just because the dog would not hurt you does not mean it would not play a goat to death or scare it to the point that it hurts or kills itself.
~~ The majority of this information is based upon our experience. We are not veterinarians. We can not treat or diagnose goats. All we can do is share our experiences and hope it can help someone else. ~~
Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy
GoatsRaising Goats Naturally: Complete Guide to Milk, Meat and More by Deborah Niemann