Nigerian Dwarf goats are quite hardy and resilient animals, but there are a lot of things to think about to keep them the healthiest possible....
Shelter: Goats need a place to be protected from rain and wind (or snow), but also with proper ventilation. Tightly enclosed housing can lead to health issues.
Hay: Free choice quality hay or pasture should be available. Goats are browsers not grazers. They prefer woody vegetation to grass. Please make sure that there are no poisonous plants in the vicinity that they are browsing. Do not introduce them to lush vegetation on empty stomachs as they may eat too much. They can be great weeders but do require other things to keep them healthy.
Water: Free choice clean fresh water should always be available. Be sure they have a heated bucket in Winter if you live in a area where the water would freeze.
Feed: We feed our goats a mixture grains including whole oats, barley, corn, soy and black oil sunflower seeds. Bucks get fed a goat pellet that has Ammonium Chloride in it to help prevent Urinary Calculi. Any changes in diet must be made gradually so as not to upset tummies.
Baking Soda: Goats should have free choice baking soda . This helps alkalize all of the roughage that they consume. It can help prevent bloat and release gases in the rumen. I dont see them use it often but like to know it is there should they want it.
Mineral Supplement: Free choice loose minerals designed for goats is a great way to make sure they are getting all of the proper nutrients that may not be in their feed or hay. Just make sure that is a kind that is loose, not a block. Goats do not do well with the mineral blocks since it is difficult for them to consume enough. We currently are using Goat Top Choice mineral made by Southern States and organic sea kelp. We also give Copper Bolus 2-3x a year and give Selenium gel or injection as needed. We feel that our area is lacking in these minerals and the additional amount is needed. Both Copper and Selenium in excess can be toxic so please consult a local goat vet before use.
Ammonium Chloride: All boys should be fed ammonium chloride to reduce chances of urinary calculi. Ammonium Chloride is present in many brands of Goat Pellets and some other feeds. You can also purchase the plain ammonium chloride through caprine supply companies and apply it directly to their food.
Hoof trimming: All animals should have their hooves trimmed about every 3 months depending on their environment and genetics. Remember to check your animal frequently so their hooves don’t get rotten and uneven which can lead to major problems. I have seen really sad cases of neglect in hooves! We actually trim our goats hoofs every month or maybe 2 months. Large rocks and rock piles can help the goats to keep their hoofs trimmed down some.
Deworming: We now do a test and treat program. We do our own fecal tests every few months and treat only when needed. Any vet can do a fecal check but should check for both worms and coccidia. Many goats are building a resistance to wormers by the underdosing wormers and over worming. Worming can upset the usual balance in a goats rumen system. Wormers will not kill coccidia (a sulfa based drug is needed for that) and not every wormer will kill every worm which is why it is best to know what and if you need to treat.
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Freedom Star Farm
Nigerian Dwarf Goats