Nigerian dwarf goats are a diminutive breed of dairy goat that has risen in popularity in the United States because their small stature requires less space and feed than larger goats. The Nigerian dwarfs' friendly, gentle and playful personality also makes them a wonderful pet. Nigerian dwarfs also produce milk that is higher in butterfat and sweeter in taste, so it is excellent for making cheese. Dwarfs can share pastures peacefully with other livestock and will often improve a pasture by removing undergrowth and brambles that other animals, such as cows and horses, won't eat.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Pasture with appropriate fencing
- Goat pens/shelters
- Dry stall
- Goat "toys"
- Water troughs or large barrels
- Goat sweet feed
- Trace mineral salt
- Hoof trimmers or farrier
Secure the pasture with adequate fencing. Nigerian dwarf goats can be pastured with other livestock, but because they are smaller than most other barn animals, pasture fencing needs to be secured to keep them in. Post and rail fencing may need to be bolstered with chicken wire or other material to be sure the Nigerian dwarf can't escape.
Build goat pens and shelters. Because of their smaller size, dwarfs can be housed in much smaller spaces than other dairy goats. You can contain them in goat pens with shelters from the elements. Goats love to climb, so provide shelves inside shelters for goats to lie on. The type of shelter you provide isn't important, as long as it keeps the goats out of the elements and clean and dry. Clean the stalls daily and provide fresh dry stall and straw for bedding.
Put goat "toys" in your pasture or pen. Goats are intelligent and playful animals. Providing them with toys will prevent boredom. Stumps and logs as well as large cable spools will provide goats with a place to jump, climb and play. Provide a small rock pile for climbing and to help wear down the goats' hooves.
Offer a source for clean, fresh water at all times. Give goats cool water in the summer and warm water in the colder winter months. Clean the water troughs or barrels thoroughly at least once a week.
Feed goats legume hay. Alfalfa is best and should be provided daily. Store hay in a covered dry place, off the ground. Never feed your goats wet hay. Hay can develop mould that can make goats ill.
Supplement hay and pasture foraging with sweet goat feed, a combination of corn, oats and barley grains.
Provide loose mineral salt supplements. Mineral salt is necessary for the goat's health and salt blocks do not work well for goats; loose mineral salt supplements are best.
Trim the goat's hooves. Goats need their hooves trimmed every six to eight weeks. If you are not familiar with how to properly care for the goat's hooves, hire a farrier to come out and trim them.
Vaccinate your goats. Goats need to be vaccinated against certain types of illness and parasites. Some goat owners vaccinate their animals themselves. But if you are new to raising goats, get a veterinarian to come out and vaccinate them or take them to the vet. Some veterinary colleges also offer these services.
De-worm your goats. Goats are susceptible to different parasites in different regions. The best way to know what parasites your goats need to be treated for is to take a stool sample periodically to a veterinarian for testing. De-worm the goats according to your veterinarian's directions.
Tips and warnings
- Never have just one goat. Goats are herd animals and will be lonely and unhappy if kept alone. Have at least a pair for happy, playful, healthy goats.
- Use caution when using hay racks for feed. Nigerian dwarf goats have been known to get their heads caught in hay racks, breaking their necks.
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