Goats are herd animals and like other goats for company. Goats do not have top front teeth. Goats have 4 stomachs and bring food back up to chew again called cud. Goats are very social and curious animals. And goats don’t really eat tin cans 🙂
A female goat is called a doe or if young, a doeling. They are sexually mature around 6 months old. They don’t produce milk unless they have babies. They will stop making milk without nursing kids or being milked. Nigerian Dwarf does can be bred at 9 months or 45 pounds.
A male goat is a buck or buckling. They are sexually mature at 2 months old. They won’t smell musky or breed if they are fixed. This can be done around 2 months old and they are called wethers. Don’t feed alfalfa to bucks or wethers; they will develop urinary stones.
Babies are called kids and need milk for 8 weeks of life. Growing kids need hay and a 16% protein grain until they are 8 months old. After this age, they can eat hay alone for their diet. Wethers and doeling make excellent pets and live together happily.
Goats need grassy hay or pasture. They will eat grass, weeds, leaves, vines, pine needles and bark. Banana peels, orange peels, grapes, raisins, pumpkins and carrots are healthy treats. A few plants are poisonous but goats usually avoid them or only take a nibble. (Feeding them an armload can be fatal!) Goat should have minerals to keep them in optimal health.
Goats need a barn to keep them out of cold weather in the winter and shade in the summer. A three-sided shelter without drafts is desirable. Bedding in the winter can be straw, hay or wood chips. A dirt or cement floor for the warmer months is best.
Fencing and Space
Woven wire fencing at a minimum height of 42″ is ideal. For space it is generally said that 3 miniature goats can live on 1/2 an acre.
Their hooves should be trimmed every few months. It is simple to do with a milk stand and a pair of hoof trimmers. Give the goat some grain and pick up a hoof. It’s better to trim less than too much. The basic idea is to keep the hoof trimmed flat and level.
Also a yearly CD/T vaccine booster protects them from tetanus and enterotoxemia.
Baking soda – if their stomach is upset from eating too much (called bloat).
Loose minerals – Buy minerals that are labeled specifically for goats.
Bottle Baby Goat Care
Bottle kids can be fed goats milk or vitamin D whole cows milk from the grocery store. At 3 days old they will need to be fed every 4 hours during the day and will sleep 8 hours at night without a feeding.
By day 4 put the baby kids out in the barn with a heat lamp if it’s cold out at one end of the pen so they can get warm if they need too. Really secure the heat lamp so there is no chance of a fire. Also, goat kids should have access to a little hay (2nd cutting, grass and alfalfa mix is best) but other types of hay are fine.
At about 10 days old, goats can be fed a bottle 3 times a day. Example: feed at 8 am, 2pm and again at 8 pm.
Keep fresh water in a bowl. They will be curious about the water and learn to drink on their own. It may seem like they are not drinking and often they don’t need it as they have most of their liquid requirements from the milk.
Grain can be given in tiny amounts to kids at 2 weeks old. Whole oats, rolled oats, alfalfa pellets and cracked corn are good choices. As the kids get older slowly add the amount of grain to about 1/3 cup per kid for Nigerian Dwarfs. Feed grain to kids until they are 6-9 months old. If some seem too chunky reduce their grain or stop. If they are thin, keep graining for a few more months.
Goats can be weaned at 6-8 weeks old. Wean kids off the bottle by going down to 2 feedings a day and then 1 feeding a day. Then give a bottle every other day for a few days.
Traditionally, goat owners deworm their goats every month with a chemical wormers. I prefer to be as natural as possible. In my goat care packet you will receive a list of natural herbs that work as a dewormers.
Baby goats have developing immune systems and tapeworms often infect them. If you see “rice” looking things in their poop that is tapeworm. Give them Safeguard available at farm supply stores. The administering amount is on the back of the bottle.
Fiasco Farms- fiascofarm.com
Dairy Goat Info- http://www.dairygoatinfo.com
Miniature Dairy Goat Association- miniaturedairygoats.com
American Dairy Goat Association- http://www.adga.org