If you are new to caring for goats, it is important to talk a vet familiar with goats and that knows what is best for them in your area. It is also extremely helpful to find a "goat friend" willing to answer your questions as they arise (Thanks Tracy at Belle Starr Farm!!). Research the websites under the goat links for further information on goat care. Keep in mind that everyone has their idea about what is best for goats. Read, read, read and ask, ask, ask to decide what is best for your herd. After our research, the following information is how we care for our goats here at Legacy Valley.
Temperature-101.5-103.5 rectally, Pulse 70-80 beats per minute, Respiration 10-30 for adults, and 20-40 in kids, Heat Cycles 20-23 days, Gestation period 145-155 days. Nigerians and most Mini-Alpines can be bred year round.
Nigerian Dwarf goats are known for their high quality milk with a high butterfat. They are friendly, hardy, and intelligent animals that can thrive in almost any climate. Ears are medium length, erect and alert. Their faces are either straight or slightly dished. Their coats are medium length and straight. Nigerians can have either brown or blue eyes. They come in many patterns, colors or combinations of colors. Mature does should be no more than 22 1/2 inches tall at the withers and mature bucks should be no more than 23 1/2 inches tall at the withers.
Mini-Alpine goats are alert, gracefully hardy dairy animals that adapt and thrive in most any climate also. They have fine, narrow, and erect ears with a straight or slightly dished face. The various colors are given French names but color pattern names are acceptable. Mature does maximum height is 29 inches with mature bucks maximum height being 31 inches. Mini-alpines are created by breeding a registered Alpine doe with a registered Nigerian Dwarf buck. This creates the first generation. Second generations are created by breeding two first generations and so on. Once progressing to the third generation and if the goat meets breed standards, they can be registered as an American Mini-Alpine. Once the sixth generation is reached and the goat meets breed standards, they can be registered as a Purebred Mini-Alpine. The first and second generations are registered as experimental.
Since goats are herd animals, they MUST have a companion goat. Wethers can be used as companion for either a doe or buck. Goats HATE the rain and must have shelter from the rain and winter wind. They also need a shady area in the summer to escape the heat. If you keep a herd of goats for a breeding program, it is important to separate the bucks and does. Be aware that goats can breed through the fence! Separate fenced areas are best. Fencing must be strong and high enough to keep out predators and stray dogs. The fencing also needs to be small enough to hold your little babies. The block opening of 2x4 inches or 4x4 inches and at least 42 inches tall are typically adequate. We use "Goat and Sheep" fence on a roll from the feed store. Inside the shelter, you will need a hay rack, mineral feeder, and water source. The stalls must be cleaned frequently and restocked with fresh straw. When in doubt, it is better to clean!!
Goats need hay, browse and small amounts of grain daily. We feed brome to bucks, wethers, and does free choice. Milking does receive alfalfa daily. We feed a dairy mix recipe for all does. We feed 3/4 cup of Purina Noble Goat with 5% BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds) per adult Nigerian buck per day with kids receiving less. Mini-Alpines received more grain based on weight. It is very important not to overfeed your goats. It causes bloating and can be fatal. We normally don't give our goats "treats" but do so in moderation if you choose to.
Bucks receive the same grain as the does but they are not given alfalfa hay, only brome. Alfalfa has been linked with urinary tract diseases. You can add ammonium chloride into the buck's minerals or apple cider vinegar to the water to help prevent urinary stones.
Sweetlix minerals are given as free choice to all goats.
Clean water must be available at all times. Our goats are a little finicky about their water. They love warm and very clean water.
We give a copper bolus to all of our goats every six months to help prevent ailments caused by copper deficiency.
We give the CD/T at 6 and 9 weeks provided the doe was vaccinated one month prior to kidding and at one year. Boosters are given to all goats annually.
Kids will be receiving most of their nourishment from their mothers. We bottle feed if for some reason the mother cannot nourish the baby. Small amounts of grain will be introduced at a couple of weeks. Hay is always available for them when they are ready to start nibbling.
When bottle feeding, we use whole milk not replacer. It is recommended to stop feeding as the baby's feels full not tight, adding milk as the baby gets older. We start with about 5 ounces 4 times a day. We increase the amount as they get older and in time decrease number of times they are fed a day.
Our kids are handled several times a day. They are extremely friendly!
Brushing frequently with a stiff brush can keep your goat's coat in good shape. You may choose to treat your goats in the spring/fall to control fleas, ticks and/or lice. Be sure to clean their sleeping area often so they are not laying in their droppings.
Goat's hooves grow quickly and can become bent, cracked or infected if not trimmed. http://www.jefferslivestock.com/ carrys an excellent trimmer (orange handles). We try to trim their hooves every two/three months. To trim your goat's hooves, start by cleaning out from the toes with a pick. Start trimming slices off the the nail to level the hoof. Trim down until the white changes to pink. The toe and heel should be at the same level. Trimming takes practice especially when your goat may not be as cooperative as you would like. Placing rocks or cinder blocks in their yard will help file down their hooves too.