Raising Little Goats
Pygmy & Nigerian Dwarf Goats
Tips & Tidbits I’ve learned from raising Goats.
- Goats have no upper front teeth.
- I know! Unexpected to learn that right? They are nibblers. They snap off grass, weeds, etc. with their bottom front teeth. Their upper front is just a gum. They are unlike sheep (and cows) who bite grass with upper and lower teeth, eating grass blades, roots, all. Goats nibble a bit more selectively.
- Goats prefer twiggy undergrowth, weeds, leaves and bark.
- I read somewhere that long ago, goats and sheep learned to coexist by one eating mostly grass and the other eating mostly woodsy undergrowth. I’ve found this to be true with my goats. I love watching them stick their tongue out and touch a brown autumn leaf and bring it back into their mouth to crunch like a potato chip. They love them!
- Goats LOVE to ride!!
- Yep! I’ve had several occasions where I’ve transported goats for 5-6 hours. Once we get on the road, not a peep out of them! and when we arrive, they are never real excited about jumping out of the vehicle.
- Daily Free Ranging Hour works well for parasite control.
- One of the leading problems goat owners have is parasite control. Goat Authorities highly encourage pasture rotation as a preventative measure. The reason for this is you don’t want them “eating where they poop.” See, once they poop, parasite larvae will hatch eggs on their poop. If they are grazing in the area where the Larvae are doing their thing, then the goats are ingesting the parasite larvae. The heavier the parasite load becomes, the more unhealthy your goats become causing serious health concerns. So! to avoid the “season” of parasite larvae hatching, it is recommended to “rotate their pasture”. If you have a herd of goats, then pasture rotation is exactly what you need to do. But if you have a few pet goats, like I do, well, here’s what I’ve found works well:
- Goats have a unique digestive system. They have 4 stomachs like cows. What they eat today, they will swallow, then tomorrow they’ll burp up and chew it again “chew their cud” and then digest it completely. Our routine here is they stay in their home pen and lazily chew their cud all day. Each evening I let them out to free range (I started them out on leashes, letting them wander over the yard walking them just as one would walk a dog. Then it became obvious there was no need for the leashes. More on that later). It only takes about an hour for them to graze and nibble their bellies full. With ample area to wander where they choose, they are not eating where they’ve been pooping. They get the fresh stuff! After they return to their home pen, they are content to relax and begin the process of digesting their meal. They are content until the next evening when we start the process over again.
- Feed Goats pellet feed as if it is their Dessert.
- Goats need the roughage from hay, grass, weeds, bark, leaves, etc. Too much pellet feed and their digestive systems can get out of whack. They LOVE pellet feed and sweet feed just as we enjoy our Desserts. Just as we would make ourselves sick if we ate too much dessert, goats will not do well if given more than a small daily ration of goat feed.
- Try to stay away from “sweet feed”. Sweet feed can cause urinary issues, especially in males and even more so in castrated wethers.
- My preference is Purina Show Chow. It smells delightful and my goats have a passion for it. I look at it like giving my “kid” a granola bar instead of a candy bar. Both tasty, one is just better for you.