Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hello all,

I just had the worst weird kidding season. I bred 3 of my does for late summer early fall so far so good there I breed them for that because our winters are terrible at this elevation, now here is the weird part Maddie had a single buckling where she usually has three but no big deal there, next up was Rose my best girl with an udder that rivals a full size alpine, she normally has twin bucklings with no trouble this time she had a huge doeling, good grief she managed it but it was getting really scary. Then last night Willow tried to deliver the biggest buckling I have ever seen in my life of goats (50 years) however we lost her and the kid. When I say we lost her, I put her down it is always a hard choice but I will not let one of my animals suffer and die a long slow painful death and the kid was dead, I know that is hard for some to hear, it was horrible, I will say up front right here we are 4 hours from an animal hospital with no large animal farm vet, we have to deal with these things on our own.  My friend and neighbor also with years of experience was there with my son so they did a post mortem to see just what happened, that kid was as long as my arm, she was really torn up and it confirmed my choice. Willow always had multiples most commonly quads and never had an issue other than you needed a catchers mitt and a ton of towels because they would literally shoot out of her, she could even feed them all with good weight gains. So the worst and weird why suddenly all singles and why such big kids, the worst obviously is losing Willow. Same feed mostly light browse, fescue and alfalfa and a small handful of grains less than a 1/4 cup because I have always been afraid of fat does with kidding problems which is what just happened. My does don't usually look pregnant they always look pretty sleek except Maddie she has always very wide set to her but a slender neck and legs. Same small polled buck, same copper bolus's and selenium and fecals were good.  The only thing different this year was the smoke from the fires back when they were bred and the recent smoke from the fires 900 miles away the settles over us. I'm in New Mexico on a high plateau and the smoke was really bad like the fire was right next door. What did I do wrong? How can I fix this from happening again. My does trust me and I let them down. Is it me? Is it my Buck?

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I'm so sorry you had to experience this. The most common reason for single kids is a nutritional deficiency. What mineral do you have available? Brand? Loose or block or poured bucket? 

I use Manna Pro loose mineral and Copasure copper bolus every 6 months.

MannaPro does not have enough selenium or iodine in it for breeding does. It only has 12 ppm selenium. Sweetlix and Purina have 50 ppm. MannaPro does not even list iodine in its guaranteed analysis. Both of these are really important for fertility. Were any of the kids born hairless or with a goiter (swelling under neck)? How long did the does take to pass their placentas? 

Do you have sulfur or iron in your water? Sulfur makes it stink. Iron turns white sinks orange.

I'm thinking the issue is the loose mineral! I give the selenium but iodine was not even on my radar. I can order Sweetlix or Purina, clearly the Manna Pro is not sufficient. Both of the kids had hair and no swelling under the neck and moms had pass the placenta within a couple of hours. I am on well water not much iron but we do have sulfur.

Sulfur is an antagonist to both copper and selenium. When I've had goat livers tested, they are usually borderline low, and we have terrible sulfur.

You might need to do copper more than every six months. Do your goats lose hair on their tail, bridge of their nose, or around their eyes? Does their color fade between copper doses? 

Kelp is an excellent source of iodine. You might want to get some of that to make sure their levels get up quickly. If you are using the selenium gel, most of them are practically worthless because they have very low levels of selenium in them. BoSe is better, but it doesn't last very long, and they pee out 50% within the first 24 hours. 

Pamela Adkins said:

I'm thinking the issue is the loose mineral! I give the selenium but iodine was not even on my radar. I can order Sweetlix or Purina, clearly the Manna Pro is not sufficient. Both of the kids had hair and no swelling under the neck and moms had pass the placenta within a couple of hours. I am on well water not much iron but we do have sulfur.

I have 20 goats and 2 kids right now, they don't lose hair or look terribly faded however they could be a bit faded from lack of copper now that I consider it, I live at a high elevation and the sun is very strong it will cause some fading but it is more likely the copper now that you point it out. I can up the copper and see. I can get a Rx for BoSe the next time I go into town but I wonder if the Shepherds Choice Selenium and Iodine would work and if it's enough it has 4500 ppm for the selenium and 1% iodine the thing that worries me with that is it has mineral oil as an ingredient and you have to mix it with cattle mineral salt. Kelp. I haven't seen it in the feed stores I'm in New Mexico so there is that it's all cattle and sheep here it would have to be ordered in but I am willing to do whatever is necessary to not put my girls thru another year like this.  I will need to install a rain collection tank for the barn roof to get away from the well water as much as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to work thru this with me. 

I will say that I keep granulated sea kelp in front of my girls all the time, in addition to baking soda and loose minerals, all of which are in separate containers. I find my girls go through kelp in cycles - some times they eat a lot of it in a short time and other times go for weeks without touching it.  Other goat owners have echoed the same observation when I ask.
This year, during our severe smoke, they cleaned out their baking soda (never happened before), and another local goat owner reported the same (licked clean) so there might have been something related to the smoke.
Regarding the kelp, it took over two years to go through a 50-lb. bag where this past year, they went through a bag in two months but no explanation as to why.
Regarding the minerals, there might be a vet in your area that formulates a mix for your area - though the need can change from farm to farm.
I am so very sorry for you - and your girls - that you have had such a horrible year.  I thought I had some bad kidding experiences, but at least they were not all the same year and did not lose a doe though I have one that can not be pregnant again because of circumstances.  I know it was a horrible decision to have to make and my heart goes out to you for having had to make it.

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

Sulfur is an antagonist to both copper and selenium. When I've had goat livers tested, they are usually borderline low, and we have terrible sulfur.

You might need to do copper more than every six months. Do your goats lose hair on their tail, bridge of their nose, or around their eyes? Does their color fade between copper doses? 

Kelp is an excellent source of iodine. You might want to get some of that to make sure their levels get up quickly. If you are using the selenium gel, most of them are practically worthless because they have very low levels of selenium in them. BoSe is better, but it doesn't last very long, and they pee out 50% within the first 24 hours. 

Pamela Adkins said:

I'm thinking the issue is the loose mineral! I give the selenium but iodine was not even on my radar. I can order Sweetlix or Purina, clearly the Manna Pro is not sufficient. Both of the kids had hair and no swelling under the neck and moms had pass the placenta within a couple of hours. I am on well water not much iron but we do have sulfur.

Thank you Glenna,

Unfortunately where I live is truly in the middle of nowhere it's a four hour drive to get to a Vet that doesn't only deal with dogs and cats. The people on the reservation have a program where a Vet comes thru once a year but they don't see anyone not in the reservation program. The rest of us are left to our own devices we help each other out as much as we can but sometimes a real Vet would be nice. I will look for granulated kelp it's not something I am familiar with but then we don't see much kelp in New Mexico.

Glenna Rose said:

I will say that I keep granulated sea kelp in front of my girls all the time, in addition to baking soda and loose minerals, all of which are in separate containers. I find my girls go through kelp in cycles - some times they eat a lot of it in a short time and other times go for weeks without touching it.  Other goat owners have echoed the same observation when I ask.
This year, during our severe smoke, they cleaned out their baking soda (never happened before), and another local goat owner reported the same (licked clean) so there might have been something related to the smoke.
Regarding the kelp, it took over two years to go through a 50-lb. bag where this past year, they went through a bag in two months but no explanation as to why.
Regarding the minerals, there might be a vet in your area that formulates a mix for your area - though the need can change from farm to farm.
I am so very sorry for you - and your girls - that you have had such a horrible year.  I thought I had some bad kidding experiences, but at least they were not all the same year and did not lose a doe though I have one that can not be pregnant again because of circumstances.  I know it was a horrible decision to have to make and my heart goes out to you for having had to make it.

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

Sulfur is an antagonist to both copper and selenium. When I've had goat livers tested, they are usually borderline low, and we have terrible sulfur.

You might need to do copper more than every six months. Do your goats lose hair on their tail, bridge of their nose, or around their eyes? Does their color fade between copper doses? 

Kelp is an excellent source of iodine. You might want to get some of that to make sure their levels get up quickly. If you are using the selenium gel, most of them are practically worthless because they have very low levels of selenium in them. BoSe is better, but it doesn't last very long, and they pee out 50% within the first 24 hours. 

Pamela Adkins said:

I'm thinking the issue is the loose mineral! I give the selenium but iodine was not even on my radar. I can order Sweetlix or Purina, clearly the Manna Pro is not sufficient. Both of the kids had hair and no swelling under the neck and moms had pass the placenta within a couple of hours. I am on well water not much iron but we do have sulfur.

I buy kelp from a local Fertrell dealer. Check their website to see if there is someone in your area who sells it. Usually it is a farmer with a fairly big operation who just wants to get wholesale pricing for themselves, so they become a dealer. 

I second Deborah's suggestion about checking websites.  Also, if you don't see it on their website, call.  As far as I know, only one feed store in our area carries it. I had bought my first bags from a local farmer who has an animal food buying club  (organization) with most of the product(s) coming in from Canada.  They lost their source after the hurricane back east (2 or 3 years ago) when it wiped out the collection beds.  Fortunately, I had just bought some when that happened.  Our feed store has a different source and had only recently started carrying it.

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

I buy kelp from a local Fertrell dealer. Check their website to see if there is someone in your area who sells it. Usually it is a farmer with a fairly big operation who just wants to get wholesale pricing for themselves, so they become a dealer. 

I think I know what I need to do now. I am going to skip breeding the rest of the girls for mid to late spring this year until I get my deficiencies under control. I found a dealer that carries Thorvin Kelp in Albuquerque so I can pick that up when I go in for feed in October. I can also pickup Sweetlix Meat Maker from them as well. I will get an Rx for BoSe from my vet then and in the mean time I can give them their copper marshmallows every three months instead of every 6 months. We have discussed the well water issue and we will move ahead with the rain water collection for the goats to get them off of the well as much as possible since the sulfur is undoing everything I am doing for them.

Thank you Deborah and Glenna for helping me work thru this.

If you can use rainwater, that's awesome! That will help a lot. If you switch to a new mineral and do a bag of kelp and an extra dose of copper, you may be fine in the future with just the new mineral. But keep an eye on the goats, and they'll let you know what they need. 

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