Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

My two Nigerians (one wether and one doe) are about a year old and I am giving a small handful of noble goat (6 oz tea cup- 1/2 (3 oz) to each am and pm) and they get about a big handful each am and pm of alfalfa.They love the noble goat and eat the alfalfa but leave most of the alfalfa behind. They browse the rest of the day.


I'm not sure what to do in winter, but is my feeding them correct so far? Any suggestions. I need help.
Thanks..

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Trish, I just saw your pics and I agree with Deborah that it looks as if they have plenty to nibble on throughout the day if they have access to all that. I would personally continue the small amounts of alfalfa at least, but keep an eye out that they don't get to fat or thin and adjust things accordingly.

I am concerned about this all dying off in winter. I don't know what your winters are like. I live where there is always lots of green stuff even in the so called "winter". You know the more time goes buy the more I can't figure out why I have not had a herd of goats for many years, because where I live there is always free natural goat food around that I could have taken advantage of and it makes me sick to have not had lots of goats all those years. 

All this discussion about hay has me feeling very fortunate.  We have much to choose from here, local grass hay in various qualities, eastern Washington/Oregon grass hay and alfalfa hay.  Local goat owners have relayed their goats will eat grass hay from one farm but not another or even not from the same one in a different year which clearly shows how very picky they can be.  When I was getting ready for Capri and Summer, I bought shavings and straw for bedding but likely shall not again as there is plenty of waste hay.  The exception will be kidding time to give lots of extra volume underneath though I might even use grass hay for that as well. The first bale I gave them they actually ate only the seed heads and none of the stem which is why I started buying from different sources to see which farm they liked.  Some in the area feed alfalfa; one family feeds alfalfa at milking time and let the does eat all they want as they eat the prime parts, then let their males in for half an hour or so and the rest goes to the cows.  That was interesting to learn but sounds like a lot of extra work moving the hay from the goat barn to the cow barn.

With all that said, my goats are funny, literally.  I will move a flake of hay from the outside manger to inside and they eat it!  Not only do they eat it but they go after it like they are starving even with alfalfa pellets in the bucket.  I'm athinkin' they are emotional blackmailers. Perhaps they think if they act starved they will get more apples.<g>

Margaret, I have heard good things about peanut hay, and last year when I was at the ADGA convention, I saw some! It looked lovely!!! It's a legume like alfalfa, and it looks like a lot like alfalfa, but with larger leaves. I was practically drooling over it myself!

Margaret, I live in Northern New Mexico, near Taos.  Up here, alfalfa can go for $18-$20 a bale at the feed stores, because of drought conditions in Texas and Colorado.  Last year, it was hard to find anywhere.   Also, the bales are now smaller than they used to be.  Around here, we call "grass hay" Timothy which may have plain old grass, or clover in it.  I buy locally, small bales of alfalfa for my goats.  They don't like the grass hay which is fed mostly to horses.  I paid $8 locally in the spring (first cutting) and $10 a bale for last cutting and hauled it myself.  I stocked up so I won't have to buy again until next summer.  Who knows what the price will be then or how small the bales will be!  My goats look forward to eating bushes, too, including wild roses, thorns and all.   It's a treat for them and makes it easy on my pocketbook, too.  Also, grass hay is cheaper here.

Margaret Langley said:

Trish, I guess this is confusing to a lot of us for different reasons. Things seem so different depending on where you are.I am going to give you an example of what I mean here.

I live right on the coast in Mobile, Alabama. Of course, I am not in the city, but on the outskirts of town. I don't know why your farmer there does not consider grass hays to be hay but those of us here are pretty much use to that being what hay is all the time. I do suspect that if they have something where you are that they call cow hay then that is probably grass hay which is what most of us are using for our herds basic diet. What you may need to do is talk to some cow farmers in your area. But keep in mind that cows do not need as good a quality of hay as goats who are pickier. In other words, cows will usually eat what the goats have left behind as not desirable. 

So anyways, here in Mobile, and I suspect in many places Alfalfa would cost a good bit more than grass hay. Hay is grown all over around here and cost me $7-$8 a bale depending on where I buy it, and that is at the feed stores. If I went to a farm I might get it for $5-$6, but not sure. We can't grow alfalfa here, therefor it would probably cost me more like $15- $20 a bale, if I can even find any. Fortunately since goats don't need that much alfalfa I can meet their needs for that by simply buying pellets and/or cubes from the local TSC. I am also fixing to get my first peanut hay soon and see how that goes over.

Now that you have an idea of what it is like in other places maybe you can better understand why we may not realize what you are facing there. I do so love hearing about the differences in these things from one part of the country to the other. I would love to know what that alfalfa runs out there in NM. If those were prices on your grass hay you quoted us then what does the alfalfa sell for?

Well, one of our members, Mauree has offered to sell me a bale to try out and I am very excited about seeing what happens. It is really funny that you say you were "practically drooling over it" yourself. We were having a discussion recently at the hospital about the goats being picky and knowing what to eat and not eat, and one of my sisters decided that if things got to where we couldn't get food we would just follow the goats around and eat whatever they ate. LOL!

Margaret, yes I appreciate the difference in geography.  I think a lot of New Mexico/Arizona/Texas problems are the drought Which greatly impacts the farmers and growing different hays and the cost.  The east coast doesn't seem to have a drought problem like we do. (wish the east coast could ship some flood water here)... I remember back in the early 90's when I had geese I used to get alfalfa and it cost me $7 a bale, now it's $16+.  Plus the fact we have different vegetation and weeds than the east coast does.  I have requested a friend add from someone in my area, but have not gotten a response.  I think I do need a mentor  :-)  I love my goats, they are awesome.  I'm thinking about renaming ben to horn dog.

Margaret, you may think this is strange, but I've started collecting the green weeds and leaves that they like and eat.  I'm keeping in tubs.  It's been a month and still somewhat green but dry and to me it's like drying out fruit.  I have a lot so I think it will last throughout winter.  I gave some to the goats and they are eating it.  I think it still has nutrients, but should not have lost much.  It gives me time to interact with them and collect while they are browsing (maybe they think I'm browsing with them?)  so perhaps it increases the bond  :-)

Margaret Langley said:

Trish, I just saw your pics and I agree with Deborah that it looks as if they have plenty to nibble on throughout the day if they have access to all that. I would personally continue the small amounts of alfalfa at least, but keep an eye out that they don't get to fat or thin and adjust things accordingly.

I am concerned about this all dying off in winter. I don't know what your winters are like. I live where there is always lots of green stuff even in the so called "winter". You know the more time goes buy the more I can't figure out why I have not had a herd of goats for many years, because where I live there is always free natural goat food around that I could have taken advantage of and it makes me sick to have not had lots of goats all those years. 

Trish, I don't think that is any stranger than if you were putting away your children's favorite fruits for winter. You are trying to plan ahead and also cut cost. It's smart.

Do be careful about keeping it aired good so it won't mold. Don't be surprised if some things they eat change also. We (some folks on forum/some people I have read in books) have noticed that they tend to like different things fresh than dry. There are actually somethings that are safe at different growth stages and poisonous at other stages. Because of this you may want to save a good variety.

But strange, heck no, more power to you, and if they think you are one of the herd out browsing with them, then that's cool too!

Aw thanks Margaret...  I love being out with them and it's just so fun.  I will pick some for me and then call one over and give them some and we just browse together....(sounds weird for folks that don't understand the love for goats)...   and Yes it's very airy in a shed.  I just get nervous I'm not doing the right things and don't want to harm them as they are so great..got a book at the feed store..paperback called Hobby Farms Small Scale Herding for pleasure and profit by Sue Weaver.  Nice little book.  Even has a list of all the poisonous weeds.

oh, as far as the winters, usually very mild.  if it snows, it's gone by noon, rarely gets down to 25 degrees at night if that..usually dry

Margaret Langley said:

Trish, I just saw your pics and I agree with Deborah that it looks as if they have plenty to nibble on throughout the day if they have access to all that. I would personally continue the small amounts of alfalfa at least, but keep an eye out that they don't get to fat or thin and adjust things accordingly.

I am concerned about this all dying off in winter. I don't know what your winters are like. I live where there is always lots of green stuff even in the so called "winter". You know the more time goes buy the more I can't figure out why I have not had a herd of goats for many years, because where I live there is always free natural goat food around that I could have taken advantage of and it makes me sick to have not had lots of goats all those years. 

I'm in southern New Mexico.  That's where I get confused, is one persons says NO alfalfa and others say as much as they can eat.  I recently bought minerals and they haven't touched it.  You have goats that milk, mine boy and girl don't.

Trish, I think that is the reason for part of the confusion. The heavy milkers require way more nutrition than a wether and a dry doe (doe not pregnant or milking) like you have. If they are producing a lot of milk and feeding 3or4 kids or being milked regularly they would benefit from a lot of alfalfa. But, yours would be very fat  if they ate like milkers do.

The most important thing you can do to determine if they are doing ok on what they are eating is to watch there body condition. Look at lots of pics of other peoples goats and get a good idea of what they should look like and any time you are in doubt just post some pics and ask us. We will help you, all we can. We don't mind, I promise. If you could bug people to much they would have already banned me from the site for being a massive pest. LOL!

Mine seem to range from good to to fat. It is impossible to keep them all the same when fed together because some just get fat easier than others just like us people do.

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