Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hi, I could use some help/advice. My 2 bucklings are 4 and a half months old and been separated from mama for about 6 weeks. They live with an adult buck (one and a half). When I first put them in with him, they were quite fat from mom's milk and eating grain with her. Since putting them in the separate pasture, I weaned them off grain but give them a little bit of beat pulp and sunflower seeds (like a cup each) to bring the boys into the barn at night. My question is, are they getting enough? They eat hay all day long and browse too (not much browse this time of year here though) and act like they're SO hungry all the time! They look fine though and have plenty of meat on their bones, have no parasites (per fecal tests), and look less fat than they did when they were separated. I can't easily give them grain to eat because the buck quickly chomps it down before they can eat it and I know he shouldn't have it.  Being a new mama, I worry about the bucklings getting enough to eat. Oh, and they have free choice minerals and baking soda all the time. Don't bucklings need grain until 6 months or so? Should I be giving them grain along with the free choice hay?

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The first few years we had goats, none of our kids had any grain at all, and they did great. Our hay quality back then was much better, and there was no parasite load on the pasture, so there is no one-size-fits-all feeding program. It's all about how they look and whether they're healthy. Feeding grain to bucks is more of a max than a minimum, although if you had really poor hay, and you couldn't keep weight on them without grain, you might still continue feeding grain after six months. From your description of these boys, they don't sound like they need anything, but you're the one who is there and has to make that determination.

Sunflower seeds are basically grain -- all grains are seeds -- so a cup a day is way too much, mostly because it's quite rich in some nutrients and totally lacking in others. A mix of grains like a goat feed would be better. Beet pulp is also simply meant to be a supplement, so a cup a day of that is way more than what they should get. It is often used to fatten up thin animals.

Okay that's what I thought. I've been giving them each a 1/2 cup of beet pulp with a tablespoon of BOSS mixed in twice a day, not a cup of BOSS because I realize it's a grain and they should not have much. 

I'm fazing out the beet pulp since it's GMO and I'm nervous about it. Our hay (timothy) is not great but they do eat it. It's not very green and my girls hardly touch it (they're very picky compared to the boys). I do get chopped timothy hay at my feed store and the boys gobble that!

I got some timothy/oat/alfalfa mix chopped hay at TSC-- it has added molasses but not a lot. The bag says it's 9% protein (overall). I give it to the girls and they like it. Any thoughts on this hay? Would they be inclined to get too fat eating it? Btw, they are dry except for one who is drying up now on her own. She still gets grain on the milk stand for now.

Any thoughts on the timothy/oat/alfalfa horse hay?

The chopped hay sounds really good, and 9% protein isn't too much for growing boys. That's pretty low for milkers, but if they're getting grain on the milk stand, that could make up for that somewhat.

Thanks so much! The boys love it and it's a good compromise so I don't have to give them grain during these cold winter months. It's not too expensive either! It's about $14 for a 40lb bale and there's almost no waste. 

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