Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

We moved from California to Virginia a couple of months ago. This will be our first truly cold winter with our goats. At what temps do I need to worry about the adults needing extra heat? I’ve purposely scheduled next years kidding to start in spring so that I can get a feel for winter before having kids born. What do you guys do for adults though through the winter? Coats? Heaters? Extra straw? And how cold is anything extra needed. Thanks!

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In Virginia ... cold is NOT a problem. Goats grow a thick coat of cashmere to keep them warm all winter. Our adults have been fine down to 25 below zero! In fact, we had 36 hours straight a couple years ago where the temp never got above 15 below zero -- yes, Fahrenheit. No coats. No heat lamps. 

We've even had goats give birth below zero, although I really hate that and now breed goats for later kiddings. 

Here is more info on goats in winter:

https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goats-in-winter/

And if you do ever wind up with an accidental breeding that will result in winter kidding, here is more info on that:

https://thriftyhomesteader.com/kidding-in-winter/

Haha ok thanks! That’s good to know. I wasn’t sure if the 20s would be a problem but I guess if they can handle -20 they’ll survive! 

I was told by a vet that it was good to supplement with some concentrated feed (grain) when the temp stayed below 40 degrees. My understanding was that they might need some supplement of calories as hay might not supply enough as they were working to keep warm.

I live in the northwest corner of Washington state so we have mild winters with occasional nasty, cold storms. Would you agree with this advice about supplements? And I am having a hard time getting pelleted grain here. I don't want the show grain for meat goats. Would some alfalfa pellets with black oil sunflower seeds be okay to add denser calorie food in our northeasters?

Thanks!

Leslie

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

In Virginia ... cold is NOT a problem. Goats grow a thick coat of cashmere to keep them warm all winter. Our adults have been fine down to 25 below zero! In fact, we had 36 hours straight a couple years ago where the temp never got above 15 below zero -- yes, Fahrenheit. No coats. No heat lamps. 

We've even had goats give birth below zero, although I really hate that and now breed goats for later kiddings. 

Here is more info on goats in winter:

https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goats-in-winter/

And if you do ever wind up with an accidental breeding that will result in winter kidding, here is more info on that:

https://thriftyhomesteader.com/kidding-in-winter/

Definitely old-fashioned simplistic advice that is something people used to think just sounded good. If this were true, we'd need to be giving grain to all of our goats every day from November through March. It's fascinating to me how the definition of cold varies so much from one state to another. Of course, I say this as someone who grew up in south Texas, so I used to think about 50 degrees was "freezing." Now I'm in Illinois where that's a heat wave if we happen to get a day that warm, and we are all outside doing all the things that we've avoided during our normal winter temps. For me as a human, I feel that it's cold when it gets into the teens, but our goats have survived temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, including a cold spell a couple of years ago where it was -15 to -25 for 36 hours straight. I was amazed that the only animals we lost was a peahen who insisted on roosting on top of our deck! The others were all smart enough to go into the barn, and they were fine. We did have a one-day-old kid have frostbitten legs when temps got down to -20 overnight a few years ago.

Goats grow a thick coat of cashmere that keeps them warm all winter. That's why we humans use their cashmere, as well as wool, angora, mohair, and feathers to create our winter wear to keep us warm. Anyway, animals survived just fine without humans giving them supplemental grain since the beginning of time. But if you didn't grow up on a farm seeing how amazing they are, then it's not unusual to think that we have to DO something to save them. As long as they are dry and out of the wind, they're fine. Most of my goats emerge from winter a little on the heavy side, so they clearly don't need more calories. I always say "watch your goats!" If they are fine, then don't fix what ain't broke. 

Leslie Honcoop said:

I was told by a vet that it was good to supplement with some concentrated feed (grain) when the temp stayed below 40 degrees. My understanding was that they might need some supplement of calories as hay might not supply enough as they were working to keep warm.

I live in the northwest corner of Washington state so we have mild winters with occasional nasty, cold storms. Would you agree with this advice about supplements? And I am having a hard time getting pelleted grain here. I don't want the show grain for meat goats. Would some alfalfa pellets with black oil sunflower seeds be okay to add denser calorie food in our northeasters?

Thanks!

Leslie

Thank you!! I'll quit worrying about it! Everyone is healthy and not skinny. ;) I have one wether that is huge and prone to being fat so I always have to fight him about grain feeds for the others. Now I will feel confident when I offer them the occasional BOSS treat, and the ever-present minerals. And lots of hay when it is cold! Thanks too for the advice about straw. The hay they waste works into bedding but I've been thinking about getting some straw in their pen too. I can see now how it is warmer.

I really appreciate your advice! Merry Christmas!

Leslie

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

Definitely old-fashioned simplistic advice that is something people used to think just sounded good. If this were true, we'd need to be giving grain to all of our goats every day from November through March. It's fascinating to me how the definition of cold varies so much from one state to another. Of course, I say this as someone who grew up in south Texas, so I used to think about 50 degrees was "freezing." Now I'm in Illinois where that's a heat wave if we happen to get a day that warm, and we are all outside doing all the things that we've avoided during our normal winter temps. For me as a human, I feel that it's cold when it gets into the teens, but our goats have survived temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, including a cold spell a couple of years ago where it was -15 to -25 for 36 hours straight. I was amazed that the only animals we lost was a peahen who insisted on roosting on top of our deck! The others were all smart enough to go into the barn, and they were fine. We did have a one-day-old kid have frostbitten legs when temps got down to -20 overnight a few years ago.

Goats grow a thick coat of cashmere that keeps them warm all winter. That's why we humans use their cashmere, as well as wool, angora, mohair, and feathers to create our winter wear to keep us warm. Anyway, animals survived just fine without humans giving them supplemental grain since the beginning of time. But if you didn't grow up on a farm seeing how amazing they are, then it's not unusual to think that we have to DO something to save them. As long as they are dry and out of the wind, they're fine. Most of my goats emerge from winter a little on the heavy side, so they clearly don't need more calories. I always say "watch your goats!" If they are fine, then don't fix what ain't broke. 

Leslie Honcoop said:

I was told by a vet that it was good to supplement with some concentrated feed (grain) when the temp stayed below 40 degrees. My understanding was that they might need some supplement of calories as hay might not supply enough as they were working to keep warm.

I live in the northwest corner of Washington state so we have mild winters with occasional nasty, cold storms. Would you agree with this advice about supplements? And I am having a hard time getting pelleted grain here. I don't want the show grain for meat goats. Would some alfalfa pellets with black oil sunflower seeds be okay to add denser calorie food in our northeasters?

Thanks!

Leslie

BTW I grew up on a dairy farm and am familiar with cows. And dairy cows have their food and environment highly managed. I like that goats don't require nearly as much, and frankly, are so much more entertaining!! (And the poop! So easy to deal with! :)) Learning as I go...and enjoying it!

Leslie Honcoop said:

Thank you!! I'll quit worrying about it! Everyone is healthy and not skinny. ;) I have one wether that is huge and prone to being fat so I always have to fight him about grain feeds for the others. Now I will feel confident when I offer them the occasional BOSS treat, and the ever-present minerals. And lots of hay when it is cold! Thanks too for the advice about straw. The hay they waste works into bedding but I've been thinking about getting some straw in their pen too. I can see now how it is warmer.

I really appreciate your advice! Merry Christmas!

Leslie

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

Definitely old-fashioned simplistic advice that is something people used to think just sounded good. If this were true, we'd need to be giving grain to all of our goats every day from November through March. It's fascinating to me how the definition of cold varies so much from one state to another. Of course, I say this as someone who grew up in south Texas, so I used to think about 50 degrees was "freezing." Now I'm in Illinois where that's a heat wave if we happen to get a day that warm, and we are all outside doing all the things that we've avoided during our normal winter temps. For me as a human, I feel that it's cold when it gets into the teens, but our goats have survived temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, including a cold spell a couple of years ago where it was -15 to -25 for 36 hours straight. I was amazed that the only animals we lost was a peahen who insisted on roosting on top of our deck! The others were all smart enough to go into the barn, and they were fine. We did have a one-day-old kid have frostbitten legs when temps got down to -20 overnight a few years ago.

Goats grow a thick coat of cashmere that keeps them warm all winter. That's why we humans use their cashmere, as well as wool, angora, mohair, and feathers to create our winter wear to keep us warm. Anyway, animals survived just fine without humans giving them supplemental grain since the beginning of time. But if you didn't grow up on a farm seeing how amazing they are, then it's not unusual to think that we have to DO something to save them. As long as they are dry and out of the wind, they're fine. Most of my goats emerge from winter a little on the heavy side, so they clearly don't need more calories. I always say "watch your goats!" If they are fine, then don't fix what ain't broke. 

Leslie Honcoop said:

I was told by a vet that it was good to supplement with some concentrated feed (grain) when the temp stayed below 40 degrees. My understanding was that they might need some supplement of calories as hay might not supply enough as they were working to keep warm.

I live in the northwest corner of Washington state so we have mild winters with occasional nasty, cold storms. Would you agree with this advice about supplements? And I am having a hard time getting pelleted grain here. I don't want the show grain for meat goats. Would some alfalfa pellets with black oil sunflower seeds be okay to add denser calorie food in our northeasters?

Thanks!

Leslie

We had cows for 12 years, and I have to say that goat poop is SO much better than cow poop! LOL! It's amazing how the fly population went way down after the cows were gone. 

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