Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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Curious about the effect of a diet change I have made!

Due to info on the forum about the effects of giving grain to pregnant and dry does, and males we started cutting back on the grain. We were giving them quite a lot! Spoiling them! We also decided we didn't like their hay as much as we thought, so we changed it too. We eventually reached a point to where we are basically giving them NO grain. Not even the two who have one kid each nursing. Or the kids!

Well the result has been very interesting! Everyone looks way better! Even the moms and kids looked better and better as we weaned them away from the grain. Now, I guess what I want to know is, is it ok even for the moms and the kids to not have the grain if they look better without it? We aren't milking either doe and they have one kid each since Marley's buckling has been placed in another pen. I think her doeling, Leigh is about 5 months now and Butter's doeling Penny is about 3 months. 

I know it may seem bad to some of you to not be giving these 4 grain, but seriously, you have to understand that this was not our intention initially. We started out with the intention of cutting back to an appropriate amount. But at the time I was concerned about how all of them looked (does were to thin and kids were not as big as I would have liked) and as we began to cut back they improved. We just kinda accidentally got to where we just were not giving them any more and they look REALLY good now.

They are eating hay (it is a grass hay from TSC and is a nice green color) and some days they get to get out and browse. As far as the browse goes, they probably have hundreds of varieties of things to eat. Everything here is still green except some of the oak leaves are brown and falling etc. But there favorite thing is green. I don't know for sure what it is but I am going to try to find out. It looks like something that I saw pics of online that is suppose to be real good for them. I believe it was called locust. In fact if I remember correctly, it stays green all winter here.

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I've actually noticed the same thing. All my does look really great right now, and they are down to virtually no grain. I'm not milking, but my doe still allows her kids to nurse, and they have never had much for grain. I give a small amount every couple of days as a treat, and because of it's mineral content. When I do milk, I plan to feed alfalfa pellets, not grain.

Well, Thanks Rachel, I am glad I am not the only one. I figured I would get fussed at and I still may but they just look so good. We give them a handful of alfalfa pellets and/or goat chow every few days or so but that is all. I haven't even weighed the kids in a long time because I can tell they are growing so I don't worry about it at all!

There is someone else on the group who has weaned her does off grain. I think she is from Oregon. If your goats look great, that is the best indication that you're doing a good thing. If they are deficient, they will look worse in some way. Zinc deficiency causes dry, flaky skin; copper deficiency causes a fading coat and fertility problems; and so on. I think listening to the goats is more important than listening to any person. Of course, you have to understand what they're saying and sometimes you need a person to help interpret. :)

Well put Deborah. I understand completely. After all that is what we are all here for right? If they start to tell me something I don't understand then I will ask you all if you know what they mean!

From what I understand we live in a great place for goats. I have seen them around here my whole life and never heard of anyone having any serious problems with them. I guess I was blessed as to where I grew up in the country. I do hate how hot it gets but on the other hand although I think snow is awesome I am a big baby to cold. I can not stand being freezing cold weather!

Oregon (I have been told) is a Selenium deficient area, but if you are feeding good mineral, that should help. I've been dosing my does with selenium as well. Deb, I remember that too! Was it Julia that is on hay only?

It probably depends on where in Oregon (or any state for that matter).  Soils in eastern Washington are quite different than western Washington and even within each area.  Even southwest Washington is quite different than northwest Washington.  We are quite a diverse state; in a five-hour drive you can go from desert through mountains to rain forest.

The hardest part about cutting back on the grain is that they are sure you are depriving them and make loud complaints at certain times of the day!

Oh yes Jan you are so right. I am real glad you brought that up. It would not be a complete future discussion for anyone reading later if they did not realize that there will be a lot of complaining to start with for quite some time. We seem to have gotten past that now but that is the worse part as long as they do well on the diet itself.

Any one new to this idea does need to know that grain is goat candy and if you stopped a bunch of children use to having candy daily from having it you can just imagine what it would be like. Well as is usually the case our 4&2 legged kids have this in common. About the same reaction! Thanks sweetie!

I went to just hay within the last week as well. The bucklings went to just hay (mix of timothy, orchard grass, clover, trefoil, etc.) when they were about 5 1/2 months (a few weeks ago). About a week ago, I stopped milking. At that time the does and doelings (6 months) went to no grain or alfalfa as well. All seems well so far! :)

I don't plan to do no grain when milking, mostly because I don't see how I could keep them on the stand. They won't stand still for me at all until the grain is in front of them. I have a friend who puts some weeds, a stalk of comfrey, or something like that in front of her does, and they stand for milking just fine. She never uses any grain or alfalfa. Just pasture, grass hay and minerals, and the odd treat from the garden now and then. Her goats looked great last time I saw them. She's been raising them this way for about three years now, including two seasons of kids, and all's been well for her so far.

On the other hand, I mix my grain (barley, oats, wheat, sunflower seeds, a bit of corn, and a horse pelleted feed with 50 ppm copper and 14% protein) with beat pulp and soy hulls to add more fiber and less carbs. As I've gotten better at milking, I've used less of the grain mix, but I still can't imagine not using it at all.

Patty, I have the same issue, so I use alfalfa on the stand mixed with some goat pellets from a local grainery (with AMAZING and comprehensive mineral content!)

Is it just alfalfa hay that you use?  I have tried that, but they seem to just push it out of the feeder onto the floor.  Or, is it some kind of cubes or pellets?  I haven't seen anything like that up here, but I could look on my next (3 hour one way) trip to the feed store.  Or, maybe you have a good way to feed the hay while they're on the stand?  If so, please tell! :)

Rachel Whetzel said:

Patty, I have the same issue, so I use alfalfa on the stand mixed with some goat pellets from a local grainery (with AMAZING and comprehensive mineral content!)

It's pellets. Comes in 50# bags here! :) Although I bet you could build a stanchion with a hay feeder modification on it!

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