Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hello everyone! I'm 6 mos and 5 goats into my diary goat adventure! My little buckling "Windy Pond's Gandolf The Grey" (big handle for such a small guy), I just call him Gandolf is now 6 mos old. I am reading myself into overload, what the heck is safe to feed him. Soooo much urinary calculi talk. I've been feeding him just enough dairy goat mix to fill the palm of my hand, lots of loose minerals, as much hay as he wants and vinegar water. Is grain dangerous to him at this point. What do the rest of you feed your bucks. I'm so confused!

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WE feed ours grain and hay and alfala. We have not (knock on wood) had any problems but I am sure the more experienced breeders like Linda Worley could help you out. She has a number of bucks . You might e-mail her and ask.
People adamantly argue both sides of this debate! I know seasoned breeders who do both successfully, and I really don't think there is a single right answer to this question. We originally did not give grain to our bucks at all, and most of them never bulked up and got very masculine looking. Some breeders have said that's why their bucks don't do well in the show ring, but they're afraid of urinary stones. I do know a couple who don't feed grain and do have masculine-looking bucks. I really think it depends on multiple things: the quality of the hay you have available and how much stress your buck is under, which would include how cold your winters get, how much they're used for breeding, how many other bucks they're with, how much they fight with each other, and what kind of parasite load they have to deal with.

My current regimen for bucks is to give grain and alfalfa/grass mix in the winter, because our bucks used to lose a lot of weight over the winter. Our temps get in the single digits, and last year we had sub-zero temps. I do know breeders north of me who don't feed grain, but they have a much better quality hay than we do. Once we started feeding grain, we added ammonium chloride to the bucks' minerals to help avoid urinary stones. You can get it from Hoeggers and probably a few other places. I also think it's a good idea to feed grain to bucklings under six months of age, regardless of the season, because they're still growing a lot.

My original mentor raised goats for 25 years and wrote a lot of article for various goat magazines, and she said that if you're feeding grain you should also feed alfalfa (rather than grass) to keep the minerals balanced. (I think it was calcium and magnesium.)

Personally, I think you should just look at his body condition and feed him accordingly. If he's thin, give him more calories (more grain). If he's in good shape, cut back. I spent the first five years worrying about UC, and now I just pay attention to the boys and feed them more or less based on how they look and feel. Yeah, I know it can be icky to touch bucks (especially during breeding season), but it's absolutely essential to put your hands on them at least once a week and make sure they're not losing weight.

on the subject of bucks - what do you look for when choosing a herd sire?

We always look very heavily at the buck's dam when choosing a herd sire, and to some extent the rest of his pedigree as well. Exactly what you're looking for depends on whether you're more into showing or milking; in general we look for:

  • nice conformation of the buck, and his dam and sire,
  • well-supported mammary systems,
  • nice long teats that are well placed on the udder, and
  • excellent production.

Now that we've been breeding for a while, we've started using bucks from our own does rather than buying ones from other farms, because we have a lot better idea of what good or bad stuff might be hiding out in a pedigree.

Margaret (Deborah's daughter)

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