Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Quick question I’m putting a heat lamp on the goats tonight, but never used one before.

 

It is FREEZING here. We live on the top of a small mountain and our outside thermometer hovered around -7 or colder all day and that is not including the wind chill. Its expected to get as low as -25 tonight. When I just went out to check on everyone, my younger doe is already shivering. So I’m going to put a heat lamp in there stall tonight. Never used a heat bulb before. Does anyone have any suggestions. How high of the floor or bedding should it be act… I don’t want to burn down the shed but its this or have a sleep over in the living room and I don’t think my husband would be impressed with 3 goats on the hardwood floor overnight :)

I’ve just given them hot water, grain and plenty of hay not sure what else I can do to help keep them warm tonight. Any suggestions would be great

 

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We are expecting another night of freezing weather so tonight when I went out I fed them some grain, refreshed there hay rack, hot water, and a little more hay on the floor to sleep on. When I turned the heat lamp on it took about 5 seconds for them to come over and start getting comfortable. Makes me breath a little easier knowing that they can feel the warmth. I attached the lamp with a zip tie so it couldn’t be knocked off the wall. I do love those zip ties. My “shed" is insulated with good ventilation, and I don’t clean out there bedding during the winter. Just keep adding dry shavings and hay to the top. I was told that the decomposition on the bottom of the bedding creates heat to help them keep warm. That’s all I know how to do for now. Hopefully with the fresh hot water every few hours it will be enough. Its supposed to warm up here by Sunday. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will happen.

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I have discovered that these little goats are much hardier than you would think. My" below zero" born babies are jumping around hardly aware that it is so cold. Plenty of warm water, free feeding hay and extra grain helps. Today we should hit zero and they will think its a heat wave. 

where I live, it has gotten down to 18 degrees.  My goats keep warm by themselves and has their winter coats.  As long as they have shelter and a barrier from rain/snow and wind, they do just fine.  I worried about that myself, but after a couple of freezing nights and letting them out at 6:00am and they act like nothing is wrong I don't do anything special..   We humans, I think, make a mountain out of a mole hill.  They are goats.

Agree with you on this-  goats are goats.  Lovable, enjoyable and all.... goats.  Our goats have free-access to their goat shed  (we do not constrain their choice), the door is 1/4 cocked open (not wide-open at this time of year), there is air movement within the shed, and there is deep bedding.  They are warm; they have good coats.   I believe in outdoor living and fresh air - as with horses.  In our case-- with zero exposure picked up "off farm" -  illness,  respiratory problems... should never come up.  And they don't.  On the coldest of nights this winter I have provided midnight hay snacks for the benefit of the warming that digestive activity provides. 

Over 25 years of horsekeeping in the same manner - and not one sick horse.   Outdoor life is wholesome, health promoting and protective.   That said- if I ever had an animal showing signs of cold exposure/not coping with temps/conditions...they'd be provided necessary care to protect their health.  

Sandra Hess, CPM

Heartland Midwifery

Fresno, Ohio 

Exactly and they would let you know if something was wrong  :-)

Sandra Hess said:

Agree with you on this-  goats are goats.  Lovable, enjoyable and all.... goats.  Our goats have free-access to their goat shed  (we do not constrain their choice), the door is 1/4 cocked open (not wide-open at this time of year), there is air movement within the shed, and there is deep bedding.  They are warm; they have good coats.   I believe in outdoor living and fresh air - as with horses.  In our case-- with zero exposure picked up "off farm" -  illness,  respiratory problems... should never come up.  And they don't.  On the coldest of nights this winter I have provided midnight hay snacks for the benefit of the warming that digestive activity provides. 

Over 25 years of horsekeeping in the same manner - and not one sick horse.   Outdoor life is wholesome, health promoting and protective.   That said- if I ever had an animal showing signs of cold exposure/not coping with temps/conditions...they'd be provided necessary care to protect their health.  

Sandra Hess, CPM

Heartland Midwifery

Fresno, Ohio 

I second deep straw or hay bedding...not that I can really even contribute being down here in SW Florida.  But last night it DID get down to the low forties or high thirties here, which, by our weenie standards is COLD!  I shook out a couple of flakes of crappy hay (which is almost straw anyway), and when I checked them last night, they were burrowed down in it looking very contented. 

 

I did have some babies shiver one night last year...the sock idea was good to hear because my does are due to kid any time now and I might have to bundle up some little ones. 

wow, this so interesting...  my friends also have nigerians up in the mountains and it is cold cold cold.  She has had babies and lets nature do it's thing. She never interferes in birthing.  She does absolutely nothing special for hers... she has a two boards that looks like a roof for shelter and they seem to know what to do, never had sick goats, worms parasites nothing...   She reminded me that before humans interfered, they did fine in all kinds of weather by themselves. 

Trish, Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats also originate from Africa...  I get the idea of the survival of the fittest, etc... but there are things about any domesticated breed (and these ARE a domesticated breed) that remove them from the "original" and some of those things create the necessity of stepping in to help them out.

Keep in mind, is that New Mexico's cold isn't the same as the cold in Maine. In fact, it's probably the closest to how the weather is in Africa. (and Maine is most certainly NOT) Things like humidity, etc. play into how much extra goats might need. Particularly in the situation with the OP, where the cold her goats would be experiencing was sudden, and not the "norm" for her area. That means her goats didn't have the chance to get acclimated before it hit. "Before humans interfered" is a loaded statement, IMO... because by nature of "interfering", we have put ourselves in a position to NEED to interfere! For one thing, we aren't all still living in Africa! These goats are NOT made to live in any landscape. Some land is not capable of sustaining a herd. (mineral deficiencies in the soils being a good example) and when we confine an animal to be forced to live in one spot, it's often necessary to supplement BECAUSE we aren't providing them with either an ideal environment, or what would be a "natural" environment for them.

Another example of why we humans need to step in, is in the area of birthing. Nigerians are one of the only goat breeds to regularly give birth to more than two kids, and who do not have a "season" which leads to births at all times of the year. Because of this, and the speed at which they deliver, often, third and fourth babies get neglected immediately after birth, because their mom's are still cleaning off the other kids. This can result in a kid freezing to death because it didn't get clean and dried fast enough, or suffocating because the sack didn't get cleaned off if it's nose soon enough. These are things that do not indicate an unhealthy kid, and that we humans created in the domestication of the breed. I think your friend has been lucky if she hasn't had losses.

Thank you for sharing this, Trish.      Your friend's 2-boards are like a roof with no sided-closure (no structure offering additional protection from the elements),  if I understand?  They likely have access to sheltered areas/natural wind barriers?  

For some years,  we had Haflingers (breed of mountain pony really)  and those  mares just did not like quartering!  They had free-access to quarters (3-sided/roofed barn area offering full shelter)  and preferred to be out on the land -of which offerings of natural shelter they DID use.       Earlier on, we brought them in under roof during foul weather-  but what made us feel better, made them unhappy and so we learned to let them have it their way (with access to run-in shed - which they didn't use ).   Never had sickness.  Juliette de Bairacli Levy-style...they actively ate brush as well as field grasses (I had an Arabian that did same) ...I believe this also explains their good health. 

Sandra Hess, CPM

Heartland Midwifery

Fresno, Ohio

Sandra- I have two Haflingers so I had to mention it!  They are hardy, wonderful little creatures, and strong as an animal twice their size.  Ours have free access to the pasture or the barn and they generally stay out unless it is a real driving rain.  Then they like to get undercover.  Gentler rain doesn't bother them and they will usually be out in it.  They sure do love their afternoon naps under the big oak tree though, and shade is the most important shelter of all here in FL.

 

I also had a quarter horse years ago who had been a ranch horse and he would get so nasty if you locked him in a stall, he could only live in a pasture with a run-in. 

 

Horses ABSOLUTELY do better when they are never confined to a stall.

The protection her goats get are from the two sides.  If they need more they move. They also cuddle together to stay warm.  They also get a nice winter coat...like a dog, it's like wearing a coat.  I just read that their ears have a say in hot and cold temps as well.   If I understand your statement...the open end you were concerned about?  The temps get down to 14 the lowest in southern new mexico and lower up north.  The winds were are really really bad.  I've noticed that people say goats hate rain, well I've caught mine out browsing in the rain, go figure.  It's 25 degrees cold, mia is standing on top of the dog house no shelter.  I truly believe they know what do to and what is best for them...that's just my opinion.

Sandra Hess said:

Thank you for sharing this, Trish.      Your friend's 2-boards are like a roof with no sided-closure (no structure offering additional protection from the elements),  if I understand?  They likely have access to sheltered areas/natural wind barriers?  

For some years,  we had Haflingers (breed of mountain pony really)  and those  mares just did not like quartering!  They had free-access to quarters (3-sided/roofed barn area offering full shelter)  and preferred to be out on the land -of which offerings of natural shelter they DID use.       Earlier on, we brought them in under roof during foul weather-  but what made us feel better, made them unhappy and so we learned to let them have it their way (with access to run-in shed - which they didn't use ).   Never had sickness.  Juliette de Bairacli Levy-style...they actively ate brush as well as field grasses (I had an Arabian that did same) ...I believe this also explains their good health. 

Sandra Hess, CPM

Heartland Midwifery

Fresno, Ohio


Thanks Rachel interesting...
Rachel Whetzel said:

Trish, Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats also originate from Africa...  I get the idea of the survival of the fittest, etc... but there are things about any domesticated breed (and these ARE a domesticated breed) that remove them from the "original" and some of those things create the necessity of stepping in to help them out.

Keep in mind, is that New Mexico's cold isn't the same as the cold in Maine. In fact, it's probably the closest to how the weather is in Africa. (and Maine is most certainly NOT) Things like humidity, etc. play into how much extra goats might need. Particularly in the situation with the OP, where the cold her goats would be experiencing was sudden, and not the "norm" for her area. That means her goats didn't have the chance to get acclimated before it hit. "Before humans interfered" is a loaded statement, IMO... because by nature of "interfering", we have put ourselves in a position to NEED to interfere! For one thing, we aren't all still living in Africa! These goats are NOT made to live in any landscape. Some land is not capable of sustaining a herd. (mineral deficiencies in the soils being a good example) and when we confine an animal to be forced to live in one spot, it's often necessary to supplement BECAUSE we aren't providing them with either an ideal environment, or what would be a "natural" environment for them.

Another example of why we humans need to step in, is in the area of birthing. Nigerians are one of the only goat breeds to regularly give birth to more than two kids, and who do not have a "season" which leads to births at all times of the year. Because of this, and the speed at which they deliver, often, third and fourth babies get neglected immediately after birth, because their mom's are still cleaning off the other kids. This can result in a kid freezing to death because it didn't get clean and dried fast enough, or suffocating because the sack didn't get cleaned off if it's nose soon enough. These are things that do not indicate an unhealthy kid, and that we humans created in the domestication of the breed. I think your friend has been lucky if she hasn't had losses.

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