Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hello All,

We recently got 2 doelings in Mid-December. They are darlings. We got them from breeder and they both had suffered from scours prior to bringing them home (they believed the goats got into something they should not have because entire herd was impacted). When we got them, they were fully over it.

Our two girls were skinny and have gradually been putting on weight (see photo below). They are about 8 months old now.  Vet came out and gave one of them some dewormer during a checkup 3 weeks ago.

I am having issues with them eating. The previous owner fed them bermuda and orchard grass hay. I have tried timothy, bermuda, and a mix of orchard grass. But they do not seem to be eating it. Initially they dove into the bermuda, but then after a few days just stopped. I have been searching around for orchard grass and cannot find anything. They have been eating all the weeds and leaves in their enclosure, but that is about all gone now. Of course they are very interested in Alfalfa hay and some grains...but I don't want to give them too much grain due to bloat. When I brought in more straw to line their pens, they ate a pretty good amount of that too. I worry that I am starving them by not giving them enough hay.

They have free choice DE, goat minerals, Kelp meal, salt lick, and Baking soda. Initially they were devouring the kelp. But over last 2 weeks it has slowed down a lot.

Hay is in a hay rack....anytime I bring new hay in they seem semi-interested for 5-10 mins munching, then get bored and walk away. 

Questions:

1. Am I crazy or are they being very picky?

2. They are 8 months old and NOT pregnant so is giving them alfalfa hay going to cause urinary tract issues? Or is it ok (they devour the alfalfa hay)?

3. They are drinking well water would an mineral imbalance cause them to be picky eaters?

4. Anyone know of another hay they may enjoy that would provide roughage they need?

Thanks and sorry for long post.... I am new to they crazy creatures...they are so funny though.

-steve

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Hi Steve, nice to meet you, and welcome. Those are a couple of cuties you have there.  They do look pretty petite though.

My guess is the scours they experienced was coccidiosis, that often happens when kids are weaned. That can cause havoc with their digestive systems for awhile. 

I'd say go ahead and give them the alfalfa hay if that's what they want.  It's usually the bucks and wethers that have problems with alfalfa hay giving them urinary tract problems  Goats waste hay like crazy, so it may be that they are only eating parts of the hay you are giving them. My goats do that. And they do tend to eat here and there throughout the day, it's rare you'll see them eat a whole bunch all at once when they have free choice.

You didn't say what kind of minerals you are feeding, but they should be loose minerals that are specifically for goats. I would also take away the salt, because loose minerals have salt in them, and if they also have salt available, they will lose their appetite for the minerals. 

Well water can indeed sometimes deplete minerals due to iron content, etc. I'd suggest you give them a copper bolus. If you do a search on copper on this site there's a ton of information on dosage, administration, etc.  Plenty of copper also helps them deal with parasites and improves fertility. 

Feel free to ask whatever questions you have. We're all learning. 

Thanks for reply! I forgot to mention they have loose minerals (specific to goats...not sheep). I initially did not have the salt lick because I read somewhere exactly what you mentioned. But the vet that came out (she was recommended by last owner) mentioned that I should get a regular salt lick. That way if they needed just salt they could get it without the added minerals. I can remove it.

I will go pick up some copper bolus from the store. As long as I dose them correctly based on body weight, do I need to be concerned about potential copper poisoning (the goat pellets have decent amount in it too)? Or this only occurs in cases of extremely high intake? 

I also forgot to mention that although they are not too keen on the hay, they have been devouring pine branches I have been putting in there. 

I am definitely going to start giving them more alfalfa hay though, thanks!

You're welcome Steve. Sadly, there aren't a lot of large animal vets that are experts on goats. They don't see a lot of them so they just go by old information that they learned in vet school. I'm lucky enough to have an actual goat vet near where I live, and I'm considering wrapping him in bubble wrap so nothing ever happens to him! LOL 

You don't have to worry too much about copper poisoning. There really isn't any way for them to get enough copper naturally anymore, so their bodies really need it. Plus the copper oxide wire particles (COWP) that are in the boluses are slow release.  

That's great that they will eat the pine branches. When spring/summer comes, the more browse you can give them the better. When it's not winter, browse makes up easily 50% of my goats' diet, and I've never had one of my goats fall below a 3 on the body condition score.  

Keep us posted on how things are going. 

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