Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hello!  We recently re-homed our two kid wethers after three months of nursing.  In the few days since, our doe has decided she does NOT like her grain.  It's a sweet feed for dairy goats and she's been eating it for months, although she's never exactly loved it and often wouldn't finish.  Still, she's gone from eating about 80-90% of her feed to barely picking at it.  I've already noticed a steep drop in milk production over the past two days.  She DOES still love hay stretcher, cracked corn, and black oil sunflower seeds, but I know these shouldn't be fed in large quantities (hay stretcher excepted, but that lacks the energy density I'm trying to get into her).   She also likes granola bars, dried fruit snacks, and some fresh fruits and veggies, but not all.  Unfortunately she hates added molasses, so that simple trick won't work.  I've been keeping her on the milking stand by mixing a small amount of corn/seeds into her grain, hoping she'll eat both up, but she mostly picks through the grain and fishes out the bits she wants.  It gives me time to milk, but doesn't do a lot for her production!

Any advice on alternative energy-dense foods or grain additives that might make her interested again?

She's otherwise healthy and happy -aside from missing her babies- and shows no signs of parasites, deficiencies, etc.

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Mine have the biggest appetite for sprouted grains. I've been sprouting wheat, oats, barley, BOSS and peas for them for almost a year and they go nuts for it. It's extra work but I'm really happy with they way they look and dry weight consumption is down (if they used to get 2 cups per feeding they're now only eating about one cup dry measured. Once it's sprouted it's still roughly two cups but sometimes more. Competition also seems to help; if I have a doe who is being picky, she starts to eat with much more enthusiasm if the other does are trying to eat too. Goats are funny like that. 

I'm not sure what kind of hay she gets, but if it's grass hay you may want to try to give her alfalfa pellets. My doe gets only those for her morning milking and in the evening she has the pellets, BOSS and a little grain. She's keeping her condition well and her milk is delicious. 

Of course, if you feed alfalfa hay the pellets wouldn't be a good choice.  Maybe it's just the molasses in the sweet grain she's objecting to. Maybe give her some oats and wheat?

What you are describing is totally normal. She's missing her kids. Do you have other goats?

I love this idea!  I usually have grains sprouting on the countertop for our meals anyway so it would be totally doable for the milking season.

Emily said:

Mine have the biggest appetite for sprouted grains. I've been sprouting wheat, oats, barley, BOSS and peas for them for almost a year and they go nuts for it. It's extra work but I'm really happy with they way they look and dry weight consumption is down (if they used to get 2 cups per feeding they're now only eating about one cup dry measured. Once it's sprouted it's still roughly two cups but sometimes more. Competition also seems to help; if I have a doe who is being picky, she starts to eat with much more enthusiasm if the other does are trying to eat too. Goats are funny like that. 

We have her 1 yr old wether from last year to keep her company but it makes sense that she's still adjusting to missing her babies.  She was -obviously- VERY distraught about the separation.  Today was the fourth day without them though and I didn't notice her calling or looking around, so I think she's getting used to things.  On a feeding note, I added some dried lentils, barley, and oats to her grain and she was much more excited about the meal.  Guess she knows what's good for her- avoiding processed and sweetened grain products!

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

What you are describing is totally normal. She's missing her kids. Do you have other goats?

I have one doe that is still missing her baby after a month after  it's sale .  Doesn't want to eat her grain and doesn't really want me to milk her in the evening.  Some of my does really are effected when their babies go.

I also have tried some of the mixed goat feeds and my goats won't eat them.   I use wet COB with an addition of a little calf manna and BOSS.  They all readily eat it and I have also found that I need to stick to the same brand.   I tried another brand of COB as it was a dollar less a bag and they didn't like it.  Fussy girls.  I have a good feed store - she is busy and turns over her supply quickly so I think that is also a help.   

They CAN be picky about grain!  It's so ironic that most peoples' reaction to goats is "they eat EVERYTHING don't they?".  I've switched my doe over to 1/3 lentils, 1/3 BOSS, 1/3 grain, and a small scoop of hay stretcher.  She's much happier -loves the lentils and seeds- and is the glossiest I've ever seen her.

My girls are super picky and after struggling with feeding them commercial grain and having them pick through it (avoiding pellets) I decided to try mixing them custom grains. Through trial and error, they get crimped barley and crimped steamed oats (1 to 1), then add about 10% BOSS and about 10% beet pulp shreds. They eat every bite and their production came way up after I started doing this. They are GMO free grains. I tried organic grains too but they didn't like them! They really are ridiculously PICKY!! The rejected grains now go to the chickens fermented. Sometimes I mix it up slightly differently, like adding peas but they didn't like the whole peas (maybe too hard to chew?). To me, it's most important that they like the grain I give them or else milk production drops to an unacceptable level. 

That sounds like a blend my picky girl would like!  I haven't tried beet pulp yet though- do you soak it first?  I remember using it for horses in the past and we would always mix big, sopping wet buckets of the stuff.

Thanks!

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