Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

First kidding for us yesterday! 2 does (2.4 lbs ea) 1 buck (2.3 lbs). We're still having 20-40's temps here - which is extremely unusual so wasn't planning on cold-weather issues when we bred last year. So many questions, so guess I'll just dive in ;)

1. Buck was very weak, almost 30 min before he even tried to move let alone stand up, non-vocal, wouldn't eat for first few hours after birth. Took him into house on heating pad for a bit, tried bottle, wound't take it either, but then started chewing my face off so took him back to barn (38 deg at the time) & he finally nursed a little, tho sisters made it hard for him. He seems to be holding his own against them today, but still a little more wobbly than them. We have lamp (regular 75 watt bulb) on & "tub" w/straw for them to stay in to help stay warm. Given his situation, what barn temp do we nned to get to before its safe to remove the lamp? or just use at night?

2. What's the max time its ok to be away from mom while she spends some time outdoors?

3. At what temp/age is it ok for them to go outside for short periods to get a little fresh air/sunshine?

4. What age do they start grain/hay?

5. I plan on letting mom raise completely:

A. What age do I need to remove buck from mom & sisters?

B. How long should I let them have all the milk before I start milking so she doesn't dry up/lose production?

6. To help us decide who to keep/sell, what's a general rule for breeding family members - grandfather/uncle or is great-grandfather/great uncle better - or just not related at all?


Any/all help/info is greatly appreciated!




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Oh my! They are adorable in their little sweaters. I wish I could offer advice but I have not yet been through a kidding. I am hoping this spring will be my first if my girls have settled. I have learned so much from reading goat reference books. You can start with Deborah's terrific books! Of course, search this forum on your topic questions as there is so much valuable information. My prayers and best wishes are with you and your little buckling. I hope he is getting that all important colostrum!

Mom and babies should stay together unless there is a medical emergency, such as a hypothermic kid. There is no need to let her go outside without them. They will all freak out. If the buck is acting normal (like the other kids) you don't need to worry about keeping a lamp on them. Actually I don't even bother with anything less than a 250 watt bulb anymore, because the 175 watts don't seem to make much of a difference, so I'm not sure the 75 watt is helping anyway. Temps of 20-40 are not bad for normal-sized kids, which these are. And with the sweaters, they need a heat lamp even less.

Going outside is not a big deal except for two things ... can they get through the fence? Is the pasture big enough for them to get lost? Those are the real dangers. As for temp, above 40 is fine, as long as it isn't windy.

The kids will start to eat alongside mom, so you don't have to do anything. They'll copy her and be eating within a few days.

The other questions have long answer that include lots of "it depends..." which have been discussed in many posts on here in the past. And you don't need to worry about them for at least a couple of months anyway.

I have found dog crates are great -my little goats  like them bedded with lots of straw.  Keeps them warm and out of drafts.   A friend used cardboard boxes  - I think these little guys are tougher than we think also.  Because they are so tiny and cute it causes the mothering instinct in us to react.  I also have katahdin  sheep and had the smallest one ever a week ago -mama would not have it so I have a bottle baby.  She kept the two does that were about 8 lbs.    This year we had the smallest ever -3 lbs and the biggest ever  10 1/2 lbs.  Crazy.   Two sets of triplets.  Our dog loves the little lamb and is pouting today because Joey lamb got moved to the barn. 

found little guy in corner alone this morning, standing but wouldn't move. When I picked him up he was cold (30 in barn) - ears, nose, mouth - everything cold - not just not warm, but cold.  brought him inside on heating pad &  "tented" with a towel. started seizing (been thru that before & not something you forget) gave some gatorade, black strap molasses & milk w/syringe - wont take bottle.  Anything else to look for/do?  All I've read says they should be ok w/these temps but they aren't. Cold temp/high humidity a problem maybe?  The other two a faring better but still shivering even w/sweaters on.  Have hooked up generator & now running heaters in there & the girls immediately huddled in front of it. It's like all info/research I've done for two years before getting goats is totally obsolete.  feeling about worthless at the moment.....

In pretty much every situation I have had like that, the kid was not getting enough milk. I know you posted this a few hours ago, but hopefully he is still hanging in there. If he can swallow, it might be easiest to feed him with an eye dropped or syringe. If he cannot swallow, then you have to tube feed. Let us know how he is doing!

Oh no! I'm sorry that your little buck is having so much trouble. Hugs and prayers coming your way!!

that's exactly what has happened. we saw him nursing the first evening so thought all was fine, but apparently that was the first and last he got. Took him back out to spend time with others & she seemed to welcome him but refused to let him nurse at all. have some of her milk (but no colostrum) from last year in freezer so that's what he's  getting now.  would he benefit from homemade colostrum (I have my own pastured hens for the egg)? or just stick with her milk? Sisters are almost twice his size now, but he  has plenty of energy - a little too much for our Chihuahua, but he's a good sport ;) - but good to see him trying to bounce around :)

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

In pretty much every situation I have had like that, the kid was not getting enough milk. I know you posted this a few hours ago, but hopefully he is still hanging in there. If he can swallow, it might be easiest to feed him with an eye dropped or syringe. If he cannot swallow, then you have to tube feed. Let us know how he is doing!

I'm so happy to hear that he is trying to bounce around. Here's hoping he has turned the corner and will survive. Homemade colostrum sounds better than no colostrum but I have no experience yet with kids. Hopefully this spring.. Best of luck to you as you manage his feedings and keep these babies warm.

Glad to know he's still hanging in there! As long as he got colostrum at birth, he's fine with raw mama's milk now. And frankly if he didn't get colostrum at birth, it would be too late to try anything now. They need colostrum within six hours of birth for optimal immune benefits.

Wow! With those sweaters I bet they are nice and toasty!

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