Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hi Everyone !  It's been a long time since I've been on.  I got my goats as babies about a year ago, so not much going on except growing them up !


Now, I bred them last month.  And I have some questions !


I was told by a fellow Nigerian Dwarf Goat breeder to double their feed rations slowly when they are pregnant.


I've been doing this slowly, one week at a time.  I have 4 does I'm feeding, and they are all pregnant.


Lately, they leave behind their goat feed pellets and pick out the black oil sunflower seeds and shredded beet pulp.  I don't like to waste their feed, so I came up with a new feeding schedule.


I now feed 4 times a day instead of 2. I break up the morning feeding into 2 feedings (one in the morning of pellets only, one at lunch of the sunflower seed and beet pulp).  Then again at snack (pellets only, and dinner/sunset of seed and pulp).  I also give coastal hay all the time, along with baking soda free choice and a mineral block, and of course fresh water every day and pasture (grass and weeds) to munch on.


I wanted to ask all of you what you feed your does when they are pregnant ? (and how much)


Thanks !!!!


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I am under the impression that does should only get more feed at the VERY last stages (last couple weeks) of pregnancy (to keep kid size from becoming an issue at delivery) and once does are nursing. They don't need grains until then either. There are a few discussions in the forum about this if you do a search for it too. Good luck with your pregnant girls!! How exciting to be getting ready for BABIES!!
I agree with Rachel everything I've read said the last 8-10 weeks you should give grain.  Also was only thinking 2x a day for grain not 4.  Seems like a lot... Good luck and I like your website and I working on my right now also.  Good luck with your girls.  We just bred our first doe on Sunday.  She is 20 months... Our other 2 we will breed this Spring if they are over 45 pounds.  If not we will wait till next fall.  I cannot wait to start getting milk!!! :0)

I look forward to milking too !  But I'm a little anxious about it.


I did the "tummy typing" test to make sure they were pregnant and they were a little ticklish or sensitive.  I'm trying to pet them near their bellies more as I go out and spend time to pet and play with them to get used to it.


I'm starting to gather info to see what the general popular opinion is.  I only give grain 2x a day (the other food is what they like better - the pulp and seed).


I guess I can always start to cut back slowly too, if that's what they need.


What exact amounts are you (Rachel and Janel) feeding your does ? (if you don't mind sharing ?  Thanks)


I'll look some more when I have time. I didn't see a topic thread so I started one. I'll take more time to look.



Janel Rickey said:

I agree with Rachel everything I've read said the last 8-10 weeks you should give grain.  Also was only thinking 2x a day for grain not 4.  Seems like a lot... Good luck and I like your website and I working on my right now also.  Good luck with your girls.  We just bred our first doe on Sunday.  She is 20 months... Our other 2 we will breed this Spring if they are over 45 pounds.  If not we will wait till next fall.  I cannot wait to start getting milk!!! :0)
I feed free choice hay only. At night, all three does share 1/2 c grain as a treat when they come into the barn. The grain is a mix of Purina Goat chow, Alfalfa pellet and black oil sunflower seeds. They have access to Sweet Lix meat maker loose mineral and kelp as well. None of my does are milking or pregnant right now. When I have it, I throw in browse from the property out to them. When my corn was done producing, I threw the stalks into them to eat when I pulled it out. They loved that. :)

Here is a discussion with answers from Deb in them.

Dry does don't need any grain until the last two weeks of pregnancy. If a doe eats more than she needs, it will all go to growing the kid(s), and you don't want 5 pounds kids in a first freshener! I've had five pounds kids in older does, and that's hard enough on them. In fact, with first fresheners, which tend to have singles, I am very cautious about feeding grain even at the end of pregnancy because I've seen too many have huge single kids. I give one cup of grain twice a day to older does. With first fresheners, I only give a cup of grain once a day unless I'm pretty sure she's having multiples. Without an ultrasound, it's not a sure fire thing, especially for someone new to goats. If they look really big and are not short bodied, I might give a cup of grain twice a day. If a doe is short-bodied though, she can look huge if she's carrying one as a first freshener. On the other hand, a very long-bodied doe might barely look pregnant when carrying two. If you're feeding a good quality hay and a free choice mineral, the grain is just adding calories, so it is better to err on the side of giving not enough grain rather than too much.


The only way to really know if a goat is pregnant is to get a blood test or ultrasound one month after breeding. I've never heard of the  tummy typing test, and when I googled it, I only found two forum discussions. It's probably about as accurate as the pooch test and bumping, whose accuracy vary tremendously from one person and goat to another. I would not say that any of them are 100% accurate because I know plenty of people who've been surprised, including experienced breeders.

Thanks, I'm beginning to think I'm going to start cutting down.  They don't look fat in the morning until after they eat.  Then they look bulgy on the sides.


Today I fed them 1 cup of grain each in the morning.  I wonder if I should just skip the extra feedings and give them their sunflower seed and shredded beet pulp this evening. (that would be cutting their food rations in half)


They weren't starving like they usually are, hungrily chomping on all their food (like the bucks).  They were either uninterested in it or picking at it, but they did eat it all by lunchtime.


I always have their hay feeders full of nice, greenish coastal hay.

They have plenty of pasture (tons of tall grass and weeds).  They really don't seem to be browsing much since the addition of the shredded beet pulp and sunflower seeds.


So, you guys would recommend then just a cup of the Noble Goat feed per pregnant goat a day ? (until the last 2 weeks of pregnancy - I only know the conception date of only 2 of the 4 does) And cut out the sunflower seeds and the shredded beet pulp ?


I'm going to check out the link. Thanks for providing it.






I would not recommend ANY grain -- Noble Goat is grain and so are sunflower seeds -- during pregnancy until the last two weeks. Dry does only need pasture and/or hay. I personally quit feeding beet pulp when I learned that almost all of the sugar beets in this country are GMOs. It's frustrating enough that they're getting GM corn and soybeans, and I haven't found a really good scientific reason to feed beet pulp to healthy animals anyway.

If you have no idea when the does are due, then count five months from the time you put the buck with the does, and start looking at udders at that time. If they have a handful of udder by then, you can start giving a little grain.

Also, feeding grain to mature bucks has been linked to urinary stones. I stop giving bucklings grain at about six months when they've done the majority of their fast growing.

I don't "feed" grain to my goats at all (as per Deb's recommendation) and only provide it (basically as a treat) to lure them into the barn at night. Unlimited hay has kept them in great condition, IMO.

That sounds good until they run out of pasture.  Then what do they eat ?


I did cut back their grain to only 1/2 cup of Noble Goat Feed in the morning and 1/2 cup of feed in the evening today and I actually saw them eating the grass in the pasture !  And they were very fat !


They do "cry" at feeding time (putting them back in the barn at night) and in the morning when they are let out.


I only fed them hay and pasture when I first got them, for only 2 days. They cried.


It really did help this summer when it was dry and they were eating up all their grass faster than it could grow, and all the weeds and tree clippings I could give.


It sure would save $ on not buying any feed, just hay !  But they've had their feed for a year and I did cut back on the buck's amount of grain to only 1/2 cup a day of feed (and 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, and 1 cup of shredded beet pulp).  I guess I'm going to let it run out.


They did seem like they were getting a little skinny, at least the one that I didn't bottle feed (one wouldn' t let the other one eat and he got less food - now I feed in 2 buckets).  He looked more bony at his back hips and skinny sides.  The one I bottle fed always seemed fatter (maybe all those little bits of Karo syrup in the milk made him fatter ?), at least in the belly and he's shorter and stockier too.


Well, it all sounds good until they run out of pasture to eat and then we have to spend a ton more money on expanding their pasture areas.


I guess maybe some people feed other foods to supplement the food in the pasture area if they are smaller areas.


At least they were hungry today for their grain.


What do you use to get them in the barn at night if they only eat hay and pasture ?


I'll keep it in mind.  Thanks.



My goats don't have pasture. I have to bring in hay. I don't supplement with anything other than browse I get on our property when I have it. Otherwise, I use the hay I trade my FIL for eggs. In the very beginning of spring, there is grass in the enclosure, but it's been gone for a long time now this summer. As for grain, that's what I was saying about not "feeding" grains. I do use a mix to lure them into the barn, and they get a very small amount of it every night that way. I feed three goats 1/2 cup TOTAL. As in 1/2 a cup into one bowl, and they all dive in. It hardly lasts until I'm out the barn door. lol

I always thought variety in the diet was best.  They've been having feed since I got them (the breeders had them eating a little and they were weaned kind of quick - I took them away from their mothers). It's been a year and they never seemed too fat.  They would eat their feed and eat down the pasture and everything I could give them when the summer came.


I think I pay $8 for a bale of coastal hay and usually I buy 3 bales which lasts me a couple of weeks.  They do tend to waste a lot, which makes a nice layer in their barn and now we use the old hay, old goat droppings and composted hay in the garden (well, just the loose hay, the other 2 are "aging" in a pile).


Why do you choose to not feed grain ?  So they don't get too fat ?


Well, I may start to cut down on their feed a little so they can eat their pasture and hay some more.  Maybe the bucks too.  They need to browse down their pasture as well. They do look a little chunkier in the bellies.  I know bucks get skinnier in the winters (ours aren't that cold being in FL).  But they look like they have enough fat on them.


I guess cutting back will only save me $.  Maybe when they are eating too much hay or there is not enough pasture, I can increase their feed (if there is any left).  


This is good so I can pass along the garbage cans holding their feed to my son for his chicken feed.


Thanks !!


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