Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hi Friends,

  A feeding question...the 4 wethers came last week and took to the hay and the medicated feed well. I am feeding Kalmbach medicated meat goat feed and was planning on feeding for a couple more months or until the 50 pound bag is finished, as Deborah recommends.  They have free choice Purina goat minerals and baking soda available.  Until I get the moveable pen assembled and out into the field, I have been bringing in dried leaves and grass a couple of times a day, both of which they gobble up, though I know the leaves don't have much nutrients in them at this point.

My question is about their hay intake. It seems to have dropped way off and they have become very excited about receiving their goat feed a couple of times a day. I put a large handful in the 4 feeders and they don't eat it all at once but act like they haven't eaten when I give it to them again and at that point the feeders are empty. I am wondering whether I should be doing something different in their feeding the goat feed, as I'm concerned that perhaps they aren't getting enough roughage if they've cut back on the hay.  The amount of grass I'm bringing is approximately 3/4 of a 5 gallon bucket twice a day which doesn't seem like all that much for 4 growing wethers. Their droppings are normal and the vet said they all looked great when she was here a few days ago. At the time I didn't think to ask about their feeding habits.

Should I continue on as I am? Or should I cut back on the feed? Or should I add timothy pellets in place of some of the goat feed?  Or something else?   Thanks very much.

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Hi Ann- what kind of hay are they getting?

A large handful of grain twice a day doesn't seem like too much. I am currently feeding my growing kids around 1.5% of their body weight in grain daily. Which is about 1# of feed per 7 kids twice a day. They range from 9-12 weeks old and range in weight from 15-23#. They have free choice grass hay all the time and also graze pasture during the day. I see them nibbling at the hay feeder periodically during the day, but when they were on alfalfa hay it was the prize ration =)

If you do decide to cut back on the grain, I would use alfalfa pellets instead of timothy. They are still growing at a fast rate and can utilize the calcium for their growing bones. Do keep in mind that if you are using this feed to help prevent coccidia you will want to give the recommended amount. Not sure which one you are using but I just looked up the kid formula and it recommends 1.5#/100# body weight/day.

Thanks so much for answering...my question is partly because of the discussion with the vet who was able to come and has different ideas of feeding young wethers. She recommended cutting out the feed and just leaving them on hay because of the concern for stones but I know that the food has ammonium chloride in it. Nothing I've read here or in Deborah's book sounds like I need to be concerned at this young age, especially with the AC in the feed.  I am using the Kalmach Body Builder because that is what the breeder used for her young goats and yes, it is for the coccidia. I had forgotten that that was why I was feeding it in the first place. My brain can get a little scrambled as I think about all the factors and hearing different opinions.  I'll go back to paying attention to how much I am feeding and they are getting.

I've been feeding a mixed grass hay, which is a little stemmy but all I could find when I started seaching in January.  A friend gave me a bale of very fine, beautiful second cut hay and I thought if it were the hay that was just not palatable that they would eat that new hay right up...But no.  I'm not over with them all day so I don't see how much they are actually eating though I know they do nibble. The amount in the bag just doesn't seem like it is going down very steadily and that was my gauge. But they seem happy and healthy and not like they are feeling poorly at all. 

Thanks again Tammy.  There are so many voices out there, as everyone keeps saying, and I'd rather stick with those who have been raising ND's for a long time and speak from their experiences, both good and bad. 

Haha...well, Tammy, now that I have actually measured, it turns out my handful amounts to a half cup twice a day so that seems ok for now. But I'll get out the scale and measure the weight per half cup and see where I come out, just to be sure, and pay attention to that as they grow.  Do you give them the feed until they are 6 months or so or do you use a different metric?

Also I don't feel that I have to use this brand or formulation of feed. If you have another recommendation, I will be glad to follow it.


Thanks again!!

Hey Ann

Your vet has good reason for concern on the stones because they are the ones that get called for the emergencies and know how awful they are! I don't worry too much until they reach 5-6 months of age, which is when I pretty much have them completely off of the grain and onto timothy pellets, unless they are looking thin or not growing well. Good water consumption and the AC are certainly helpful. I use medicated feed during times of stress (such as weaning and when going to their new home) and then transfer to non-medicated. I am not familiar with that brand of food but it looks like they have a nice wide selection of various mixes for different life stages or particular finishing/maintenance. I use Purina because that is what is available here =)

I don't strictly follow the 1.5% guideline the entire time they are eating grain. It is just a measurable starting point for me after weaning and then I adjust according to their overall condition and rate of growth. As the green pastures come in, they will not require as much concentrate feed to keep a healthy growth rate. Likewise, as it gets hotter here in Texas they will be less active and will be using less consumed energy. I do like for them to have the extra nutrients in grain while they are actively growing, but you also don't want them to become fat and over fed. I know that is sort of an indirect answer, but unfortunately that is really how most goat care is. So many answers rely on what other things are offered or available in their particular environment. 

Thanks, Tammy. I'll get the hang of this in time, I imagine. I feel like when I was a new mother for the first time and was soley responsible for the little life in my arms, not having had experience with babies before. Do you offer them the timothy pellets as a way of weaning off grain, or because the Texas pasture dries up in the summer or for another reason I should pay attention to?  I was thinking of maybe doing the same transition when I curtain the grain as they get a few months older, just to give them something else to nibble on.  Thanks again.

Learning about the proper care of goats is an entire journey!-LOL-it seems like I learn something new every day! It is complex because there are so many factors that impact their care specific to where you live, do they browse or graze, are they on city or well water, are your pastures fertilized, do they produce milk or are they just pets...the list goes on and on. My frustration stems from people in an entirely different region of the US trying to push their specific practices on new goat owners without even asking them a single question about their herd or where they live. There really is no single right answer for many goat care questions and that makes it hard when you are just starting out!

I actually use timothy pellets as a carrier for consumption of Bioworma in my buck herd. The girls get a more concentrated form that sticks to a textured (sticky) grain, but I don't want my boys consuming grain twice a day. Timothy pellets are just hay in pellet form, but they think they are getting a treat. It is also really nice to have a controlled routine and to be able to use the pellets as motivation to move them from one paddock to another, or get them into a confined space for a specific reason. Goats are highly food motivated =)

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