Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

So we took in a couple Nigerian/Pygmy cross does from someone in town, and they are adorable. They do, however, have some minor issues.

1) I am 90% sure at least one doe is pregnant. Both does are as huge as a house, but one already has a fairly developed udder. When they get comfortable with me I will feel their bellies and see if I get anything. Is there any ways to tell if they are pregnant? I know udders are supposed to be a sure thing, but I with my family doubting me so much on it, I want to have other things to double check with.

2) The other doe has a lopsided udder. It looks  like she's developing one, both sides are fairly swollen, but one side is quite a bit bigger. I can't feel if it's hot or hard yet, will have to do that in a few days when she lets me. Do some goats develop udders unevenly? If not I'm worried about mastisis or a precocious udder.

3)They are fairly skittish. Is there any way I can be able to trim their hooves, feel their bellies, and just work with them in general without them being terrified forever? They are very receptive to food and each other: through tortilla chips, I have gotten the chance to pet and love on one of the does. Do you think that I can tie them up next to each other on the fence, feed them something, and do well enough with them?

4)They are quite mineral deficient. You can tell they need copper just by looking at them, they have all the textbook symptoms. And you can tell they need salt because one doe is licking her pee! I gave them some tortilla chips for the salt(quite a few actually). Anyone know any good, fairly cheap brands of mineral block or loose minerals containing copper?

5)They are huge. I don't know if it's because they are "pregnant" or if it's hay belly. If it is hay belly, anyone have any suggestions on how to get it down? I'm not going to severely cut back food, especially if they might be with kid. I even plan on graining them. I just want to get them looking good and healthy again.

6)The lady decided she would worm them for us...she used oral Ivermectin at 250 lbs...when the goats can't be more than 85. Will this hurt them at all? Is there anything I should watch out for?

Thank you all for reading all of my concerns! I just wanted to cover all bases with these does ASAP. I want to get them as healthy as possible by the time my original does come. Any and all advice will be appreciated!

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Glad to hear you have these girls -- for their sake! I hope you got them for free, because it sounds like it's going to be a challenge for awhile.

If the udders keep getting bigger, they are probably pregnant. Precocious udders don't get very big. Some pregnancy udders change very gradually over the month prior to kidding, but some will stay the same size for awhile then suddenly get big. If you look at one of them one day, and the udder is completely full, she's probably going to kid within about 24 hours, but check other things like tail ligaments for verification of that.

An udder should develop evenly. As you suspected, an uneven udder could be a sign of mastitis. I'd have a CMT on hand for when she freshens, although I don't think it works on colostrum. If she freshens and half of her udder is hot and hard, it will be obvious.

When goats kid, most tend to be very accepting of people. That is your golden moment. Stick with them like glue for the first few days after kidding, and they should be fine. I have one doe right now that is an angel to milk and fights the other does to get into the milking parlor, and before she kidded, she was as wild as a deer. But as soon as she kidded, I kept petting her and putting her on the milk stand every single day to give her grain and act like I was milking her, even if I wasn't getting anything. Having her in one of my 4 X 10 kidding pens also probably helped because she could never get very far away as I was in there playing with her kids. And the corn chips are a great idea. I am not too proud to bribe goats with food either!

Hay belly goes away a couple hours after they eat. If their bellies are staying huge, they are either pregnant or have dropped abdomens. But with the udders, I'd say pregnant.

From the way you worded the ivermectin dosage, it sounds like she was using a horse dewormer? A lot of people double or triple horse dewormers. I'm sorry I don't have time to look up the various dosages and see if it was the right dosage, but the good news is that an overdose would have made them sick already. And ivermectin isn't one of those drugs that is super easy to overdose anyway.

Oh yes we got them for free! I am so happy we got them, I can tell that once they get used to us they will be sweethearts!!

Well one of the does is supposedly the mother to the other one. We don't know which is which. So either one could be an FF or not, if neither of them are, we are going to have to watch that doe with an udder, she could kid any day! It there any tricks or tips that I can use to see if they are with kid? I know that you can feel their belly to see if it's tight, but I can't get close enough to do that yet lol.

See, I don't know if she is pregnant. I was going by her udder, but since it's developing weird I'm not sure. I don't think she was in milk before we got her...so I don't know if it's something that's coming in as she freshens, or if she was in milk and the original owner did nothing about it. I will look into different mastisis treatments for now.

I think that for now I will use different treats :) They like raisins a little, but I think what they really like is the salty treats. So I think I'll stick to corn chips for now. Do you know any other foods that are salty that would make a good treat?

No, it isn't going away. It looks almost like a petting zoo goat hay belly, but below their indentation in their sides(don't know what this is called?). What is a dropped abdomen? Will it hurt them? If so, is there a way to fix it?

And great! Yes, she was using a horse dewormer. I've heard that Ivermectin can kill a goat pretty quick if done wrong, but I think that its the injection, not the oral. No harm in making sure though!

Misty can you get any pics to post? It would help a lot! We have some on here of the abdomen, but not sure right now where they are. I will look for you. I may have one on my page because I know I have posted Butter's but not sure if it is there or just in with the regular pics. I know that Deborah also posted one for reference so if I locate one I will let you know where it is.

When it happens it is usually in a doe who has had several litters and with quite a few each time, like my Butter. She has kidded with something like 2 sets each of twins, triplets, and quads. As far as what it is, basically it is just kinda like some people who gain lots of weight and get flabby and it just sticks to them and won't go away. It's similar to that and I think maybe there is a lack of ability of the muscles to hold everything all up and it just flops all down and out to the sides and makes them look huge. It doesn't seem to be a real problem though. These does are not fat either. Believe me, they can look huge and not even be pregnant at all. And they can really be skinny as far as actual body fat and muscle goes. I have this problem with poor Butter. She is huge and every one thinks she is pregnant but when you feel all the right places like her spine and tail base etc. she actually seems to be in need of some more weight. So I am working on trying to get her like I want her.

I'll check on the pics for you now!

If you will click on my page and scroll through my slideshow. You will see a few of Butter. Not the best views for what you are looking for, but it will give you an idea, til we find more shots. Pic number 10 is her show pic when she still had her girlish figure & 15 and 33-35 are all her and there are a few more of her and her doeling also. Mind you that yes she was pregnant in some of those BUT, she only had one 2 pound doeling which really did not have much effect on the way she looked at all!

One other thing I wanted to tell you, is that they can also have some degree of sagging in the udder area all the time too. I am pretty sure that Butter will always have a certain degree of sagginess from all this. Her udder skin does not draw completely back up to her belly.

I'll let you know if I locate the one Deb posted which is easier to tell the way they really look.

Sometimes I am so slow in figuring out the simplest things! If you will go to the top of the page and click on photos, then when the photos load, look for the search bar on left right over them, type in dropped abdomen and the pic Deborah posted will come up. If you click on it, it will enlarge and you will see the perfect example of this! Make sure you read what is under the pic and the comments will be helpful too!

Check that out and let us know if you think this MAY be part of what you are dealing with. Just remember that they may still be pregnant but also have this! Hope this at least helps you to know what this is even if it isn't what you are dealing with.

Neither of their udders are saggy, they are just filling. And I will check out those pics thank you so much!

Hm, I don't think it is a dropped abdomen...they are both bigger on one side(left). I only checked one doe, but she felt  tight in her belly, something I am told is a good sign of pregnancy. However it is also a sign of bloat(especially on the left side), but they are showing no other symptoms, eating, drinking, burping, etc. I don't want to give them baking soda as it blocks copper and they need that quite a bit. 

Also, one of the does is really warming up to me! She hardly ever runs(she even follows me sometimes) and she lets me walk right up to her and pet her all over! *squeals* 

Misty, where did you hear that baking soda blocks copper?

Baking soda is not only safe to, but recommended to be left out free choice as is a good loose mineral that is high in copper! And access to baking soda can save their life if they do bloat.  I would hate for you to find them dead from bloat because you thought it was unsafe to give them baking soda.

Really? O.o Ah...I just read that too much can block mineral absorption. On another forum I participate in someone mentioned that it would be best to just get the copper in their system then give the baking soda. Thank you for the clarification!

Misty, I don't know what you mean by "it would be best to just get the copper in their system then give the baking soda." You should NOT give baking soda to goats. It should be available free choice. Some don't need it; some do; and they'll eat it when they need it.

As Margaret said, baking soda does NOT block copper absorption. I have never seen that written anywhere, although I have seen lots of misinformation printed on the web, so it wouldn't surprise me that some misinformed person wrote that. Again, I wonder if this is a case where someone jumped to an incorrect conclusion. I talked to one nutritionist who worries that baking soda, which is high in sodium, will stop goats from consuming enough free choice minerals. Her thinking is that goats go after the minerals for the salt, but if they're consuming quite a bit of baking soda, they won't want more salt from the minerals. It does NOT block the mineral absorption though.

Huh O.O It seems I was very misinformed. I wasn't planning on giving it to them directly lol, I was going to offer it free choice from a feeder or something. I wouldn't shove it down their throat unless I thought they had bloat. It's good to know that it doesn't block mineral absorption, I'll have my parents get a mineral block along with some baking soda. We lost both of our baking sodas in the move so we need to get more. I understand the nutritionists opinion as well, it makes a lot of sense. Thank you bunches for the info!

Loose minerals work best for most goats. If your goats don't have a need for a lot of minerals, a block could be okay, but most goats in the US really need their free-choice minerals in loose form. Goat tongues are very soft, so they can have trouble licking off enough. Some have been known to chip a tooth trying to get enough.

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