Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

I am new to raising goats and have 3 kids ranging from 10-14 weeks. I usually refill the hay trough about 3 times per day. I have noticed that their bellies are looking really big and when they see me reach for the pitch fork they come running (they are still in the barn with hay as 95% of their food source.) I started googling and saw something that made me concerned there might be a parasite. Does anyone have any advice as to what to check for? I'm slowly introducing them to open pasture this weekend.

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It sounds like they may have 'hay belly' =)  Are they looking like this all the time? Do they go outside the barn at all? Any diarrhea? At what age were they weaned? Could you post some pictures?

They certainly can get 'bloated' looking when they have parasites or are not getting enough nutrition. Here is an article that Deborah wrote about 'hay belly' in reference to young kids that you may find useful as well.  https://thriftyhomesteader.com/is-my-goat-kid-fa/

Do you know how to check FAMACHA on them? Give their lower eye lid a good look in sunlight to check the color and that should make you feel better. Red or dark pink is good.

Here is a podcast about using dewormers if you think they need it. It has great information! Also keep in mind that dewormers do not treat coccidia.

https://thriftyhomesteader.com/using-dewormers-correctly/

I'm not sure how to upload photos. They do have outdoor access, but just to a dirt lot. We got more snow last night but plan to start introducing them pasture when it melts. No diarrhea, but their eyes do look more white than pink to me. When pressing on the belly it does feel lumpy, but slowly expands again.

Hi Jonathan

What state are you in? If you are still experiencing winter weather, it is less likely that you have an intestinal parasite issue. Most intestinal parasites need warm (typically above 60 degrees) moist conditions to hatch out in a pasture, and then they are consumed as the goat grazes. Unless they were grazing in a warmer environment where they came from, I would doubt you are dealing with intestinal parasites at this point, but they could have coccidiosis. That is a protozoa that they pick up when eating off a soiled floor, laying in soiled bedding, or drinking contaminated water. Adult goats typically have an immunity to it, but kids can be very susceptible, particularly in times of stress such as weaning or going to a new home, because their immune system is not fully mature. You will usually see diarrhea in kids with high loads of coccidia, but I have also seen it with no diarrhea at all.

A 'doughy' feeling tummy, like you are describing, is normal.

Do you know at what age these kids were weaned? Are they getting any grain or alfalfa pellets? What type of hay are they getting? Are they doelings, bucklings, or wethers?

To upload photos, you click the little paperclip in the bar above the response box that you are typing in.

I'm in Colorado. I don't know exactly when they were weaned. The 2 I am concerned about are doelings and they have had nothing but alfalfa hay, a couple of manna pro treat+probiotic per day and a few carrots and asparagus stems. I have been slowly starting to give the grass hay as I've read alfalfa is more than what they need.

Actually, especially for your doelings, they need the calcium in the alfalfa to meet the demands of their fast growing bones. I keep my doelings on alfalfa pellets and grain, as well as grass hay ad lib, and loose goat minerals/baking soda available 24/7 until they are about 10-12 months old. At that time I take away the alfalfa and grain until they are bred, at which time I add back alfalfa so they can grow healthy kids. Bucklings and wethers have the same but come off of the alfalfa and grain when they are about 5-6 months old to lower risk of developing urinary calculi. I add back grain, containing ammonium chloride, for any bucks that need the extra calories while in rut. I am in Texas, so all of my goats are also on pasture year round.

How much does each kid weigh? That may give a better clue if this could possibly be a nutrition issue. Do they have loose goat minerals and baking soda available?

Since you are in Colorado, unless you have had unseasonably high temps over the past 6 weeks, I am a little less likely to think this is an intestinal parasite issue, considering the time of year they were born and their current ages. How long have you had them? The pale eye lids are concerning. You can always have a fecal run to rule out parasites or coccidia.

Also- you should wait until your grass/pasture is at least 6 inches tall before starting them on graze. This will decrease parasite larva ingestion from the pasture.

Since you are new to goats, I highly recommend that you read the articles here- so many of your questions will be answered, and the info is reliable =) https://thriftyhomesteader.com/a-beginners-guide-to-goats/

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