The Birth of Nigerian Dwarf Goat Kids in Pictures

Penny kidded today.  We were so warm and cozy in the greenhouse that we didn’t notice the blustery, blowing snow outside at all.  It was such a lovely experience, a textbook delivery of twins with no need for assistance.  I sat back and watched while shooting these photos.  From labor to delivery, here is a Nigerian Dwarf goat birth in photos.   Continue reading “The Birth of Nigerian Dwarf Goat Kids in Pictures”

So You’ve Gone in and Assisted a Birth. What Next?

I am reminded today why raising goats isn’t for the faint of heart.  Things are great when they’re great, but it sure can be intense when they’re not so great.

I heard Silkie making noise and went out to find her already pushing, not progressing well with a backward breech who came out easily enough, but after low intensity contractions and no progress pushing on the second, I went in to find a mess.

This isn’t my first mess, but I felt like sharing this glimpse of goat life for those of you thinking you might want to someday find yourself elbow deep in a screaming doe. 😀

The second kid, much larger than the first, was upside down with his head wedged beneath the birth canal and a single front foot out.  Continue reading “So You’ve Gone in and Assisted a Birth. What Next?”

Sometimes Goat Kids Die

This is a sort of melodramatic title for an issue that I feel needs to be addressed.  When you deal with live animals, particularly with buying young live animals, there are an inherent set of risks that can cause injury, illness or death, even if the animal was well cared for prior to leaving the farm of origin.  New buyers, with the help of comments on social media like, “A reputable breeder would have…” or “I would never sell an animal like that…” are often led to believe that anything less than a perfectly healthy animal for the first month has got to be the fault of the breeder they bought from.  I want to set the record straight and say this: sometimes goat kids die. This is especially true if you are an inexperienced goat owner who may miss signs more experienced owners have learned–often through hard lessons–to notice. Continue reading “Sometimes Goat Kids Die”

Natural Treatment for Lice in Goats

Year after year, despite various changes in management, we would encounter lice in late winter and early spring in our goats. I found dealing with it incredibly frustrating since none of the effective methods were compatible with our goal of natural care. So each year I would resignedly use one of the powdered concoctions on them, hoping maybe next season I’d come up with a solution.

All that changed last year, in 2018, when I re-read Pat Coleby’s book Natural Goat Care, one of the few goat books I have that I recommend to people.  It finally clicked. In NGC, Pat talks about how important sulfur is:

“…animals receiving the correct amounts of sulfur in their diet will not get lice.” Continue reading “Natural Treatment for Lice in Goats”

Costs of Raising Goats in 2019

About a year ago, I worked up what it was costing us to raise our registered Nigerian Dwarf goats.  It was a fun exploration and I thought I’d do it again this year since a number of things have changed – surprise!  The original Costs of Raising Goats concluded that our total annual cost per doe is $415 and $390 per buck. Let’s see how those numbers compare to 2019.

Hay

We changed suppliers this year at a vastly increased cost.  We were paying $70/ton for hay from a family member.  We switched to a no-spray supplier and, with the cost of hiring a semi for delivery and a couple kids to help unload and stack, we paid $200/ton.  Sure was nice to have it all in, stacked and put away in a single day though!

To offset that, we made some silage and tree hay.  This accounts for only a small amount of their feed for this season, but we’ve had great results so far and plan to increase both silage and tree hay at a cost of almost zero to us outside of labor costs.  I’ll have to work that out this year when we do the next batch. Continue reading “Costs of Raising Goats in 2019”

Our Vision for the Sustainability of Our Goats

I like to dream about what the future holds for our little farm and the most important livestock we raise on it, the goats.  I love all of my animals, but goats are my special pals.  In terms of sustainability, they have the potential to give life to not only their kids and mine, but also to the chickens, pigs and dogs.  If we can successfully provide their needs here on what we can raise, we can use their outputs to create sustainable food for the other animals that call Little Avalon “home.”

While I thought it would be fun to share this with you, I think it’s equally important for me to put these ideas into words that I can look back on as we progress through this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how things look a year, or five, or ten from now! Continue reading “Our Vision for the Sustainability of Our Goats”

Nigerian Dwarf Bottle Feeding Schedule

Even if you dam raise your kids, it’s inevitable that you’ll wind up with a bottle baby at some point. Our does have large litters, as many as five at a time, and it isn’t uncommon that we end up with one or two (or three) per year that are put on the bottle. This is the feeding schedule we use for our Nigerian Dwarf bottle babies; you can approximately double the amounts and use this for standard sized goats as well. Minis would be somewhere in between.

So much of feeding bottle babies is intuition and individual decisions. I’ve tried to pinpoint specific weights to give you an idea of how much to feed, but the best advice I have is to watch your babies and their activity level/overall behavior. Well fed kids are bright, alert, active and constantly exploring the world. Kids who aren’t feeling well will be just the opposite, standing around, lethargic, crying out or frantically seeking milk. Always go by what your kids tell you over what an article online does.

Continue reading “Nigerian Dwarf Bottle Feeding Schedule”

Physical Traits of an Easy Hand Milking Goat

In the world of dairy goats, you’ll hear such descriptive terms as “butter soft udder texture,” “plump teats” and “open orifices” to describe a hand milking udder. In an online world where words must sufficiently explain such a complex experience as milking, we often fall short of really telling readers what the udder is like. This article attempts to break down the individual traits that come together to make a doe an “easy milker” versus a doe you might want to keep as a pet instead.

I remember my first purebred Nigerian doe. I bought her as a 3 day old bottle baby and fell head over heels in love with her. She grew into a petite beauty, a light buckskin with a characteristically mellow personality and the most ridiculously tiny teats I’d ever seen. Finally, I understood the somewhat laughable term, “kitty titties.” All my dreams of enjoying the renowned sweet, creamy milk of Nigerians were dashed upon my discovery of that udder.
Continue reading “Physical Traits of an Easy Hand Milking Goat”

How Much Does It Cost to Produce Goat Milk at Home?

milk photoAmong the many reasons for raising your own milk at home is the expected cost savings.  I see remarks in various goat groups about how much more home raised goat milk is costing people, so this article is an attempt to break down the costs of raising your own goat milk to see where the money goes, which allows us all to make educated decisions on how to better manage our goats from a cost perspective.

I wrote an in-depth breakdown of our personal costs to raise goats.  The end result is that we need to sell about $480 worth of kids per doe per year to break even.  This includes total operating costs, such as labor, farm insurance, fencing, feeds, etc.  Rats!  There go my dreams of being a professional goat breeder! 😀
Continue reading “How Much Does It Cost to Produce Goat Milk at Home?”

When to Separate Kids Overnight for Milking

By the time kidding season rolls around, the kids and I are all but salivating over our favorite goat milk products. Caramel consistently tops the list, but one thing is certain: we’ve missed fresh goat milk for the past couple of months!

When those kids begin to arrive, it’s a balance between the kids’ needs, the milk quality and our own eagerness to begin tasting fresh milk. I see a lot of people asking around this time how long they need to wait before separating kids overnight, so I know we’re not the only family looking forward to milk!
Continue reading “When to Separate Kids Overnight for Milking”

Calculating Grain Costs for Goats

We buy grain in bulk from local feed mills. It saves a lot over retail at the feed store, but the tradeoff is that we spend more time handling the grain and drive longer distances to get it. We have been going twice a year now, but I’d love to get bigger storage bins to allow us to make one trip per year. That the peas are in one town and the oats/barley are in another just complicates things.

The current mix, which changes based on availability and sometimes our whims, is 3 parts barley, 1 part field peas and 1 part black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS).

Our most recent purchase put the prices as follows:
Continue reading “Calculating Grain Costs for Goats”

Costs of Raising Goats

Our methods change frequently, so while these costs are accurate now, by next season we may be doing things differently.

One thing is for certain no matter the method: raising goats is costly!

Hay
January begins kidding season, or it has the last two years anyway. The does are wintering in the barn and eating free choice second cutting alfalfa at $70/ton. Our price is drastically lower than market value because we buy at cost from a relative. Market rate is about $175 a ton.

We winter about 6 months out of the year, so I figure 180 days of feeding hay at a rate of 4% of body weight per day per goat. An average adult Nigerian weighs 75 pounds, so 3 pounds a day, or 540 per season. I round up to 600 pounds to account for increased eating during late pregnancy.

Continue reading “Costs of Raising Goats”