Caring for Goats in Winter

As the cold weather once again approaches, we see many concerned goat owners on Facebook wondering how to keep their beloved goats safe, healthy and warm in freezing temperatures.  This concern is understandable, particularly for goats that originated in a warmer climate, like our Nigerian Dwarf goats.

Caring for goats in winter is really quite simple, though, so let’s get to the basics, followed by a discussion on additional practices that can help you raise hardy, healthy goats in cold weather.

Hay

Rumen activity, the process by which a goat digests its food, generates quite a lot of heat.  Long stem roughage in the form of grass or alfalfa hay is essential to a healthy, fully functioning rumen.  Keep hay out free choice for your goats all winter.  This means all night and all day.  If you lock them in their shelter at night, put a hay feeder inside, along with a source of clean, unfrozen water. Continue reading “Caring for Goats in Winter”

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.

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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!
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