When I initially posted pictures of all the 2013 Nigerian Dwarf goat kids at Bramblestone Farm, I identified that several of them were polled, but didn’t explain what that meant –so we got a few questions. A “polled” goat (of any breed) is one that is naturally born without horns (Almond Joy in the picture on the right is polled while her sister Toffee in the left picture is not). Most goats in the US today are naturally born with horns, and many owners choose to de-horn (typically by disbudding) them when they’re babies for various reasons (see Disbudding Goats). [...]
Continue reading What Are Polled Goats?
We’re now less than two weeks from the start of this year’s kidding (see Kidding Schedule), and if the does deliver on time, we’ll have four does kidding over a three day span! The closer it gets, the more excited and nervous I get. There’s nothing I can do though, except to make sure we’re prepared. What does being prepared mean? Well for us it means:
Going through my list of kidding season supplies and making sure that it’s up-to-date, and that we have everything on hand (see list below). I try to have supplies on hand to handle all reasonable [...]
Continue reading Kidding Supplies and Preparation
It’s obvious now that four of our Dwarf Nigerian does are pregnant (these pictures are of last years kids – see the Kidding Schedule for delivery dates this year), but we carefully considered their maturity and needs during pregnancy before taking this step. Basically, there are three stages of care to consider: 1) breeding, 2) early gestation, and 3) late gestation. At each of these stages there is a preferred BCS (Body Condition Score) that should be maintained, specific feeding guidelines, and preventative vaccinations/health precautions that are recommended.
Before breeding, it’s typically recommended that first freshening does be at least [...]
Continue reading Basic Goat Pregnancy Care
A lot of people are surprised to learn that most goat kids (except the few that are naturally polled (hornless)) start growing horns a few days after they’re born; but that most people don’t want their goats to have horns. So, the horns are typically removed when the kids are babies using a process called “disbudding” (see “Disbudding Goats” for more on this).
A wooden “disbudding box” is an essential tool for keeping the kids relatively still during the process, and since goat kidding season has started – here’s an easy to build plan for one (the picture below shows the finished box with [...]
Continue reading Goat Disbudding Box Plans
Our four mature Nigerian Dwarf does are all obviously “in a family way” as my father-in-law says, and I was wondering how developed the fetuses are as we count down the days to kidding. They still have two months to go, and they look so big already. Here’s what I found:
20 days – apparent heart beat
28-35 days – limb buds appear
35-42 days – differentiation of mouth, toes, and dew claws
42-49 days – nostrils and eyes apparent; mammary buds in females; empty scrotal sac in males; jugular vein barely visible
42-84 days – lung bronchial divisions are differentiated and air conducting [...]
Continue reading Goat Fetal Development
It seems that the question of how much milk a Nigerian Dwarf doe will produce comes up fairly regularly. Some think that they produce too little to be of practical use – but a good quality doe actually produces a substantial amount; and a couple of does can supply the needs of a family.
DHI (Dairy Herd Improvement) testing is the official method for monitoring milk production for dairy goats, and we have one goat that has been on official test - 3*M Old Mountain Farm Hot Tea 3*D. In her first lactation, she produced the following, as officially recorded in the DHI records:
What this shows is that at [...]
Continue reading Nigerian Dwarves – How Much Milk Do They Produce?
It’s that time of year when many goat owners are choosing which bucks we’ll use for breeding, and I see many bucks for sale or for rent. But, it’s very important not to use just any buck; and to select bucks that will improve your herd and the breed in general.
By choosing a buck that will improve your own herd, you can increase the milk production and dairy conformation qualities of the kids being produced, thereby increasing their value – either in kid sales or milk product sales. Most people looking to purchase goats are looking for either milk production or [...]
Continue reading Choosing Goat Herdsires
Tinker Bell Being Milked
The first time I saw a Nigerian Dwarf goat being milked using a machine, I was shocked. We were just beginning to investigate them as a possible breed for Bramblestone Farm, and I’d assumed that they were too small for a milking machine. But, lots of folks use a machine to milk Nigerian Dwarfs; it can be faster, easier, and more convenient than milking by hand.
As it turns out, it takes longer to write out the steps describing how to milk using a machine than it does to actually do it. It’s an easy process that takes [...]
Continue reading Machine Milking Nigerian Dwarf Goats
We’re often asked this question, and like to have anyone asking taste goat milk for an answer – they’re usually surprised when they find that it’s creamy, sweet and mild – virtually indistinguishable from whole cow milk. But, we raise Nigerian Dwarf goats, which produce milk that’s quite high in butterfat, hence the mild and creamy taste. Other goat breeds produce milk that’s typically lower in butterfat, so the flavor and consistency can be quite different.
As mentioned above, one of the big differentiators in goat milk is the percentage of butterfat. A goat that produces milk at 10% butterfat is [...]
Continue reading What Does Goat Milk Taste Like Anyway?
Now that the goat kids are being weaned and we’re getting milk, it’s important to keep milk production records for each of the does. These records give valuable information on how much we can expect each girl to produce (it should increase each year as they get older – to a point), what the lactation curve looks like for each doe (the amount they give varies throughout the lactation – usually peaking a couple of months in and tapering off after that), whether they’re good candidates for milk production testing, what the effects of changes in feed are, give an [...]
Continue reading Milk Production Records
A lot of people are surprised to learn that goats naturally grow horns; and, that many consider horns a detriment so they’re frequently removed when the goats are babies – this process is known as “disbudding”. Horns in goats are generally considered detrimental because:
1. Horns get stuck in things, and can cause the goats to injure themselves
2. Goats with horns can hurt each other when they “play” butt each other
3. Horns can hurt people
4. Horns can cause damage to fences, barns, mangers, etc.
5. People generally prefer hornless goats so they’re worth more
6. Horns can break, and a goat can bleed to [...]
Continue reading Disbudding Goats