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
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
When we first got the Nigerian Dwarf goats, I asked if there were any books that would be good to have on hand for reference. The two that our friends from Wild Wind Farm recommended are definitely worthwhile as they’re specific to the Nigerian Dwarf breed. I’ve since attended classes on goat care etc., but having these on hand for reference has been invaluable for us.
The first recommended book is called Goat Health Care by Cheryl K. Smith. It’s made up of reprints from Ruminations, the Nigerian Dwarf and Mini Dairy Goat Magazine. I particularly like the information on medications for goats and [...]
Continue reading Recommended Reading for Nigerian Dwarf Goat Owners
I thought our plan for breeding the goats was all worked out – I’d monitored their heat cycles so we knew exactly when to take them back to Wild Wind Farm for breeding; and we were going to have goat kids by March 30th next spring (see Goat Kids – Preparing for Breeding). However, I forgot to ask the goats if the plan was ok with them; and we’re currently wondering whether we have pregnant goats, and if so, when they’ll be kidding.
While at Wild Wind Farm, Jewel Box and Bit ‘O’ Honey never obviously came into heat, so our [...]
Continue reading Goat Breeding Plan – Hah!
Ultimately, the reason most folks have dairy goats is because they want the milk; and for this the does need to be bred and have
kids. Standard size does can generally be bred after they reach 80 lbs. or seven months of age; but breeders often wait until does are older for miniature breeds like Nigerian Dwarves. In our case, we’ve waited until the does are 1 ½ years old (Honey and Tinker Bell) and 1 ¼ years old (Jewel); both because we wanted springtime kids and we’re sure the does are mature enough now.
We don’t own a buck, so it’s important to [...]
Continue reading Goat Kids – Preparing for Breeding
The Nigerian Dwarf goats (Tinker Bell, Bit ‘O’ Honey, and Jewel Box) are old enough to breed, so the first “Kidding Schedule” page is now up on the Bramblestone Farm website (click on Kidding Schedule). I’m very excited to be planning their first kids, particularly since we’ll be breeding them to bucks owned by our friends at Wild Wind Farm (where we originally bought the does). And, of course, this means we’ll have milk next year – the whole point of having dairy goats!
The girls will all be about a 1-1/2 years old, which some have said was longer than necessary to wait for breeding. However, if they’d [...]
Continue reading Kidding Schedule
When we brought the goats home, I assembled the basics needed for goat keeping (see Goat Starter List), including a goat weight tape. The instructions said to measure around the girth to determine goat weight, and then adjust diet as necessary.
This didn’t work in practice at all; weight tapes are for full size goats – not Nigerian Dwarfs. So I don’t know their weight, and even if I did – what good would it do me? Tinker’s heavier, but she’s taller and older too. Turns out, there’s a system used for establishing whether they’re too fat or too thin called “Body Condition Scoring (BCS)”.
For goats, body condition simply refers to the fleshiness of the goat. However, you [...]
Continue reading Body Condition Scoring for Goats