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?
The newest issue of the terrific homesteading magazine “From Scratch” is available online, just click on the button below:
And I’m a contributing author in the magazine, with an article on getting started with goats!
It really is a great magazine with lots of terrific content – check it out and let me know what you think. Also, what would you like to see articles on in future issues?
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
Well, the original “dates” that our Nigerian Dwarf does Hot Tea and Jewel Box went on didn’t work, so we took all four of the girls on new dates on either November 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Based on past experience, my best guess is that Hot Tea will freshen at 145 days, Jewel Box at 146, Tinker Bell at 146, and Honey at 147; so we should be seeing kids on March 25, 27, and 28. If they’re pregnant this time, we’re going to be very busy that week welcoming kids.
We utilized the services of bucks from Wild Wind Farm again; specifically Hot Tea, [...]
Continue reading Nigerian Dwarf Kid News – Again
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?
Two of our Nigerian Dwarf goats, Jewel Box & Hot Tea, went on dates this weekend; so more kids should be arriving in spring. Jewel Box (click here for her pedigree), went on Friday, and we’re expecting that she’ll deliver kids on February 28th – 146 days after her “date”.
Hot Tea (click here for her pedigree), went on Saturday, and we’re expecting that she’ll also deliver kids on February 28th – 145 days after her “date”. Nigerian Dwarf does tend to take the same amount of time each year to freshen, and for Jewel Box that’s 146 days while for Hot Tea it’s 145 days.
Their dates were both with Old Mountain Farm [...]
Continue reading Goat “Dates” = Spring Kids!
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
It’s now obvious that all three goats are pregnant - Tinker Bell is 2 weeks from kidding, Jewel Box is 4 1/2 weeks, and Honey is 7 1/2 weeks (if they go the full 150 days). Fetal growth in goats is exponential in the last 4 to 6 weeks, so it’s in those last few weeks that they really look big – and Tinker Bell is certainly looking huge.
She lays down a lot more now, I guess that’s understandable ……… sometimes it almost appears that she’s talking to her stomach, or whoever’s in there!
All three goats have started to develop udders, although Tinker Bell’s [...]
Continue reading Pregnant Goat Update
The goats are nearing their first kidding dates (see Kidding Schedule for dates); so we had to get a new camera to keep an eye on them. If you click on the picture of the does on the left, it should bring up a camera view of the goats in their stall (unless it’s night-time in which case all will be dark). Anyway, the camera view should look something like the picture on the right (the stall may be empty if they’re outside).
The view is currently set-up as an overhead of them in their stall; it’s not the most interesting way to view them [...]
Continue reading New Goat Cam!
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
I like organized lists because they save time – so here’s my listing of sources and links for Animal Health Supplies (yes, I’m looking for something and having a hard time finding it, which drove me to build this list!). Our needs revolve mostly around dairy goats so this listing will likely be most useful for dairy goat owners (particularly the first two listings); however, all of these suppliers carry things useful for any livestock owner – so it’s a good start if you’re looking for something. The list is simply organized by alphabetical order:
Does in Winter Coats
Caprine Supply (http://www.caprinesupply.com/)
P.O. Box Y
Desoto, KS 66018
Continue reading Animal Health Supplies – Sources & Links
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
Tinker Bell Eating Pea Vines
Each time I work in the garden and consider bringing back some garden trimmings for the goats and chickens; I have to stop and look through my reference books – to determine whether that particular plant is safe for them to eat. So, I decided to make a list of garden plants that are safe for goats or chickens, and that they’ll benefit from eating. That way, I can just refer back to this list, rather than dragging out a bunch of books.
This is what I know about today that they can eat (chickens may [...]
Continue reading Garden Greens for Goats & Chickens