We’re expanding our dairy goat herd!! And we could not be more excited to add two beautiful Nigerian Dwarf Doelings to our farm! Join us as we explain our process, every step, with hopes to help you prepare too!
How we choose a Breeder when Expanding our Dairy Goat Herd
When choosing our breeders we consider several key factors: trustworthiness, knowledge, experience, herd health, and quality of their breeding program.
Because any time you are acquiring an animal, it should be considered and treated as a long term commitment. When choosing a breeder, you should feel as though you are able to fully trust them as such.
An Honest Breeder
A trustworthy breeder will fully disclose any concerns that may affect the life of an animal purchased from their care. If a breeder tries to “sugar coat” a defect, health problem, or is dishonest about any aspect about their animals, that is an instant red flag.
Do not purchase an animal from any breeder that is dishonest to you, or has a history of being dishonest to others. You will be setting yourself, and potentially the animal, up for failure.
A Knowledgeable Breeder
A breeder’s free expression of their knowledge and experience is indication of a few things: honesty, their ability, and the willingness to help others learn. These are clear indications that they care for their animals’ well being as a whole.
A Healthy Herd
A tangible example of a breeder’s knowledge and experience is the health of their herd. One may observe a herd’s overall health fairly easily. Coat, body, and hoof condition, along with temperament are a few observations that can be made with little effort.
A Quality Breeding Program
Along with herd health, an intentional breeding program is also very important when choosing a purebred Nigerian Dwarf breeder. When a breeder takes the time to carefully plan their breeding pairs, they are doing their part to produce ideal Nigerian Dwarf goats.
When breeders take the time to improve their herd genetics, desirable traits have taken the place of undesirable traits. For example: better milking genetics, eliminated hereditary health issues, calmer temperament traits, and even physical characteristics, if desired. Such as being polled (without horns) or having blue eyes.
Expanding our Dairy Goat Herd: How We Choose our Nigerian Dwarf Goats
When it comes to choosing a new Nigerian Dwarf goat, let’s just say there’s “different strokes for different folks”. I believe it is safe to say that good health and temperament, with a nice helping of ADGA Nigerian Dwarf Breed Standards, are the foundation for a great addition to any Nigerian Dwarf herd.
Our Desired Dairy Goat Characteristics
I will take a moment to explain the specific characteristics (in addition to the foundation mentioned above) that we like to achieve with our Nigerian Dwarf goats.
Firstly, we have a strong desire to produce high quality milkers here at Magnolia Hill Farm, so a long lineage of milking stars is a huge plus!
Another genetic trait we desire to bring to our herd is polled goats. When a goat is polled, it means they are naturally born without horns, and that makes them even better pets and home milkers! Because a polled goat does not have horns (and does not have to be disbudded), they are little less accident prone. Goats are notorious mischief makers, so any traits that decrease the chances of injuries are fantastic!
The following traits may seem to be desired in vain, but hey, why not have beautiful goats on your farm if you’re able! Especially with the Nigerian Dwarf breed’s extensive variety in coloring, markings, and eye color. I feel there’s no reason not to have some fun with their expressive aesthetics.
With that said, we sure do love a blue eyed goatie to ooh and aah over. Along with blue eyes, we love vibrant coat colors and markings as well. Bring on the contrasting colors, moon spots, and chamoisee!!
How We Prepare When Expanding Our Dairy Goat Herd
Depending on what stage you are in your goat herd journey will somewhat determine the preparations you will need to make when you bring new goats to your farm.
If you’re already a goat owner, you will need to prepare a space for your new babies to be safely away from your current herd. There are two main reasons for this: goats can bully new members if not transitioned slowly and you need to be able to observe your new goats for any possible contagious illnesses.
Goats are like potato chips, You Can’t Have Just One
Another consideration, and possibly one of my biggest lessons learned since the beginnings of my goat ownership, is that goats do better in a minimum of pairs. In my experience, my new babies have settled in much more smoothly when brought to my farm in pairs.
This may seem silly, and others may not have had the experiences that I have with introducing single kids to their herd, but this recommendation comes wholeheartedly from my direct observations.
My new babies have very little to no problems settling in when they have a buddy, that is their same age, as opposed to being introduced to their new herd “alone”.
I look at it like this, goats are herd animals. They have to live with other goats to thrive. So you might as well plan ahead on introducing pairs as you expand your herd too. Another option, which I plan to do as well in the year ahead, is to introduce single kids with your current kids of the same age.
For example, we plan to acquire our herd sire in the Spring of 2021, which is also when we plan for our doe Muffin to have babies that will be the same age. Young goat kids are much less likely to bully new kids their age than their adult herd members.
Medications & Vaccinations for Nigerian Dwarf Goats
First and foremost, when it comes to your herd’s health, a close relationship with a trusted veterinarian is critical. It is extremely important not to assume that your local small animal clinic will treat goats. There are much fewer veterinarians in some areas that actually treat the caprine (goat) family. So make sure you are in touch and have established a relationship with a caprine veterinarian BEFORE you become a goat owner.
A necessary preparation category is medications and vaccinations. There are a few important things to consider in this category when introducing new goats to your herd. Coccidiosis potential (which happens when a goats immune system is weakened from the stress of relocating), CD/T Vaccination, and general first aid (bandages, betadine, and splinting material).
Corid 9.6% (or a generic) may be used in your new goats drinking water as a preventative for coccidiosis. If you notice your new baby’s stool loosening (no longer pellets) you may add 1/2 teaspoon of Corid per 1/2 gallon of water, and change out daily (same ratio) for five days.
If your new goat’s stool becomes extremely loose or you notice your baby acting lethargic, contact your veterinarian immediately.
CD/T is a vaccination that is typically administered annually in most goat herds. For babies, it is administered between six and eight weeks of age, followed by a booster approximatley 28 days later. “The CD/T Vaccination protects healthy sheep and goats against clostridium perfringins type C and D (overeating disease) and clostridium tetani (tetanus)” ( https://www.bi-vetmedica.com/species/cattle/products/Bar-Vac.html#DiaqueFeatures December 23, 2020).
Barn Prep & Safety: Specifically for Nigerian Dwarf Goat Kids
As I mentioned earlier, goats are mischievous by nature. If there’s a problem to find, they will find it! This needs to be in the forefront when making decisions on your goat shelter setup. It is important to use materials that will keep your goats safe. Goats will get their heads stuck, squeeze underneath, through, jump over, cut themselves, and push over dividers. So make sure to prevent these scenarios with proper materials.
Keep in mind, Nigerian Dwarf goats are small animals. And baby Nigerian Dwarf goats are even smaller. Make sure your materials fit accordingly. Listed below are some great products, made specifically for goats and small livestock.
Feed Transition Considerations for New Goats
An important task to complete BEFORE your new goats arrive at their new home is to make sure you have their current (prior to relocating to your farm) feed on hand. You will need to discuss this with the breeder that is currently caring for your new babies before they leave to come home with you.
If the breeder is feeding a custom feed, you will need to plan on bringing home at least 2 gallons of that feed to adequately transition your new goats to the feed you choose for your farm.
When transitioning from one feed to another, make sure to do this slowly. I usually start by mixing a half handful of your feed with your new goats accustomed feed ration. Then gradually increase the amount of your feed and cutting back on the “old” feed until your goats’ ration has been replaced completely with your choice of feed.
Slowly transitioning feed changes greatly reduces the stress and any potential imbalance in your new goats’ rumen. Slow and steady is best.
Great Goat Resources to Bookmark When Expanding A Dairy Goat Herd
Listed below are a few of my go-to resources that I have bookmarked on my browser for quick access. I highly recommend you do the same; you’ll be so glad you did!
“The American Dairy Goat Association was organized in 1904 to collect, record and preserve the pedigrees of dairy goats and to provide genetic, management and related services to dairy goat breeders” (http://adga.org/about-us/ December 23, 2020).
“ANDDA serves the needs of both those who have a serious interest in the milking potential of Nigerian Dwarf goats, those who would like to learn more about dairy conformation and dairy character in this breed, and/or who simply appreciate the beauty, elegance and reproductive soundness of a dairy-proportioned Nigerian Dwarf goat” (https://www.andda.org/ December 23, 2020).
NC State Extension Publications is a through and highly reputable resource to learn more about coccidiosis. This article teaches in detail about the signs, prevention, and treatment of coccidiosis in young goats.
“The American (formerly Southern) Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control was formed in 2003 in response to the critical state of the small ruminant industry associated with the emergence of anthelmintic resistant worms. The mission of the ACSRPC is two-fold: (1) developing novel methods for sustainable control of gastrointestinal parasites in small ruminants and (2) providing information to the stakeholders in the small ruminant industry on the most up-to-date methods and guidelines for management of gastrointestinal parasites” (https://www.wormx.info/mission December 23, 2020).
“The Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, known as the LSU AgCenter, is one of 9 institutions within the Louisiana State University System. The LSU AgCenter’s mission is to provide the people of Louisiana with research-based educational information that will improve their lives and economic well-being. LSU AgCenter includes the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, which conducts agricultural-based research, and the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, which extends the knowledge derived from research to the people of the state. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and consumer sciences, and community development programs” (https://www.lsuagcenter.com/portals/administration/about-us December 23, 2020).
LSU AgCenter is a great go-to for Louisiana locals, and this specific article is an outstanding resource specifically for parasite prevention in goats and sheep of Louisiana.
If you are Expanding your Dairy Goat Herd too
Check out our YouTube Video below! We share our excitement of the day before and preparing for our new babies to arrive, as well as some do’s and don’ts explained. Enjoy! And make sure to click the thumbs up if you like our videos, and smash that subscribe button to subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out! We share our “PJ Walks & Coffee Talks” every week!
Our Favorite Goat Supplies & Products
We hope you found this post helpful! And, as always, thank you for being the best part of what we do! It is such a blessing to share with you, as we learn and grow our favorite place on the planet!
Many blessings to you and yours!
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