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Dwarf Goat questions

 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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Hi everyone, Id like to consider getting a dwarf goat of some kind some day. I just had a few questions for those who have experience. First some background:

I have a back yard where I can give them two 20 x 20 ft spots, put on rotation. My plan was to put up portable fencing around the area and then teather them to a stake within that area. The fencing is more for predators than anything, although we don’t really have any but dogs. The grassy area is a mix of grass, weeds and tons of clover. I could plant alfalfa too. I prefer not to give them grain. I have room for housing as well, but they would be out in pasture most of the day unless its really bad weather. I also have 6 hens.

Questions:
1. Will this space be enough for 1 goat plus any offspring?
2. What is the best breed for this space? I was thinking Nigerian Dwarf.
3. Is there a website on how much volume of food they need in one day?
4. Is it better to own a buck or get the doe serviced? Does it matter where you get the buck from?
5. If you get the doe serviced, does the buck come to us or vice versa?
6. How long (once she becomes pregnant) until she will start giving milk. And, once she births and the kids are taken away how long will she continue to give milk? Ive heard to rest them from breeding at least 3 months.
7. When do you know when to take the kids away and will it be hard to get sell them etc.?
8. What do they eat in winter time when there is snow, I assume they are cold hardy?
9. Do they absolutely need something to climb on? If they are teathered I don’t know how this will work.
10. Can I have chickens in the same paddock with the goats?
11. Any other important info a goat noob should know?

Thanks everyone!

 
John Polk
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I would suggest getting a copy of one of Storey's guides. They cover the basics, plus some more.
They publish a guide to Dairy goats, and also a guide to Meat goats.

Guide to Raising Dairy Goats
 
Lloyd George
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Ditto the Storey's guides...get and read it cover to cover..twice.

Probale better to have does covered in someone else's herd for several reasons...one..bucks stink...even if you dehorn (which I recommend, regardless.) and descent..the glands are just behind the horn buds..burn them out at the same time as the horns..two...if you are milking, and you do not have a place to keep the buck well away from milking does...the milk gets "goatier" yuck. and three...bucks are a pain in the ass. something best graduated to when you have the room.

you say 20x20 plots? but how many of them? what is the total area? Nigerians do not take alot of room. even smaller are pygmies. mini nubians are sweet, but loud, and kinders are wonderful goats, but a bit bigger.
goats, while they will graze on grass some, are browsing animals...they like weeds, tree buds and leaves, they can even digest the tannin in oak leaves..something cattle cannot do...they tend not to do as well on a pure grass diet...some fibrous browse is necessary...they >love< roses...

one needs to keep something for them to climb on in the pens too...a tree trunk round or cable spool is good.

a good mobile pen is four 16 foot cattle panels wired together..and a six foot dog kennel, and a big open front doghouse is great for the night time home. they can often be found cheap on craigslist...
 
Tyler Ludens
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Not sure if anyone mentioned this, goats are a herd animal and will be happier if there are at least two of them. So two dwarf goats would be better than one full-size goat.

 
Alice Kaspar
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I tried to reply to this, but my answer wound up in a new topic at the top.

Here's a good online source to start with.

http://www.fiascofarm.com/goats/getting-your-goat.htm#lesson
 
Stefan Pagel
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I keep pygmy goats. They are very easy to keep if you follow a few rules.
1) They are browsing animals and grass is the last thing they eat. Cut your grass to make hay and hang it up in a dry place. They prefer this to fresh grass.
2) Trim their hoofs regularly unless you keep them on stoney ground.
3) Give them a shelter as goats don't have oily coats and don't like rain. 2 drops and they are inside.
4) Give them something to climb on and entertain themselves.
5) Keep at least 2 or more.
6) Don't tether them. They are easily contained with stock or electric fencing, fencing panels or similar. Place their house in the middle, not near the fence.

You can milk them whilst they have kids. Keep one kid per doe (called nanny here where I live) and start milking the other teat as soon as she's up. The kid will always go to one tat, make sure you milk the other one. You can milk them for as long as you like but stop if you put them back to the buck (billy).
If you don't want to keep a male and you want the girls for milking buy nannies that are already in kid. Pygmy kids are easy to sell over here but you should really think what you want your goats for. Milk? Offspring to sell? Meat?
Pygmys eat hay and a handful of goat or sheep feed a day.

I am currently buying my hay but I want to make a hand baler and get my scythe sorted out and make some myself this year. Hopefully by next year I will have had time to rebuild one of my ruins and turn it into a greenhouse, so that I can use it in August to dry hay in larger amounts, enough to feed my goats all year round.
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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Geez guys Im really sorry. I didn’t get any notifications of new posts so I never followed up on this. Thanks everyone for your responses.

Ive pretty much determined at this point that I would like 2 Nigerian Dwarf does. I have a WIP area right now that would include brambles, shrubs and some small trees on the side of my garage. Its basically an area 15 ft wide by 40 ft long. I was thinking that I would build this area up as a native forest environment for them. Their housing would have rocks etc on them so they could climb on them etc. In addition to that main area I could put them out on grass any time with mobile fencing. This just isnt grass, its got tons of weeds, clover and alfalfa for them to eat. I would use both areas for my chickens as well.

My main reason for getting them is milk and Im confused on how long you can milk them. Some people say there is a limited time,others say as long as you are milking them they will produce milk. My question is A. which one is correct and B. is it really healthy or in their best interest to continually milk them without kids and beyond their normal weaning cycle?

Thanks again everyone!

 
Alice Kaspar
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The "normal" cycle is to milk for ten months. You breed them at seven months after they kid, so they get two months off of milking before kidding.

In some HIGH producing breeds, Saanen and Alpines, you can continue to milk for longer times without breeding, and it is actually easier on the goat.

Nigerian Dwarf goats are less likely to produce long term like this, but it could happen.

You can build a forest environment only if the trees are planted outside the pen, and their branches shade the pen. Goats will kill most trees in their pen by eating the bark unless you go to extreme measures to protect the trunks.


 
Katy Whitby-last
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Location: North East Scotland
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forest garden goat trees
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One issue to consider if you are going to be rotating the land that they are on is to have mobile shelter for them. Goats are very definitely not hardy and will need to be able to access a shelter 24 hrs a day. As soon as one drop of rain falls they will run for the shelter.

One thought - if you want milk and something to eat the weeds how about sheep? Our sheep love the weedy pasture. I don't milk mine (they are for meat and their wool) but I know that some people do. Sheep are much more hardy and low maintenance than goats.
 
Stefan Pagel
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Katy is right. Sheep are easier to contain, don't kill your trees and don't even need a man made shelter. As long as they can get out the wind / sun (depending on your climate) they are happy. They will also maintain your grazing better as they aren't as picky as goats.
And of course you will get milk, probably more than from a dwarf goat.
 
Alice Kaspar
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My Mini Mancha and Mini Alpine consistently each give 1/2 gallon per day. Don't know about Nigerian Dwarf production.
 
Lloyd George
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I don't know that sheep are hardier than goats, and they do require at least simple shelter, but they sure are more fun than sheep.

Nigerians typically milk around two quarts a day.
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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Great info everyone. It looks like sheep might be an option. I always thought they were more high maintenance than goats, but I guess I was wrong. Any suggestions on breed of sheep for small areas? And I assume I will have the same type of milking/kid issues with sheep?

 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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forest garden goat trees
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I'm not sure what sheep breeds you have over in the US but a more primitive type is usually better for weed eating, whereas other types may be better for milking. I have Gotlands because they produce fantastic fleeces which I can sell, a really tasty meat carcass, are pretty hardy and are not too big which means that I can handle them without help.

As far as the earlier post that sheep aren't hardy - it all depends on the breed. Up here in the wilds of Scotland many people lamb outside with no shelter and it isn't a problem. You wouldn't want to do that with some of the more commercial breeds though.
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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If Im going to do sheep I would prefer a dual purpose dairy and meat breed. I dont know much about them, but the dual purpose breeds im seeing are not allowed in the US, and IM still looking for a US breed that is dual purpose. Wool production is not critical but would be a bonus if I could get the meat and dairy part. Dairy is my main purpose.
 
Lloyd George
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Katy..I was not trying to imply that sheep are not hardy...they certainly are...just doubting that goats are any less hardy...it all depends on the breed of course..

The sheep of Bonnie Auld Scotland (wish I were there) are certainly hardier than the commercial wool balloons one sees in large production.

I don't have anything against sheep...I am just not a fan of them...

A friend of mine..(horse person) refers to them as pasture maggots....lol!
 
Andrew Bartelt
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Location: Central Wisconsin
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I know this is an older thread, but here's hoping my two bits helps someone. When looking for any type of livestock, check craigslist. As a general rule, whatever you see alot of is appropriate to your area. Here in Wisconsin, Katadhin Hair Sheep are popular because they are hardy, and wool-less. When you see what is most popular, then do some research on that breed to make sure it suits your needs. Good Luck.
 
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