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How to keep Nigerian Goats?  RSS feed

Posts: 5
Location: Southern Illinois
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I have raised goats before in a much more northern region than I am in now.  I am thinking of getting back into a smaller breed.  I would like to pasture them as much as possible ( I am located on 11 acres in the southern tip of Illinois near the Kentucky border). "Winter"(weather regularly below 32) normally runs from Christmas to mid Feb). How much pasture will I need with a herd of a max of 7.  How large should the paddocks be. How many paddocks.  While I have a large barn, I am planning on building a goat shed.  How large does it need to be ( I am considering 8 x 14)?  Does the buck need to be kept in a different shed? Does the buck need to kept in a different pasture? Can the milking room be in the same building as the females?  When I raised full sized goats, I kept the areas separate (to protect the taste of the milk), but I have seen others raise Nigerians together.
Posts: 5201
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Goats don't want pasture, they want shrub forest with a smattering of tall grasses like oats, barley, etc.  They are browsers (like deer) not grazers.
Posts: 2290
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Pasture Paddock Size and Amount
AVG Carrying Capacity = 4acres for a cow-calf pair
1 cow-calf pair = 7 goat-kid pair or 12 dwarf goat-kid pair
AVG Paddocks needed = 30 (for 30 days growth between grazing, with daily paddock change)
AVG Paddock Size = Carry Capacity/Paddock needed = 4acres/30 = just about 1/7 acres
Lenght of Free-Ranging = Spring last frost to Fall 1st frost = usually 6months for a zone 6

Winter feed
A) an additional 4 acres, that you grow, cut and store/haybail once a month in the gorwing season
B) just buy/do whatever grain/hay feeding that everyone else does
C) goats will eat acorn and possible other nuts/seeds/grains so you could harvest/shell and feed it to them
D) most likely a combination of all of the above

Don't forget blocks of mineral for them and also fermenting whatever grain/nut/seed that you give them, I like a koji+kefir whey ferment
I do like the idea of a 2 or 3 sided goat shed that you can move from paddock to paddock

Pasture (4 categories and 7 species in each category)
N-fixer (•15% Birdsfoot Trefoil•10% Forage Pea•10% Red Clover•10% Alfalfa)
Drymass (•15% Orchardgrass•10% Kentucky Bluegrass•10% Perennial Ryegrass)
Medicinals/Pest Control (10% Forage Chicory)
Soil Aerators/Miners (10% Daikon Radish)

Above is a usual commerical seed mix with a 25lbs/acre initiall seeding rate
Below is a starting point of what I would recommend

Legume (alfalfa, fava bean, sweet clover, lupine, landino clover, hairy vetch, black-eyed peas, pea (pisum arvitiuse)  

Grass (sorghum
SunFlower (sun flower, yarrow, chamomile, dandelion, maximillian sunflower
buckwheat (

Carrot (
Spinach (lamb's quarter, chard
Cabbage (mustard, turnip
Mint (bee balm, lavender

Other (burdock,comfrey, borage, mullein, stinging nettle,
(Daikon Radish, Forage Chicory

master pollinator
Posts: 2155
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Sounds like a good list for general pasture improvement, S Bengi, but as Redhawk pointed out, goats are browsers, not grazers. I think this list would do better for cows and sheep.

Redhawk, if you were to put together a sampling of the kinds of browsing you would focus on, what would that look like?

John F Dean
Posts: 5
Location: Southern Illinois
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S Bengi

Thanks for answering my question.
Posts: 44
Location: Central Texas
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Just our experience- we have 23 Nigerian dwarf goats along with 24 chickens, 174 goslings and 17 head of cattle on 50 acres in Texas. Our goats will happily browse our 4-5 acres of woods, but will also spend days on pasture even with free access to the woods. We find our Nigerian dwarf goats to be very adaptable, they do not necessarily always prefer to browse, they will graze also.
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