1 or 2?
Goats are like potato chips, you can't have one. They are herd animals, and they need another goat to have a "herd" and to be happy. Goats will cry incessantly, be depressed, they won't be interested in food and in general will be miserable without another goat.
What kind of fencing will they need?
Nigerians are short and fat. They are only agile when they are young. We do not recommend welded wire; it's much too flimsy; goats will stand on it and break the welds. Red Brand fencing is very durable; 4 foot sheep and goat is what we use. If you are fencing bucks, 5 foot would be preferable.
What kind of hay is best?
2nd or 3rd cut timothy/orchard grass; the bale should be green. Alfalfa is a good choice for lactating does as it increases milk production. Do not ever feed moldy hay to goats or even use it for bedding. Goats are very susceptible to molds.
What kind of minerals should I buy?
Loose minerals specifically for goats. The billy blocks and pressed blocks don't have appropriate vitamin and mineral levels and blocks are very hard on their teeth. Manna Pro makes a loose mineral sold at most feed stores, TSC, and RK.
I've heard about baking soda being used for goats?
Baking soda along with loose minerals should always be offered free choice. It's the same kind you put in your fridge. It helps to balance the acid in the rumen, encourages better overall digestion and decreases bloat.
Do goats need grain?
We offer the babies medicated goat feed from birth. It has a coccidistat in it for parasites and it also contains ammonium chloride. Ammonium chloride changes the pH of urine to prevent excess minerals from crystallizing into stones. We band our wethers at 8 weeks of age (older if they aren't sufficiently developed), but feeding ammonium chloride to wethers is a widely used remedy to combat urinary calculi. We use the same feed for the does up until the time they are bred. Dry does do not need grain. Lactating does need non-medicated grain. We feed our bucks medicated grain. Babies leaving the farm at 8 weeks of age are eating 1/2 cup twice daily; our adults eat 1 cup twice daily. Examples of good medicated brands are: Purina Grower, Dumor medicated, Kalbach medicated and Rural King's country feeds also carry a medicated goat. All of these brands also carry non-medicated versions for does.
What kind of bedding do my goats need?
Horse pelleted bedding, pine shavings, and straw are the most popular bedding types used. Ag lime can be helpful under the bedding you choose to keep the floor drier and to keep flies at bay.
When can I breed my doeling?
For nigerians, you are going to hear most people say 40# and 7 months of age. Personally, we would never breed a doe at 40#, they look like babies to us. A 7 month old doe is mentally still a baby, so if you will be dam raising, this is something else to consider, even if she is a breedable size. This is a decision you have to make personally. We never breed at less than 60# and usually we breed at 12-18 months old. A lot of the decision is based on knowing our goats and their lines and the growth rate of their pedigreed parents.
Do I need a farrier to trim their hooves?
No, if you can trim your fingernails, you got this! Their are many helpful videos on YouTube about trimming goat hooves. They sell trimmers at Tsc, Amazon, Jeffers pet, pretty much anywhere for about $15. Depending on their terrain and amount of physcial activity, trimming usually needs done every 6-10 weeks. Pro tip: attach shingles to their spools and play areas to wear down their hooves as they frolic!
Do I need to be worried about worms and parasites?
Yes! Google Famacha Scoring in Goats. Learn how to score a goat, and look for signs of barberpole infestation. However, their are many other types of worms and parasites that can affect your goats. If your goat is acting off, not wanting to eat, has a dry, rough coat, and/or dark colored scours, you probably need to get a fecal sample to your vet so you know what kind of worms/parasites you are dealing with & then you can medicate accordingly. You can also send samples through the mail.
How do I know if my goat has kidney stones?
Wethers are the most prone to urinary calculi, but does and bucks are also susceptible. It is almost always the result of an improper diet. Their diet needs to have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1. In other words, everything they consume, hay, grain even treats. The goat will be restless, is usually "hunched-up" and will be straining to urinate. If you examine the area where he urinates, you may see a bunch of dried crystal-like substances sticking to their hair. If you have pet wethers, please educate yourself about urinary calculli and consider keeping ammonium chloride on hand for emergencies.
Can I keep a buck and doe together?
A buck will constantly chase and harass your doe. You won't know when she will freshen. Some people will use aprons, with mixed success depending on the buck. The doe's milk will taste like how your buck smells. Bucklings can and often do breed their moms from the age of 8 weeks old. Bucks will breed their daughters at a very young age. If you have breeding aspirations, most have a separate area for their buck, either housed with another buck or a wether for a companion.
Bottle baby feeding ...Help!
The following information and schedule is how we raise our babies:
Up to 12 ounces, 3x daily. We feed at 7am, 1pm and 7pm; feed times don't need to be the same, but they do need to be spaced evenly apart to allow time to digest. 12 ounces per feeding max, 14 ounces if the baby is fed powdered formula or whole milk from the grocery store because the fat content is lower. At 5 weeks of age, we eliminate the afternoon feeding. Continue feeding twice daily until 8 weeks minimum, but 12-16 weeks of age is preferred. We recommend raw goat's milk, but if you have chosen to feed powdered formula, we recommend a goat specific replacer; Manna Pro Goat Kid Milk and Land 'O Lakes Doe's Match Premium Blend Kid Milk Replacer are two excellent choices. Just stay away from soy based replacers as caprines don't usually digest soy well. Whole cows milk from the supermarket is also widely used and acceptable for raising bottle babies. We always feed warm milk; helps with digestion.
If you take a bottle baby home early and you are going to transition from raw goats milk (RM) to your "formula of choice" (FOC), this is the steps we would advise: The first three days, 75% RM, 25% FOC, the next three days, 50% of each, the following three days after that, 25% RM, 75% FOC and then on day ten, 100% FOC.