Questions about the care of backyard Nigerian Dwarf Goat wethers

elxse

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Hi! I'm Elise, I just joined. I'd like to introduce myself and ask a few questions.

My family and I are looking into purchasing two or three young NDG wethers to have as companions/pets in our backyard (don't worry, there's space.) Since we will likely be bringing them home around mid-July, I'm doing all the research I can to find out how to care for them.

I know that I'll need a shelter (we're probably going with a large dog house), plenty of water and wire fencing around where we'd like to keep them, and some sort of hay and grain supplement. But that last thing is what I'm struggling with, as I get lots of different complicated answers online that I know depend on the age and gender of the goats as well as what's available and the climate.

Here's basically the situation most likely: there will be two young (under 6 months, probably around 2 or 3) NDG wethers living in a roughly 300 sq ft enclosure with mostly regular sod grass and a couple other random plants and low-ish hanging branches of trees (no poisonous plants, I checked) in southwestern Tennessee in a suburban area.

What I need to know is:
What type of hay should I purchase and how much?
Should I give them a grain/mineral/protein/whatever supplement?
If so, what kind?
For how long?
Do they need a salt or mineral block?
Any other things to know?

Anyone who can help, thank you so much!!
 

Ponker

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Well, I'm certainly no expert so until they do come over with some answers I'll try to help. About a month ago, I brought home 7 Nigerian Milk Goats. One buck (3 months old), wether (3 months old), and 5 does ranging from 3 months to 4 years old. The buckling is not related to the does in any way. They are all registered with at least two registries and in some cases three. Honestly, I haven't done the transfer paperwork yet. It all seems a bit daunting. My Finnsheep registry (FBA) was easy. I hope to wade through it soon. I digress, sorry.

I've been feeding mine a good orchard grass/ alfalfa hay. It's a good hay around here. I give mine as much hay as they want. If it falls on the ground, its either bedding or trash depending on the location. I use straw for bedding. They like the straw a lot for bedding. I think it stinks literally stinks. I do like the smell of good hay though. Purchase a few bales to start with. Find a good reputable supplier of fresh hay. Judge for yourself the quality of the hay. If you see weeds, sticks, animal feces, dead animals, ect. or any mold or a lot of dust, find another supplier and don't feed them ANY of that hay. Don't use it for bedding either. Burn it it dispose of it otherwise. If you burn, make sure the wind blows the smoke away from your farm and any neighbor's farm or animals. It took me a couple of tries before I found a good consistent hay supply at a good price. Keep your hay off the ground. I put mine on pallets. And make sure it cannot get wet. It must breathe to stay fresh. Inside the barn or shed is a good place. To keep your sanity, put it somewhere handy.

My does live in a 100x100 space with an enclosure. The buckling and wether live in a 900 sq ft space next to the barn during the day and come inside at night since they are so small. I use electric net fencing for cross fencing and it works great. I can move their space around to give them different forage and keep them from getting bored. I have 5 100' sections right now. My charger can support 7. I get it from premier.I use it because I don't want predators getting inside. I HATE to see my girls or boys shocked. Once they get s taste they don't go back for seconds. Well, except Sissy my bottle fed Finn. She gets too excited and gets snapped every couple of days.

My LGD is only 8 months old so he's not ready for full time work. He stays in the barn at night. When he barks, I'm out there like a rocket. So far he's scared off whatever was there with his bark. Thank heavens. Neighborhood dogs are a huge menace. Use over the top fencing methods and take good precautions. Too many times I have read about dogs killing sheep and goats. It's horrible and extremely painful.

I mix kelp, ADE, and meat goat mineral 1:1:1 ratio with a pound of yeast (livestock type) for the mineral. I feed free choice. When the mineral feeder is empty, I clean and refill. Check your area for selenium and make sure your bagged mineral has the minimum standard for your area. Your area extension agent should be a big help. I know mine still is. Also make sure your goats get some ammonium chloride for their urinary calculi risk. There are many methods to get this into the goats. Use what is right for you. I add a small amount to their feed when I mix it.

I mix my own feed. I use barley, alfalfa pellets, BOSS, chopped corn, and a goat ration 17% pellet. They eat it right up. I probably feed too much. Twice a day the does get four cups. The little buckling and wether get 1/2 cup twice a day.

I don't use any mineral blocks or tubs right now for the goats. I do use a tub lick for my sheep. They LOVE it way more than the mineral mix. I use a special sheep mineral mix because the goat mix will kill them with the copper content. I may add a tub for the does next trip to the feed store just to give them something more to do.

I'm a new goat owner but I've had sheep a little while. Be prepared for an addiction.
 

ldawntaylor

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Hello and welcome,

Ponker seems to have given you a comprehensive answer. I would add one thing. Find a vet that knows livestock and hopefully goats well. The resources from here and info online are great. But, sometimes you need someone in your area who can actually look at your goats. Perhaps the person you are buying from knows a good one or would be a good mentor.

I am blessed to live in an area where I've got a couple of choices. Some vets only deal with pets. Perhaps there is a vet that works with other animals but has/had goats and has a personal interest and knowledge.

It is true that our challenges seem to come up when the vets office is closed and there often isn't any kind of emergency clinic for goats.

Making sure your mineral sources/feed has enough copper in it is important as that helps the goat deal with parasites.

Good luck and may you enjoy this journey.

Lisa
 

OneFineAcre

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Free choice hay. Find what is most available in your area. Orchard grass is good. Mine do fine on coastal Bermuda.
Goat Manna loose minerals from TSC.
Wethers don't need grain/feed.
Some people we know that got wethers from us as pets give free choice Bermuda grass hay, goat manna mineral, and a cup of alfalfa pellets each instead of grain/feed.
There goats are very happy and healthy.
Look up Suburban Goats on Facebook.
 

Latestarter

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Hey Elise! Just wanted to shout out a welcome to you! :frowGlad you joined us! Seems you've gotten all the answers you need for the moment. If you have more questions, just post them and someone will jump in to help you. We have some really awesome folks here who raise goats and sheep and willingly help when it's needed. Since you've got a bit of time yet before you get your new family members, browse around the various subsections :caf of the goat area. You'll discover a wealth of shared experience and knowledge and a few funny (& some sad) tales. I would kinda like to reiterate what someone else said and recommend you go "over the top" on your fencing of the goat enclosure. Not so much to keep the goats in, but to keep potential predators away from them. The #1 killer of domestic livestock is dogs... yours, the neighbors, or strays. You really don't want to go through that...

Hope you'll share some pics when you get them! Good luck!
 

Goat Whisperer

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What type of hay should I purchase and how much?
Free choice hay is best. Just make sure its not high in Phosphorus. It is best to have a 2:1 Ca: P ratio to prevent urinary calculi (UC).

Should I give them a grain/mineral/protein/whatever supplement?
I like Manno Pro goat minerals, the goats seem to do best on this type of minerals. It has a balanced Ca: P ratio as well as ammonium chloride (AC) to help prevent UC. This should be left out free choice.
As far as feed/grain, I personally like Bartlett goat pellets. It is balanced and has some AC in it too. Others prefer Alfalfa pellets, but I like the Bartlett because I think it has a wider range of nutrition. JMO, but either would be fine. They don't need much anyway.

Depending on where you are, your soil type, and where your hay comes from, you may need to have a vet administer a BO-SE injection 1x or 2x a year. Ask the breeder you are buying from, see if they need to give any additional supplements. You also may need to give extra copper.

Do they need a salt or mineral block? No blocks! This can wear down their teeth and just cause issues down the road. Stick to the loose minerals mentioned above. There is plenty of salt already in the mineral- no need for extra.

Any other things to know?
Ask the breeder to show you how to trim the hooves. Ask and see if they have been on a cocci or parasite prevention program.
Have a fecal run on all goats after you bring them home. Be sure that whoever runs it knows to look for cocci too.

Ask for vaccine history. Make feed & hay changes slowly. Buy some from the breeder.
 

Ponker

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BOSS and Barley are both high in phosphorus. They're part of an overall mixed ration that I received from the breeder when I purchased my little herd. Upon her instruction, I am feeding a mixed ration containing these two ingredients to my tiny buck and wether for another several months. I certainly understand other's positions when it comes to feed but as part of a mixed ration these two ingredients can add numerous benefits. They shouldn't be discarded out of hand unless feeding them without balancing the phosphorus/calcium in the correct ratio. And adding the ammonium chloride I mentioned in my original post.
 
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