Frequently Asked Questions
Nigerians can start out tiny at around 2-4lb at birth. At full maturity, the Nigerian Dwarf goat will grow to around 22-23 inches at the withers and weigh 70-80 pounds.
Nigerian Dwarf goats need to be given outdoor space to live and play and forage. While it may be a current popular fad to have a “house goat” that lives inside with other pets, goats are a livestock animal that best thrives outdoors with other goats with whom it can form a herd. They must have shelter to escape from predators, wind, and inclement weather, and secure fencing.
Feeding is dependent on age, group (wethers/dry does/does in milk), and condition, but some basics do apply to all. All goats need long-stem hay, loose minerals, and fresh water daily. For our does, we feed alfalfa hay and grain on the milk stand twice daily while they are in milk. Our bucks receive an alfalfa-grass hay mix. It’s important for bucks and wethers to receive a diet with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1 to prevent urinary calculi.
Because goats are herd animals, they must be kept in groups of 2 or more. If you currently own goats, even another breed of goat, then adding a Nigerian might work for you! Sometimes we get asked if these little goats can live happily by themselves with other farm animals, like pigs, chickens, or cows. Our answer: while it’s possible for a single goat to live alongside other farm animals, it isn’t the best environment for them since being a singleton can cause stress that can lead to other health problems. Because of this, we choose to sell our Nigerian Dwarf goats in pairs unless there are already goats at the buyer’s home.
Healthcare for goats can be a common point of disagreement, even among long-time and well-respected breeders. At Hallman Homestead we choose to use a single vaccine called Clostridium Perfringes types C and D and Tetatnus Toxoid (CD and T) to cover our goats from several different life-threatening diseases. Clostridium Perfringens types C and D can cause painful enterotoxemia in goats, and Tetanus lives in soil, feces, or dust on the skin of the goat and can incapacitate an animal after a simple cut in the skin.
Along with this routine vaccine program, we also choose to have our adult goats (over one year old) tested for one viral and two bacterial diseases that can commonly infect goats called CAE (Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis), CL (Caseous Lymphadenitis), and Johne’s disease. We pull our own blood samples and ship them to Universal Bio-Pharma (ubrl.org) in southern California for testing. We have never had any goats test positive for any of these diseases and buyers are ALWAYS welcome to look at a printed copy of our test results.
According to the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control (wormx.info), goats and other ruminants SHOULD NOT be wormed on a schedule. You may have heard an older farmer or veterinarian say that they recommend worming goats monthly or yearly, but unfortunately this type of overuse in available dewormers has created an anthelmintic resistance in parasites. At Hallman Homestead, we carefully evaluate the need for dewormers based on fecal samples taken at least twice a year and after any stressful events (kidding, etc), FAMACHA score, and body condition. When a dewormer is used, we follow the ACSRPC recommendation to use two different anthelmintis from two different classes and evaluate their effectiveness with a follow-up fecal sample to count epg (eggs per gram).
Coccidiosis is an overload of the protozoa “coccidia”. Healthy adult goats can carry coccidia in their intestinal tracts with no outward effects their entire lives. However, when young or stressed goats ingest coccidia oocysts (eggs), the coccidia may proliferate and cause a host of problems including weight loss, diarrhea, dehydration, and even death.
Prevention of coccidiosis begins with good animal husbandry. Bedding should be cleaned out and replaced regularly, and water buckets and feeders should be cleaned daily to prevent animals from ingesting coccidia oocysts in dropped feces.
Treatment of coccidiosis may come in the form of coccidiostat feeds, sulfa-meds, amprolium (Corid®), or Baycox®.
At Hallman Homestead, we practice coccidia prevention both in maintaining a clean environment for the animals as well as providing our goat kids with a coccidiostat at the ages of 3, 6, 9, and 12 wks of age.
On our farm, we disbud all our goat kids, without exception (we currently have no naturally polled goats). Disbudding is the process of using a hot iron to cauterize the blood vessels around each horn bud on a developing kid’s head to prevent horns from growing. There are several reasons why we choose to do this:
1) A goat with horns can be a danger to other goats and to people. Those horns can really pack a punch, figuratively and literally. People, especially children, can be easily gored or lose an eye to an errant head-toss.
2) A goat with horns can be a danger to itself.
3) A goat with horns can be destructive to its environment. Horned goats can be harder on fences, pens, feeders, gates, barn walls, etc.
4) Nigerian dwarf goats are DAIRY goats, and it is industry to standard to disbud.
Female goats are called does, and must be bred in order to produce kids and make milk. Males are known as bucks. Bucks are generally kept only for the purpose of breeding since they urinate on their beard and produce a musky scent to attract does. A wether is a castrated male goat. Lacking the hormones that cause intact bucks to stink up the barn all fall and winter, wethers make the perfect barnyard pet. If your purpose for owning goats is not to breed or for milk, but to hand-rear for the joy of watching them grow, then wethers are what you should look for!