Tracking Our First Steps in Dairy Farming
Welcome to our Nigerian Dwarf goat herd family! As first-time goat owners, we are excitedly preparing for our first kids and establishing our own dairy herd. It’s a journey filled with plenty of firsts and a tremendous amount of learning. We’re officially introducing you to our herd and their progress here in New Brunswick!
Our Nigerian Dwarf goats are registered purebreds that we carefully selected from the reputable Potting Shed breeders in Nova Scotia. I’m so happy I found them! The goats are a healthy and robust bunch, and we’re working hard to keep them that way! Thanks to my goat husbandry course, I’ve had the opportunity to receive valuable feedback on their body composition. This feedback has been so helpful, especially since it’s our first herd, we have nothing to compare it to, and it really feels like I have no idea what I’m doing.
What the Kids Say — the Other Kids
The kids always say, “That’s not what you said yesterday!” and yeah, it’s true, things are constantly changing around here. They change every single time I learn something or every time I look at my goats. The only reasoning I can give them is that well, the weather is different every single day and the sun goes up and down at different times every single day and the moon changes and the tides are never exactly the same every single day so in all honesty, how can we be? With all of that we just have to adapt and so that’s how it goes. That is my mini lecture to the kids. I hope you enjoyed it! If you want the longer drawn out version that elicits eye rolling and ‘I knows’ you’d have to be related to receive it 😉
Anyway! This blog post is full of the stats about our Nigerian Dwarf goats. I finally weighed them, took some body composition type photos, put their birth dates and due dates down, and got some valuable feedback. And let me tell you, I slept a lot better and my family didn’t have to listen to me yapping on about hay for one whole day. So big thank you to Deborah Niemann from the whole family. The following feedback has been provided by Deborah herself.
Step Right Up: Weight, Body Composition, and Birth Dates
We have 6 goats for a little while longer. If all goes well, beginning of June we should have more! Right now our herd consists of 4 does and 2 bucks. This is the trusty scale that we use. The one great thing about Nigerian Dwarf goats is that it’s no problem picking them up so that you can weigh them. You step on the scale first, cancel out your weight and then every time you step on with a goat you’ll see the correct weight of the goat.
Potting Shed RR Beatrice
- Born: March 15, 2022
- Due June 3. (first freshener)
- 65 pounds
Beatrice’s body condition is just about as perfect as you could want! She looks great! Her body condition is excellent, and her coat is richly colored and beautiful. And she’s got a nice udder started there! But you can see it still has plenty of room to fill up near the top when she gets closer to kidding. I would not be worried about her at all.
Potting Shed Mars Buttercup
- Born: April 16, 2022
- Due July 6. (first freshener)
- 51.4 pounds
Buttercup looks quite small. That’s a decent weight, and she still has a month before she’s due.
She needs to eat about 3% of her body weight in roughage (non-grain feeds, such as hay, pasture, forage, alfalfa) per day, and at the end of pregnancy at least 50% of that should be alfalfa or another legume. That would be about 1.5# of alfalfa. Your pellet size may be different, but 1# of our alfalfa is 2 and 3/4 cups, so that would be about 4 cups of alfalfa pellets, if my calculations are correct, so she’d get 2 cups in the AM and 2 cups in the PM. And then she can eat as much grass hay as she wants during the day.
Potting Shed CM Dulcinea
- Born: March 20, 2022
- 47.8 pounds
You take great goat photos! Makes it so easy to see what I need to see! It is especially challenging with a goat that has lots of spots. She looks good in terms of body condition, coat condition, and color! Such a beautiful rich black coat! The only one that makes me think she might not have a body condition of 3 (perfect) is the photo from the front; looks like her spine is sticking up a bit. It might be okay, but without getting my hands on her, it’s hard to know for sure. I’m 95% sure she’s in good shape.
Potting Shed RR Rosalind
- Born: March 14, 2022
- 44.5 pounds
Another winner! Body condition, coat color, and condition of coat are all excellent. They are definitely NOT “big” in any way. They all look like a body condition of 3, which is ideal.
Potting Shed CM Benedick
Benedick (the golden one):
- Born: March 1, 2022
- 58.5 pounds
- He bred with Beatrice and Buttercup the 2 pregnant Does.
Potting Shed WW Huckleberry
Huckleberry (black and white and all colours):
- Born: March 26, 2022
- 56.5 pounds
I did not get a photo of their back end because they just wanted to play and they weren’t eating. Huckleberry may look like he’s missing hair on his nose but all the goats had a copper bolus March 7 and his nose is very hairy – it’s just short and lighter there.
Your bucks look great! It’s always a little challenging to know if bucks are underweight by looking at pictures because of all that hair, but they are definitely not overweight. If you put your hand on their spine, you should be able to feel some meat on it. It should go down like the sides of a tent. It should not be bulging (that would be overweight) and should not be sticking up like a spinosaurus (that would be underweight).
The color on everyone is so vibrant, and their tails are so bushy.
Gaining Confidence and Peace of Mind in Our Goat Husbandry Journey
Whenever you’re starting a new adventure it’s always a great idea to connect to good people in the community. In this case, the Nigerian Dwarf goat community! Thankfully, we’ve been able to find some great resources from some people with a lot of personal experience. Whether it’s through email, Instagram, or the courses I’ve taken, the small chats and interactions have been truly fantastic. While I’m sure there will be ups and downs in growing our herd, but I’m pretty positive that we’re headed in the right direction. Definitely hoping for more ups than downs though! We’ll keep learning and observing. On we go!
Need a Scale?
See if it’s for you. Have a look, visit our shop. There’s a bunch of other things we use as well along with our own produce!