Getting Nigerian Dwarf Goats for the first time can seem overwhelming. Then once you get started with them, and kind of get a groove going with their basic care and it’s not so bad at all.
However, there are some little tips and tricks that new goat owners don’t always think about.
I recently received a free review copy of Holistic Goat Care by Gianaclis Caldwell, and as I read, there were so many helpful tidbits that I wish I had known back when I had started with goats.
Nigerian Dwarf Goat Care Tips
First off, did you know that you can train goats to respond to a whistle or other noise?
I didn’t realize this until my Nigerian Dwarf goats already had some bad habits (like rushing out the gate when I opened it).
But you can use a goat’s horrid distaste of getting wet to do some training.
If you are familiar with clicker training, it’s a similar idea. First you whistle, then you use a spray bottle of water or hose. Pretty soon the sound becomes a warning and they will respond to it.
You can also use a spray bottle to help you move a group of goats somewhere you want them to go. Pretty nifty!
Watch Out For Collars
Most new goat owners know that collars can be a problem for goats. Collars are easily caught in small when goats stick their heads through things or when they jump.
What I didn’t realize was that collars can cause problems even when you are walking alongside the goat.
If this has ever happened to you it’s totally scary! One minute you’re walking next to your goat, holding their collar. Then the next minute they’re laying on the ground spazzing out.
Apparently if the goat stops suddenly or turns their head, the collar can slip up and stop the blood flow to the arteries to the brain.
Luckily, goats recover quickly once you remove pressure on the collar and wait a few minutes.
My goat Aurora did this several times and it always scared me. I wish I had known this back then!
Fencing Issues (Even for short Nigerian Dwarf Goats!)
The saying goes that if a cat can get through your fence, so can your goat. While that isn’t quite true, fences and goats can be a tricky combination.
Goats are so curious they frequently get their heads caught. Gianaclis Caldwell recommends always having wire cutters handy for those sort of urgent situations.
Excellent advice indeed.
Another common fence problem is that goats LOVE to rub against them. Goats will rub away their winter undercoats along fences, and eventually can knock down even sturdy chain link.
Holistic Goat Care had a genius recommendation for large scale goat farms. Give your goats an old street sweeper brush! I know my girls would have LOVED that.
Goats love to jump and climb, and it’s nice to provide “furniture” for them to do that on.
However, it’s important to make sure they can’t use their cable spool or picnic table to launch themselves over their fence.
A good rule of thumb is place all raised “toys” away from the fence at least two times the length of the goat.
(Another tip, make shelves and surfaces slightly slanted so the pellets just roll right off)!
One thing that I hadn’t accurately planned for when getting goats was the amount of bedding and manure that would need to be composted.
Because I am in a wet area, my goats needed quite a bit of bedding and indoor space to get out of the rain. This meant much more buildup than if the goats had been outside all year long.
One way to decrease the amount of bedding is to use raised slatted floors. You will need to clean under these however, so make sure they are easy to move.
If you are in a cold area, make sure the goats don’t get too cold with all the airflow though!
Picky, picky goats
Speaking of manure, make sure your baking soda and mineral feeders are easy to clean, because, you know… Goats can be super picky about only eating fresh things.
This last tip is so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. Only set out tiny amounts of baking soda and minerals at a time, because goats will refuse to eat it once they consider it dirty.
I cannot TELL you how much of that stuff I wasted by putting out too much at a time!
Holistic Goat Care by Gianaclis Caldwell
Common advise to new goat owners is to get yourself a goat mentor. Ideally we’d all have one, but sometimes yours moves away when you are just getting started. Mine did!
When that happens, the next best thing are good guides that can help you.
From selecting breeds, managing your farm, livestock guardian dogs, health care, breeding, kidding, health issues, you name it, Holistic Goat Care talks about it.
And even better, it has referenced books on some topics. So you can go deeper into certain topics if you want to know even more!
I’m such a sucker for good references. I know I will check out some of the ones about pasture management for sure.
If you’re thinking about getting goats, read Holistic Goat Care. If you just got goats, read Holistic Goat Care.
And if you’ve had goats for a while, you’ll probably still finding something useful. I know I did!
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