Resources and Info

This page will contain sources of information for further reference.  It is not designed to provide answers but rather to help you find the answers that are right for you.  It will be updated as we go along, so please check for those updates which will usually be near the bottom of this page.  No one source will have all the answers and keeping goats is not a one-size-fits-all adventure.  Each farm/home is different as are the goats, food supplies, water supplies, etc., always look for what is right for your own goats in your specific location and circumstances.

Through the years, I have utilized many sources of information as should we all.  My favorite goat group is:  http://nigeriandwarfgoats.ning.com/  I started reading this group before I invited goats to share my life and highly recommend it for prospective goat owners, new goat owners and seasoned goat owners.  It is filled with many, many knowledgeable folks to answer questions and drool over your babies.  For good basic information, read through the archives; whatever you need to know has probably been discussed, and questions are always welcome.

My goat person for care (shots, blood draws, tattoos, hoof trimming, etc.) is Deanna Clark, “The Goat Expert” on facebook.  Her email address is RavensViewFarm@g.mail.com and her website is http://ravensviewfarms.com/  I have been extremely pleased with her and highly encourage you to contact her for goat care.

There are many excellent books on the market.  When I sell kids, I send a copy of “Raising Goats Naturally” by Deborah Niemann with the new owners.  The author is an experienced goat owner and has heavily researched for the book to ensure the information is the most up-to-date available.  You can order an autographed copy here:  http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/p/buy.html  It will be your most valuable printed resource.

One of the most important things you can do is to find a good goat vet before you buy your goats.  I specified goat vet because not all vets, large or small animal vets, are experienced with goats and familiar with their special needs.  Goats are not little cattle and are quite different so be certain you choose someone who has studied goats specifically and has kept up to date with the latest information.  It is a good idea to talk to other goat owners in your area for recommendations.

What do goats need? This site gives easy-to-understand information:  http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2014/05/7-things-goats-need.html

Parasites?  Yes, parasites.  Goats have them.  In fact, goats have worms at all times.  Everything must be in balance in all living creatures, and that includes the “worm load” in goats.  Never, ever give a dewormer to a goat unless a fecal test has been done to determine if it is needed and which one is needed.  Here is one article:  http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2015/04/internal-parasite-in-goats-preventing.html  Also, Deborah discusses this in her book, “Raising Goats Naturally” in very straightforward way.  One on-line source that discusses this is:  http://www.acsrpc.org/

“I live in town.  Can I have goats?”  The answer to that is check with your own city/town.  More and more are allowing goats in town. However, there are specific regulations regarding numbers for size of property, setbacks for buildings, etc., as well as no bucks allowed.  Bucks can be quite aromatic, especially during rut, and neither you or your neighbors will find it pleasing.

“They are so cute. I only want one.”  Absolutely never only one!  Goats are herd animals and need a goat companion, a goat companion.  Most goat breeders will not sell a single goat unless it is going to a home where there are already goats.  Solitary goats are stressed and can have health problems and even die.  Good information here:  http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2014/06/debunking-9-ill-conceived-notions-about.html

“What do I need to know?”  There are many resources available on line, some of the most valuable are individual farms.  One of those farms is at http://rosasharnfarm.com/wordpress/goats/care-tips  I encourage you to search for others, specifically Nigerian Dwarf goat farms.  When you join the above referenced on-line goat group (http://nigeriandwarfgoats.ning.com/), you will have a wealth of information there with questions answered for your specific circumstance.  Here is another site giving suggestions for just getting started:  http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/goat-starter-list/

“What about diseases?”  When you buy your goats, you should verify that you are buying for a tested and “clean” (disease-free) herd.  Even so, I recommend that you have your own goats tested by your vet.  A good source of information regarding testing is at:  http://hoeggerfarmyard.com/test-your-goats/  The most valuable thing you can do needs to be done every single day – absolute cleanliness and sanitation surrounding milking and the storing of milk; a good and necessary practice with all food you eat but especially important with your milk.  Also, if you take your does to be bred elsewhere, the breeder will require recent test results; if the breeder does not don’t go there because you want your doe to go only to a disease-free farm.

“Do you milk?” The answer to that is yes, absolutely.  A properly-cared-for goat produces incredibly delicious milk.  Nigerian Dwarf goat milk makes the best ice cream you can imagine.  Yogurt is often the first “product” goat owners make; cream cheese is another easy-to-make cheese.  Very easy to make is custard based vanilla ice cream which has only milk, eggs, sugar, and natural vanilla and is a healthy treat for the family with no “added” ingredients.  There are many ice cream recipes that use honey or stevia for the sweetener, so if you use honey from your own bees, everything except the vanilla is from your own back yard.  Because of the high butter fat, Nigerian Dwarf milk is perfect for cheese; the yield is much higher than cow milk and even higher than other types of goat milk.  Most people start with ricotta or soft cheeses which are the easiest to make and later graduate to hard cheeses.  The whey from making cheese is nutritious and many use it in soups as well as the liquid in breads and other backed goods.

Why goat milk?  There are many reasons for drinking/using goat milk.  This page touches on many of them:  http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/whats-so-great-about-dwarf-nigerian-goat-milk-anyway/  As always, I encourage you to look for information from other sources.

Breeding.  To get milk, your doe needs to have kidded which means having her bred.  Especially important if you have Nigerian Dwarf does, only breed to a purebred Nigerian Dwarf buck or you are asking for potential birthing problems.  Your doe has much more delicate bone structure than do the other breeds and her body may not be able to handle the bone structure (and larger heads) of other breeds (including and especially pygmy goats).  Also, I highly recommend breeding your does only to registered bucks.  I made the mistake of trusting my breeder who got his new buck “with all the paperwork to register him” but had not.  The result was that my doe had a cryptorchid buckling who had to have abdominal surgery to neuter him and died as a result of the surgery.  It is a birth defect which had carried through his father.  Because the original owner of the buck did not pay the $4 to register him before selling, I honestly believe they knew and didn’t want it tracked back to their farm.  Defects can happen but are much more likely in non-registered goats; there is a reason their pedigree is not tracked and often defects are in those reasons.  Sadly, realistically, a cryptorchid’s only future is freezer camp.

Horns or no horns?  This is a personal decision and should be based on your goats and their circumstances and made with you having researched the options.  In general, because of the nature of goats, it is recommended your entire herd be horned or not horned.  When I first considered getting goats, I was on fence about the horn issue.  I did a lot of reading and when I learned that a buck (especially) would try to hook his horns around his opponents leg(s) and break it/them, that pushed me to the no horns side.  Because I have granddaughters and my youngest one lost an eye to cancer, I would not have been comfortable with her being around a horned goat. My goats are both pets and for milk production which is a major factor (milkers are handled at least twice daily).  They are well protected from predators which is a consideration for some (depending on the goat breed).  This article goes over many facets of the horn or no horn  issue.  It is written by a person who is giving a variety of information as well as saying what she decided to do and why.  https://thriftyhomesteader.com/goat-disbudding-options/

Tattoos, for goats?  Yes, goats have tattoos.  In fact, for showing they are required.  Most are tattooed in the ears though under the tail is an option.  When a herd name is issued, a herd tattoo is also issued.  Those initials are tattooed into the right ear.  The individual goat’s number is tattooed in the left ear.  The number is preceded by the letter for that year.  The letter for 2015 is “F,” for 2016 it will be “G.”  The number is the birth order of that kid on the farm on which it is born.  In 2014, my kids were numbered E-1, E-2, E-3 for the first litter and E-4, E-5 and E-6 for the second litter.

Pedigrees?  Once source for understanding those papers is here:  http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/understanding-goat-pedigrees/

What color are they?  One of the adventures of owning Nigerian Dwarf goats is waiting to see what the kids are going to look like.    One source:  http://www.americangoatsociety.com/education/ND_suggested_colors_patterns.php  A second source that shows colors and patterns, much more colorful:  http://nigeriandwarfcolors.weebly.com/

Nigerian Dwarf Goats in Australia!  One farm is introducing these sweet little goats to an entire continent.  Australia does not allow the importation of live goats to ensure scrapies in not introduced the country – it would devastate the sheep there which are a huge part of their economy.  You can find information about this endeavor that has so many hurdles at:  FirstFleetDairyGoats.WordPress.Com

My most trusted go-to sourcehttp://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2015/01/a-beginners-guide-to-goats.html

Kidding positions:  http://www.gryphontor.com/youre-kidding—dont-panic.html

An article about potential goat keeping in townhttp://www.livinghomegrown.com/the-truth-about-keeping-backyard-goats/

About deworming:  http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2015/03/dewormer-resistance-in-goats.html

This listing of supplies is pretty extensive but covers every potential need.  Many things, such as a tattoo kit, many goat owners will never need.  Others, like the nipple, blood stopper, etc., might not be anticipated but are critical when you do need them.  http://www.editormelinda.com/blog/supplies-for-a-goat-herder#

About copperhttp://goatspots.com/articles/copper/

Birthing guidance:  Note:  I cannot stress enough that you are with your goat and only you can know the right answer if there seems to be a problem.  Follow your instincts and make your decisions based on what is in front of you, calmly, and follow your gut.  http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2015/04/goat-birthing-problem-with-online-advice.html  and  http://www.homegrownandhandmadethebook.com/2015/04/goat-birthing-patience-is-virtue.html?m=1

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