Caring for Nigerian dwarf baby goats can feel a little overwhelming the first time around. So we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about how to care for baby goats.
What Do Baby Nigerian Dwarf Baby Goats Need?
So what do you need when it comes to caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats? There is a lot of opinions and information on what you need to care for baby goats, but here are the basics.
- A friend – Never keep just one goat, or at the very least keep them with a horse, cow, or sheep.
- Milk or hay – depending on how old they are.
- Water – fresh water is very important for their health.
- Clean living area – Poop is normal so don’t go crazy, but remember they are babies and their immune systems are just getting started.
- Secure pen – although Nigerian Dwarf goats are much smaller than full-size goats, they can still jump high. Make sure your fence is at least 4 feet tall.
- Bucket or bowl for water
Some other things that are handy to have on hand when caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats:
- Collar & leash – not entirely necessary and many people choose not to put a collar on their goat kids, but it does make moving them easier.
- Hoof trimmers – hooves will need to be trimmed regularly (once a month or so).
- Brush – this helps you get your goats used to being handled and they love a good brushing.
- Goat Electrolytes – you can find a recipe online or purchase some at the store.
Caring For Nigerian Dwarf Baby Goats: Dam Raised Or Bottle Raised?
There are two ways to raise baby goats, the first option is Dam raised. This means that the baby has been raised by its mother (or Dam) and the second option is raising it on a bottle. Generally, it’s recommended to leave the baby Nigerian dwarf goats with their mothers (however some people choose to raise the babies on a bottle). But occasionally this just doesn’t work out and bottle feeding is necessary.
We have one Nigerian Dwarf doe that was dam raised and our other one came to us a tiny bottle baby of a week old. Both of our Nigerian Dwarf goats are sweet as can be but the difference is notable between our girls. We felt comfortable getting our Nigerian Dwarf bottle baby because our other girl was older and had been raised with other goats to teach her how to be a goat. An important part of caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats is having other older goats around that can teach them how to be a goat.
Caring For Nigerian Dwarf Baby Goats: Feeding Baby Goats
Another really important aspect of caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats is food. Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to milk or formula or homemade formula. If your baby goats are going to be dam raised this isn’t as big of a deal. Typically their mother will provide all of the milk they need. Make sure you keep an eye on them however to make sure she is a) feeding them/they can latch on ok. b) if she has multiple kids make sure everyone is getting enough and no one is being left out. If you find your goat kid struggling to get enough, try milking your goat and bottle feeding the baby goat. If she isn’t producing enough milk you’ll need to step in and supplement their diet with formula or whole milk.
How Do You Feed Baby Nigerian Dwarf Goats Without Their Mother?
Unfortionetly things happen, a mom will sometimes reject a kid, or a goat kid may be orphaned causing us to have to step in. Or you maybe you brought home a bottle baby. In this situation caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats become a little more complicated. Just like human babies, a baby goat requires feedings around the clock. You can read more about bottle-feeding Nigerian Dwarf goats in this article.
For the first few days, your baby goat is going to need colostrum, if for whatever reason it can’t get it from its mother you can purchase colostrum at your Tractor Supply. It will need this for the first couple of days of its life. This is really important because without the colostrum the baby goat will not survive. One of the baby goats we were looking at when we started our herd passed away before we bought her because she didn’t get enough colostrum. If you notice your dam-raised baby goats are really struggling (or she has too many to care for) or can’t seem to latch on try bottle feeding them with colostrum to help them.
You can either use a premade formula that you can find online or at your local farm store like Tractor Supply. For our bottle baby Nigerian Dwarf, we used Dumor. Or go with whole goat or cow milk. Everyone has an opinion on what you should feed your baby goats, so find something that works best for you. If you’re caring for a Nigerian Dwarf baby goat that has been orphaned you may have the best luck getting them to drink whole goat milk.
Supplies You’ll Need For Bottle Feeding Nigerian Dwarf Goats
To care for a Nigerian Dwarf baby goat that needs a bottle you’ll need to get these things:
- Empty soda or water bottle (use one with thick plastic the thin ones tend to collapse) or a baby bottle.
- Lamb/kid nipple (Some people swear by these, but these ones are my favorite).
- Goat milk replacer (make sure you get one formulated for goats) or whole goat or cow milk.
- Colostrum replacer (if the baby goat hasn’t had a chance to drink from mom for the first few days).
Feeding A Dam Raised Baby Goat
If you’ve brought home a dam-raised 6-8 week old baby goat you have two choices you can switch them to hay (you can give them some grain to make sure they are getting enough nutrients but it isn’t absolutely necessary). Or you can attempt to bottle feed them for a while longer while offering hay.
Dam-raised babies may be more skittish of humans, it’s a learned trait so if the mom is skittish she’ll teach her kids to be. This can make bottle feeding them a little hard, but it’s really important to cuddle them up and get them used to being handled. This is super helpful aspect of caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats, if they ever get hurt or need to be milked because they will be used to you handling them and your presence will be comforting.
Caring For Nigerian Dwarf Baby Goats: Introducing Hay, Grain & Mineral
Another important aspect of caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats is transitioning them to hay. It’s important to introduce it from an early age to your baby goats. This will help to activate their rumen, if you feel it’s necessary you can also give your baby goats probiotics to help prevent bloat and get their rumen going with good bacteria production. Introducing hay when caring for baby Nigerian Dwarf goats is where having older goats is so helpful. Our bottle baby learned to eat it by watching our older girl eat.
It’s so important to remember that Nigerian Dwarf goats are not dogs, you can not just go to the store and buy a bag of “goat food” and expect it to be enough for them to survive. In fact, doing this can kill your baby goats.
Goat feed you buy at the farm store is primarily grain, which is meant to be fed in VERY SMALL AMOUNTS, (about a handful a day). Not as the primary food source for your goats. Typically baby goats don’t even need this.
- 80% hay, goats like straight alfalfa hay, a blend of alfalfa & Bermuda, alfalfa & timothy but you can feed your baby goats straight hay (these come in bales, check your local feed stores or talk to local goat farmers about where to purchase hay.) I feed my babies a mixture of Alfalfa hay and orchard grass because it’s what my local Tractor Supply Company carries. *note because of their size Nigerian Dwarf goats don’t eat as much as full-size goats.*
- 15% forage (pasture/weeds/grassy areas), again because of their size they won’t need as much space to forage in.
- 5% grain (it comes in 40 lb. bags, check your local feed stores or order here.)
Another important piece of caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats is ensuring they have access to quality minerals. Goat mineral is so important for the health of your goat.
Goat mineral is available in the form of loose mineral (which you can spoon onto their grain, or give free choice in a vessel as I do), or a mineral block. Either of these options will work, and again this is where having older goats to show them the ropes really helps because the older ones can teach the youngsters how to eat it.
I offer my goats free choice goat mineral in a small bucket along with a container of baking soda. They have access to it day and night and I fill it up as necessary. *note it may be necessary for your area to give your goats extra copper so talk to someone locally who raises goats*.
Caring For Nigerian Dwarf Baby Goats: Water
Water is another really important part of caring for baby goats, goats need access to fresh clean water all of the time. Just be mindful of the vessel that you use to hold it. Use a shallow bowl to give you Nigerian Dwarf kids water, this way if they do fall in they can easily get back out and won’t be drowned.
If your baby goats are older and less likely to fall in you can use a low water trough or bucket to give them water. I like to use these rubber buckets for mine because they can easily get their heads in and in the winter the buckets are easy to knock the ice out of.
Caring For Nigerian Dwarf Baby Goats: Shelter
The shelter is another important aspect of caring for Nigerian dwarf baby goats, because of their tiny size they can be extremely susceptible to predators. Baby goats need a place to get out of the elements (wind and rain) and a secure pen that will keep them safe. Many people use a dog house as a shelter for their Nigerian Dwarf goats, but you can also use a shed, stall, or barn as shelter. Personally, I prefer to bring my baby goats into the barn to secure them for the night, just as we do with all of our other animals.
Goats (even babies) are great at tolerating cold and hot weather, however, if it gets below 30F it’s important to have a place to get out of the wind. Make sure it’s draft-free, and add a thick layer of straw to keep them warm. Avoid using coats on any goats but newborn babies because this prevents them from fluffing their hair to keep warm. If it is very warm outside ensure they have shade and lots of cool water to drink.
Do Baby Goats Need A Heat Lamp?
Typically when it comes to caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats they do not need a heat lamp (plus using heat lamps can be very dangerous, because they are prone to starting fires). Focus on making sure there aren’t any drafts in the area in which you are keeping your baby goats and giving them lots of straw to snuggle up in. You may need to use a heat lamp with newborns (2 lbs or less) when it’s very cold outside, but be very careful and make sure the light is very secure.
When Can Baby Nigerian Dwarf Goats Go Outside?
This is another question that everyone you ask will have a different answer for when it comes to caring for Nigerian Dwarf baby goats. If you have a dam-raised baby goat about two weeks is a good rule of thumb to start letting your baby goats out with mom during the day and then returning them to the barn at night. Keep an eye on your older goats with the babies when you are introducing them to the flock for the first time to make sure no one gets too rough.
What Do Baby Goats Like To Play With?
Goats love anything and everything they can climb on, stumps, logs, children’s playsets, and slides, dog houses. If they can climb on it they will be entertained for hours!
Have a question about caring for Nigerian dwarf baby goats? Drop them in the comments and we will do our best to answer them. If you are concerned about your baby goat’s health contact the farm you purchased them from or seek out a vet that works with goats.