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Dwarf goats are the result of a genetic mutation in ordinary goats. People began to domesticate them in central West Africa, especially in Cameroon and Nigeria. Beginning in the 18th century, sailors began transporting animals to Europe and the United States. European and American breeders of the main breed bred many other breeds.
Nigerian dwarf goats are best to be fed with hay and forage. They need a high-quality hay, such as alfalfa. Their feeding also depends on age and gender. Regardless, Nigerian dwarf goats need to have access to fresh and clean water all the time.
People are increasingly choosing dwarf goats for pets. But many still breed them for their milk. Their milk is easier for people to digest than cow’s milk because it is naturally homogenized with a large proportion of vitamins and minerals.
What do you feed a Nigerian dwarf goat?
As with all goats, Nigerian dwarf goats do not require much care. They can thrive with simple housing, freshwater, and balanced goat food. These animals are well-meaning, love children very much, and love to play.
Their wool is usually heterogeneous in color, with no specific color. The body is less muscular than that of the Cameroon dwarf goat. The paws and neck are long, the horns short, while the eyes are blue. Females grow to a maximum of 45 centimeters of height. The males can grow up to 50 – 60 centimeters.
Their shelter must be dry and clean. The housing should provide enough space for your goats to move comfortably, and they seem to like to be underground. One important thing to remember when dealing with goats is that they are very curious and will nibble everything.
These animals feed on hay and clover and need to be provided with food in enough quantities, as they eat several times a day with breaks for rest and digestion. As the food they eat is dry, they must always have enough fresh water.
Goats, in general, need energy and nutrients to rebuild, build a body and produce milk, and these are water, carbohydrates, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Goats draw these nutrients from the amount of food they eat. Goats get their energy by oxidizing the organic matter of food.
Nigerian dwarf goats should have free and unrestricted access to clean and fresh water. Adult goats drink between 2 and 6 liters of water a day. Insufficient water consumption can cause various health problems. That is, water consumption and food consumption are very related and depending on each other.
Goats are ruminants and feed exclusively on bulky food. Proper and sufficient nutrition can significantly highlight the genetic potential of the animal, as well as the level of their production. All goats are ruminants, meaning that their stomach is divided into four chambers that help them process food. Those chambers are designed to extract nutrients from plants.
Green fodder or pasture is the favorite fodder for Nigerian dwarf goats. Its nutritional value depends on the botanical composition and the time of its use. Pasture has a higher proportion of nutrients and less cellulose and lignin, which makes this feed better digestible.
Feeding green fodder is especially advantageous for increasing milk yield in goats. Nigerian dwarf goats, as all goats, are quite picky animals, so they eat only the highest quality parts of plants, primarily leaves, flowers, and buds, while the stem will be eaten less often.
Nigerian dwarf goats are known for their exceptional liveliness and mobility in searching and choosing food, which enables them to survive even in poor nutritional conditions. However, selectivity is also a disadvantage of goats because in uniform bad food they waste a lot of time looking for more nutritious parts.
Their feeding depends on age and gender, also by what’s available in the region. Their diet consists mostly of hay and forage and they should have high-quality food. Goats need energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
Male dwarf goats don’t need that much quality hay. For adult females, it depends on whether she is dry, pregnant, or lactating. If the doe is dry or pregnant, she doesn’t need high-quality hay. Only lactating females must be fed with alfalfa.
Hay is the main source of nutrients in feeding goats during the winter. Hay is a mediocre source of protein and energy. Legumes of hay, such as alfalfa or clover hay, have a higher nutrient content and have a higher content of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, especially calcium.
Nigerian dairy dwarf goats need to have a balanced meal, which means it contains all the substances that will meet their needs. Silage is very useful in feeding goats, but in general, breeders rarely use it, probably because it is complicated for them to make it.
One should be very careful with alfalfa. Namely, there is no need for its amount to exceed one kilogram in a meal. Alfalfa is a large donor of calcium, and larger amounts of this element can disrupt the calcium-phosphorus ratio, which can lead to metabolic problems.
It is often necessary to give our goats concentrates to meet the needs for nutrients, which form the basic, voluminous feed could not meet. Carbohydrate concentrates are cereals (corn, barley, wheat, oats) and various by-products of the processing industry, such as fats, soybeans, and sunflower husks, as well as bran and fodder flour.
As for concentrated foods, a mixture of corn and barley grains is most commonly practiced, but it is not a quality concentrate. It must contain a protein supplement, and it is recommended that it be a quality sunflower meal (it contains about 33% protein on average), which is cheaper than soybean meal.
Do Nigerian dwarf goats eat weeds?
Larger goats, for example, Boer goats can eat a plant that is 6 or 7 feet high. Since the Nigerian dwarf goat is very small, they will eat smaller plants and weeds. Although they eat weeds, the most important food for them is hay, and the best one there is alfalfa.
But, if you’re raising Nigerian dwarf goats for milk, weeds should be avoided. Such plant species contain tannins and other substances that can spoil the taste and smell of goat’s milk. Therefore, for grazing dairy goats, the best bud is on cultivated, sown pastures dominated by Gramineae, Italian lily of the valley, and legumes of white and red clover.
Goats prefer hay that contains a little weed in addition to grass. The only edible weed is nettle.
Pasture is also important in goat feed. Such fodder, if used in the vegetative phase of development, i.e. when the plants are still young, can have a satisfactory share of energy, especially protein. However, such fodder is very moist, contains a small proportion of dry matter, and highly productive goats and fast-growing offset cannot eat it in sufficient quantities to meet their needs alone.
In the initial period of the grazing season, which is represented by woody plants and shrubs, as well as weeds, may have higher nutrients than the usual plants on pastures.
Silage or haylage, made from voluminous fodder or cereals, can also be successfully fed to goats. In doing so, you must pay special attention to their quality because moldy silage can cause major health problems and the death of goats.
Haylage is an extremely high-quality fodder prepared from a proven mass of grass or clover-grass mixture. Hay for goats must be of the best quality, pleasant smell and taste, free of mold. Haylage is a feed rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Haylage given to goats must be well watered (35 – 45% dry matter). Too wet hay is not for Nigerian dwarf goats.
One of the problems that can occur when feeding cereals is that they contain a lot of phosphorus and little calcium. Feeding goats with such a meal can cause the appearance of kidney stones in adult goats.
Protein concentrates can be of plant or animal origin, such as soybean meal, rapeseed meal, fish meal, etc. The amount of protein is more important than their quality since goats are ruminants, the microorganisms in the rumen produce their bodily, metabolic proteins.
Goats need a variety of minerals of which they need salt, calcium, and phosphorus the most. The ratio of calcium and phosphorus in the meal should be about 2: 1. Vitamins are needed by goats in small quantities, i.e. goats need vitamins A, D, and E. Goats should be allowed unrestricted, free access to the mineral-vitamin premix with the addition of salt.
Such a freely available premix may be offered in bulk and the form of mineral blocks or bricks. It is especially important to give enough minerals and vitamins to highly pregnant and lactating goats.