Early cut grass-legume mix makes a fine, all-purpose hay. Each adult animal will eat 1 to 2 pounds a day
unless supplemented with grain. Grain, on the other hand, is considered a dietary supplement for It will
keep milk production at the highest level each goat is genetically capable of giving. Grain supplement
may also be needed by pregnant does as their time nears, by mothers nursing kids and when pasture or
good hay is limited. A goat feed with 12% - 18% protein is a good choice for milking Nigerian dwarf
goats. Make certain the feed does not contain urea because it is toxic to goats.
Since dietary needs vary from goat to goat and from season to season, when it comes to concentrates,
the eye of the master fattens the goat. One half to one pound of concentrate is usually sufficient in most
cases. For a dairy doe, the rule of thumb is to feed one pound of concentrate for every two quarts of
milk produced. Additional supplements include trace mineral salt in loose form. Many breeders offer
sodium bicarbonate which is a goat's form of Rolaids. Trace mineral salt serves as a source of sodium
chloride and other important minerals, although be careful of the amount of copper in the supplement,
since pygmy and dwarf goats are sensitive to it. Offer soda and salt-free choice. They will know how
much their body needs.
Clean water is the cheapest yet most important nutrient in a goat's diet and should be available at all
times. Goats, being ruminants, need a generous amount of water to keep stomach fermentation going.
Lactating does need lots of water to make milk. All goats drink more water in warm weather.
What Scientist Have Learned About Feeding Pygmy Goats and Why
Studies have shown that food intake in Nigerian dwarf and pygmy goats increases fertility and the health
of the kids. If they are given a high quality abundant diet they have a higher number of healthy kids and
produce a higher quantity of milk. In a recent study, scientists found a 50% increase in live birth weight
could be attained by improved nutrition. A higher level of protein and a greater energy intake also
increased milk production and the numbers of healthy kids born.
Other studies of pygmy goats have shown that embryo survival and early fetal development were not
affected by a doe's low protein intake. However, the kids had low birth weight, sometimes below survival
threshold levels and this was directly related to the poor nutrition of the does. A higher level of nutrition
resulted in healthier kids and the mother was able to produce more milk.
Feeding Your Nigerian Dwarf or Pygmy Goats
Nigerian dwarfs and pygmy goats are neither
instead are opportunistic feeders. They enjoy
fresh, well-managed pasture as much as they
relish brushy undergrowth. If a prized rosebush
or a freshly planted sapling comes their way,
they'll eagerly devour that, too. Although goats
enjoy harvesting their own food, they get along
perfectly well when all their hay and grain is
brought to them. Hay, in fact, should always be
available--even to goats that spend the better
part of their days foraging. (see poisonous plants)