Most people think goats will feed on anything, “tin cans,” but this simply isn’t true; they are actually very picky eaters. In spite of popular belief, Nigerian Dwarf Goats are not strictly grazers actually, they’re browsers. The difference between the two are browsers like to take a nibble here and a nibble there of any bush or tree that they might have access to on your property. Shrubs and leafy plants will be the first things that goats go for, especially the pretty ones! They will eat grass but if they have a choice they will choose leafy plants as evidenced in my backyard. All our bushes are stripped of leaves and the trees are trimmed perfectly at goat head height! However, we still don’t mow our lawn because goats will default to the grass once everything else is no longer reachable.
Now that there is some common ground in defining Nigerian Goat feeding behavior let’s talk about what to feed. What you feed your Nigerian goats depends on 2 things:
- The nutritional quality of the soil in which the feed is grown.
- The gender and stage of your Nigerian goat.
What to feed Nigerian Dwarf Does
The feeding regime we implement for our Nigerian does involves using quality alfalfa hay in the morning and quality forage hay in the evening. Alfalfa is legume hay and contains more calcium and protein than forage/grass hays. Legume hay (alfalfa) will have about twice as much calcium and protein as grass hay. Does in milk and their growing kids will benefit from the extra protein provided in the legume type of hay. Forage hay as well as Timothy, Bermuda and Orchard grass hay are all grass hays with lower protein and calcium percentages.
What to feed Pregnant Does and growing Kids
Our does are supplemented with a mixture 2:1:1 rolled oats, BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds), and Alfalfa pellets. Does that are in the late stages of pregnancy, about 1 month to go, are given this grain mixture to give them extra nutrition and energy for the finishing of fetal & mammary development. Growing goat kids also need the extra protein provided by the grain. You may be able to find some premixed grain rations available in farm supply/feed stores. Check the label to ensure that the grain mixture is around 16% protein, 16% calcium to 8% phosphorus.
In the end you will have a grain mixture that looks like the picture on the right.
What to feed Milk Does
If you have Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats as a source of your own milk, there are things yo can do to influence the flavor of their milk. We have found that if you feed the Nigerian Dwarf Does a 2:1 ratio of the mixture above and shredded beet pulp the combination of the beet pulp and the BOSS will sweeten the milk. It is also a good idea to keep your milking does away from eucalyptus trees and leaves.
You may also want to read our article on feeding Nigerian Dwarf Wethers