When we chose to raise these precious creatures called Nigerian Dwarfs, we wanted to raise them for milk so we could make cheeses & Soap and have our own milk supply. In order for us to have a supply of milk, the does need to be bred and they begin to multiply. Early on we knew we would need to sell a lot of the offspring which is more difficult to do than I had ever imagined. These wonderful creatures will steal your heart. (If I could, I would keep every one of them!)
Keeping every Nigerian Dwarf kid born here is not possible - I've tried! We simply do not have enough room in our barn or enough pastures fenced to accommodate them all. Knowing the day would come that we would have to let some of them go, we wanted to make certain we gave each and every one of them a healthy, happy, balanced and genetically sound start in life. With those ideals in mind, we have built our herd from the beginning to be able to offer healthy, happy, quality Nigerian Dwarfs for both milk and show - We wanted to raise quality goats.
Below we have outlined our farm's ideas, philosophy and protocols on how we keep and raise our Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats.
First and foremost, we want to earn a reputation of being honest with our dealings. If we know of an issue with one of our animals, we will tell you the issue we know of like being over height, not breedable (previous C-Section), sterile, difficult birthing, low milk production, restricted or thin milk flow, hard to handle, not cooperative on the milk stand, hard to trim their feet, previous injuries, any possible illness they may have had, etcetera. If we know about it, so will you. The last thing we want is their new owners to have unrealistic expectations, become disillusioned and resentful of the animal.
Not all animals are super milkers, nor are they all show quality. We are fairly new to raising goats and have only been doing so since 2018 so 2019 was our first year kidding but we do know our goats genetic make up, behaviors and their health. We try and price them accordingly.
1. Here at Mitten Acres Farm we operate as a "closed herd". A "closed herd" is when the animals do not leave the farm once they have gone through disease testing and quarantine. Our animals have very limited interaction with the general public. A closed herd helps to limit any possibility of disease infiltrating a herd which can be devastating not to mention very costly to a herd and the farm. We have a healthy herd and strive to maintain a healthy herd.
We do not provide "Driveway Breedings" or lease our bucks out.
Bio-Security Testing yearly that includes Johne's, CAE, CL. ( In 2021, we tested for Q Fever and that was negative.)
2. We participate in the Milk Test Dairy Herd Improvement program and registry through ADGA for our herd. During milking, we have our does milk weighed and tested at a lab every 16 to 21 days or so.
3. We participate in Lineal Appraisal, when scheduled in Michigan, as an alternative to showing our goats. When our goats go through a Lineal Appraisal, they are being judged on our farm by an independent judge against what is considered to be the "perfect specimen" for the Nigerian Dwarf breed. In other words, the Nigerian Dwarfs here at Mitten Acres would be judged and scored against a "perfect" Nigerian Dwarf Doe or Buck and scored accordingly. (We do not show our Nigerian Dwarf goats. While we love attending goat shows and admire those that do compete, we prefer to keep our goats on the farm and leave the hard task of showing to other folks. In 2020 & 2021 LA was not offered in Michigan.) FINALLY, in the fall of 2022 we had our herd appraised and did very well for such a young herd. On available stock, the LA information will be included.
4. We are lucky to have a large animal farm veterinarian that is very knowledgeable about goats that comes to our farm. We have our goats disbudded under an anesthetic/pain block. We have our buckling's wethered between 8 and 10 weeks to help ensure their urinary tract is fully developed and in doing so, helps prevent the heartbreaking and painful Urea Calculi from developing which can cause their bladder to explode which results in a horrific death for the goat. Research has been updated that a goat urinary tract is fully developed by 8 to 10 weeks of age and is acceptable to be wethered at that age range. Wethers should be fed a quality grass hay but should not be fed grain, and need a balanced 2:1 calcium/phosphorus diet - the addition of ammonium chloride helps keep the urinary tract clear.
5. All of the Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats we breed with here at Mitten Acres Farm have been tested for Johnnies, CL, CAE, Q-Fever and most have been tested clean of Brucellosis and TB or they came from states that are certified free of Brucellosis and TB. Yearly, before breeding, we draw blood and test our breeding goats. Our herd was tested in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and tested free and clean from those devastating diseases. We did NOT breed our does for the 2023 kidding season.
6. We give yearly vaccinations of CD & T, Rabies and we run periodical fecal exams and are FAMACHA certified and do monthly exams for parasite management of our herd.
7. Our goats are both dam raised and bottle fed which helps make them friendly and use to human touch. We can't help it, we spend a lot of time with our goats!
8. We chose our foundation breeding Nigerian Dwarf bucks and does for their milking ability, genetic makeup and conformation of the Nigerian Dwarf standard. When we pair our does for breeding, first and foremost, we look at the health and welfare of the goats. We then look at the genetic make up of the pairing and pay close attention to the percentages of genetic makeup of those pairings. We make our breeding plans to improve upon the breed conformation and milking capacity.
We adore our Nigerian Dwarf Goats. They are such a blessing to have in our lives. We love the wonderful milk they provide us, the joy they bring us as well as the many challenges, laughter and sometimes tears they provide us!
In Michigan our weather can be so unpredictable it makes it difficult for me to plan when we should have our Nigerian Dwarfs kid.
That being said, 2021 was said to be frigid temperatures until April & it was. Based upon the weather, we bred our does later to birth in late April through July to avoid those fridgid temps. That plan resulted in our kidding season being spread out over 2 months - it was very long, drawn out & stressful. We won't do that again! Lesson learned. This next year, 2022, we will be planning on a late March/April kidding season. This too will ensure we easily complete a full milk test cycle of 240 days.
We feed our Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats a well rounded diet that consists mostly of a good timothy/brome grass mix hay.
During milk test, we use a custom-blended, natural, whole grain feed on the milk stand. Kids receive a medicated pellet during weaning.
All of our goats have access to plenty of clean, fresh water, a quality goat-specific mineral mix, Thoravin Sea Kelp, and bicarbonate soda (baking soda) is offered free choice in their free-choice mineral feeders.
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