A Goat Is Born! Homesteading With Nigerian Dwarf Goats and Video.

Homesteading with Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Meet Lulu, our senior Nigerian Dwarf Goat. Lulu is a seasoned mother. At 4 years old she has produced six beautiful babies for us, and more for her previous owner. Our experience with her has been amazing: she is a fantastic mother, kidded quadruplets last year with no trouble and nursed them all exclusively, has a wonderful, laid-back temperament and is an easy milker. To date, she has passed on her good temperament to all of her babies with us. Currently Lulu is supplying us with 1.5L of rich, creamy milk a day.

Homesteading generally involves raising your own animals for meat, eggs or dairy. We chose Nigerian Dwarf goats as our source of dairy because of their compact size and yet surprisingly good milk production. We don’t have a large piece of property so we needed a dairy animal that was small, efficient, and friendly. The Nigerian Dwarf goats fit the bill. Bred to provide impoverished African families with milk, they don’t eat a lot and still have the capacity to produce up to 2L of milk a day. They stand no higher than 23 inches tall (buck) and 21 inches tall (doe) and babies weigh about 2lb at birth. Nigerian does are well-known as easy birthers, and to date we have not had to assist in any labors. We have only had 3 kiddings yet though, so I am sure our time will come.
Nigerian Dwarf goat milk is one of the highest in milk fat for any breed of goats, at around 8%. They also have the sweetest flavoured milk, with no hint of “goat-y flavour” noticeable in their fresh, raw milk. (Milk that is over 2 days old will take on a slight goat-y flavour, and pasteurized milk also takes on a stronger flavour.) The result is a very rich, creamy, healthy milk that is incomparable in flavour to any other milk, goat or cow! Raw Nigerian goat milk makes a fantastic cheese and yogurt as well.

This year Lulu delivered twins in June on an evening when I was home, and able to watch the birth. We have a web cam that connects us to our barn from our computer in the house, and I was spying on Lulu who had been acting uneasy all evening. Sure enough, she went down at about 10pm and I ran outside. By the time I got there the first baby, a little black buck was already born and she was busy licking him off. I called my son and my husband to come watch, and we were able to record the miracle of the second birth, another strong buckling, to share with you. I love the mothering instinct that comes naturally to Lulu.  When she began to deliver her second baby, she continued to talk to her first-born.  The miracle of life is beautiful!  <3

Anyone who is considering raising goats for dairy should definitely take a moment to watch a birth, just to get a feel for what will happen. This birth, as I said, was straight forward, quick and perfect. I did not have to assist at all, and Lulu knew what to do when the babies were born. Just like humans, not all goats make perfect mothers, so it is important to be around for delivery.

For all information on raising goats, please refer to Fiasco Farm website, a complete guide to goat care.

Please enjoy this beautiful miracle, and one of the best rewards of homesteading life!  Click on the links below.  They will direct you to our youtube videos.
*Warning! The video is graphic. I find birth beautiful, but others might not.

This post has been linked to From the Farm Blog Hop, The Homesteaders Blog Hop and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #87.

And for fun, a video of the babies frolicking, as only goat kids can, just a few days old.

In Defence of My Goats: 7 Reasons to Keep Them.

I recently read a blog post that I really disliked.  It was called Top 7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Own a Goat.  You can read it if you like.  I think the writer was discouraging potential, stupid urban farmers (as opposed to ones who research a bit) from having goats.  I can’t say that goats would be ideal in a city backyard, but I know lots of people do make it work, and it depends on many factors including lot size, neighbours, bylaws and so on. So, if you are contemplating urban farming and still want to maintain an urban lifestyle (travelling, perfect back yard etc) then no, goats aren’t for you.  But I think most urban farmers have a little more common sense than that.  Just as you don’t buy a puppy if you don’t intend to take care of it, you don’t buy goats if you aren’t prepared to farm.  The author says “So if you’re on the fence about them, I’m going to tell you why you should get off the fence.” Or maybe she means the bandwagon.  In any case, I took exception to the article and feel the need to tell you the top 7 reasons you SHOULD own a goat, urban or otherwise. If you are on the fence you need the facts from both sides of the story and then make a decision based on your situation.  No one in their right mind would ever own a goat based on her post.    Notice, I am not just stating the facts, I am counteracting some of the blogger’s complaints at the same time.

1.  Goats are good natured.  They are sweet, friendly and curious.  They love to be loved, they talk to you when you talk to them (and even if you don’t), and they follow you around to see what you are up to. They are not incessant talkers, and I haven’t noticed a ridiculous difference in the does’ talking when they are in heat. 
Lulu and my 2 year old daughter.

2.  Goats are easy keepers.  But they are farm animals, not house animals.   Let’s not compare them to dogs, please!  They don’t serve the same purpose.    Goats eat rough hay, weedy hay.  If it has enough protein content in it, the goat doesn’t need a whole lot else.  You do need to make sure the goat is getting enough and not too much minerals but it isn’t rocket science.   Related more to a deer than a cow, goats eat tree leaves, branches, weeds, brush, and they LOVE our invasive Himalayan blackberries.  They eat the leaves, the stem, the flowers, the berries… everything!  Even the nasty thorns.  That’s a good enough reason, in our area, to keep goats.  They require worming and vaccinating (if you are into that).  They have to have their feet trimmed every month or so.  But they produce MILK, people!  Fresh, tasty, rich, creamy, raw milk.  Dogs don’t produce milk.  So let’s compare them to another producing animal, like a cow. 

Goats love blackberry bushes!

3.  Goats can thrive on rocky, steep, rough terrain, where cows can’t.  They can live on smaller properties because they are smaller animals.  They are foragers and are cheaper to feed.  They live nicely in our yard where cows would create muck holes during the long, wet winters. 

4.  Goats produce milk!  The milk is GOOD!  Unpasteurized, fresh milk taken immediately to be filtered and refrigerated is very mild flavoured.  Most people can’t tell the difference between fresh, unpasteurised goats milk and cows milk.  Goats milk is high in cream.  It is easier to digest than cow’s milk.  And smaller property owners can have fresh milk!  Nigerian dwarf goats, as high as your knee, can produce up to 1 litre of milk a day!  Think, goats milk, cheese, yogurt, soap and so on.  All potentially produced on your own property. 

Good, good, unpasteurized goat milk.

5.  Goats are clean animals.  They don’t wallow in their feces.  They won’t drink dirty water.  They won’t sleep in dirty bedding.  They won’t eat dirty hay.  They are clean; their milk is clean.

6.  Goats are small animals and are easy to move around compared to the alternative dairy producer, a cow.  Our Nigerians, in particular, are only up to my knee.   My 2 year old plays happily with our does.  In fact, they love her!  She hugs them, leads them around on a leash, pets them and brushes them. 
Jesse, a young wether, is smaller than the rooster in this picture.
7.  Goats are smart animals.    Their curiosity will encourage them to check out their boundaries and see what their escape routes are.  But if you have a good fence system they won’t escape.  They know when it’s time to be milked, and they know when you are just walking through the yard.  They will taste-test anything, but I haven’t actually known any goats to eat anything they shouldn’t.  At least, I haven’t given them the opportunity to yet. 
Goats are social animals.  Never have just one or they will pine.

Alright.  I could go on.  I won’t.  Goats have their place, as do dogs, cows, chickens, horses, pigs, and so on.  If goats aren’t the right animal for you, don’t raise them.  Don’t pick them apart though.  Naturally, there are exceptions to all animals, and animals in season will act differently than animals not in season.  Common sense will tell you how to deal appropriately with the animals. If you don’t have common sense then use the internet.  And compare apples to apples please!  I love my dog and she is absolutely NOT comparable to my goats.  Or my chickens.  She is a companion animal not a food producer.  And if you can’t handle the smell of a buck then don’t get one!!!

Goats are part of our family :)

This post has been linked to Common Sense Homesteading’s Living Well Blog Hop #22.