If you happen to follow us on Instagram chances are pretty good that you have seen our sweet Nigerian dwarf goats. They are the most popular farm animals we have here and the ones everyone wants to meet when they come for a visit.
Growing up I had goats at our ranch in Arizona, and I knew that along with chickens they would be a great addition to the farm. I chose Nigerian dwarfs because they have the reputation of being very intelligent, kind animals, easy to keep and have relatively few health problems.
Goats are herd animals and very social, so it was essential to find a pair so they could keep each other company. If you are contemplating raising goats, it’s imperative to make sure they have a companion, or they can suffer emotionally. I decided that starting with two would be an excellent way to make sure we were well suited for keeping goats. Knowing I could add to my herd in time if I wanted to. I found a great breeder who happened to have a sweet young daughter who was very involved in socializing the kids so by the time they came home to the farm they were accustomed to being with people. I decided to get doelings because I didn’t want to breed them and knew I could always rent a billy goat if I changed my mind at some point.
Needless to say, since those two first joined us we have all gone a little “goat crazy” and this weekend will be adding a fifth goat to our herd. With a new environment to get used to and having just been weaned from her mother, she may need little extra attention. So I will be enlisting our dog Blizzard, who happens to be a livestock guardian dog, to serve as her companion for the first couple nights since she is bound to be a little lonely. She will be too small to be in with the other goats but keeping her within sight, will be the best way to introduce her to the herd.
A converted run-in shed serves as the perfect barn for the goats, geese, ducks and four chickens who can’t seem to integrate with the rest of our flock. It’s really like a scene from Charlotte’s Web at night with the ducks snuggled down in their hay, the geese keeping a watchful eye on everyone and the goats tucked into their “igloos.” During the day, we turn them out into a paddock that keeps them out of harms’ way and away from my flower beds! I have a veterinarian who helps me with hoof trimming, vaccinations, and periodic worming on an as-needed basis. The biggest challenge we have faced is keeping an eye on their weight and adjusting or limiting their grain, so they don’t get too chubby. Goats are ruminants just like cows and deer and have a four-chambered stomach which utilizes a fermentation process to gain access to nutrients. Because they are “cud chewers” it is essential to make sure they have the proper balance of grass, commercial feed, hay and access to browsing material.
The goats have provided endless hours of entertainment for us, and some of my happiest memories here at the farm are hikes we have taken up into the woods with four goats happily trotting along, followed by a calico cat and our rambunctious dogs. I feel fortunate to spend my days with these intelligent creatures who genuinely enjoy our company and vie for attention almost as much as our beagle Duke. I hope if time allows you can come for a visit and spend some time with the goats of Cedar Mountain!