what do nigerian dwarf goats eat

Nigerian dwarf goats are miniature dairy goats from West Africa, specifically in Nigeria and Cameroon. It was transported to the United States and Europe in the 18th century.

Nigerian dwarf goats are one of the easiest specie of goats to breed on the homestead due to their friendly nature. Unlike other goats, feeding the Nigerian dwarf goat isn’t involving something complex. So what do Nigerian dwarf goats eat?

Nigerian dwarf goats feed best on forage, and hay, specifically alfalfa hay, due to its high nutrient composition. You should ensure they have access to clean water at all times; however, their feeding nature differs slightly from gender and age.

What Do You Feed a Nigerian Dwarf Goat With?

A common norm is that a goat can practically eat anything, ranging from vegetables to cooked food to grains. But I’m here to tell you that the belief is utterly wrong.

Unlike pigs which eat practically everything, goats are herbivorous that only feed on grasses, vegetables, and grains, and goats can be picky with food, especially the Nigerian dwarf goats.

For the proper growth of a Nigerian dwarf goat, three things must be present: simple housing, fresh water, and good feeding. Their shelter must be clean, dry, and comfortable enough to allow the goats to move freely in them. Dwarf goats can nibble on everything, so ensure you don’t place something expensive within their reach.

Goats, in general, are ruminant animals in that they possess four stomach chambers, one of which is used for storing food. This allows them to eat several times a day, and you can practically see a dwarf goat chewing its mouth every time. They only don’t eat when they are resting for digestion or sleeping. As such, fresh, clean water must be made available to them at all times, even at night.

Nigerian dwarf goats should have unrestricted access to clean and fresh water. Adult dwarf goats drink about 2 to 6 liters of water daily. Kid dwarf goats need approximately 1 to 3 liters of water daily. Insufficient water can bring about several health challenges in animals.

The favorite food for the Nigerian dwarf goat is alfalfa hay and green pasture. This green vegetable contains a higher proportion of nutrients and less cellulose and lignin that ease digestion.

Besides easing digestion, green fodder helps increase the production and quality of milk in Nigerian Dwarf goats. This is no surprise that dwarf goat’s milk is more nutritious and easy to digest than cow’s. Also, you can feed them with the highest quality parts of plants, including fresh leaves, flowers, and buds.

Their feeding varies from gender and age. Male dwarf goats don’t need much alfalfa hay. You can spice up their diet with grains. In contrast, adult females and goats don’t need much alfalfa hay, whether she is pregnant or dry. Only lactating female goats are e fed with much alfalfa hay.

I will advise you to be careful while feeding your goats with alfalfa, even though it is regarded as the best hay for the goats. There is no need for the alfalfa hay to exceed one kilogram in a single meal.

Alfalfa contains a high level of calcium, which can disrupt the calcium-phosphorus ratio in the body, leading to several metabolic problems in the goats. In feeding, you can decide to feed them on the homestead or allow them to move around and graze. The latter will enable them to survive in poor feeding conditions.

And you should know that Nigerian dwarf goats are exceptionally recognized for their liveliness and mobility in grazing for food. However, the selective nature of the goats can impede the process, as they can spend a lot of time looking for the correct part.

Nigerian dwarf goats’ nutritional requirements

Goats need energy and protein to build, rebuild, and produce enough milk, including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, to strengthen their body cells and organs against illness.

Carbohydrates can be obtained from cereals (barley, wheat, corn, and oats) and processed energy-given goat feed. Also, soybeans and sunflower husks, including bran and fodder flour, serve as a good energy source for the goats.

Over the years, I have seen farmers mix corn and barley grains to feed their Nigerian dwarf goats, but this isn’t a quality concentrate. For this case of diet to be effective, you should add a protein supplement, preferably a sunflower meal, because it is cheaper than a soybean meal. The protein component should be at least 33%.

Do Nigerian Dwarf Goats Eat Weeds?

Nigerian dwarf goats, due to their miniature nature, feed on small plants and weeds.  The only edible weed is nettle. So, you can feed your goats with weeds, but hay remains the best.

During the beginning of the grazing season, that is represented by woody plants, shrubs, and weeds. During this season, weeds tend to have higher nutrients than normal green pastures.

However, there is an exception to this. You should stay off weeds if you raise your Nigerian dwarf goats for milk. Tannins and other substances found in weeds can affect the smell and taste and smell of goat’s milk.

Also, you can feed your goats with silage or haylage made from voluminous fodder. However, the silage must be of good quality. You should examine it very well because poor-quality silage can cause major health problems in goats and possibly death.  

On the other hand, Haylage is a highly high-quality fodder you make from clover grass mixture or mass of grass. Like the silage, it should be of good quality, have a pleasant smell and taste, and be free of mold.

When feeding your goats with Haylage, ensure it is fully watered (55% to 65% water composition). Also, it is rich in calcium, phosphorus, and protein, which are essential to the growth and development of the goat.

Do Nigerian Dwarf Goats Eat Cereals?

Cereals are suitable for Nigerian dwarf goats. However, there is a problem: the high phosphorus composition and little calcium.

So constantly feeding your Nigerian dwarf goats with such a meal can lead to kidney stones in adult dwarf goats. So if you must serve them cereals, they should be in small quantities and supplemented with essential nutrients.

What Can Nigerian Dwarf Goats Not Eat?

Similar to other herbivorous, Nigerian dwarf goats shouldn’t be fed with  

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Chocolate
  • Plants with oxalates, such as kale.
  • Any nightshade vegetable
  • Holly trees or bushes.
  • Lilacs.
  • Caffeine
  • Avocado
  • Azaleas.
  • Lily of the valley

Additionally, Nigerian dwarf goats shouldn’t eat leftover meat or fish scraps. Also, citrus fruits should be avoided at all costs, as they can cause infections in the rumen. 

Can Nigerian Dwarf Goats Eat Fruit?

Fruits are good for dwarf goats but should be in small quantities. Goats often enjoy munching on healthy fruits and vegetables.  Fruits can serve as snacks to the goat, and you can feed them with them in between meals.

Citrus foods are toxic to your goats. Healthy fruits are; grapes, carrots, lettuce, celery, peaches, bananas, watermelon, pears, pumpkin, squash, and spinach.

To ensure that your Nigerian dwarf goats grow properly and produce high-quality milk, you must feed them properly with the right diet. Do follow all the instructions listed above in the article to get the best out of your goats.

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