These section is going to be sort of a grab bag of hints, how to's and that sort of thing.
I hope you'll find something you can use! I'll be adding to this section every now and
then, so be sure to check back once in a while.
HOW TO MAKE A SHOW COLLAR :
You can buy these wonderful collars and pay a pretty
wonderful price for them....
or you can do like I did and make your own.
Now this one I just clipped with a zip tie and I really
recommend that you don't do that - it's very painful
when it pinches my hand. Instead use a metal link,
one of the little oval 'quick-links' or a small caribiner.
Do NOT use keychain rings, they aren't strong enough.
OTHER EQUIPMENT : Lots of new folks ask me about feeding equipment....you
can go to your local feed store and buy those sturdy rubber feed pans and water troughs,
the cheapest usually run about $12 each. OR you can go to the garden dept. at
Wal-Mart or Home Depot etc and get some sturdy plastic flower pot drip
trays for less than half that price. I love them....they're light, low enough that
the babies can get in there and eat, and very sturdy. I have some that are at
least four years old. What I don't recommend using is the straight sided metal
pans...they rust out very quickly. My favorite water trough comes from
Wal-Mart, too....a kiddie wading pool! They hold enough
water to last even a sizable herd several days to a week without a refill, the
sides are low enough that our little goats can reach over and also low enough
that a kid who's accidently knocked in is very unlikely to drown. I do like to keep a
cinder block in them so anything that does fall in has something to climb out on.
And the dogs just love them in hot weather! Granted, you have to replace them
once every year or two but at $8 - $12 each it's not a big deal. You can buy
replacements for about 10 years before you've spent the equivelant cost of a
metal tank the same size.
FENCING : Don't repeat DO NOT waste your money on regular woven field fence.
The vertical wires are merely wrapped around the horizontal wires, so when a hungry
goat reaches through the fence the vertical wire slides....hey, Mom! Look what I can
do!....and you get to watch your clever little goat walk right through your fence.
Personally, my favorite fence material is combo panel....the babies can't get through
the bottom, neither can predators; bucks can't break it and installation is a one person
job. Love the stuff. Don't love the price, though, so I watch for farm auctions and go see
if they have any....they now have goat fence available by that name at Tractor
Supply, and it's great stuff but also not cheap. Ditto chain link. Welded wire and
chicken wire is simply too weak unless used as a lyaer over another more solid fence.
Which is a good choice when using field fence or cattle panels, and what we've
done around our whole pasture, BUT it would have been cheaper if we'd not worried
about saving money and just done it right the first time. The painful truth is that
fencing is the biggest challenge there is with our little goats. The old joke about "if
it'll hold water it MIGHT hold a goat but don't bet on it" is even more true with
Nigerians. My best advice is don't try to save money on your fences - it'll cost
you in the end. Go with the best you can afford, even if it means building a smaller
pasture at first and enlarging it bit by bit. When you're picking out your materials, and
checking the installation, ask yourself if a Chihuahua could get through it or under
it....if the answer is yes then a baby Nigerian can too. And don't place anything near
the fence that they can jump on top of, because they'll use it as a launching pad to
jump over the fence. Trust me - been there, watched 'em do that! lol And don't
be misled into thinking that because our goats are short you don't need a tall
fence...on Dec. 17, 2009, a pack of coyotes jumped completely over a 4 foot fence
without touching it and killed two of my does. I strongly advise the strongest fence
you can afford, preferably with hot wire on the top. For the over-achievers reading
this, my perfect fence would be 5 ft chain link with hot wire on top and also about
12 inches off the ground both on the inside and outside. I do very strongly advise putting
up a small pen around your goat's sleeping quarters, wether it's a barn or an Igloo dog
house, made out of Combo panel. To be even safer, after you put up your combo
panel go get some plain cattle panel, cut it in thirds longways, and fasten that up to make
your fence that much taller. Remember, you're not trying to keep your goats in, you're
trying to keep predators OUT. Lock the goats up in that safe pen every night, and
you'll sleep much better. I've gone out in the morning and found what the coyotes left....
I don't ever want that to happen to you. My goats now get put inside the barn every night, period.
HOUSING : If fences are our nightmare, houses for our Nigerians are our joy....it doesn't
take much to build a good, comfy house for our little goaties, and if you 'think outside
the barn' you can really save yourself some construction costs! These are two of my
favorite alternative housing methods I use for my bucks.
About five years ago a neighbor pulled in our drive and asked if we wanted
some 'truck toppers' for our goats....they're the caps you see on top of
semi trucks. Made of fiberglass, they're tough and light, and we have drug
this one all over our property over the years. During the winter we'll wrap
a tarp across the front of it to keep the rain and wind out. The bucks love
to play king of the hill on it, too. The only problem is you've got to tie it
down very, very firmly as it's light enough to go sailing if the wind hits
the opening. Make sure yours faces AWAY from the prevailing winds.
I can't take credit for this little hut, as another breeder
built it. Actually this is one of his 'rejects' as he ran out of the
metal strips he nailed across the roof to make them waterproof
and just tacked on this folded up tarp instead. But it's big enough to hold
several bucks, and my does have used them as kidding huts. I just
wish I had a few more!
Of course, if you can build a "real" barn, or modify one already on your
property, go for it. But if you're new to Nigerians, go talk to someone else and look at
their barn before you start. Ask them what they'd do differently, what they love and most
importantly what they hate about their barn. Eventually I'm going to build a new doe barn,
and if I can sweet-talk my husband sweetly enough it's going to have the following features :
1) Cattle panels across one corner of the barn with heat lamps hung above it, creating
a 'heat creep' for babies that moms can't get into. I've done this in my current barn
and it works really well.
2) A separate milking room - even if it's just a fenced off corner of the main barn.
3) A water faucet inside the milking room.
5) A storage cabinet in the milking room to hold a first aid/kidding kit, flashlight, a couple
of leads and a pair of hoof trimmers.
HAY FEEDERS : The traditional hay rack, slanted in towards the bottom, is a lousy design
and I don't know why it's been so popular for so many years. It puts the animals' eyes
right under the falling bits of hay, and so drastically increases the risk of eye injury.
In goats, this means pinkeye. Yes, goats are browsing animals and they naturally reach
up, not down, for their food. But a much better design is a flat-fronted hay rack...my
favorite one is a cattle panel wired to a wall, or to another panel if you want
a two-sided feeder. Simply slide the hay in between the panels, where it's held flat so
that there is much less risk of eye injury.