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FEATURED STORY | Miniature Goats

When a young Lora Kniffin first saw a miniature Pygmy goat at the Portland Zoo, she immediately fell in love. At the time miniature goats weren’t available to the public, but today Lora and her husband Dan are one of the largest miniature goat breeders in the country.

The Kniffins raise both types of miniature goats, the African Pygmy and Nigerian Dwarf, on their New Mexico home, Prairie Wood Ranch.

“Goats personalities are just so joyful to be around,” Lora said. “When most people think of goats, they remember large dairy goats. The miniatures are more like pet animals, but can still produce a good quantity of milk.”

The maximum height a male miniature goat reaches is about 23.5 inches tall, and a doe’s maximum is 22.5 inches. Miniature goats will weigh no more than 50 to 55 lbs. The Kniffins recommend at least a 12 feet by 20 feet pen and an extra large dog house for two goats. It’s recommended to raise two goats at a time, because goats are a herd animals.

“They’re a perfect animal for a child to raise as a 4-H project,” Lora said. “They’re also a great livestock companions, like for a lonely horse.”

The goats at the Kniffins’ Ranch will certainly never be lonely. They own 10 goats that they can’t bear to sell, keep about 150 adult breeding stock goats and sell more than 200 kids a year.

“About 80 or 90 percent of our goats go out of state,” Lora said. “We’ve shipped to every state in the United States including Hawaii and Alaska.”

Combined with a diet of hay and alfalfa, the Kniffins use Purina® Goat Chow for all their goats that are nursing or in their last stages of pregnancy and Goat Mineral for all their others.

“The product is always consistent,” Lora said. “And the minerals, I donít know how they’re made, but the goats just love it. It’s formulated just for goats and not sheep, too. It’s nice to have a product that’s just made for goats.”

The Kniffins have been at Prairie Wood Ranch since 1980 and registered their first goat in 1987. All of their breeding stock goats are registered, the Pygmies with the National Pygmy Goat Association and the Nigerians with the American Goat Society or the American Dairy Goat Association.

 

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GOAT TIPS | The Circular Health Check

An important part of properly caring for your goats is being able to distinguish when they’re unhealthy and need some extra care. Many ailments can be caught and then treated by performing a simple visual inspection of your animal with the Circular Health Check about once a week. Ae implis its names, the Circular Health check starts at the top of the goat and goes all the way around.

STOP 1 — HEAD

Eyes — A goatís eyes should be bright and clear. If they’re watery, runny, red, or filled with mucus, there could be problems.

Nose — The nose should be soft, wet. Watch out for any discharge or a dry or cracked nose.

Ears — Be on the lookout for mites, excessive buildup of dust or dirt or other mangy looking things.

Mouth — A goat’s mouth can have problems similar to a humanís mouth. Their gums should be pinkish, not red, inflamed, or bleeding. You may also be able to smell an infection on their breath. Although a goat’s breath will smell like the grains, flowers, or other feed they are eating, a particularly rotten smell may call for a deeper inspection. Checking out a goat’s mouth is very necessary because of the things they eat or chew on that can puncture their gums and cause an infection.

STOP 2 — BASE OF THE BODY

Hair — Working your way back along the body, notice your goat’s skin and hair. Their skin should be bright and pliable. Hair should look as it normally does. Any sections of missing hair could have been rubbed off by the goat because of parasites. Missing or thinning hair could also be a sign of mineral deficiency.

Tail — Check a goat’s tail for hair loss and make sure it isn’t infected.

STOP 3 — BACK AND BOTTOM OF BODY

Anus — Make sure you’re checking under the tail at your goat’s anus. Dry fecal matter could mean diarrhea. The feces should be normal round pellets and not loose or runny.

Specific cautions:
Rectal or vaginal prolapse — Prolapse is when the inner organs get out of place and begin to fall out of the anus or the vagina. If a doe has had a difficult time having a kid, be particularly aware of vaginal prolapse. Also watch for infections resulting in discharge from the vagina. These issues could cause fertility issues down the road.

Mastitis — Mastitis is an infection inside of the mammary gland. The teats will be red and sore. Your goats may also have clots of infection coming out in the milk. Even if you’re not milking your goats, mastitis is something to be aware of.

Urinary Calculi — Male goats are more likely to have urination problems, so watch them to see if they are straining to urinate. This is likely a sign of urinary calculi, stones in the urinary tract.

STOP 4 — LEGS AND HOOVES

Legs — Their legs should be straight with an easy, normal gait.

Hooves — Goats’ hooves should be pliable and strong and not brittle or cracked. Also check their toes, which may need a trimming. If your goats are primarily on soft surfaces they may need a trim once a month.

THE OVERALL PICTURE

Always be aware of the way your goats are moving and acting. If they’re less lively than normal and keeping their head down, it is a sign theyíre not feeling 100 percent.

After you’ve gotten used to doing regular visual checks on your goats, it will become second nature. You’ll become used to your animal’s normal appearance and should ask yourself if anything looks different. If you do identify a problem with your goat, be sure to speak with your veterinarian right away to avoid and further problems.

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GET TO KNOW | Purina® Goat Chow® Feed

Purina® Goat Chow® Feed has been proven by extensive research to provide health and vitality for all breeds of goats. It is fortified with all the essential vitamins and minerals, such as selenium, Vitamin E, and cobalt and provides 16 percent all natural protein. Goat Chow® can be fed to dry does, growing does, bucks, Pygmy goats, show goats, and as a milking ration.

Uniquely balanced for optimal body condition

  • Helps build strong kids into healthy goats
  • Finest, Fresh ingredients make up this all-natural formula (fortified with vitamins & minerals) for superior nutrition
  • Highly palatable coarse sweet feed supplement containing corn, oats, barley and nutritious pellet with 16% protein

Feeding Tips: Feed one pound of Goat Chow® for every three pounds of milk produced. Use Goat Chow® free-choice for young kids. Feed with good quality roughage to all goats after weaning. Goat Chow® is a supplement to be fed with free-choice forage.

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