As I'm sure you all have noticed, the goats are horrid wasters of hay...and it drives me totally insane!
So I went to the feed store to get a bag of alfalfa pellets ($8.50 for 50#). I started to mix it in with their normal grain ration. Of course, for the first few days they, as if by magick, managed to eat everything except the alfalfa pellets.
They are starting to eat the pellets now, but my real question would be this:
Do you just keep a big 'ole bucket of alfalfa pellets out so they can have it whenever they want, or do you feed it with the grain rations? And do you still have hay out, or just get rid of hay alltogether when feeding pellets?
And, do they actually waste less pellets than hay, or do they still manage to get little alfalfa pellets all over the ground?
Just trying (like everyone else) to reduce feed costs. At $9.50 per bail of so-so alfalfa, it's killing me to see all the waste.
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. - Thomas Jefferson
You will find people who do it each of the ways you have mentioned.
We give alfalfa with a little grain to all dry/bred does 2x/day- when they are in milk, they get alfalfa before/after milking - we put out a couple pounds per head, then just do grain on the stand. The alfalfa keeps the does from going nuts while waiting their turn...and it is a big part of their nutrition.
We still leave hay free choice, but I know there are people who no longer feed hay - just alfalfa pellets. They do free choice or else a couple feedings per day.
It's my opinion that they still need hay, it's necessary roughage that's needed to heat their bodies in winter. I'd buy cheaper hay, plus move the hay into an area where they have to reach for a mouthfull of hay. Any dropage can still be eaten because it's not been stepped on or peed on. For example just having the hay in a pen elevated on pallets, with simple swinging metal gate blocking their entry. They just put their necks though and eat. Key hole mangers are the best but dangerous at the same time.
I feed mine alfalfa pellets since running out of alfalfa hay. They won't touch grass hay because they have been eating alfalfa. The only time I've seen them shiver was when I tried switching them to grass hay. They refused to eat it and were waiting for the alfalfa.
I would think the pellets have all the components of hay so there should be no difference in roughage.
"Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?" Hobbs
"I'm not sure that man needs the help." Calvin
I only feed alfalfa pellets when needed. I purchase large round bales of regular grass hay. Outdoor stored bales are OK even, as the outer bad layer peels off to reveal good stuff underneath... I use the outer layer as bedding for my animals so there is actually little waste There is little alfalfa in them, and all goats get as close to free choice hay as possible during the winter. During the summer, my bucks don't get any hay and the rest are fed hay about 1x per day if their pasture is grazed down.
My grain mix is 6 parts purina chow, 2 parts alfalfa pellets, 1 part BOSS and 1 part shredded beet pulp. My mini meat does get this grain mix 2-3 weeks pre kidding and for only 2 weeks post kidding. My dairy does get this mix at a rate of 1 lb per 3 lbs milk produced. If they finish their grain ration before I'm done milking they also get the alfalfa pellets while up in the stand. All does are flushed pre-breeding starting a month before my breeding season starts, and continues until they prove to be bred. Bucks and wethers never get grain unless they are severely underweight or otherwise could use the extra nutrition. Kids get grain free choice starting at 4 weeks on till about 12 weeks, then they are fed once per day. My mini does end up getting grain only 3 months per year, while my dairy does get it for about 11 months out of the year. This minimal feed works good for me, and keep in mind this isn't set in stone; my goats are fed according to their health and condition. With alfalfa, I feed it only to those who need it.