alfalfa pellets and free-loaders?

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Nancy_in_GA, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. Nancy_in_GA

    Nancy_in_GA Well-Known Member

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    We just started providing free-choice alfalfa pellets to our (14) goats. We put the feeder near the opening of the goat barn, which is on several acres of fenced land, mostly woods, lots of deer. The goats are free to go out 24/7, and I really prefer not to lock the goats up at night.

    Do you think we will have problems with nighttime predators getting into the pellets (like deer)? Should I lock the pellets up at night? Or just put out what they'll eat in one day?

    I'd be interested in hearing any experiences you have had, because I'm new to goats. Thanks,

    Nancy
     
  2. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    In my experience you really have to watch pellets as they tend to collect moisture and disintegrate. If the deer can get into the pen with the goats then they could quite possibly help themselves. If it were me I would provide enough feed for one day where there was none left overnight. This would prevent overnight visitors and keep the pellets fresh which = more palatable.
     

  3. Sondra Peterson

    Sondra Peterson Well-Known Member

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    Well I don't have dear around me but would think they would most likely feed from the feeders if they come around.
     
  4. sancraft

    sancraft Well-Known Member

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    I would be more afraid that it would draw rats to the barn. You don't want to invite them in as they are hard to get rid of once there.
     
  5. Milking Mom

    Milking Mom COTTON EYED DOES

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    We have deer all over us and they don't intermingle with our goats. They don't even come into the goat pasture. I think they have a natural warriness of being too close to buildings and enclosures. I'm sure you are out there a lot and the human scent is everywhere on the feeder and ground and barn. Is your feeder inside the barn, protected from rain, etc? I would be very surprised if they actually were brave enough to walk into the front of the barn to eat pellets from a feeder.
     
  6. Cavegirl

    Cavegirl Member

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    The deer here come right up to my front porch.
    I've seen them out in the driveway smelling my truck less than five minutes after I've left it.
    So... That said... don't trust that the human scent will scare off the deer.
    You're best either moving the food inside, or better yet (since you don't want old nasty pellets out there anyway) feed them only what they will eat in one day.

    -Jen.
     
  7. deetu

    deetu Well-Known Member

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    I had a 6 pointer buck hanging out with my does one season. I think he was hoping to get something, I don't know... Anyway, when I would come out, he would start but would calm down and continue browsing once he saw that the goats weren't worried.

    The closest they have been is about 50 ft from the barn, inside their pen. They haven't eaten any food but give my goats lice every fall.

    I also don't think that rats are attracked to alfalfa pellets. Just grass really if you think of it.
     
  8. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    My biggest worry with leaving pellets out 24/7 would actually be the goats just playing with them and wasting them. I know any food I leave out constantly just gets scattered around after the critters aren't hungry anymore. Anymore I feed twice a day - orchard hay in their feeders and alfalfa pellets in a couple of old bowls I set down and then pick up again after they're done. Everybody's shiny and the goatling's growing like a weed, so they're getting plenty to eat.

    I've also noticed that the rats around my place really like alfalfa pellets. My cat has her paws full trying to control them.
     
  9. Nancy_in_GA

    Nancy_in_GA Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for the helpful information. With our situation (too complicated to explain) I think the best alternative is build another feeder that can be easily locked up at night. Maybe a smaller version of the one pictured at the website below, but with a lid over the trough part:

    http://www.nwinfo.net/~milkmaid/feeder.html

    We do have a cat who likes to sleep with the goats in the barn.

    Thanks again,
    Nancy
     
  10. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

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    Or get yourself a dog! My alfalfa pellets are free choice but in the barn. Way to much humidity here to put out the tons of alfalfa pellets like they do on the site you stated (which by the way is the site that got me changing how I do it also). I do let the feeders get empty so they get a cleaning out. Our rats are very discriminating, they are all about grain and black oil sunflowerseeds! And since this time of the year we don't feed either, they don't live here....

    Alfalfa pellets are nothing more than dehydrated alfalfa hay, it last in feeders just as long as hay does. It's a new way of thinking that I will admit I thought was idocy when I first heard about it, boy have I embraced this idocy! :) Vicki
     
  11. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    I agree with both a feeder and dogs! I love the wooden feeder and that may be what I need to build to hold a ton at a time. Right now I use "Hog Feeders" most f the feed stores carries them so you can look at them.

    I don't think the deer can get the hang of lifting the lids like the goats do with out being taught to lift them. Even the goats need to be shown the first time. They are rain resistant as mine out on a fence.

    Livestock Guardian Dogs are also wonderful! you see if you have deer then you have predators! how long before they discover your goats? to read more about them stop by here: http://lgd.org
     
  12. Nancy_in_GA

    Nancy_in_GA Well-Known Member

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    Westbook. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of "hog" feeders. Found some older online plans at Colorado State which could be used as a starting point, in case someone else might be interested:

    http://www.cerc.colostate.edu/Blueprints/Swine.htm (#5756 and #5682).

    But now I have to figure out how to "do hinges." :eek:
     
  13. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    these are what I use..just a different brand.

    http://www.behlencountry.com/asp/catalog.asp?Product=Economy+Hog+Feeders&Family=Miscellaneous

    the goats lift the lid, there are two sides, it is divided into 2 compartments. I could put pellets on one side and minerals on the other, or minerals on one side and baking soda on the other. I choose to fill both sides with pellets.

    any heavy duty hinge would work....gotta be heavy duty...it is for goats.


    (edited cause I forgot to put in the link...that's what happens before first cup of coffee)
     
  14. Diana/KY

    Diana/KY Well-Known Member

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    Is there a difference in the cost of feeding Alfalfa pellets as opposed to feeding hay? Is it cheaper, more expensive, or about the same?
     
  15. Sondra Peterson

    Sondra Peterson Well-Known Member

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    Well down here in TX we don't have a choice for getting any GOOD alfalfa hay and what we can get is $8 or up per bale. Alfalfa pellets per 50# bag cost me $5.65 and there is no waste to the pellets so is by far cheeper I feed coastal burmuda hay or sudan free choice and all the pellets they will clean up in a day.
    I don't leave the pellets out overnight.
     
  16. Cat

    Cat Well-Known Member

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    My Dad used to manage an Alfalfa Mill and I can say that I've never seen an animal that would prefer pellets to sun cured hay, however if you can keep them dry and fresh then of course as said there is less waste. I don't know which is cheaper here as I don't feed pellets as a general rule.
     
  17. Nancy_in_GA

    Nancy_in_GA Well-Known Member

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    The cheapest I've got the pellets is $11.75/100lbs. It takes us about 100lbs for 14 large breed (Nubian and Saanen) goats for 3 days, but there is still a little browse left here in Georgia. The dampness does not affect the pellets in 3 days, but the goats somehow manage to make a lot of them into dust while they're eating. (My 83 yr-old mother has started baking goat cookie treats out of the leftover dust.) If I put out only one day's worth that probably wouldn't happen.

    We can't get alfalfa hay here either, except the chopped stuff in the plastic bag ($9.50/45lbs), which my goats wouldn't touch. I've had Bermuda and grass hay ($3.00/square bale) out since September and they have FINALLY started nibbling a little of it. :rolleyes:

    When I first put out the pellets I mixed them in with their medicated goat feed pellets, and gradually increased to all alfalfa, then to free choice. At first some would sort out and eat everything but the alfalfa pellets, but some of my hoggish goats would clean up everything fast, so I guess the others decided they better get with it. Now all the goats stampede me to the trough whenever I put out more alfalfa pellets.

    All my goats were bought as young ones this spring, and they were raised mostly on grain before I got them. They seemed to be very suspicious of eating anything new---probably a good thing. In hindsight I think they needed an older more experienced goat in the herd to show them what to do (like eat hay). They won't eat hardly any of the treats most people feed their goats.

    P.S. My goats are all dry does and wethers, and sorry for such a long post. -Nancy
     
  18. Diana/KY

    Diana/KY Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for the information about the cost of pellets vs. hay. I get stressed every summer trying to find a good hay source. Seems the farmers have a hard time finding the right time to bale hay (several wet summers in a row here) and I end up with more moldy bales than good. Was just wondering if pellets good be an alternative to hay or maybe fed with some hay and if I could afford it. Thanks again.
     
  19. Sondra Peterson

    Sondra Peterson Well-Known Member

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    I still feed grass hay free choice and the alfalfa pellets. If I am short on money one week then they get less alfalfa pellets but always have the hay. Now if I was in your shoes and I got moldy hay then the goats would not get any hay I'm afraid.
     
  20. Diana/KY

    Diana/KY Well-Known Member

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    That's the problem. I can't feed the moldy hay, so I'm losing a lot of money. It's hard to know if they hay bales are good quality until you break them open. Sometimes they'll smell and look so nice and when you break them open a cloud of mold spores comes out and it's moist and warm inside. We buy our hay right off the field as it's being baled. I was thinking maybe I would do what you do and feed the good hay along with pellets to make what good I have last though the winter. Thanks