alfalfa question

Discussion in 'Goats' started by murphyjamie, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. murphyjamie

    murphyjamie Well-Known Member

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    I have gotten mixed answers around feeding pygmy wethers. I do know that it is not nessacary to feed grain to wethers and they should still do fine on hay, minerals, and water. I however have a 6 month old wether that is not putting on weight well. I do not want to start giving him grain, as his twin had UC at the age of two months from feeding grain. He has been wormed, that is not the problem. My question now is, does alfalfa also raise the risk of urinary calculi. I had a vet tell me that it has too much calcium and can cause a different kind of uc than grain. Other people have told me that you can leave alfalfa pellets out free choice and that it will not affect your bucks and wethers. What is the truth? I dont think I'll ever get this feeding problem straight.
     
  2. AllWolf

    AllWolf We love all our animals

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    murphyjamie

    Give the goat plenty of hay, medicated pellets, fresh water and loose goat minerals. On the worming check the eyelids to see if still white or light pink if so the goat needs to be wormed again. Then there is some goats that will just stay thinner than others. Also does the goat have Cocci? If so they will not gain weight until they get over the Cocci.

    On alfalfa pellets it can cause UC in them too. That is why I do not give my wethers or bucks alfalfa pellets at all. My wethers only get hay, medicated pellets, fresh water and loose goat minerals alone with worming when need it.

    Good Luck.
     

  3. oberhaslikid

    oberhaslikid Well-Known Member Supporter

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  4. Sondra Peterson

    Sondra Peterson Well-Known Member

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    I too only feed alfalfa pellets and grass hay minerals to all my dry does/bucks/and wethers have for going on 5 yrs now. also if you want to add a little weight give them a few black oil sunflower seeds and put a little corn oil over the pellets.
     
  5. Milk n' Honey

    Milk n' Honey Well-Known Member

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    Hay for bucks/wethers should he grass hay only and grain should be minimal. We use a pelleted feed instead of whole grains. 1/2 cup per day is plenty for a wether. I have no experience with alfalfa pellets. I would never completely rely on pellets though. Goats need the roughage that hay provides. However, you can buy grass hay which is cheap and add alfalfa pellets to the diet. That might be nice b/c then you can control who gets alfalfa and who doesn't without having 3 different kinds of hay in your barn!! I can't understand how it would make a difference what form the alfalfa is in since it isn't the consistency but the alfalfa itself that is the problem. I'd avoid alfalfa altogether, just to be sure, if it were me. I'd try pelletized feed and maybe add the corn oil and sunflower seeds like Sondra suggested. Maybe the alfalfa pellets are OK but I'd just be personally leary of it. Better safe than sorry and there are others way to fill out a goat. You might ask your vet about it? Maybe they process it somehow that it has a different chemistry. It could be the same with the pelletized feed. Also, I thought I read somewhere where you can add a certain something to keep UCs from forming. You might search the threads for that. I know a lot of people do nothing more than feed then grass hay. We are fixing to take one to the auction and he will be pulled aside and fed pelletized feed for a couple of weeks so he will look better. He's been running with all the does and just looks ragged and a bit too thin for the auction! Make sure your boy isn't thin cuz of worms or something else. Take care and good luck!! BTW, there are so many feeding tips, rules and opinions out there that it would take a PhD to understand it all!!
     
  6. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thinking out loud....

    We have hard water and to keep my canning pot from getting all gunked up I add a bit of vinegar to the water.
    I've heard that vinegar in drinking water may help generate more female offspring in livestock....it may also be beneficial in preventing UC....not only because of acidity but my goats generally drink more w/ vinegar in the water bucket...this will make them urinate more often and thats gotta be good for bucks and wethers :shrug:
    I use a little grain and alot of sunflower seeds on my bucks...but I've had some in the past that I never grained as well but they nursed mom until 6 months old.
     
  7. witchysharon

    witchysharon Well-Known Member

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    The answer to your question is yes, high calcium intake can potentially cause UC, however, high phosphorus intake is the leading cause of most UC cases. My goats (pygmy does and wethers) get alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets and have all their lives with no case of UC ever. In some states like CA & WI, alfalfa hay is often the only kind of hay they can get and feed it with no problems. You will find 'MOST' alfalfa hay falls within a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 5:1 (5=calcium, 1=phosphorus) You can have your hay tested for Ca/P ratio.

    This is acceptable for goats because they have a tolerance for a higher calcium level then most other animals. If you do feed grain to add weight to the skinny one, check the label and be sure the grain has a 2:1 Ca/P ratio. And mix the grain with twice the amount of alfalfa pellets before feeding. (eg: add 1/2 c alfalfa pellets to 1/4 c grain)

    However what works for me may not for you. If you feed lots of alfalfa and there is a lot of clover the goats browse on, that *could* cause an imbalance in the ratio since clover is also high in calcium. Even the water source can negatively impact the balance depending on the kind, and concentration of, minerals in it.

    Sometimes goats will get UC no matter how balanced the diet is. Some are predisposed to the condition, and there are other factors besides the Ca/P balance that can cause UC like high oxalates, silicates, and magnesium. The link is to an article that discusses the other elements that can contribute to UC besides the Ca/P ratio.

    http://www.goatworld.com/articles/urinarycalculi/urinarycalculirw.shtml

    However, I wouldn't trust the UC Treatment it gives at the end of the article. UC is life threatening condition and ammonium chloride, dl-methionine or citric acid are really the only things that will effectively acidify the urine and dissolve the crystals. You have to realize too, that ammonium chloride only works in an alkaline environment and on specific stones depending on their composition. Some crystals/stones thrive in an already acidic environment. Calcium oxalate crystals/stones are more likely to occur in acidic urine and are not particularly responsive to dietary therapy.

    Ammonium chloride may not work if the obstruction is high up behind sigmoid flexure. Sugery may be required in those cases. Intake of lots of fresh water daily is essential to keep the urine diluted. The addition of vinegar to the water as already suggested does help water intake because most goats seem to like the taste and in this way helps to prevent UC....however, vinegar diluted or full strength is not acidic enough to 'treat' an existing case of UC. That is why I always keep ammonium chloride on hand 'just in case' because you have to act fast AS SOON as you notice the signs of UC. It isn't expensive and cheap insurance IMO.

    http://hoeggergoatsupply.com/xcart/product.php?productid=3485&cat=0&page=1

    Yes, it is confusing and you will get conflicting answers on the alfalfa question. If you are concerned or hesitant to feed alfalfa, then I'd try to add weight on your wether in other ways. People use beet pulp to put weight on horses. Beet pulp helps to encourage weight gain and you might give it a try.
     
  8. murphyjamie

    murphyjamie Well-Known Member

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    If the medicated feed I am giving already has a 2:1 ratio, should I still give some alfalfa pellets along with it?
     
  9. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    My bucks and wether get alfalfa pellets and grass hay. My wether is almost 10 years old. They never get any other type feed. No goat pellets, no grain, no AC. They have never had UC. I have fed this way for a long time.

    Beet Pulp does fatten goats..I use it for my milk goats and an old horse. I have never fed it to bucks or wethers as mine are of good weight, but I am sure it would fatten them. I don't know if it is relevant to UC. If you feed it, just start slow like any thing else. They love it!
     
  10. TexCountryWoman

    TexCountryWoman Gig'em

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    If you "dilute" a medicated feed by adding another feed to it, the medication is then too weak to work.