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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am wondering what you all are feeding for hay? Right now getting alfalfa hay is just about impossible in my area. Anything we can get is extremely expensive. So our options are grass hay, oat hay, timothy hay and something called triticale. I was trying to decide which one to get. How do I decide? I have read articles online and each is more confusing than the last. Help!
 

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Wouldn't the answer to that q depend on what else you are planning to feed? For instance if you are planning to feed protein in grain or concentrates then you should be fine with grass hay. I haven't done the maths yet but last year it was still more economical to feed corn/concentrates then hay. So I balanced out the cost with what I felt was a healthy way to keep the herd; such as my limited understanding would allow, I might add. LOL Of course another q is what will they eat? My sheep, for instance, will not eat fescue - the most easily gotten hay in our area!
 

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My goats wouldn't eat the prairie grass that we bought at the feed store when we lived in Colorado. I don't know what it was. You might want to try a bale or two of whatever you decide on before you get a big load of it.
mary
 

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What kind of goats do you have? If you've got bucks and dry does, grass hay is fine. If you've got growing kids, lactating does, you need alfalfa hay. It has the high calcium needed. If you can't find the alfalfa or it's way to pricey, get the best grass hay you can get, and supplement with alfalfa pellets.
 

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I feed Prairie Grass hay (native to my area). I have never given any of my goats alfalfa. I am one of the lucky ones, I bale my own. I feed them hay that is closest to what they get out in my pastures.
 

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Lizzieag said:
I have read articles online and each is more confusing than the last. Help!
I wouldn't expect the responses here to be any less confusing, since everyone has an individual idea of what it "best" or "correct."

That said, I have for 17 years fed my goats a winter diet primarily composed of mixed fescue and orchardgrass hay. For the last 14 years, it has been in rolls, because they are so much easier to harvest and deal with (if you have a tractor, which I consider to be "must-have" basic equipment for a farm).

In winter, the goats are limit-fed cottonseed once per day, as much as they will eat from a trough feeder in 10 minutes. You could use corn or whetever as the supplement feed. Find out what gives the highest protein/TDN for the least cost in your area. They also get to browse stockpiled pasture.

My operation is meat, but the does have HUGE bags on them with plenty of milk. I have no doubt I could milk them if I wanted all that work. As it is, all that milk goes to growing the kids.

My goats actually gain weight all winter while pregnant on this diet. It is not hard to see why, as my hay is 12-14% avg. protein and my whole cottonseed is 27% protein. They lose weight in summer, when they rely solely on pasture and browse to live.

All feedstuffs are relative in value. It depends on what protein percentage and TDN you are getting for your dollar. THAT is what counts to me, not bragging rights about what "best" type of hay you feed. Quality hay, cut when it is in the early boot stage (seed not yet energed) and not rained on will be best. Stemmy, over-mature hay will not be near as good. It should smell sweet. I'd pick on looks and smell before going to species. I wuld pick hay that has had an analysis over hay that has not.
 

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Jim,
Sorry if this is a really stupid question. Is cottonseed something you buy at the feed store or at the gin? Is is sold in feed sacks? What do you expect to pay for it?
thanks,
mary
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No idea about cottonseed. But I feed a lentil/barley mixed feed. It is very high in protein. I think I am going to go with the Timothy hay and stick with my lentil feed. I just need to check up on the calcium requirements of goats. Seems like alfalfa is the only thing with that high of calcium. No other grain or grass has it. So I am wondering if maybe the goats don't need that much calcium...
 

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A certain amount of it is conditioning. If a goat is used to alfalfa, of course he won't want to eat grass hay! Like a person used to eating steak and baked potatoes having to eat chitlins and cornbread (yummy)! But a goat will eat most anything if he has no other choice. Here we overwinter our meat goat herd on leftover hay from our hay selling business. Any hay that is too wet, gets rained on, stalky, etc gets saved for the goats and cows and the good stuff gets sold. We feed no concentrates whatever and ours seem to do OK on the mixed grass hay. Now that is for a meat goat herd on "low management" not a dairy or a high managed meat business, which obviously would need more for milk output.

My 2c, once they get used to the poorer hay, they'll eat it as well as the other. If you notice weight loss or poor body condition, give a little grain, and make sure they are worm-free going into the winter. Another thing, I know with cows they can lose up to 30% of their body mass over winter without detriment, as they put it back on with spring grass. This is probably true with goats as well, though the thought of allowing a goat to lose weight over winter is a big no-no to most goat people. Yet it has been proven that overwintered cows can lose 30% of bodyweight and still rebound in spring to where they were before winter, and are in as good health as those that were kept fat all winter. I'm not an apologist for starving animals, just that I think most people go overboard in giving more than the animals really need, after all...just how did those goats survive for thousands of years before alfalfa and 12% grain pellets?!
 

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Haven't fed hay in months, alfalfa pellets, 12% livestock pellets (both of which I buy in bulk at a discount) and browse only. You can't make money with goats buying hay, it's the economics of the times. If you don't have sufficient pasture, have fewer goats, or get into something with a higher profit margin, like hogs.
 

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mary said:
Jim,
Sorry if this is a really stupid question. Is cottonseed something you buy at the feed store or at the gin? Is is sold in feed sacks? What do you expect to pay for it?
thanks,
mary
Sorry so late. I buy it at the gin. ANY FEED IN A SACK IS TOO HIGH.

I encourage everyone to buy in bulk. It is so easy to round up a few cheap 55-gallon drums with lids and have them filled.

Last year, I paid 10 cents a pound for 27% protein whole cottonseed. That stuff is amazing!

I encourage folks to check relative feed values and buy what is the best deal, dollar-wise, in their local area. STAY AWAY FROM BAGS if you want to minimize feed costs. There are folks here in the NW buying lentils at 7 cents/pound. That's great! Find what is available in your area. Here where I live, I could supplemental feed sweet potatoes at this time of year for about 9 cents, if I needed to. It's good feed!

Up until this extreme drought year, I have been able to sell off hay so that all my fed hay for winter was at zero cost. This year, I have $25 a round bale in it. That's not bad, as I can sell all of them in about two minutes for $90 a bale, so that's cheap. Because my herd is right-sized for my pastures, I am able to let them browse with no additional feed. People who keep their livestock of any type in a bad drought and attempt to feed their way through it are NUTS, and will suffer the economic consequences. In a normal year, I could run at least twice as many goats as I can this year.

Grain is unnatural in the diet of a goat. In the wild, they would only come up on grain every once in awhile, at the rare grain-bearing plant patch. If you feed grain that way, as a very small part of the diet, you not only are promoting the natural health of your goats, but you are saving money. What's not to like?
 
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