need hay help!!!

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Donna, Sep 11, 2004.

  1. Donna

    Donna TrailRider

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    Aug 11, 2004
    Location:
    puryear,TN
    Just started getting my goat herd and having a real hard time with hay usage.I do have hay in feeders. Feeding alfalfa hay,and the goats are wasting a lot. They eat all the leaves and leave all the stalky parts,is this normal or because I am feeding them so good do they just wait til next feeding to get the good stuff?Do they eat the stalky parts? I have a large quanity of this kind of hay and don't really have the room to get different stuff and this is good hay but they just waste so much. Thought about going to pellets but is this expensive? I have been reading and they say alfalfa is good for them so I am confused why they waste so much?Your input will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Donna
     
  2. Galloping Goats

    Galloping Goats Active Member

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    Jun 25, 2004
    Location:
    The Pacific Northwest
    That's a goat for you :eek: . Slanted hay feeders that they have to keep their heads in while they eat will cut down a little on the waste but they just are that way. No they won't eat the stems. Here I look for good quality orchard grass hay. Less expensive, not stemmy.
     

  3. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Jun 28, 2003
    Location:
    Southeast Iowa
    I keep hearing that goats don't eat the stems and they gobble up the leaves. I have exactly the opposite problem. I have to clean out the good leaves in order to make room for the stemmy parts of the alfalfa hay I have. Maybe it's too rich - Iowa alfalfa is awfully high in protein and nutrients. But they refuse to eat the leafy parts - and go straight for the stems!

    As for waste, yes, they waste a LOT of hay. I managed to get that reduced from 50%+ to closer to 10% waste when we rebuilt our hay manger...they have to stick their heads through *two* sets of bars to get to the hay now, so they aren't grabbing it and slinging a mouthful across the room while they chew the rest - they just leave their heads in there now since it's more work to do otherwise.

    Depending on how much the hay cost you, how much they are wasting, and comparing that to the price of alfalfa pellets, it MAY be to your advantage to do the pellets. Some people find it so, others do not. I have a great barter system so don't "pay" for my hay, so to speak, but if I was actually spending the money, I think I'd change the grain ration my dairy goats are getting and go with a less expensive grass hay...

    Sarah
     
  4. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    North of Houston TX
    Don't put out any more hay until they eat it all. Unless soiled or stepped on, they will eat it. Who is wasting the hay here :)

    I moved to alfalfa pellets for many reasons. Our keeping quality of our hay is poor, way too much humidity, no freezes, so our barns are hot and humid through most of our winter. Good hay even from New Mexico, starts depleting in nutrients as soon as it hits here, then I am feeding fresh milkers and new kids hay that has sat in our hot wet humid barns all winter. Whats the nutitional count on hay that is 8 months old, stored in these conditions? Mold, leaf shatter, it's a nitemare. Plus driving to get it, loading it, hauling it, stacking it. Then you feed it and then the pitch forking up the waste, or worse, trying to dig out hay pats ful of manure and urine that sets all winter? NO THANK YOU! If I could pay 2$ a bale like some do up north for any hay, I may feed it :)

    Down here the 7 and 8$ per 50 pounds of alfalfa pellets with zero waste, no storage problems is the solution.

    Also for my does who are good milkers and carry high multiples, if I can not look at their nutrition management and see where their calcium is coming from, than we have problems with hypocalcemia. At the show yesterday someone was telling me about her problems with breeding her does young, bowed front legs etc. Looking into her pen I asked her "Where is the calcium in your does diet coming from?" She shook her head knowingly as we started talking about alfalfa pellets. Vicki
     
  5. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    I made my own hay feeder out of a piece of left over dog wire fencing (makig sure there are no sharp points sticking out). I only put as much hay in it as they will eat in one day. They drop some and do pull out a lot but not too much is wasted.
     
  6. Donna

    Donna TrailRider

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    Aug 11, 2004
    Location:
    puryear,TN
    Thanks for all the suggestions,looks like maybe I should make better hay mangers and leave the hay in it til they eat it all. I think they pick out their favorites and wait til next feeding to get more of what they like as all the other animals I have on this alfalfa hay eat everything.In the old sayings goats eat everything including the tin cans! Didn't realize they are picky or just plain smart!!
    Donna
     
  7. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Keyhole shaped places for them to stick their heads in the manger saves most of your hay. A sheet of plywood with holes that are round at the top, but narrow where their neck will be when they are standing at the feeder makes them lift their head high to get in and out of the feeder. Most will not back out and drop a mouthfull of hay, because it is too much bother for them. If the hay you feed is not gone at the next feeding time, they had more than they needed, unless there is spoilage or mold in the hay. Grass hay is good when cut at the right stage. Rainy weather sometimes makes it impossible to cut when you should. Grass hay that has seed heads formed on it is very unpalateable to animals even though it looks great and smells great..
     
  8. unixguy

    unixguy Member

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    May 13, 2004
    Location:
    Colorado
    Good Afternoon;

    We have kept our goats on pasture, and disperse our herd come winter, Until now. Next year we are planning on building up a herd that we will keep permanently. The keyhole mangers that we inherited from the previous owner of our homestead don't work great- There was still a lost of wasted hay.

    I am planning on building a new manger come spring, and I have been looking at the design presented in Storeys Guide to Raising Dairy Goats by Jerry Belanger ( I know, I know, I've not found the Storey books great, but they are what we have been able to find locally) On page 57-60 there is a design presented that specifically addresses the waste issue, and it makes sense to me. Which means it probably won't work. Worth looking at anyway.

    Let me know what you end up doing, as I said, I need to build one too!

    Good luck

    Unixguy
     
  9. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Goats, if left to their own devices are browsers, like deer. They prefer and require leafy material.

    I'm certainly no expert like Vicky, but I've raised my share of goats, free range over the years.

    I look for at least second cutting alfalfa, prefreably third if I can find it. First cutting is too stemmy, second is passable, but if you are looking for true economy, look for the very last cutting alfalfa in your area.