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Discussion Starter #1
I posted the other day on the main board asking if a problem I was having was hay or feeder related. My herd was going off feed and cold. They were shivering. It is unseasonably cold here and there have been a couple of anomalous below 30 nights and even freezing rain.

Not knowing whether I was feeding hay that was unappetizing, I switched to the expensive TSC alfalfa hay and they started eating and stopped shiveing. This morning they are not showing interest in the alfalfa either. They keep going out to their field which doesn't have much of anything left for them to pick out except dry leaves.

Am I seeing the transitional time of a harsh change of weather, or do you think it is something about my care? They aren't losing weight. They have shiny coats and have all been copper bolused and dewormed with Molly's #2 in the past 2 weeks. They have free choice goat minerals (Purina) and free choice baking soda. I feed a goat grain- about 1 1/2 cups per goat each morning first thing (this is what they have stopped eating when they were chilled last week). I thought it might be the hay. I also thought they were getting enough hay due to the feeder which is pictured below. They would only eat off the top but then I started putting the hay on the bottom and also started alfalfa. Now they are just nosing the alfalfa and ignoring the hay.

I just built a 12 x 8 goat shed which is 3 sided to the cold wind and 3/4 sided to the south. they have a deep bed of straw and uneaten hay inside on top of the wood floor. It is really cold this morning - 24 here - but thought as long as they have hay (on the floor and in the gut) they will be warm enough. I don't know though what might be going on. Any thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
They look good. No signs of anemia, no weight loss, shiny smooth coats. They don't look wormy at all. I know they were eating a lot more when there was browse. Seems like they would need still more in the cold weather but I've no idea what - hoping they do get less picky. That would be the best .
 

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Mine are being picky too but seem to be coming out of it some. It's even from the same hay guy, 3rd yr in a row. geez But change is change and "it's different Mom!!"

Are they eating their grain now? Have always read to feed hay before grain. We fill the hay feeders first so our milkers can eat roughage before eating milkstand grain.
 

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I haven't changed my routine at all - feed grain first for logistical reasons. I feed the ASD first thing and to avoid food issues, I feed the goats grain then too and I wait until everyone finishes and remove all the bowls and grain feeders. They wait a while before going out to forage for the day- or to the hay feeder. I hope it is just a transitional time... too much of this and they will lose weight. Thanks.
 

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In my experience when they are picking it means they just are not as hungry. I would deep bed really good with straw and maybe offer warm water on those super cold nights if possible. We don't get those kind of temps here but we can get into the teens during the SUPER cold nights. I just deep bed everyone down, keep their hay feeders full and if I am feeling super nice I offer them some nice warm water with molasses (or without depending).

How has their water intake been? I notice during the cold mine don't drink as much water (hence the warm water) and that can effect how much they eat. Just brain storming here :).

Justine
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Justine :) They do get warm water in the morning- the bucket has been half ice a couple of times already. When they went off feed I added molasses. I added electrolytes one day and when I took my little boogie-boo out for independent munch time (she was a bottle kid not too long ago) it surprised me that she had a long drink of rain water in a kiddie pool that I had left out, so I stopped adding electrolytes in case they didn't like that. I've been watching them urinate and they are all urinating clear.
I had set up a heat lamp anchored to the roof and my buck licked it and so they don't get a heat lamp. I'm going to try a pig warmer. The bedding is dry and about 1 ft. deep right now. I've decided to let it build up for a while. Is it normal for a goat to shiver and not want to eat all day? I was really scared they were sick.
 

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We are in central MO. This morning it was dry but 8 degrees! Very cold for this time of the year. No one was shivering! It was the first thing we looked for due to the fact that we reduced our herd numbers significantly this year (not as many bodies for heat in the same amount of barn space). We do have heated buckets of water all the time. Other than that the only difference between what you are describing and what we feed here is grain...we do not feed grain at all until the girls come into milk. We do feed top quality alfalfa (this year from Ava by way of Kansas). They all look good and they are all out for
browse which consists of mostly fallen oak leaves, leftover acorns and maybe some weeds that are still around. We do live in almost 100% woods. Frankly, I would be concerned if I were you because of the shivering. Did they get wet some how? Maybe blowing in? Our usual defense against cold in otherwise healthy animals is feed MORE hay and obviously yours aren't leaning in that direction. I would agree about the "picking over means NOT hungry" BUT the shivering needs to be addressed IMO. I am aware (been here long enough now) that some do not see that as a big problem...just a way of keeping warm...but I would still want to be absolutely certain there isn't some issue with the shelter, etc. Sounds like you are looking at everything! Good Luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Dozedotz. Going off feed and shivering had me very worried. I didn't want to feed grain but it took me longer than I had wanted to get a big enough area fenced in for them to browse. They are just 8 months or younger. I started it as a prevention and it became habit. Now have been weaning them off but very slowly. Grain is actually the first thing they turn their noses up at.

It has rained twice here. two days ago it was freezing rain and last week it was rain then a 27 degree morning. But the rain comes from the northwest which is sheltered. Inside there is no wetness. Of course in the mornings afterward they do get a little wet from the grass but nothing I thought was alarming.

This afternoon when I went to check they had eaten all the alfalfa and left their grass mix hay untouched so they are eating alfalfa. I guess it is pickiness and I am getting them used to alfalfa but no sense in buying more hay that they don't like. I have a Jersey calf now and she picks at the grass mix too and devours the alfalfa. Hope I can find some alfalfa for less than TSC.
 

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I hear you! Alfalfa is expensive no matter where it comes from. Sounds like they are doing what goats do best...confusing you, worrying you and generally making life interesting for the poor goat owner! LOL.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay definitely the hay. Calf and goats are chowing on alfalfa. 23 this morning and they are not shivering. Found alfalfa hay sq bales and will be driving to pick up and also chaffhaye which goats absolutely love and reckon will be really good for calf too. Wow, what an odyssey. Too bad for the grass mix hay. I thought my worries over hay this winter were over but I know they will do much better on the alfalfa.Thanks everyone, they sure do make us worry and confuse us. :)
 
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