Using alfalfa pellets instead of hay

Discussion in 'Goats' started by mailman, Jun 12, 2005.

  1. mailman

    mailman Miniature Cattle

    May 8, 2004
    Upstate Vermont
    Hello, I have read on this discussion board that there are a few here that feed alfalfa pellets instead of hay. I like the idea of it. I have a question. Those that are feeding alfalfa pellets only, do the goats also have access to the great outdoors? Are you/they feeding it during the winter, when the goats are pinned up for the winter, with no hay?
    I have read that goats need long fiber in addition to the alfalfa pellets for proper functioning of the rumen.
    If there is anyone out there that is feeding the pellets instead of hay, with no outside source of fiber, I could use your advice. There is one breeder/milker out there "AJ's Udder Delight (" that is feeding alfalfa pellets but her email address does not work for me to ask question of.
    Thank you....Dennis
  2. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Lynnwood, Washington
    Everyone I can think of who is feeding pellets, including myself, is also feeding free choice grass hay for long fiber. (Please let me know if I'm forgetting someone who is feeding straight pellets.) I like the grass to be as soft as possible, and to have as little variation in texture as possible, as the goats will leave the coarser bits. And, no, my goats do not get pasture or browse except on rare occasions.

  3. Croenan

    Croenan Well-Known Member

    Aug 14, 2003
    Stuart, VA
    I feed alfalfa pellets but the do have some pasture and they get hay too. I have been thinking about going to all pellets, except for the ranging that they do, because I spent 1/2 of last winter looking for hay and then half of this spring looking for hay that wasn't moldy.

    I'd definately be interested in the long term effects of feeding pellets only.
  4. gryndlgoat

    gryndlgoat Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    Our goats spent the entire winter eating forage cubes made for horses(alfalfa usually or alfalfa/timothy for variety and extra fiber)- no hay at all. We had to split them to make them "goat-size" but they break apart really easily by hand- no big deal to split up a bag when you have a spare hour. Neither of our does was being milked (first time fresheners) but they were both pregnant from Oct-Mar and both gave birth to happy healthy twins. Our buck stayed fat and sassy all winter too. Now they are on pasture, but still insist on a small bucket of broken-up cubes for bedtime.

    The cubes cost more than bales of hay, but in the long run they are more cost-effective as there is absolutely no waste. There is never even a shred of cube left over in the morning. With hay, we would find most of it was wasted- turned into "bedding" as the goats picked through it looking for the best bits.
  5. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

    May 6, 2002
    North of Houston TX
    Yes mine have access to the woods, they also do have grass hay (we had 15 adult does plus bucks and we fed 17, 40 pound bales of hay this last winter, so very little hay is actually used). This number used to be measured in tons kept for winter! Now I use whatever grass hay my feed dealer keeps for me.

    Don't get all wrapped up in the notion of long stem fiber. Next time you butcher a goat or perhaps get a chance to go to a teaching University that has a rumen cow they use to take cud from for sick ruminants, check out the contents, it's nothing but grass clipping size grass/alfalfa/hay. The molars take care of any long stem anything way before it hits the rumen and is rechewed.

    I will never go back to alfalfa hay, or to any grass hay as the main component of my goats diet. There is zero waste with alfalfa pellets, no hauling, no stacking, no worrying about mold, guaranteed protein so you do not have to change your feeding program for the ebs and flow of good a poor hay. Or out here, just plain guess because there is no one who actually tests their hay for anything! vicki
  6. Pigeon Lady

    Pigeon Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 3, 2004

    I'm seriously considering going this route. I just lost a beautiful doe to Goat Polio- due to moldy hay according to the vet. Cost me $255.00 for their attempt to save her ( they treated her for listeria) and the necropsy.

    Thatch and his wife bought our old homestead and have been taking care of our animals while we found and moved to a new farm. It happened the very day we were on our way to get the goats and move them here! Of course the vet wouldn't let us move any of them untill the cause of death could be determined. A 300 mile drive! Well at least we got the pigeons and rabbits but now Hubby has to drive back down to NC again this weekend to get the goats. Our wonderful big buck also died suddenly in March though Thatch's wife found a dead snake in the goat pen and thought that was the culprit.

    I've never lost a goat before other than a couple of kids to Coccidia and don't intend to lose any more! At this point it would have been more cost effective to have taken them to the sale barn and started over. But you know how it is!

    So, how do you go about switching them over from hay? How slow do you go? I guess is my question. I can't let them forage here as we have a lot of mountain laurel in the woods.

    Thinking back, the lady I bought my original goats from didn't use hay at all. She fed straight goat pellets and had no problems. I started them on hay just because I thought they "should" have hay. Like you said Hay's a pain in the neck when you don't grow your own and have to rely on the farm store and hope what your getting is good.

  7. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    We were feeding pellets only during the winter. They do have access to the mesquite trees and brush too. We tried a bag of the cubes and fed to the buck. We recently bought alfalfa hay. What they don't eat we use for bedding as straw costs as much as the hay. Both ways are extremely hard for DH and me to move around. One doe (we have 3) likes the pellets best. The others like the hay. Since we don't eat the goats, don't know the benefits of this. The kids this spring seem to eat the hay and not the pellets. For that reason we like the hay better (plus bedding).