Sweet clover is fine for fresh grazing, but can mold easily in hay and become toxic. Here in Missouri, our highly variable winters range from warm, open southern conditions great for year-round grazing to bitter, icy, plains winters where the goats spend  months in the barn reliant on hay. Ideally, you would try to identify a hay supplier ahead of time and look at the hayfield before it’s cut to determine what’s in it and how healthy the plants look. They clean everything up completely... the stems and all. At MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. Nutritionally alfalfa is the same regardless of whether it is pellets, cubes, or hay, but goats really need the long stem forage, such as hay, to keep their rumen working. Having a hay feeder can help both to reduce that waste and to attain your goal of living a green lifestyle. The simple feeder shown here is easy to make, easy to use, and holds enough hay to feed 8 to 15 goats (depending on their size) for several days. She published Ruminations: The Nigerian Dwarf and Mini Dairy Goat magazine and Goat Health Care. Canadian Subscribers - Click Here account? It has less weeds, is finer-stemmed, fertilized, and grown during the optimal growing season. Actually it is a productive choice for producing winter hay for goats and other animals. Clover. We raise as much of it ourselves as possible (through good pasture management), and work to buy the rest from a known, reliable source we trust. If you want a larger one, use a longer section of cattle panel. I think I need to look into using this for my goats too. What kind of hay is best for goats? Thus you want your hay to have lots of leafy material in it compared to the amount of mature seed stalks and stems; a really bristly, stemmy hay is probably not going to be as good as a younger, softer-feeling hay. For whatever it’s worth, 40 small square bales each of grass and alfalfa hay was an ample annual supply for our 4 adult does. This does depend on the type of hay; alfalfa leaves grow on a strong stem to begin with, so alfalfa hay will generally feel rougher than pure grass hay. There are many options for goat hay … Storing your own hay also means you have control over conditions and don’t have to scramble to find more during winter, when prices may be higher, supplies more limited, and quality less certain. Storing hay that’s been rained on or baled before being thoroughly dried causes most barn fires. Grass Hay: 50%; Pasture: 25%; Grain: 20%; Treats: 5% or less; Hay. Fescue. Meadow grass. Goat Mineral Guide. So between the culinary perks and the profit possibilities, raising meat goats … The possibilities are endless and often you can cook goatmeat cuts similar to your favorite beef cuts, but to make things easier we have a great selection of goat meat recipes for you to try. don't have an online Alfalfa, timothy or some other pasture mix is a good option, fed free-choice up to the amount that they will clean up without wasting. This … Cheryl K. Smith has raised a small herd of dairy goats under the herd name Mystic Acres since 1998. Millet grows very quickly and reach 40 to 50 inches within 60 to 90 days (if left alone). To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. One 50-pound bag of … Chaffhaye is alfalfa or grass that has been cut early. Feeding Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats Forage. Make sure to cut at the end of a section so that no metal ends protrude. The basic idea is to take small branches in full leaf and to dry them for feed in the winter. Fortiflex 2-Compartment Feeder Featuring a sturdy construction and ensuring easy installation, this … Remember that the goats have to get their heads to the hay in the middle, so don’t make it too wide. Already a Member but Wasted hay is wasted money on the farm and our goal is to waste as little money and hay for that matter as possible. He managed a home dairy goat herd from 2008 to 2014, and currently works part-time for a nearby artisanal goat dairy. They use their flexible tongues to strip the leaves off desirable plants, or the freshest tips of grass blades, but generally leave the stems or stalks of plants alone. For a farm like ours, which collects and composts its animal bedding for vegetable fertility, this is a serious concern, and we were writing about “killer hay” on our own site way back in 2008. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST). We developed a relationship with a trusted grower who called us every year when baling season started, to arrange our usual pickup of hay on baling day. The rumen is the first stomach compartment (rich in live bacteria) that begins to digest the fiber. We grow our own oat hay and the goats LOVE it! In addition, goats selectively graze unwanted vegetation in pastures and forests, thus providing biological control which will reduce dependence on certain pesticides. Plants that are toxic fresh can be a problem in hay, as well. A good hayfield, like a good pasture, may have enough grasses and legumes mixed together to provide an ideal hay in one package, but we’ve tended to buy alfalfa hay separately to ensure our dairy animals get enough nutrition during the winter. Crude protein: 19%. We have used oat hay for years. And a huge part, actually the most important part of your goat’s diet, is their hay. Straw, by contrast, tends to be the cut & dried stem material of harvested grains (such as oats or wheat) which aren’t particularly palatable. Fescue. The hay ferments in the container, adding beneficial bacteria for the goats' rumens. Second cutting is generally the preferred hay for goats. Ideally, you should buy hay freshly baled from the field in early summer. The best method of grazing livestock is the cut-and-carry method. Even if hay is free of poisonous plants, it could introduce seeds of undesirable plants onto your farm. Access to outside vegetation can reduce the amount of hay that it’s necessary to feed goats … She writes a blog (ruminationsongoats.blogspot.com) and is an expert on goats at allexperts.com. How Your Water is Affecting Your Goats. Feeding some hay cubes in addition to hay is fine, but … Neither of these definitions are perfect; straw can also be considered any plant material used for mulching (like pine straw made of needles), but when considering animal feed,  you’re looking for cut and dried edible plants. Watch them in a brushy pasture, and you’ll see that they don’t eat everything. Does the hay contain unwanted seeds or poisonous plants? just before it heads out (I think this is the … All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Best Blogging Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. Again, try to learn as much as you can about your hay’s source and handling. We try to hot-compost all waste hay and animal bedding to minimize the risk of viable seeds getting through, but it’s best not to introduce them in the first place. Sell the hay… All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our. Lesson learned. Late season cuttings … We should have trusted our instincts when the small square bales were so heavy we could barely lift them into the truck bed, but deferred to the farmer we were buying from. Mostly for cattle, but when I got goats I started giving them some too. Legume hay is also ideal for goats and lambs. We tend to divide our hay needs into two categories: grass hay, which provides the basic diet during the winter, and legume hay (like alfalfa), which provides extra protein and calcium. This … Because of this, they will also eat weedy hay that might not be suitable for horses. The simple feeder shown here is easy to make, easy to use, and holds enough hay to feed 8 to 15 goats … ... cut the hay with brush hog. Rye can be applied without tilling in existing stubble grass and develops well in stubble, provided there is … Legume hays, such as clover and alfalfa, usually have more protein, vitamins, and minerals, particularly calcium, than grass hays. It’s better to err toward too much than too little. Grass hay provides a moderate amount of protein and energy for the goat diet. Once, early on, we bought alfalfa hay right out of the field that was far too green. This varies depending on the maturity of the hay or alfalfa and the way that its cured and stored. In fact, a steady diet of legume hay can lead to excessive weight gain. Already a Member? They then cut it up into smaller chunks and spray it with molasses. You need only a few tools and materials for this hay feeder: Follow these steps to put together your hay feeder: Using your bolt cutters, cut a 10-foot length from the cattle panel. The best time to buy goats is in November just before farmers or breeders have to purchase extra hay and straw to prepare to winter them over. Some growers test their own hay and have that information on hand for buyers, a good sign of a competent source. Alfalfa hay is also popular for feeding goats and has more protein, vitamins, and minerals … Goats consume only … Crude … So when it came time to start buying hay for our goats, we had to learn from experience. When keeping domestic goats, hay is essential for two reasons: It provides both nutrition and dry roughage to balance the moisture and fiber … The simple hay feeder outlined here will feed about 10 goats. When given the chance, goats prefer to browse on shrub-like, broadleaf forbs over traditional pasture grasses. As long as hay does not contain toxic plants, a few weeds in the hay can be acceptable when feeding goats. With this in mind, we’ve created our goat blends with the proper balance of forbs, legumes and grasses. Our research at Petcher Seeds and on many goat ranches has continued to prove that goats and … So, if your goats are not on pasture, you need to provide them with some type of hay, in addition to the alfalfa pellets. Read all of Eric's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here. Sign in with your online account. Some hay may have chemicals applied in the field or to the bale. Hay is the main source of nutrients for goats in non-grazing seasons, or all the time if they dont have access to browse. There are three different types of hay, Grass, Legume and Cereal Grain. A 14 to 18 percent … The quality of hay, for example, varies greatly, based on how mature it was when it was cut and baled. Crude protein: 11%. Millet is an annual grass. When we began raising dairy goats, we barely knew hay from straw. Moldy hay can make a goat sick and is also a fire hazard. We have … Crude protein: 8%. Alfalfa hay … Sheep, like goats, prefer fine, leafy hay and will not eat coarse hay. Eric and his wife, Joanna, founded their homestead farm in 2006, within a narrow Ozark-style valley with diverse landscapes and ecosystems. In areas with longer growing seasons, a third cutting or even higher may be available. Alfalfa. If fiber levels are high, digestibility will be low, even if the protein level is high. Hot and cold: The rye is good in the early spring and the late cold season for the goat’s pastures. You need at least one commercial box feeder for every four goats. Since hay is not cheap, it is important to find a hay feeder that will cut down on waste. Like to read more content, Join the Mother Earth News Community Today! Cereal … Time and observation will help you learn the nuances of your own herd and location, but the questions and principles above will help guide your choices. The hay is going to calves and goats and whoever else decides to eat out of the stack (rabbits, poultry, etc) and possibly bedding for the critters this winter. Here are some things we’ve learned to consider when sourcing hay for our herd. International Subscribers - Click Here If you can work ahead of time to identify a known source, all the better. We grew up in gardening families, without livestock. It’ll give you the best chance to inspect the hay and understand where it came from (for example, you can try to collect bales from area furthest from neighboring spray-happy commodity fields), and the price will be lower because the grower didn’t have to collect and store it. Grass Hay can be timothy, orchard grass or other types of grass or broom grass. The only problem with this hay feeder is that the goats sometimes tip it over when it’s empty, and every so often three goats (kids, usually) stick their head through the same panel and get stuck when they try to pull back at the same time. If it is cut when the grain is in the 'boot' i.e. We’ve learned the hard way that not all hay growers are very biologically aware, and don’t always know what’s in their fields or why anyone would care. Despite their reputation, goats are actually finicky eaters, and this fact should guide you when choosing hay. For example, we’ve been wary of introducing Johnson grass to our farm; this plant is common in our region, but we have so far avoided it. Fescue is a widely grown cool-season forage grass in the Midwest and Southeast. Crude protein: 7%. Poisonous plants that sneak into a batch of hay can have serious implications for herd health. You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues. If ergot is present when hay is made, it’ll be incorporated into the hay and lurk there as a threat. If desired, you can have hay tested to learn more about its nutritional content; here in Missouri the service is offered by the university extension. Immature grass hay … Hay also needs to be dried properly in the field; hay that’s been baled too soon, while still moist, may start to hot-compost when stacked in a barn. Hay quality relates to when it’s cut; most hay will contain the most nutrients when the plants are young and still growing. That way everyone gets to eat. For horses, grass hay or a legume/grass hay mix is the best choice. Dairy cows require the highest quality legume hay to keep up with milk production. That way everyone gets to eat. If you can’t transport your own hay, you’ll still likely get a better deal if you can arrange to have it delivered during baling season rather than stored in someone else’s barn. On a related note, those concerned about GMO crops should be wary of alfalfa, which was approved several years ago and spread rapidly into our region of Missouri. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only). The hay will supply a lot of their … Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat And Pork, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils, Natural Cold Storage: Fresh Food in Winter, Keeping Crops Cool During Hot Weather: 13 Ways to Beat the Heat, Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price. Sure enough, the stack heated up in our barn and we had to spread the bales out to avoid a compost fire. If you’re new to raising goats, you may not know that goats are terrible hay wasters. You can inspect hay bales before purchasing to look for signs of problematic plants, or even better can try to view the field before cutting. Shutterstock Hay for Sheep. We also tried to keep some ungrazed pasture stockpile for winter, so the goats would have a fresh place to browse when the weather cooperated. Asking the Right Questions before Buying Goats. On the other hand, horses usually don’t require such rich forage. Buying goats after the 4-H weigh-in date can also be a great time to find a good deal on goats … Can goats eat alfalfa, and is it the best feed for them? Timothy. Then they add a … Try to cultivate the rust resistant varieties, because ryegrass is susceptible to crown rust. With another person helping, roll up the section of panel until the two edges meet. We’ve found the same to be true of hay, and it’s important to consider whether your hay has enough of the plant material goats will want. Very coarse hay or forage … Our best supplier in terms of hay quality switched entirely to the GMO variety; in 2014 we didn’t buy alfalfa hay at all as we couldn’t find an acceptable source. Hi, thanks for stopping by. Learn What A Rewarding Experience Raising Goats Can Be! Chert Hollow Farm seeks to integrate food and farming into the ecosystem. As a working definition, hay is the cut & dried stem/leaf material of non-grain livestock-edible plants such as grasses and legumes. If you have to cut corners, save your highest quality hay for your gestating does, as their systems will need the biggest boost. You can make a 38-inch-diameter circular hay feeder from a cattle panel. If you cut it too late your protein levels go down and your hay is stemmy. Your Copper Guide. When our farm was certified organic, this fit right into the required documentation of off-farm sourcing, but we also found it was a good way to initiate the conversation with a grower about how the hay was managed. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. Often, one or two goats drive others away from a feeding area, so you may want to make hay available in at least two locations in each goat area. Proactive avoidance is important, as it’s not always possible to establish a direct link between bad hay and goat health. For making a nutritious winter feed for your goats, you can cut ryegrass for hay and mix with red clover or other … Cows do best with longer stems....it makes the rumen function more optionally, but the shorter stuff will work. Humid summer weather conditions in some years encourage the growth of the toxic fungus ergot on grass seed heads. Our team of rangeland experts has designed a goat … Chaffhaye can be fed as a hay alternative, with more nutrient density than hay. We’ll always wonder if and to what extent a batch of questionable hay that we bought in the brutal winter following the brutal drought of 2012 played a role in a subsequent miscarriage and other poor herd health. Survival Skills, Garden Planning, Seed Saving, Food Preservation, Natural Health – Dozens of courses, 100+ workshops, and interactive Q&As. There is no straightforward answer to this; it depends on your breed(s), climate, pasture quality, etc. You can attach the feeder to a wall or post to prevent goats from tipping it over, but doing so limits the number of goats that can feed from it because they don’t have access to the part of the feeder that’s against the wall. This does depend on the type of hay; alfalfa leaves grow on a strong stem to begin with, so alfalfa hay will generally feel rougher than pure grass hay. If you’re new at this, judging hay quantity is something you’ll just need to learn over time as you adjust to your own goats’ needs and behaviors. Overall, we try to source our goats’ food the way we source our own. Legume includes alfalfa, clover, or soy. It should be cut in the milk stage before the kernels get hard to get your optimum protein out of it. Google searching for 'goat hay ' and 'shredding' doesn't bring up anything helpful, but 'Tree hay' does. Does the hay have unwanted chemicals in it? Secure the ends together with zip ties, strong wire, or metal fasteners. We’ve dealt with the problem by requiring anyone we buy hay from to sign a standard statement that no chemicals have been applied to the hay. It’s the dried equivalent of what the animal would want to eat fresh. You probably want to use it for only 10 goats or so, however, because they may start fighting when eating in such close proximity. 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