Anyone have GRAIN FREE dairy goats?

WildersMilkMaid

Overrun with beasties
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
49
Reaction score
65
Points
76
Location
North Carolina
I
If you have full size diary goats that are high producers, I dont think you could do grain free. Even with grain they are as mentioned skeletons for at least 4-6 weeks and even after then only a slightly filled out skeleton. Our goats are free to roam 12 acres and eat anything they like, they have a hay feeder with 1st cut alfalfa and a round bale of 1st cut grass hay, raspberry bushes, acorns, clover, trefoil, 3 acres of bush popular to browse, grass, rhubarb, apple leaves/trees, loose minerals, etc and when in milk they still need grain.

Also for your animal feed you might as well skip the non-GMO part. Non-GMO is just marketing, just like putting gluten free labels on food that is naturally gluten free like oats, rice, beans, eggs, etc. or cage-free/free range on eggs/meat.

FDA and USDA have no real rules against marking any carton "Cage-free" or "Free Range" with no certification for either as long as you dont add the word eggs into either. E.g. "Cage Free Eggs".

For GMO or Non-GMO plants grown commercially...sorry your getting ripped off most of the time. Plants cross pollinate either by wind or insects, so field A is Non-GMO and Field B is GMO which can be literally planted 6 inches apart. They cross pollinate and what do you think they make? Bingo
Yes that just an easy way to say it but go drive anyplace growing row crops that not much different. Fields are often only separated by a road, farm drive, hedge row, tree line, or ditch. Bees alone will travel 2 miles and cross pollinate.
Add the fact that Field A farmer just has to show his receipt that he planted non-gmo seed, so his product is non-gmo no matter what pollinated it.

Dont get to carried away with the fads or labels on things. Also most of the northern states dont actually use Soy for soy because we can't grow it...still labeled and sold as soy though :lol:

The food industry is crazy.
I would say coat improvement is from the BOSS, a lot of people feed it just for that reason. Alfalfa pellets would be considered "grain" I would say. Most local (ruminant)grain here includes alfalfa pellets in the mix, the sweet feed we use is mostly alfalfa pellets with a tiny bit of cracked corn and molasses.

I wouldnt worry about making people here mad, we have pretty thick skin. If your semi-grain free herd is working for you that's awesome. Keep in mind to, anyone that recently freshened won't be showing their true calorie needs for a couple weeks, then a couple more weeks before it's really noticeable. Least thats how our goats do it, they look good for a few weeks after they kid but then suddenly your looking at them going wait why are you skinny?? :barnie I would think it would take the same amount of time to see the full effects from taking them off a commercial grain.

We never had a problem with our nigerians or minis but we didnt milk them either. i have heard several people say their nigerians get fat on nothing but grass so maybe their needs are different.

I do know some people with just a dairy cow or two feed nothing on the stand but straight alfalfa pellets and have great results. They are also not demanding top production and pushing for more milk though.

We also only give our goats 1 cup of grain a day. I'm not milking them atm though.

Dont forget loose minerals. That will make a huge different in appearance and milk, as well as they need it.
I’ll tell you what... I have definitely noticed that the folks on here are much more civil than other “social media” sites. It is a breath of fresh air, for sure! Thanks for your input. I’m so thankful for all the knowledge shared here.
 

WildersMilkMaid

Overrun with beasties
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
49
Reaction score
65
Points
76
Location
North Carolina
It looks like whatever you are feeding you are doing it right. What works for one person might not work for another. Also, depending on what part of the country you are in hay has different nutritional components. Hay in some areas has good minerals and protein content, in other areas different minerals and protein content. That is why feeding differs in different parts of the country.

Also, remember that dairy animals differ completely from meat production animals in body type. You want your meat goats to carry more flesh on them, their rib bones are round, not flat and wide. Dairy animals, particularly the better yielding specimens, are much more angular in appearance, their hip bones and pin bones are more pronounced, their empty udders are soft and pliable like empty sacks. If you are used to a meat animal, you might think they are too skinny. Dairy goats in milk do not carry as much extra flesh on them, especially if they are heavy milkers, but should not be emaciated looking either, A slight cover on the ribs is desirable, along with a glossy coat and bright eye. The expression "She puts it all in the pail" was coined for dairy animals because of their angular, sometimes bony appearance. There is a difference between angularity and starvation of course!

The change in your Oberhasli's appearance and milk yield shows that you are on a good feeding program. You are an able dairywoman as shown by the fact that you judge your animal by appearance, yield, and appetite. An old saying is "The eye of the master fattens the flock". You now your animals and how to adjust to keep them healthy and productive. In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder said "The eye of the farmer is the best fertilizer". Both mean that you know your flock and land, and by being on top of things will keep everything healthy and productive.

Keep it up - looks like yu are doing everything right!
Thank you much for your wisdom and encouragement.
 

WildersMilkMaid

Overrun with beasties
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
49
Reaction score
65
Points
76
Location
North Carolina
I would love to try feeding just chaffahaye and see what happens to the milk production. Since we do DHI we could make a good comparison. but it’s sooo expensive. We use to feed it and the goats loved it! Made the butterfat higher and we also got more multiples. Got our first set of quints that year. Another alternative would be fodder. We used to grow that as well, it it didn’t work out because we had too many mold issues. But that was really nice too.
I agree on the price of the chaffhaye. I’m not sure it’s worth the cost. I had a problem keeping it from molding when I was buying it, as I only had 2 goats and they would not eat it fast enough. Maybe I should consider that again now that I have 7.

We have a fodder setup but have not used it. Put all that work into building it and then never go around to it. Hmm. Might get it up and running. I know Weed ‘em & Reap feeds fodder instead of grain on the stand.

My husband is also heavily researching Comfrey and has ordered some to plant. I think it might be really good for our setup as a feed we can grow and store for all our animals to eat. Have you looked into it?
 

WildersMilkMaid

Overrun with beasties
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
49
Reaction score
65
Points
76
Location
North Carolina
If you feed premium alfalfa, and alfalfa pellets AND have easy keeping, lower producing animals you should be able to skip the grain. Good luck keeping them on the stand though, lol. They're not going to hand you the milk. It's an exchange in their minds. No grain, no milk for you.

The Blue cactus dairy goats farmer uses just a bit of scratch for her dairy does, but they do the alfalfa and pellets in the stall, then tie them to the stand for milking. It works for her.

I prefer my goats better behaved. Plus, the majority of mine are 3x as large as hers and getting kicked would hurt more. Also, they'd lose condition and be stressed out.
Some of my girls don’t know any better and are happy to stand still for just alfalfa and sunflower seeds... but my others who were accustomed to grain seem less enthusiastic. They tolerate me but don’t seem too happy. My Oberhasli on the other hand seems to genuinely enjoy being milked. She’s a dream, let’s all her milk down with my little hand pump and I’m lucky if I get more than 3 finishing squirts by hand from each side before she’s empty. And for the record, I bought well-trained goats. How they do it, I have no clue, but I appreciate it!
 

WildersMilkMaid

Overrun with beasties
Joined
May 30, 2020
Messages
49
Reaction score
65
Points
76
Location
North Carolina
Mine just make more milk on grain, they only get as much as they can eat while being milked . Which I guess is the main point. Maybe all of you have better behaved diary goats then me but I am very doubtful I'd get them milked out without having a bucket of grain in front of them!
Totally understand that! Some of mine just don’t know any better because they’ve never had it. I’m no good at training goats but I have one who, untrained 1st freshener, stands perfectly still the whole time and does not eat. Just let’s me do my thing!! Now, I have to pick her fat butt up onto the stand because she won’t go up there herself, but that’s another story 😆
 

D and L Meadows

Loving the herd life
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
188
Reaction score
346
Points
123
Location
Southwest Ohio
I agree on the price of the chaffhaye. I’m not sure it’s worth the cost. I had a problem keeping it from molding when I was buying it, as I only had 2 goats and they would not eat it fast enough. Maybe I should consider that again now that I have 7.

We have a fodder setup but have not used it. Put all that work into building it and then never go around to it. Hmm. Might get it up and running. I know Weed ‘em & Reap feeds fodder instead of grain on the stand.

My husband is also heavily researching Comfrey and has ordered some to plant. I think it might be really good for our setup as a feed we can grow and store for all our animals to eat. Have you looked into it?
The problem we had with fodder is we had it in our basement. So in the spring and fall, they only short window we have when we don’t need AC or heat, it worked great. Other than that, mold on the second day.

We do have some comfrey. I’ve not really looked into it much. I mainly use it for the rabbits. But we always offer it to does that have just kidded. Some love it, some don’t.
 

farmerjan

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 16, 2016
Messages
3,648
Reaction score
11,892
Points
468
Location
virginia
If you can get the production you want on no grain, and the animals are in good condition, then there is no reason to feed grain. It also has to do with what they are raised on and some raised on no grain are obviously better adapted to that. I also think that you probably have some pretty nutritious hay.
I am not pushing the grain. I only tried to give someone that appeared to be new to dairy animals, as good of an understanding as I could about the variations in feeds and nutritional requirements.
Alfalfa pellets are a concentrate. They are made to a minimum nutritional requirement. They have to be to be "standardized". Sunflower seeds are also in the "concentrate" category. They are a seed, so basically do qualify as a "grain" .

I hope it continues to work well for you. That is the most important thing. It has to work for you, it has to keep the animals healthy and in good condition and allow for enough nutrition that they cycle and can get bred back. If feeding them thistles does it for you then go for it.

I used to feed comfrey to my chickens in Ct...... just during the summer months to the breeders that didin't get much "out loose" time.
 

Baymule

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
18,701
Reaction score
46,060
Points
793
Location
Northeast Texas
I


I’ll tell you what... I have definitely noticed that the folks on here are much more civil than other “social media” sites. It is a breath of fresh air, for sure! Thanks for your input. I’m so thankful for all the knowledge shared here.
This forum has the nicest, most helpful people you will find anywhere.
 

Tatiana Blackburn

Ridin' The Range
Joined
Jan 30, 2018
Messages
33
Reaction score
38
Points
66
Location
Burlington, NC
Do you feed them a pelleted Timothy or just the hay? And for the grains, is that pellets or whole grains?

I think the Nigerians might do better on less grain since they’re “newer”..... but I don’t know that to be true for sure. Just a hunch based on my goats.
The Timothy is hay the grain is pelleted.
 
Top