Choosing the right hay

Ninjafarmer

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Truly impressed by this site and content so far! Brand new farmer here. Nigerian Dwarf Goat herd/family of 4. Kids born in April. Mom, 1 doe, 2 wethers. Planning to milk and maybe breed this fall.
I've seen good posts on how much hay, but how do I chose from the different hay available?
Is Chaffhay a good back up?
How much does it cost?
How much does a small bail of hay weigh? I'm guessing about 40 pounds. So I'm thinking 40 bails should get through winter.
Thanks in advance!!
Celeste, Giselle, Thomas & Timothy also thank you!
 

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OneFineAcre

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What type of hay are you feeding them now?
What types of hay are most abundant where you are at?

The weight of small bales can vary from 40 lbs to 75.
 

goatgurl

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all the same questions as onefineacre. i have full sized lamancha dairy goats so don't really know how much you feed Nigerians. that being said i can tell you that i feed a good mixed grass hay to my girls. i always try to get 2nd cutting since it usually isn't stemy. many people feed alfalfa to their goats all the time but i don't for three reasons. 1. i think it is awfully 'hot' to feed all the time. i know that many, many people will disagree with me but i need something that i can feed to everyone, bucks, does and kids and I'm just not comfortable with alfalfa all the time. 2nd reason is that we have an insect around here called a blister bug and the 'juice' of a blister bug that is baled into the hay causes blisters in the throat of a goat and I'm just not a gambler. and third, i just can't afford it. i have fed chaffhay off and on for several years but not as the primary source of fiber. i will supplement it to heavy milkers, goats that just need a boost and as a treat. i really like the chaffhay and so do the goats. i feed a 16% grain based feed and feed the same thing to everyone in the herd. i baby sat for a friends goats while she was out of town and the does got one kind, the bucks another and the babies yet another kind. call me lazy but i just don't do that. hope that helps a little. and around here a small bale is 50-80# and you should get by with 40-50 bales easy.
 

OneFineAcre

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I take goat girls approach too
I have Nigerians
Around here coastal Bermuda is the most abundant type of hay
We offer it free choice
It's 2 to 1 calcium to phosphorus
Mine do well on it with a little alfalfa as a supplement
I don't know if standards would do as well with coastal as their main hay
Sometimes in the spring we feed oat or oat/rye when the coastal runs out
Sheep Girl has a good way to calculate how much they need hay wise
But like I said we offer free choice
The only hay you really shouldn't feed is the drought resistant Kentucky Tall fescue in that it has can have an endophyte fungus
But since you are in a more northern climate there may be endophyte free varieties
But you may also have orchard or Timothy as well
 

Hens and Roos

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we feed a mixed grass type of hay- we get ours from a friend who has horses. I know it has some alfalfa in it. Our goats love it- one of our does will leave the grain and run to the hay rack when we bring it in! The bales are around 40 lbs as I can easily move them. We have 13 goats right now and with them on pasture, we probably go through a bale a week right now(we also have rabbits). Of course in winter we will use more as the pasture/browse will not be available.

Since we have 3 does milking/feeding kids we do give them some alfalfa but not on a daily basis.

Are there people with horses around the area you live? You could talk to them and see what they are growing or feeding. Did the people who got the goats from indicate what they are feeding for hay?
 

Goat Whisperer

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I'm not a huge chaffhay fan. I know some that think its great but I don't want to feed a fermented hay that is sprayed with molasses. My goats hate molasses so that would go over great lol :rolleyes:

I know others that have had does abort kids because "there must have been some mold spores on the chaffhaye" I have heard that other goats got listeria from it :( The people that had the issues with it check the bags over too, there was nothing obvious that indicated something was wrong with the hay. I guess it can be harder to detect because of the molasses :idunno

Like the other said, simple grass hay is fine :) Don't feed anything high in Phosphorus. You want at least a Ca: P of 2:1.
 

Ninjafarmer

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Thanks folks! Found some organic weedy hay for $3.50 / small bale. Also someone selling year-old bales for $0.75/small bale - does this stuff count as food?
 

Hens and Roos

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you might want to be careful with the year old bales- make sure they don't have any mold spots in them. we learned the hard way and bought some bad bales- goats and rabbits turned their nose up and we ended up using the bales for in the garden. we will only buy hay from our friend now.
 

OneFineAcre

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Sometimes hay that has too many weeds for horses can be a good deal
I bet that for .75 a bale isn't any good though
We go to a seafood restaurant that has a sign that says "good seafood isn't cheap and cheap seafood isn't good"
Hay is usually the same
 
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