feeding goats in winter

stilo

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I would like ideas you might have on whether there is a way to get by in winter feeding goats anything other than hay. Maybe a stupid question, esp for pregnant she-goats. But I was thinking of a way to store branches with dead leaves on them-- beech hold their leaves well, or pine needles, tree bark. I live in Maine.
 

20kidsonhill

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It would take a lot of branches.

bagged beet pulp can be used in a pinch, instead of hay.

alafalfa pellets.

you can feed them a complete goat grain ration that is high in fiber, many show people feed very little hay.

But in the long run. The goats rumen really needs long stemmy stuff to stay healthy.
 

SheepGirl

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I have read that ruminants need roughage at least 4" long in order to keep their rumen healthy and working...so it probably would be a better idea to just stay on the safe side and feed hay.

You would also be able to store more lbs of hay per square foot than branches or leaves.
 

windyridgefarm

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I thought it would be worth it sharing my experience since I live in New England as well (Massachusetts). I have 3 Alpines and everything they eat is grown in my yard. I never fed them grain or any bought products.
In the Winter, their diet consists of 50% dry and 50% non dry. The dry portion is about 80% hay and 20% dried young branches that I cut and dry with the leaves on, dried corn stalks, and dried sunflower leaves (sunflower leaves need to be hanging with good air circulation because they are very prone to get moldy). I cut my own hay on my land (I have 30 acres total, and cut about 2 to 3 acres of hay) which is a mix of timothy, orchard grass, and clover. It is harvested the old fashioned way; cut with a scythe (just because I enjoy it), and stored loose - never bailed. If you feed the same type of hay bailed or loose to any animal, they will eat the loose hay first, they only eat the bailed one if they are starving. I have tons of experience with this back in Europe, we only bailed the hay that we sold, the hay for our animals was always stored loose. All the animals would show the same behavior - we had 8 cows, 2 horses, 2 donkeys, 50 sheep, and 30 goats.

The non dry portion consists of 80% mangels cut to bite size pieces, and 20% mix of turnips, rutabagas, punpkins, and butternut squash all cut to bite size pieces.
I grow all of these in about 50 feet by 50 feet square of land. The goats love the mangels the most, and I like them in particular because they store very well. They last all Winter, they take some frost (I keep them in my garage), taste sweet, and have a lot of water as well - they don't need to drink as much (nice in the days that the water freezes). They are the base for animal diet in Europe just like corn is in the Americas.

The goats have the shiniest coats.

If anybody is interested I can post some pictures, of the goats and the garden :)
 

aggieterpkatie

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windy, we always love pictures. I'd especially love pics of your gardens. I've wanted to grow mangels. HOw do you chop yours?
 

windyridgefarm

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They are very easy to cut. I just use a non serrated knife.
I uploaded a few pictures, but I'm not sure if they went through. They also reduced the megapixels, you may not see them as clear as they really are.



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DonnaBelle

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Wow!! where do you live? In heaven?

Those photos are beautiful I love your garden. Your place belongs in a magazine spread!!

Those mangels are huge. Where do you get seed for them? I never heard of them before. Do you eat them or just the livestock.

I'm impressed.

DonnaBelle
 

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