Hay and Grain: Opinions Needed!

TheGoatLife

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Hey everyone!
Yes, I am asking another question lol But hey, isn't that what this forum is for? I just want to care for my goats in the best way possible!

My goats: I have a 10 week old ND buckling that will be wethered this week; I have one 5-6 week old ND (possible pygmy cross) doeling; and I have one 14 week old ND doeling

My Paddock: Dirt with bits of grass and mostly weeds here and there, but lots of Eastern White Pine needles, leaves from trees that are from the maple family, a walnut tree, and ivy.

My Question: I have read so many different opinions concerning hay and grain feedings that I am not sure how to go about feeding my kid ND goats. I don't want them overfed or underfed!

Hay: I am feeding an orchard alfalfa mix from a feed store available 24/7 to my ND goats
  • Is this mix alright, especially for a wether? Some people say yes, some people say no.
  • Would switching to a Timothy hay be better for dry does and wethers? Can I feed grain in the morning (a cup?) if they are eating Timothy hay?
Grain: Purina Goat Grower a handful in the morning (I am going to switch to Dumor Goat Pellets that has Ammonium Chloride in it)
  • Can I feed half a cup of grain in the mornings and maybe before bed? The owners of the goats, whom I purchased them from, gave grain morning and night.
  • I have Manna Pro goat Mineral that has Ammonium Chloride in it, and sprinkle it on their grain in the mornings. Also, it is available 24/7 for them.
 
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TheGoatLife

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Is the 5-6 week old’s rumen alright? Kinda stays bigger like that… In the morning it is smaller (obviously because she wasn’t eating for hours like she does during the day)

Not bloated because when I push on her rumen, it feels like a mass and maintains the impression of me pushing in it. This little kid is suspected to be a Pygmy ND cross…? Full dawn colored ND is on the left 10 weeks
 

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Ridgetop

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At this point in their lives, I would not feed any grain at all. You want their rumens to develop and that requires roughage rather than concentrated proteins. Feed only hay until the does are bred. The wether never needs grain.

The orchard/alfalfa is fine. The caution against the alfalfa for the wether is due to the higher calcium levels in alfalfa which can (but doesn't always) cause urinary calculi in older rams, bucks, and wethers. However, our dairy goats (bucks) lived on alfalfa and we never had any urinary calculi. Our sheep (rams) live on alfalfa and our rams have never had urinary calculi. We have had both on alfalfa for over 30 years and never had urinary calculi although I do know a few people who have experienced it. I do not bother with giving ammonium chloride until they have a problem. If you are worried you can add ammonium chloride to the water. Urinary calculi are more common in certain parts of the country. They also can be more common in certain breeds of sheep and goats.

How much is the timothy compared to the orchardgrass/alfalfa? Cost is a reason to switch but if they are happy with the orchardgrass/alfalfa and it is a decent price, keep them on it.

The main thing with feeding goats and sheep is not to overload them with concentrates (grain and processed feeds). Any animal with a rumen and 4 chambered stomach will do better health wise if kept mainly on rough hay or forage. Grain should be kept as a treat, but not daily, and can be used as a training aid. Think of it as candy for toddler.

Be sure the goats have had their CDT shots.
 

TheGoatLife

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At this point in their lives, I would not feed any grain at all. You want their rumens to develop and that requires roughage rather than concentrated proteins. Feed only hay until the does are bred. The wether never needs grain.

The orchard/alfalfa is fine. The caution against the alfalfa for the wether is due to the higher calcium levels in alfalfa which can (but doesn't always) cause urinary calculi in older rams, bucks, and wethers. However, our dairy goats (bucks) lived on alfalfa and we never had any urinary calculi. Our sheep (rams) live on alfalfa and our rams have never had urinary calculi. We have had both on alfalfa for over 30 years and never had urinary calculi although I do know a few people who have experienced it. I do not bother with giving ammonium chloride until they have a problem. If you are worried you can add ammonium chloride to the water. Urinary calculi are more common in certain parts of the country. They also can be more common in certain breeds of sheep and goats.

How much is the timothy compared to the orchardgrass/alfalfa? Cost is a reason to switch but if they are happy with the orchardgrass/alfalfa and it is a decent price, keep them on it.

The main thing with feeding goats and sheep is not to overload them with concentrates (grain and processed feeds). Any animal with a rumen and 4 chambered stomach will do better health wise if kept mainly on rough hay or forage. Grain should be kept as a treat, but not daily, and can be used as a training aid. Think of it as candy for toddler.

Be sure the goats have had their CDT shots.
Okay thanks for the input! They have had their CDT shots btw

I was considering buying hay from a local farm.... Is there a risk of bringing worms and other parasites/bacteria into my paddock and livestock? It is cheaper to buy locally, than from the feed store.

Side Note: My 5-6 week old (whom I still give 4oz in the morning and 2oz in the afternoon to) forages and eats hay as if she is weaned! I don't want her to become overweight, with the replacer milk and forage, since she is eating so much hay... Alright to do?
 

Ridgetop

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Definitely buy your hay locally.

At 6 weeks you could wean, but if she is still taking a bottle am and pm, you can continue supplemental bottles until 8 weeks. We kept our dairy goat kids on bottles until 10 weeks old. The buck kids went to the sale yard around 6-8 weeks to free up the milk for the doe kids. Since we kept all doe kids, we needed the milk for them. Once the kids were weaned, we used the milk for the house and to raise day old bull dairy calves for auction sale. We milked a lot of does and they were all heavy producers so lots of milk for raising calves for hay money. Since you are probably using formula, definitely wean at 8 weeks. You can increase water to formula ratio if you want as you start to wean. Leftover formula powder can be sealed in plastic bags and stored in the freezer for future bottle babies.
 

Alaskan

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Where I live alfalfa has to be shipped in, so is very expensive. As a result I would only feed alfalfa pellets on the milk stand, so never for kids.

All goats got timothy hay, free fed.

Growing kids got a small handful of goat kid pellets morning and evening. The pellets contained some grain in the mix, but not much.

It is great for the kids to develop large rumens.

If anywhere on your property you have weedy bushes that you can trim for the goats, you could feed them the branches.

Alder and willow grow like gangbusters here, and goats love them.

Also, if you had a garden this year, they love cornstalks, and all weeds.
 

Katrina Anon

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We There will do much better on hay alone. They are prone to uniary problems and the more feed you give them the more likely they are to have a problem.

Generally if they are ignoring the hay cut back on the grain. Goats like grain like people like pizza. A steady diet of pizza is not good for people, a steady diet of grain isn't good for the goats.

When I cut back on the grain the goats eat more hay which is better for them anyway.
 

TheGoatLife

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We There will do much better on hay alone. They are prone to uniary problems and the more feed you give them the more likely they are to have a problem.

Generally if they are ignoring the hay cut back on the grain. Goats like grain like people like pizza. A steady diet of pizza is not good for people, a steady diet of grain isn't good for the goats.

When I cut back on the grain the goats eat more hay which is better for them anyway.
Okay!
I switched to an orchard/Timothy hay mix. Is it less nutritious than alfalfa?
 
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