How much hay do I need?

madcow

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Also take into consideration that virtually every type of hay has a different nutritional value and unless you have the hay you are feeding analyzed you really don't know whether it is or isn't enough for you goat. Of course, no one is going to have every bale of hay they purchase analyzed, but just keep in mind that when you figure for hay you may need to adjust a bit either way (feeding more or less) once you see how your goats fair on the hay. Types of hay (alfalfa, sudan, sorgham, costal, etc.) vary tremendously in nutritional value. Goats need a higher crude protein percentage than other livestock, such as cattle or horses. That is also another variable to keep in mind when figuring how much and what type of hay to purchase. How the grower stores the hay will have great effect on the NV (nutritional value) of the hay, too. If the hay is stored outside it may lose as much as 20% of its NV over time. Year-old hay will have less nutritional value than freshly cured and baled hay.

I know this a lot to wrap you head around, but these are things to keep in mind when feeding your goats and watching your bottom line of expenses with their feed. My 5 pygmy goats go through a 100-pound bale of alfalfa a week. Goats waste hay like crazy, mainly because they like the leafy parts the best and don't eat the stems of the alfalfa. I would estimate that they waste close to 20% of each bale of hay I buy. As stated above, estimate your waste to be anywhere from 10% to 20% or more, especially if it's a type of hay your goats will not eat well. My goats will not even touch costal hay, which, of course, is the least expensive variety of hay. Many goat raisers have good success with alfalfa pellets, fodder, and silage. Those are options to consider for cost effectiveness with feeding your goats. Good luck!
 

BrokeHenJenn

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I just want to throw in my 2 cents... Do you know what type of hay you are allergic to? It may be as simple as purchasing a different type of grass hay that provides equivalent nutritive value without triggering your allergies. "Hay" could mean any number of different grasses or combination of grasses. There's also the option of growing fodder for your girls. Not sure how much they would need - but there are loads of threads on the topic on here.
 

SherryV

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Soooo happy I found this thread. Lots of great information, especially on different types of hay :thumbsup (I never would have known this) As I research goats and hope to have some of my own this year I will need to research "hay" sources in my area. Thanks for the great information!!! :woot
 

rosko

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We are located in the Ottawa region East of Canada, snowy area from December until April.

We bring a buck to the goats early December each year, planning births from early May.
We milk a couple of goats for 5 months only (June to Nov to make cheese for the whole year) although all kids stay with the mothers as long as possible.
Our goats eat grass on pasture when there is grass to eat... April to November.
We do not keep males over the Winter.
We give them second cut hay only, for feed in Winter, for roughage in Summer.

We use:
Thirty 40-lb square bales per goat per year (12 months)
1 pound per day of dairy goat pellets per animal (23% protein) (0.5 lb twice a day)
Handful of crack corn and handful of whole wheat twice a day.
Free access to blocks of minerals and salt, including selenium.
De-wormer in May-June.
Never barley nor oats.

Never seen a vet for the past 5 years when we started our family hobby herd (from one goat to 15 this year).

Hope this helps someone.
 

Latestarter

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Greetings and welcome to BYH @rosko from NE Texas! Glad you joined us! How many goats do you have and what breed(s)? Just curious as you're located up in that cold north country. Why never barley or oats? Just curious. Please browse around and make yourself at home. If you'd be willing to post a couple pictures, we'd be very appreciative :clap We're really all a bunch of picture addicts here. :hide
 

rosko

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Greetings and welcome to BYH @rosko from NE Texas! Glad you joined us! How many goats do you have and what breed(s)? Just curious as you're located up in that cold north country. Why never barley or oats? Just curious. Please browse around and make yourself at home. If you'd be willing to post a couple pictures, we'd be very appreciative :clap We're really all a bunch of picture addicts here. :hide

Thanks for the welcome.

I guess this site/forum will help me down the road but I currently have no questions. I am fortunate to be good at crunching numbers so if I can contribute to help some, let's do it.

To answer your question we live in a remote area where a lot of in-breeding occurs due to the lack of "fresh material". There are very few people who raise goats around here.

During my youth in France, after WWII, we were raising cows and goats. In Ontario, Canada we started (retirement) buying a pure one-year old alpine in 2013. Very nice goat. Lot of milk, productive, strong, healthy but a real pest (see later).

In 2014 we added two other alpine goats and got babies. We kept only the original goat and her baby girls and we sold (or ate) all others.

In 2015 we took a 400-mile trip west of Toronto and bought 6 new goats. Two 2-year pure nubians and four 1-year cross nubian-alpines. This made 9 goats and we got a cross boer-alpine buck for the ladies in December. In May 2015 we bought a Maremma dog for safety. That dog was sleeping in the barn (50x30) with the herd and everything was ok until the original alpine goat decided she didn't like him around (she was very, very bossy!) and head-butted him repeatedly wherever she had a chance in the barn or the fields. The dog never bit back or defended himself in any way.

In 2016 we got 19 kids, strangely 14 female kids and only 5 males, from the 9 goats making a total of 28. In May the maremma dog died from internal wounds. My wife was devastated as he died in her arms when she returned from work (I am retired). So we sold that alpine goat, her pregnant daughters and 2 cross nubian-alpine to someone who started in the goat thing. We kept her 3 female babies (she had 4 kids in 2016 but the male was stillborn). Splendid goats right now...

This Winter we kept the two 3-year nubians, two 2-year nubian-alpine, six 1-year nubian-alpine-boer and three alpine-boer (75-25). We brought a boer buck but just for the older 4 goats. We are expecting kids May 25 to July 6. Hopefully we will get a few females to go to a 20-goat herd and that will be the top number.

We just hand-milk a few goats as needed for bottle-feeding and cheese for our family and daughters' families (yogourt, brie, blue, roquefort, cheddar, tomme, gouda, derby and a few others). We really are a hobby farm...

Goats usually exit material looking like peas. But after eating barley or oats I have found that for some reason unknown to me, it's looking like grapes or doggish-sausage-like. As I think this is not normal I completely stopped giving barley and oats treats and replaced with cracked corn and wheat which have no such side effects.

(please edit if my English is not appropriate, thanks)
 

Latestarter

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What a shame that you lost your dog to an abusive goat. Had it been me I think I would have sent that goat to freezer camp long before it had a chance to injure or kill anything... That was a tragic loss. Thank you for sharing your story. I just got my first goats about a month ago. Just had my first new kid born ~4 days ago, which turned into my first bottle baby as it wouldn't/couldn't find/latch onto mom's teat. I have another momma goat with B/D twins that were born ~a month ago and she is dam raising them. So I milk the one doe twice a day. I have a 50/50 Great Pyrenees/Anatolian shepherd LGD (my avatar) who has been a companion dog for me for almost 2 years and is just now getting re-introduced to goats and the job he was obtained to do.
 

Jeanne Sheridan

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How much hay would 4 full sized dairy goat does eat in a year in a state with long cold snowy winters. They would also be fed grain ration 2x a day and have some browse for a few months of the year. Lets say they are either pregnant or milking since that is when they should be needing the most hay. I'm allergic to hay I didn't know that when I got goats and am unable to lift a lot do to other conditions. I'm trying to figure out a way to minimize hay exposure and excess lifting so I can keep my girls. So how much hay would they go through in a year? And is there any safe way/ healthy way to cut back on actual hay like another bagged product or something? It has really been a bad couple of years, and I love my goats I've already downsized by rehoming some of my goats and it was hard, I have 4 does I can't imagine parting with so I'm trying to work this out. Having an idea of the amount of hay they would eat would be a great start though. Thanks all.
Have you tried different types of hay? I’m allergic to some but found a grass mix that is good for the goats that doesn’t cause me a problem. The goats actually eat more of it than my old stuff. If you get your hay from a local farmer most will give you a bale to try. We did that with four farmers before we found a good fit. We still augment with alfalfa pellets, goat feed, and rolled oats.
 

Shortstuff

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Take their weight and multiply it by 3% (goats require 3% of their body weight in DM daily). So if you have four 100 lb does, you are feeding 400 lbs. So 400 lbs x 3% = 12 lbs. Your goats will require 12 lbs of DM. Most hay is about 90% DM, so you would do 12 lbs divided by 90% and you get 13-1/3 lbs of hay. Then you need to account for about 10% of waste (hay pulled out of feeder and stomped on), so you would do 13.33 x 110% = 14-2/3 lbs. So each day to feed four 100 lb goats for maintenance level (not breeding, pregnant, lactating, or growing) you would need to put out 14-2/3 lbs of hay each day for them to eat. They will require more (either roughage or grain) if they are productive or weigh more.

As a general rule of thumb, you can replace 1 lb of hay with 1/2 lb of grain.
That's a great formula thank you I totally wrote that down I will also keep in mind but hey loses its protein content and moisture content over the winter months as kstaven stated
 
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