More Hay Questions!

Ridgetop

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I agree with everyone that the reason the goats don't like the hay you are feeding is that it is probably dry and not the best quality. As to getting better quality hay, look around your area and find someone that is selling better quality hay. Try a bale from different producers and see if they will eat it. Also, are you feeding in a feeder or on the ground? Goats don't like eating off the ground. Any hay that falls to the ground from the feeder is also ignored. If they walk on the hay or pee on it, you might as well rake it up and put in the garden where it makes good mulch. Also, if you are feeding them another type of ration as well, they may be refusing the hay in favor of the grain or pelleted feed.

One problem you will have in TX with getting Alfalfa is that it can't be grown there due to Blister Beetle which is toxic. It has to be brought in from New Mexico or other states and is expensive. In California Alfalfa is the most common grown and cheapest. We feed nothing but alfalfa. When we had a large herd of dairy goats on test we would buy our Alfalfa by the field. When we move to the new place in Texas with our sheep flock, we may have to bring a truckload of Alfalfa with us. I am hoping that we will be able to pasture them for most of the year on Coastal Bermuda so that they will be used to the taste of it when we have to feed it dry during the winter. We may also have to feed a grain ration to balance the protein levels.
 

Legamin

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My goats will not eat coastal. I don't know what to feed my goats. Anyone else in TX know where I can get something different than coastal? And how do I tell if its good? All the hay I see looks dried out. I really dont know anything about hay other than my goats will not eat coastal.
Thanks!
I brought in about 600lbs of seed for our new pasture this year. We will overplant with some alfalfa, three varieties of tall stemed drought resistant clover, some oats and ground peas Timothy grass and tall fescue…which is a particular favorite of our goats. The main thing NOT to neglect is that these sweet babies need lots of fiber. When you pull weeds..dump them straight in the goat pen! (We bless our three goats with about 240lbs of fresh weeds per day pulled from our garden in Summer) they LOVE twigs, thorns, briars and even bush and tree trimmings (if they are not too oily like Eucalyptus) they NEED woody fiber and crave it. If they don’t get it they will chew on the wood fence posts. But they absolutely adore Timothy grass and tall fescue. Both of these grasses have about 11-12% protein in cut and baled dry form and you can add orchard grass when you can find it on the cheap. Our hay bill for Winter went from $80 per ton last year to $400+ per ton this year so we expanded out pasture so we can get them out in Spring as soon as possible. While we have moved from sheep and goats to exclusively pure bred Leicester Longwool sheep the above is our experience from out goats. you might need to drive north several hours to find a leafy grass that they will tolerate better but if you can only find one kind of hay try buying a ton of raw oats (about $260) and sift it into the hay you can find. When they eat the oats (first) they will be hungry and go after whatever is in front of them. Another key thing is very fresh water. Our goats got really picky and lost weight if I let their water get cloudy.
 

Legamin

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I agree with everyone that the reason the goats don't like the hay you are feeding is that it is probably dry and not the best quality. As to getting better quality hay, look around your area and find someone that is selling better quality hay. Try a bale from different producers and see if they will eat it. Also, are you feeding in a feeder or on the ground? Goats don't like eating off the ground. Any hay that falls to the ground from the feeder is also ignored. If they walk on the hay or pee on it, you might as well rake it up and put in the garden where it makes good mulch. Also, if you are feeding them another type of ration as well, they may be refusing the hay in favor of the grain or pelleted feed.

One problem you will have in TX with getting Alfalfa is that it can't be grown there due to Blister Beetle which is toxic. It has to be brought in from New Mexico or other states and is expensive. In California Alfalfa is the most common grown and cheapest. We feed nothing but alfalfa. When we had a large herd of dairy goats on test we would buy our Alfalfa by the field. When we move to the new place in Texas with our sheep flock, we may have to bring a truckload of Alfalfa with us. I am hoping that we will be able to pasture them for most of the year on Coastal Bermuda so that they will be used to the taste of it when we have to feed it dry during the winter. We may also have to feed a grain ration to balance the protein levels.
they will eat only alfalfa if you buy it for them but they will get used to most anything you can get. My worry with pure alfalfa would be scours and bloat…bloat is more of a sheep thing but one of my goats nearly died of it…put cider vinegar in the water and mixed grain with equal amount of baking soda and he burped and got up and ran around with an hour! Great advice.
 

Ridgetop

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In 30 years we have had no problem with bloat from alfalfa, but we don't free feed. Our goats only got grain lb.:lb. when milking and we weighed our milk. On the other hand, all our goats were either bred and raised by us or bought in the western US where Alfalfa is the hay of choice. Since everyone feeds alfalfa here, they were acclimated to it over many generations.
 

TXMissy

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I went back to buying compressed bales of Timothy hay. It is more expensive, but I really have no idea where to get "good" coastal hay. It all looks dried out. I don't mind buying timothy though; it is green and they like it and I can afford it since I have a small herd. I also give alfalfa pellets since my doe is feeding her kid. I will eventually stop that. They get pellets too and free range, but the free range is literally our almost acre backyard. There isn't a whole lot for them to eat. I leave some chopped wood that we will use for firewood out for them to eat on. I heard that there is a place that takes Christmas trees so their goats can eat them. I didn't even know they could eat evergreens. What a great idea. I wish I would have thought of that. I am sure I could have gotten some.
 

Legamin

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In 30 years we have had no problem with bloat from alfalfa, but we don't free feed. Our goats only got grain lb.:lb. when milking and we weighed our milk. On the other hand, all our goats were either bred and raised by us or bought in the western US where Alfalfa is the hay of choice. Since everyone feeds alfalfa here, they were acclimated to it over many generations.
I shred bales and mix orchard grass, tall fescue, Timothy grass hay about 50% with alfalfa and sprinkle in just a touch of barley straw to condition them to it..(I put the ewes on straight barley straw to dry up milk at weaning time if I am not going to milk them). I overseeded my pastures with peas, clover and alfalfa and for the first time in my life had one goat and one sheep experience bloat. I suspect you are correct that over many generations that they can become resistant to bloat from a rich legume diet though I would still think it possible if they were left to feed freely. I hang my feed in webbing feeder bags to slow them down in Winter. They are in the barn mostly and once they plow through the feed bin they are bored and have nothing to do. This way they get a precisely measured amount of food and it takes them many trips back and many cud chewing breaks to work through it. They are mostly very pregnant now so I am introducing a grain mix. Here in Washington our hay..alfalfa, grass or weeds..went from $80 per tonne to over $400 per tonne after the federal lands were closed to hay producers and grazers on Jan.8th of last year. So many smaller local animal farms are either closing shop or finding creative sources. I had to travel 300 miles for the first time ever to get alfalfa at an affordable price…my neighbor across the road grows the best alfalfa in the state but his prices went up with everyone else! This was a very challenging year..fortunately the auctions brought in record prices for breeding animals which is most of our income.
 

Legamin

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When we move to Texas we will have to transfer our sheep to Coastal and pasture.
I just saw this..we are looking at a 240 acre ranch in Tennessee about a couple hours north of Texas (our kids moved to Houston this last year) and I could become my own feed producer…I am in the middle of so many project including our 4th barn building that I’m just not sure how soon I can pull it off. In the mean time I’m learning as much about the kind of hay that grows best there and the weather and health challenges for my rare breed sheep in that climate. Good luck with your move!
 

Ridgetop

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Thank you and with your move. We have been looking at moving to Texas for 5 years now and finally bought our property. Learning everything about Texas, its climates, farming, taxes, etc. is essential for a successful move. We like east Texas because of the availability of water there. I am 3rd generation southern Californian (San Fernando Valley) and like all good desert dwellers prize water. LOL

What part of Washington are you in? We had planned to move to Yelm onto a family piece of land but found out that the city had incorporated it several years previously. No more than 3 chickens and 2 rabbits on the 5 acres. Great well, 2 large barns and outbuildings. We had completely rebuit and renovated the little house for my aunt and were looking forward to raising our sheep there BUT :hit! However, we really love Texas better.

If you are considering Tennessee, you should message @Mike CHS. He and his wife raise Katahdins in Tennesse on pasture and love it.
 

Legamin

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Thank you and with your move. We have been looking at moving to Texas for 5 years now and finally bought our property. Learning everything about Texas, its climates, farming, taxes, etc. is essential for a successful move. We like east Texas because of the availability of water there. I am 3rd generation southern Californian (San Fernando Valley) and like all good desert dwellers prize water. LOL

What part of Washington are you in? We had planned to move to Yelm onto a family piece of land but found out that the city had incorporated it several years previously. No more than 3 chickens and 2 rabbits on the 5 acres. Great well, 2 large barns and outbuildings. We had completely rebuit and renovated the little house for my aunt and were looking forward to raising our sheep there BUT :hit! However, we really love Texas better.

If you are considering Tennessee, you should message @Mike CHS. He and his wife raise Katahdins in Tennesse on pasture and love it.
We’re in Elk, Washington just about 45 min. North of Spokane. It is an isolated valley of farms with it’s own weather system…cooler in the Summer and warmer in the Winter (except when it’s not). We were caught by surprise when our kids went on vacation to Houston and came back simply announcing that they had decided to move! They used their vacation to secure land, get a home building loan, set the contractors to work and then come home for three months and pack and move! I couldn’t advise them to not do it because while they were growing up we moved over 40 times for my work around the world as a physicist. I will look up @Mike, thanks for that. I grew up in San Diego but it’s just not a place I would consider living anymore…sad really as I remember it being so beautiful and clean in my youth. I returned to go to Uni in RPV and live in Tahoe for a while…last visit was the last time…it was so different that I felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable…and the land prices, taxes, crazy business killing laws…just couldn’t do it!
We had no idea when we bought our current farm that we would be sitting on a high water table with artesian springs all over the property! There are 3 springs that broke through into our basement! We now pump a constant 30,000-80,000 gallons of water out of our basement every day just to keep it dry! in a. Normal year you can walk out in the bone dry field and dig to find water! Last year was different but an anomaly. We have been looking more and more at moving simply because our farm has quintupled in value in the six years we’ve owned it and we can sell and buy far more farm almost anywhere in the US…and at my age a warmer climate is sounding nice!
 
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