alfalfa hay as the sole feed

Discussion in 'Goat Frenzy' started by epigenius, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    Hi, I am from Pakistan and I plan to raise goats, I started my research a year ago and I realized that to cut feed costs I had to grow my own feed and currently have a good alfalfa crop on some 2 acres which i grew as an experiment although i am yet to buy goats ,i will soon get my hay analyzed and expect somewhere around 18-20 % of CP.
    My question is that will my goats do good if I just feed them with alfalfa hay provided that water and mineral requirements are well taken care of ,or I have to supplement with grains and commercially available feed as well .
    my research shows that alfalfa takes care of protein requirements its the energy part i am confused about
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2020
    MadHouse likes this.
  2. SalteyLove

    SalteyLove Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    New England
    I don't know the answer to your energy question but one other consideration is the very high calcium content of alfalfa. It's so high it could cause urinary stones (urinary calculi) which are a very big problem, especially in altered male goats but can be for all genders. I think you would need to utilize another grass, or oats, or another grain to balance that calcium with phosphorus.
     
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  3. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    Thanks for your reply I have already taken into consideration regarding phosphorus i am working on getting a mineral mixture containing low calcium and high phosphorus to balance that out, otherwise i would go for grain feeding since they have more phosphorus as compared to calciu
     
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  4. NigerianDwarfOwner707

    NigerianDwarfOwner707 Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2018
    East Coast, USA
    A mineral mix with low calcium and high phosphorus won’t balance anything. It’s so minimal, that’s like adding only one grain of sugar to a cake!!

    If you can just mix grass hay with alfalfa, you are good to go!
     
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  5. SalteyLove

    SalteyLove Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    New England
    Agreed, a loose mineral won't resolve that balance as they don't consume it in quantities each day.
     
  6. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    what about grain feeding along with alfalfa hay ,alot of farmers in my country are using alfalfa hay and similarly i have seen a global practice of alfalfa hay and pellets any clues as to what they are using to prevent urinary claculi
     
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  7. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Considering your country is different from ours, what is the general practice? There are farmers who feed solely alfalfa even in the US. But they know their land and know how they need to feed their animals.
     
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  8. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    All great advice and questions.
     
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  9. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    My country has third largest goat population in the world and we have one of the largest goat breeds the famous beetal goat comes from my homeland of Punjab, traditionally goats have been kept on grazing on crop residues etc. but in recent years there is a trend of intensive farming in sheds since goat meat is pretty expensive here , a kilogram (2 pounds)costs equivalent of 7 us dollars as compared to beef which is around 4 usd per kilogram .I have visited multiple farms and they are using alfalfa hay with wheat bran and wheat grain to supplement for phosphorus.my main goal is to grow my own feed for around 50 animals and as per my understanding and research i am good to go with alfalfa I just have to figure out the excess calcium /low phosphorus issue
     
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  10. NigerianDwarfOwner707

    NigerianDwarfOwner707 Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2018
    East Coast, USA
    Yep so here I'll help you figure it out - OFFER GRASS HAY TOO! :) do you guys have access to grass hay in your country?
     
  11. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    I can buy Rhode grass hay which is available here but it won't be economically feasible and would reduce my profits whatever i am gonna feed is gonna come from my own land this is the primary reason I started growing feed before buying animals, since i can sell it of at any time . I am looking for my options but irrespective of availability i will grow my own and your help would be really appreciated :)
     
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  12. AndersonRanch

    AndersonRanch Well-Known Member

    304
    Oct 17, 2020
    California
    Since you have the land you can always section off a area and just let it grow your native grass, or plant some. I don’t grow anything but I feed alfalfa and they have grass that grows in the pasture and they eat it. When it’s short or gone they pretty much just have the alfalfa hay and when it’s thick and tall then it’s mainly grass. I personally do not supplement with grain (except for young kids) but I do keep protein tubs out there. I honestly have never looked to see how much ca:ph it has in it but for body condition wise it does well when they need a little extra
     
  13. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    so you never had any issue relating to urinary calculi whilst you were feeding them with alfalfa only ? Can you please tell me for how long you have done that (i.e. alfalfa as sole feed) in a continues stretch ? how was your experience with lactating animals in this scenario
     
  14. AndersonRanch

    AndersonRanch Well-Known Member

    304
    Oct 17, 2020
    California
    Oh gosh I think I’m going on 6 years doing it this way. Before I was huge on grain hay and supplementing with grain, I didn’t like getting ran over for the grain or the large kids it would produce, plus in the end it came out cheaper feeding alfalfa. No issues with UC and my bucks have very very limited access to brows (grass). But I always make sure they have a salt block and clean water, kinda keep the pipes flowing.
    Lactation they do absolutely amazing with the calcium. I also think the does keep better condition with the alfalfa and no grain, instead of standing there for a hour or two screaming at me trying to con me into feeding grain earlier they are actually still eating. This works for me. I should also mention I do not have any wethers, the only wethers that stick around are the kids market wethers (for the fair) and they are feed alfalfa and high amounts of grain and are gone by 9 months old.
     
  15. TexasGoatMan

    TexasGoatMan Well-Known Member

    601
    Jul 3, 2015
    Dekalb, Texas
    I read a article where a study showed that to much alfalfa makes it hard for the goats to obtain copper.A chemical or mineral in the alfalfa is responsible for the copper issue. Copper is stored in the liver and too much alfalfa has some affect on that. I can't remember where I read the article. sorry I can't provide the source of that information. Someone else may remember that article and point you to it. If I can find it I will come back and post it for you.
     
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  16. TexasGoatMan

    TexasGoatMan Well-Known Member

    601
    Jul 3, 2015
    Dekalb, Texas
    Determination of trace level copper (II) binding to Medicago sativa (alfalfa) by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy with Zeeman background correction
    Author links open overlay panelJ.LGardea-TorresdeyK.JTiemannJ.GParsons
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0026-265X(01)00065-0Get rights and content

    Abstract
    Current technologies used to extract heavy metals from the environment have proven to be expensive and have adverse health effects. Thus there is a need to develop techniques to extract metal ions from the environment in an inexpensive manner while reducing any potential adverse health effects. Because of this need to develop new technologies to extract metals from the environment, research has turned to novel methods such as phytofiltration, phytoextraction and bioaccumulation of metals. Alfalfa biomass has proven to be a plant that has the ability to adsorb heavy metals from solution in appreciable amounts. However, the majority of these studies have only investigated the adsorption of high concentrations of metal ions. Nevertheless, few studies have been performed at trace levels. Batch experiments were performed on the alfalfa biomass to investigate the sorption of trace levels of copper (100 ppb) from solution. The metal analyses were performed using a graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy (GFAAS) with Zeeman background correction. Additional batch experiments were performed to characterize the optimal binding pH and time exposure required for copper(II) adsorption by alfalfa biomass. The optimum binding pH was found to be around pH 5.0, with 95% binding of the copper(II) from solution. Also, a maximum binding was found to occur within the first 5 min of contact which remained constant for 1 h. In addition, batch interference studies were performed which showed little binding interference with varying concentrations of calcium, magnesium and sodium ions (as high as 1000 ppm). The results of these experiments at trace copper(II) levels were very similar to
    those performed at higher copper(II) levels. This may indicate that similar functional groups (e.g. carboxyl groups) are involved in copper binding by the alfalfa biomass at low and high copper concentrations. The information gained in this study allowed us to determine the efficiency of alfalfa biomass to bind copper ions at trace concentrations.

    https://thriftyhomesteader.com/avoiding-copper-toxicity-goats/
    Read this article about copper and alfalfa, plus other problems with copper absorption.
     
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  17. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    so i found the balance guys to get ca:p ratio of 1:2.5 alfalfa hay should be fed with rice bran ,an ideal feed would be 3 pounds of alfalfa hay with 1 pound of rice bran per day , although i would have to weigh in many other factors in it its just a very good diet as far as proteins, energy and calcium phosphorus are concerned
     
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  18. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    i would appreciate input from your experience as to what might be pros and cons of this diet plan, is there risk of bloating what mineral and vitamins might be missing and need to be supplemented along with this diet ,considering that i intend to divide this in 3 feeds/day with 1 pound of alfalfa hay and 160-170gms of rice bran
     
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  19. epigenius

    epigenius New Member

    9
    Nov 27, 2020
    Pakistan
    is safe 500mg of rice bran per day safe ? of course added gradually and salt and soda bicarbonate to be given along with