Can we talk alfalfa?

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by Karen Walen, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. Karen Walen

    Karen Walen New Member

    7
    Dec 20, 2018
    Wisconsin
    I just found a new hay source for my ND goats. Seems like a great fit, but...the majority of this hay is alfalfa. I believe I heard somewhere that alfalfa has too much protein and may cause urinary calculi. I am mainly worried about my 2 wethers over my 2 does. These are all pets, so no breeding, milking, etc. I’m leaning towards passing this up and trying to find another source, but would like to hear from those with far more experience than me. Any info would be helpful! Thank you!!
     
    Kass likes this.

  2. happybleats

    happybleats Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2010
    Gustine Texas
    what is the ratio of grass hay to alfalfa. I like a 60/40 ratio.

    Alfalfa has good amount of calcium in it and when combined with proper amount of phosphorus at a 2 to 2.5 :1 ratio that is ideal.

    So hay, browse, grains all are high in phosphorus so the added alfalfa brings the calcium up and helps prevent UC.
     
  3. NigerianDwarfOwner707

    NigerianDwarfOwner707 Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2018
    East Coast, USA
    Woohoo, second wether diet thread in one day! I feel so lucky!!

    The short answer - which literally everyone needs to understand, there’s no one-size-fits-all safe diet for wethers.

    I need to know what your individual situation is.

    So, what else do you feed? List EVERYTHING!! What is your water source? i.e. hard water, well water, filtered, and do you ever get white/calcium residue on sinks or dishes? Sulfur/egg smell? Orange staining on tubs or sinks?
     
  4. Jessica84

    Jessica84 Well-Known Member

    Oct 27, 2011
    California
    I fully agree with happybleats it’s not the alfalfa that causes a issue it’s the wrong ratio. In some cases, like mine where my bucks eat a lot of pasture and are sometimes on grain I need that calcium to even things out. Most (NOT all) stones are a result from too much phosphorus. We as humans love to feed grain and we have been falsely told that alfalfa it’s self will kill our boys so we tend to give too much phosphorus when in reality it’s the worse we can do for them.
    I suggest doing as nigerianDwarfOwner says and just list their whole diet, alfalfa may be what you need or you may need to pass and go with grass alfalfa or if it’s a really good deal I would just buy the alfalfa and add grass hay into the diet.
     
    toth boer goats and happybleats like this.
  5. Karen Walen

    Karen Walen New Member

    7
    Dec 20, 2018
    Wisconsin
    Thank you for the replies! They graze in pasture and I believe my other source does not have alfalfa - they just say it’s all grass (it comes from the Amish and they love it!!). Other than that I give them maybe a cup of grain/day in the winter months - I live in WI. During these summer months they get a bowl of veggie scraps each night...beans, broccoli and lettuce along with the trimmings from brussel sprouts. Sometimes tomatoes, carrot peels and apples and maybe other fruit/veggies that are on the cusp of going bad. I give them the manna pro minerals with baking soda once a week.
     
  6. NigerianDwarfOwner707

    NigerianDwarfOwner707 Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2018
    East Coast, USA
    And water source?

    Make sure manna pro is free choice and absolutely no baking soda.
     
    happybleats likes this.
  7. Karen Walen

    Karen Walen New Member

    7
    Dec 20, 2018
    Wisconsin
    well water. Not too much calcium deposits and no rotten egg smell or orange. Why no baking soda?? I thought that was good for their tummies???!!
     
  8. NigerianDwarfOwner707

    NigerianDwarfOwner707 Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2018
    East Coast, USA
    Nope. I don’t recommend feeding free choice baking soda - for many reasons. Goats produce their own bicarbonate, but if they have baking soda they begin to produce less and less of their own. Then, if they end up bloating, their bodies will not resolve as quickly and baking soda will already be rendered useless. It also de-acidifies urine, which can be quite dangerous for male goats, as urine must stay slightly acidic to prevent urinary calculi. Baking soda can also disrupt the absorption of certain minerals, causing deficiencies.

    Alfalfa probably wouldn’t hurt if it’s mixed with grass hay.
     
  9. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California