Goats not loving their new hay

Discussion in 'Health & Wellness' started by Darby77, Jan 2, 2020.

  1. Darby77

    Darby77 Active Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Hi all,

    My beloved, yet stressful goats have decided that the new load of hay is not to their liking. There is nothing visibly wrong with it, they are just very picky. I was going to just let them be and figure they will eat it if/when they are hungry, but my Mom is worried they will get thin and not get enough nutrients. She's been watching Dr. Pol and saw something about sick goats not getting enough nutrients so she is making me anxious. OYE!
    They don't get grain, but they do get alfalfa pellets for dinner. They each get fed separately, 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup alfalfa pellets depending on how big they are. They are saanen and boer goats, so big goats and not thin. Actually most of them are a big chubby. They also get sea kelp, fasttrack probiotic and ground flax in their dinner (1 tbsp. each). They get loose minerals, though we waste more than they eat. I also give them a dose of Replamin Gel every Friday morning.
    So my question is, should I put them back on some sort of grain for the winter? They are eating the hay, but not with the vigor they normally eat and I have no access to different hay at the moment. I don't want anyone to be lacking, but I also don't want to spoil them or make them too fat. I have all does, except one wether. No one is being bred and they are between 2yrs and 4yrs old.
    Any advice would be appreciated, including "stop worrying and spoiling your animals". :)

  2. SalteyLove

    SalteyLove Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    New England
    Are you able to post a few photos of the hay (open bales) and current photos of the goats?

    Are they actually overweight like you can't find their ribs and there is fat cover over their spines & hips?

    My initial instinct is NO don't buy them grain, since they are not "working" right now, but do consider increasing their alfalfa pellet ration!

    How many bales of this disliked hay do you have to get through?

  3. NDinKY

    NDinKY Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    How long have you tried them on the new hay? If they’re already on the heavier side, I wouldn’t be as concerned, would just keep a close eye on body condition and how they act. I wouldn’t grain if it’s not needed to keep weight on. You could consider adding some orchard grass pellets to their alfalfa pellets ration before going to grain.
    toth boer goats likes this.
  4. friesian49

    friesian49 Active Member

    Jul 2, 2018
    Isn't this somewhat normal with goats?! They are loving the 2nd cut this winter, but some they love more than others, I can tell cause they completely ignore me when this happens. Other times they race me to the gate.

    Maybe try opening another bale and see if they like it more? I also find that if there is "old" hay in the rack - sometimes I try and fool them by moving the older to the side and putting new in on the other side. Nothing wrong with the old, it was just put out in the morning and now it's dinner, or something like that. But if I take out all the old, sometimes they start eating more.
    NigerianDwarfOwner707 likes this.
  5. Darby77

    Darby77 Active Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    I have opened 3 bales, they aren't excited about any of them. They are oddballs. This hay is soft grassy 1st cut. Not overly green, but clean. They like grassy 2nd cut or really course crappy 1st cut. I will get some pics tonight. Two of my girls I can feel ribs, but not bad yet. I worry with the bad part of winter coming soon. I have had this hay about a week. I have a co-op with a big barn down the street and we just got a tractor trailer load, so it will be around for a couple months. The horses at the other barn love it. My horse isn't loving it either, but I swear she goes with what they say. LOL
    I will try adding a little of the orchard grass pellets. I don't want to overdue the alfalfa. I also add a little big of a compressed alfalfa bale to their overnight hay. They are a bit spoiled. :(
    Thanks everyone. I do feel better.
  6. Darby77

    Darby77 Active Member

    Apr 23, 2016
  7. Nigerian dwarf goat

    Nigerian dwarf goat Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2017
    Mine is a bit more "stemmy" but yours looks fine to me! Mine take a few days to choke down a flake of grass hay lol, but takes the about 2 hours to inhale alfalfa.(rofl) Just let em get used to it
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2020
    Darby77 likes this.
  8. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Looks fine. They are just being picky.
  9. Goats Rock

    Goats Rock Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    NE Ohio
    Let them get hungry. Only put a little in in the eve. They will be hungry by morning. Hunger is a great motivator!
  10. Honey21

    Honey21 Well-Known Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    Orangeburg sc
    I have same problem with mine. Every time I switch they turn their noses up the first few days I leave it there and come back next morning it's usually gone. So somebody's eating it:haha:
    Nigerian dwarf goat likes this.
  11. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    Looks good to me as well.
    Nigerian dwarf goat likes this.
  12. singinggoatgirl

    singinggoatgirl Well-Known Member

    Apr 13, 2016
    the deep south
    My goats don't like their current hay either. Too bad! That's all they are offered because that's all that's available this winter. It took them a week to get over it, and really eat it with a normal appetite. I was forced to switch hay after they all got pregnant, and they were just fine during their food strike (aka temper tantrum) despite their increased workload growing babies.

    I wouldn't bother giving grain since they aren't "working" or dying of starvation.

    I think compressed alfalfa hay will only delay them getting over the change in hay. I really don't think it will help them or you. Grass hay is perfectly good for goats so long as it isn't moldy, overly stemmy, or actually straw.

    They're used to alfalfa pellets, so you could increase that if you want, but I personally wouldn't even feed that to non-working goats unless they aren't getting any calcium in their water or mineral mix, or your hay is so poor that they need a little nutrition boost.

    You said you can feel ribs on 2 of them, and that it wasn't bad yet... Meaning you're worried they are starving? Do you know how to do body condition scoring for meat goats and milk goats? That could help you a lot. It helps me to put a number on things and then I can more easily keep track of changes without second-guessing myself. I can't speak for body condition on meat goats, but for milk goats, feeling ribs can actually be perfectly healthy. Here's an excellent video explaining body condition scoring for milk goats:

    If you want help determining if your sweet goats are in any danger of starving, you can post pictures and get help scoring body condition. It's hard to be precise when you can't put your own hands on an animal to score them, but it can be pretty obvious when it's gone too far and they're about to die of starvation. I'm guessing just by the fact that you care, that they are fine, but it might ease your mind to have proof.
    toth boer goats likes this.
  13. NigerianDwarfOwner707

    NigerianDwarfOwner707 Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2018
    East Coast, USA
    Mine are hilarious. Open a lovely new bale of 2nd cut orchard: won’t touch it. Give them an hour and they nibble. Then they won’t touch it again. Take it out of the feeder and toss it on the ground while placing a new flake from a new bale in the feeder, and they start eating the old stuff off the ground!! Goats are just weird like that. Sometimes we have to open a bale and then when they stop liking it open a new one and then a week later go back to the old bale and they LOVE it! Weird! I know! That’s just goats, they’re weird. But they will eat if they are hungry enough. Don’t worry about it.
  14. NigerianDwarfOwner707

    NigerianDwarfOwner707 Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2018
    East Coast, USA
    As long as they have full rumens by the end of the day and are chewing cud.
    toth boer goats likes this.