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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Another newbie question, I wanted to get a couple of 3 string bales of hay for the winter (I have one nice green orchard grass already)-- what do they mean by second cutting alfalfa hay?
I did Google the subject and read up alittle on alfalfa (high calcium levels, you want less stem and more leaf etc)...
I will be feeding 2 probably 3 does and 1 buckling (so 3 minis, the buck is tiny and only 3 weeks old right now so he wont be grazing for a while, 1 standard size doe -- does' ages almost 5 months now...)
and yes they are getting goat chow (currently Purina but I found something called Farmers goat ration at a local feed store that looks nice and fresh and is basically the same)....

Its still sunny and 70s bright and clear, bad weather probably not til Nov (one year it didnt snow til Feb the next year was a 120 record for Rain starting in like Sept.... doesnt really get in the single digits, low 20's maybe is more like it)....
SO back to Hay? What for the winter and what grades are good for young and very young goatlings....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh and they will get grain daily (child likes to feed them and we are trying to tame them) they actually jump the pen and browse for a couple hours daily and then come in at night for their sweet feed... (they escape into a 1.5 acre pasture)....
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK thanx Karen you were posting while I was posting I do see alot of 2nd cutting Alfalfa... do they run out in winter or do I have to buy it all soonish (only so much will fit into my little commuter car)...
 

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2nd cutting means that particular hay field the bales came from was cut for the 2nd time this year. 2nd is usually fine. I prefer 3rd or 4th cutting alfalfa. You want to stock up on your hay now because it's usually slim pickings during winter through early spring.
 

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Make sure you get as much as you can keep dry... Goats, even minis go through quite a bit of hay.
 

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I have to buy my hay for the year. The farmers sell out as quickly as possible and send the rest south. They don't keep any in stock.
 

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I've been giving my goats peanut hay instead of the T&A. They love it. Question: Is it as good, better or worse than T&A? It is messy, but they love it.

By the way, we're the south they ship it to:D And we have to pay around $15 a square bale for it.:(
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well Ms sl lee heres its $15- 20 ( for really nice green horse quality stuff) for a little 3 string bale...(is that the same as a square bale)...
I am back just now and will go get 2 more bales of the 20 dollar stuff tommorrow (its in town) and look at the far away cheap store next week....(what they have in stock that might be suitable)...
 

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I think it is horse grade T&A but it is only 2 strings not three. We can't grow it here in Florida. Peanut hay runs about the same. Coastal is around $11. I get they for our Llama, too much calcium can cause problems for her.
 

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My summer job is cutting hay so I may be able to help.
Alfalfa:
In 1st cutting the plants are mostly stem without a lot of leaves. This is because the hay is shooting up quickly after being dormant for the winter. Since most of the nutrients are in the leaves this cutting is the least nutritious.
2nd cutting has more leaves on it than 1st cutting making it more nutritious.
3rd cutting is leafier than 2nd because the plants aren't growing up as fast so there is less stem. This usually happens because of the heat. 2nd and 3rd are usually pretty similar around here.
4th cutting is the best nutrients wise. This hay is wonderful for does in milk! The weather is usually much cooler so the plants produce a lot more leaves than they do stem. Usually around here 4th cutting hay is hard to find because farmers have a hard time getting it put up in good condition because of the weather.
I usually feed my goats 3rd cutting alfalfa and if I can get any 4th they LOVE that. I'm lucky because I get all the broken bales that are otherwise fine except for one broken string. Otherwise 4th cutting alfalfa is pretty pricey around here!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My summer job is cutting hay so I may be able to help.
Alfalfa:
In 1st cutting the plants are mostly stem without a lot of leaves. This is because the hay is shooting up quickly after being dormant for the winter. Since most of the nutrients are in the leaves this cutting is the least nutritious.
2nd cutting has more leaves on it than 1st cutting making it more nutritious.
3rd cutting is leafier than 2nd because the plants aren't growing up as fast so there is less stem. This usually happens because of the heat. 2nd and 3rd are usually pretty similar around here.
4th cutting is the best nutrients wise. This hay is wonderful for does in milk! The weather is usually much cooler so the plants produce a lot more leaves than they do stem. Usually around here 4th cutting hay is hard to find because farmers have a hard time getting it put up in good condition because of the weather.
I usually feed my goats 3rd cutting alfalfa and if I can get any 4th they LOVE that. I'm lucky because I get all the broken bales that are otherwise fine except for one broken string. Otherwise 4th cutting alfalfa is pretty pricey around here!
Thankyou very much! That is very helpful- today I acquired 2 more bales of the local shop's #1 alfalfa ( I dont know what cutting it was but it was the most expensive). I will call them tommorrow. It is a nice green and aromatic (in a good way)... This should hold them thru Dec I think ( I think I may be in trouble, they hold out for the sweet feed and barely eat anything else)....
Also the Feedstore said not to worry they had plenty of hay and would not be running out (they do have a good rep around here)....
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
One more hay query... I noticed that for some reason the orchard grass hay is consistently priced higher than our alfalfa (its 20 or 21 a bale and the alfalfa you can get from 15/16 a bale).... the orchard grass is nice and leafy very low stem, much easier to feed... but what I notice is that with the alfalfa even if its mostly stem, they still go nuts for it and like the stemmy alfalfa over the beautiful tea leaf green orchard grass hay bales... What gives? which is better to feed...?....
 

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Your goats just like the alfalfa better. I've seen some herds that prefer grass hay and others prefer alfalfa and then some don't care. It just kind of varies from herd to herd is what i've seen, but most goats love alfalfa and in my opinion, it's the best hay you can give them.

Prices vary depending on location and availability, just because it is priced higher, doesn't necessarily mean it's the better hay. Also, each farm and each cutting...the hay will differ. Some farmers know what they're doing produce high quality hay and others produce some real poor quality hay all the time. Some cuttings turn out perfect, some get rained on, etc. It just depends.

Most feed stores only sell premium to supreme quality hay and charge more than what you could get if for directly from a farmer.
 

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One more hay query... I noticed that for some reason the orchard grass hay is consistently priced higher than our alfalfa (its 20 or 21 a bale and the alfalfa you can get from 15/16 a bale).... the orchard grass is nice and leafy very low stem, much easier to feed... but what I notice is that with the alfalfa even if its mostly stem, they still go nuts for it and like the stemmy alfalfa over the beautiful tea leaf green orchard grass hay bales... What gives? which is better to feed...?....
I don't believe a three-string bale and a square bale are not the same thing. I think that a square bale has 2 strings, but then this all could be as opposed to a round bale so... I know CA bales are different than the rest of the country.

In terms of why Orchard grass is so expensive = because you are in horse country. It is used to feed horses and it is horse quality so it is more expensive. All of your does will appreciate the alfalfa, especially if you have a pasture for them as well. Your young buck can safely eat the alfalfa for many months while he is still growing. Once he reaches maturity, you will want to cut back so he doesn't get too much calcium.

In terms of buying all the hay you need for winter - I guess if you can buy it and store it that is ideal. With a herd of 35 goats, I would never be able to store enough hay for winter where I live so we have to buy it throughout the winter. The price goes up, but I have never been to a feed store who told me "Sorry we ran out of hay". I don't know if that helps your budgeting but I just thought I would throw out my experience.

Are you going to the goat education day in Red Bluff in two weeks?
 

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Unless the bale is round it is called square, regardless of being 2 or 3 string.
In reality the square bales are actually rectangle. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Your goats just like the alfalfa better. I've seen some herds that prefer grass hay and others prefer alfalfa and then some don't care. It just kind of varies from herd to herd is what i've seen, but most goats love alfalfa and in my opinion, it's the best hay you can give them.

Prices vary depending on location and availability, just because it is priced higher, doesn't necessarily mean it's the better hay. Also, each farm and each cutting...the hay will differ. Some farmers know what they're doing produce high quality hay and others produce some real poor quality hay all the time. Some cuttings turn out perfect, some get rained on, etc. It just depends.

Most feed stores only sell premium to supreme quality hay and charge more than what you could get if for directly from a farmer.
Thanks - that does set my mind at ease, I will buy the cheaper alfalfa from now as the goats like it better anyway (and yes the feedstores that I go to are the ones reccomended by our goat vet, they have good product)....
We fixed our electric netting (dog chewed it up before we figured out the Electric part)and so goats will be getting back out to pasture now....So hopefully... less hay....
 
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