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Grain fed vs 100% hay fed

1486 Views 16 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Jubillee
Hi all!
I had posted a thread a little while ago about switching my goat's diet and how to go about that. Anyway, the plan was to slowly get my goats off of grain and completely on hay. Now, there is very little grain left and they are almost completely pasture and hay fed. I'm having second thoughts now. Can anyone tell me if it is healthier for a goat to be eating only hay/pasture compared hay/pasture + grain? I have never copper bolused (the grain has copper in) and my goats do not have fishtails. Will I have to copper bolus if I get them off grain?

P.S. Please forgive my absence on some other threads. I will get to them but I have been busy for a while now.
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There is no reason why your goats can't be healthy on hay alone as long as the hay is high enough quality. My bucks have been on hay/pasture alone for a few years now and they keep their condition great and I've never noticed a difference in the amount I have to supplement minerals.
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Grain never offers enough vitamins and minerals. If you have a good loose mineral out and supplement, you will be fine.
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. Can anyone tell me if it is healthier for a goat to be eating only hay/pasture compared hay/pasture + grain? now.
My answer to that question is no. It's not healthier for a goat to eat only hay/pasture.

Can they be healthy being fed only hay/pasure ? That is a different question. ;)
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It's always important to assess the body condition and overall health of the goat. Changes in condition will happen slowly over time. You might not notice a difference right away when you change their feeding, but you should be able to see differences in a month or two.
During the summer, my adult buck and wether only get very, very minimal amounts of feed...mostly just so they don't get jealous of the young buckling, who gets a more generous amount, as he is still growing. They get browse and hay, and they are in great shape (actually, just a bit fat at the moment). During the winter, they get a little more feed, especially when the weather is very cold. But again, their diet is predominately hay. That is what works for me so far...but you have to assess the condition of your own goats and decide what will work for you.
If you have wethers, in my experience, it is very easy for them to get fat! Bucks and does lose weight a little more readily, but my wether stays fat on next to nothing.
It is better to have a loose mineral out for them to eat whenever they choose, than to rely on the minerals in their grain.
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As mentioned there isn鈥檛 a whole lot of extra copper in grain so cutting grain it鈥檚 self shouldn鈥檛 effect much.
Is it just the copper that is making you have second thoughts or is there something else going on?
I changed over to no grain, and I actually think my goats are doing better. They don鈥檛 stand around for hours screaming for grain instead of browsing or eating their hay. It did take a bit of time for them to adjust though. It took a long time for them to give up begging for grain and really make the best of eating during the day.
One thing I did do after we had a hay shortage and all I could get was crap hay was give protein tubs. After I tried it I kept going with it. Hay and pasture can be pretty unpredictable on quality. Having the tubs out they pick and choose when they need the extras. Sometimes they attack it and sometimes they go weeks without touching it much. BUT I鈥檓 not sure if that is the way you would like to go if you worry about copper since it is very heavy in molasses.
I haven鈥檛 had very many that have fallen off weight wise but also if one does I do not hesitate to pull them and give grain.
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My goats always look worse when they aren't getting grain. It seems to work for some people but not me. I've tried only hay and alfalfa pellets with pasture and browse, mixing my own feed, etc. Mine do better on a commercial ration, hay, browse and of course loose minerals. I'm also now feeding alfalfa pellets, but that's just to get them back into the pasture and out of the feed pen.
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The first question is.... are they wethers, breeding, milking , pregnant, etc. Purpose will determine a lot of what they need. Wethers can be successful on just hay/pasture and great minerals, but milking does are another story....
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My answer to that question is no. It's not healthier for a goat to eat only hay/pasture.

Can they be healthy being fed only hay/pasure ? That is a different question. ;)
I was under the impression that hay and pasture were healthier for the goat. I'm not sure why exactly but that is what I thought. Maybe because grain is processed and hay and pasture are more natural.
Is it just the copper that is making you have second thoughts or is there something else going on?
I am most worried about copper. I only give my goats loose mineral and not a copper bolus, which I do not think they need because they do not have fishtails.

They don鈥檛 stand around for hours screaming for grain instead of browsing or eating their hay.
This made me laugh a lot! Yes, my goats will stand around screaming for their food and it is so funny that they do that.
The first question is.... are they wethers, breeding, milking , pregnant, etc. Purpose will determine a lot of what they need. Wethers can be successful on just hay/pasture and great minerals, but milking does are another story....
I have two pet bucks, which until I can find someone to neuter them the way I wanted them neutered, they will remain that way.
Be very careful keeping bucks as pets. Hormones for bucks can give way to challenging, and aggression - which they can take out on you, your fence, pen and you. Especially if they don't have any does to mate. If you want pets, I would strongly recommend you neuter. That cute little guy at 1 year is NOT the same guy at 3 years.
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I have two pet bucks, which until I can find someone to neuter them the way I wanted them neutered, they will remain that way.
Is there a reason you don't want to band them yourself?

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Be very careful keeping bucks as pets. Hormones for bucks can give way to challenging, and aggression - which they can take out on you, your fence, pen and you. Especially if they don't have any does to mate. If you want pets, I would strongly recommend you neuter. That cute little guy at 1 year is NOT the same guy at 3 years.
I am very aware of this and I would like them neutered. I posted a thread about whether or not I should wether my goats and I do want to. I do not want them banded or surgically castrated, however. My preferred method would be the burdizzo, but the vets around my house want to surgically castrate them.
Is there a reason you don't want to band them yourself?

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I would rather my goats not be banded, but rather castrated with a burdizzo. Also, I have never banded a goat before so I would be leary about doing it myself.
Maybe make a local FB post asking for experience person to do burdizzo. Or inquire at local farms. Maybe a long shot but short of buying the tool yourself..might be an option.
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We keep our bucks on grass hay, alfalfa hay, and browse with no grain. They are fat and happy. We do give a little grain in winter/rut time but not a much. Our milking does eat mostly the same with not very much grain at all. So I think it's doable if they have good quality hay.
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