grass feeding

Discussion in 'Dairy Diaries' started by billmac, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. billmac

    billmac Member

    Sep 8, 2008
    Does anyone here run a dairy without grain feeding? Can a milking doe be kept healthy (and happy) without grain? Advantages? Disadvantages? Browse in the summer, hay in the winter?

  2. Cinder

    Cinder New Member

    Mar 2, 2008
    I have limited experience with this but wanted to put my 5 cents in (used to be 2 cents but you know the economy :) ).

    Well, if you consider that our ancestors milked their goats and didn't have the grains/feed we have now - it worked for them, so it must be doable. Having said that, I believe that our milk goats are healthier and give much more milk because of the grain/feed that they get in addition to the high quality hay.

    I do know that the flavor of the milk can change every day if your doe is on pasture while you are milking her. Any weeds they get into can affect the taste. That's why most people keep their milk does contained and give them the same feed every day to maintain a constant sweet milk flavor.

    Someone with lots of experience will chime in here to give better/other reasons for or against.

  3. FunnyRiverFarm

    FunnyRiverFarm New Member

    Sep 13, 2008
    Hudson, MI
    It may depend on the doe, but I would say, in general--NO.

    With the production levels that a lot of domesticated goats have been bred for, they couldn't possibly eat enough hay/browse to keep in condition. Some does get thin even when they are fed grain--they put everything they have right into the milk pail.
  4. Sweet Gum Minis

    Sweet Gum Minis New Member

    Oct 6, 2007
    Easley, SC
    Not milkers I would say no. You can cut grain to open pasture fed goats but they need the added nutrition to produce milk and kids.
  5. kelebek

    kelebek New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    South Texas
    you can cut the grain however, what you will notice is that your does will not produce the daily quanatity that you are looking for, will not milk as long, and will also loose weight.

    If you wanted to cut grain rations, then you would need to have them on a quality tested pure alfalfa hay - and you might (stressed) be able to keep them at highest quantity of production.
  6. goathappy

    goathappy New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    We pasture our girls year long(they only go out there in the summer though :roll: ) but we still grain feed. Even if you have really nice pasture, it is really not enough to support the production and condition of a milking doe. Although you can omit grain from their diet, you will not get as much milk and the quality of the milk(ie butterfat and protein) will not be as good as does that are supplemented with extra hay and grain in addition to pasture during lactation. I will say that a combination of all three seems to produce the best milk. I have visited farms that did not feed grain to their milking does, and the does did not produce well and they were very skinny.
  7. BeeLady

    BeeLady New Member

    I think most of our milk goats today are like Ferraries or Jaguar automobiles -- they were made to convert the high octane fuel (grain) to milk. Putting regular gasoline in a Jaguar won't cut it and most of today's milk goats won't meet their genetic potential without grain or at least spring/summer pasture at its peak growing season.

    That being said, if you had extremely high protien hay, you could do it but probably with a bit lower milk production. Ruminents can produce enough milk to raise kids, and helped to feed families in the past, without grain.

    If we were living 100 years ago, all our topsoil was in place where our hay and grass were grown, and therefore naturally higher protien, then maybe it would have worked, plus our goats were probably more like Ford or Chevy's back then anyway, not the souped-up, selectively-bred, high producing milk goat most of us seem to have today.

    So, IMHO, a lot of factors are working against having grain-free dairy goats.
  8. lesserweevil

    lesserweevil New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    yeah with the way dairy goats are bred nowadays, they wouldnt be ok on just hay/grass, in my opinion. Because they're domesticated, bred specifically for milk, etc - abit like holstein cows, for instance.

    Anyway... if I took Whiss off grain, she would lose SO much condition, and she hasnt got that much to lose!

  9. goatkid

    goatkid New Member

    Jan 17, 2009
    Dairy goats need to be fed alfalfa hay or pellets, and grain to stay healthy and produce milk. I've seen someone try and raise dairy goats on pasture/browse with little grain and hay. They were fed Sweetlix for protein. They were using dairy goats bred to a Boer cross buck to produce meat kids. The Boer cross does they kept did OK, but the dairy does (mostly Alpines) were thin and had short lives. I would never raise goats thet way.