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Hay for pregnant does

719 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  TDG-Farms
I just read on a website that during the last month of pregnancy you should give only grass hay. I would think the developing kids and milk development would need the calcium in alfalfa. Any thoughts would be appreciated. My two girls are due the first of April and if I need to switch hay, I would like to do so gradually.
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It is not wise to Feed too much alfalfa in the last few weeks of pregnancy as it can cause some serious issues. If you are feeding exclusively alfalfa I would cut back in the last month and give quality grass hay for at least 80% of their hay. That's with them cleaning up ALL of the hay offered. Cut back if they don't clean it up.
Now with that said I hope that hay is not the only nutrition in their diet in the last month. Here at Paradise Ranch at a month before their due date we also start feeding a 16% pellet at 1/4 lb. per day, increasing it slowly until we are at 3 lbs. per day with 2 weeks left on their due date. The last two weeks we feed them twice a day (12 hours apart, at the same time each day), giving them 60% of their pellets (or grain) in the morning and the other 40% in the evening. This seems to cause the does to kid in the daylight hours. Out of hundreds & hundreds of births only two does have kidded in the night time in the last 14 years. After kidding we continue to give the doe 3 lbs of pellets (or grain) a day (half in the morning and half in the evening) until the kids are weaned or our pastures come "Alive" with nutrition. After birth you should increase the does alfalfa consumption to increase milk production. To dry her up stop feeding alfalfa and grain all together. This is what works for us, hope it helps.
Happy Trails, Dwite
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:) and I am on the other side of the coin. Here we feed only dairy quality alfalfa year round and we increase the feed a bit towards the final month. Maybe 10%-20% more feed then normal but only if needed. Grass IMO just doesnt have anything in it to help with late kid development. Alfalfa has a substantial amount more calcium then any other feed and is an essential building block in kid development. And I think you really get to see that development when they are adults in regards to over all size.

As for grain, we typically start to grain does when they have a month let before kidding. We do this for several reasons. Mainly, it gets them used to and back into the routine of coming in to get milked. We make it a positive experience and get them used to having their udders touched if they are first or second fresheners. Second to get them that little extra if they need it. We average triples here so often times they do need it. The hay we feed is average 22-26% protein so we like to use a lower protein grain but has things that maybe helpful or missing from the alfalfa. We feed a free choice loss mineral salt with higher copper and selenium and vit D year round so there isnt much if anything our girls lack. Third good reason for grain is to tame down any yearling does that didnt get fully tamed down the year before. A few days of coming in for grain and often times you a new best buddy out in the pen :)

The only birth problems we have ever had, maybe every other year we get a doe who tries to pass more then one kid at a time and we are forced to go in and get them lined up right. A case or two of floppy kid syndrome, but thats a high toxin issue either due to bacteria or a low rumin count in the kids gut and is easy to fix with a bit of baking soda and water given at the right time. More or less, if we see a kid that is kinda sluggish from the start, we dont take any chances.
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