Hay? Free Choice?

Discussion in 'Goat Frenzy' started by Bona Fide, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. Bona Fide

    Bona Fide New Member

    Oct 9, 2007
    I don't guess I ever stopped to really think about people feed hay differently - I mean I know it's a given with grain, but never really thought about hay... with that being said how do you feed hay to your animals?

    Either square bales or round bales (sometimes both) my critters (horses, cows, goats) have unlimited supplies of hay - always in front of them either inside a stall, barn, kidding pen, pasture, whatever.

    We've always fed them this way - and probably always will - it's not just a seasonal thing - it's pretty much year round. Granted when the pasture is amazing, the amounts we go through are much less, but they still get and eat some none the less.

    This isn't a question to judge - but I've been noticing a lot of posts in regards to this on different forums/email lists/etc and began to get curious after seeing some responses...wondering if it's a location difference, breed difference...or just because difference, lol.

    You don't have to answer why --- just wondering how much you feed them and if you feed in feeders, on the ground, in racks, just at certain times of the day, just certain amts, etc. I know with some horse farms we fed every 4 hrs around the clock - each horse got x lbs of hay and x lbs of grain - they ate on a non-stop clock - always in feeders and hay racks ...

    How about yall?
  2. deenak

    deenak New Member

    Oct 10, 2007
    Ames Iowa
    We feed them as much hay as they will eat. It is usually in feeders on the wall and they are filled at least twice a day sometimes more. If they are empty they are refilled. I don't feed on the floor because of worm issues. We have 1 pygmy and 4 nigerian dwarf goats and they go through about 1 1/2 bales of hay per week, a little less in the summer.

  3. KW Farms

    KW Farms Moderator Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2008
    Wapato, WA
    Well, we feed twice a day in the winter, but when we can get our loader out of the shed and we have a large supply of hay in the spring/summer/fall we just put 6 string big bales out in the pens 24/7 and let them eat it down til it's about gone, then put another bale in.

    So right now we're feeding twice a day and putting small bales in there in the evening. They usually have the bale eaten down by morning (these bales were supposed to be shipped to Korea, but they backed out on the contract) so they are heavily compressed and about half of a regular 2 tie bale. They're getting grass with premium alfalfa twice daily and then grain at evening.

    But overall, our goats are usually on a alfalfa/grass mix 24/7. I feel this is the most beneficial way for the goats, but you have to be careful of bloating and whatnot and it can get a bit more expensive.
  4. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    I feed twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. Can't afford the waste that happends if I feed them freechoice around the clock. But they get plenty so that they can eat all day if they want.

    Example: today I fed the morning feeding around 8:00am got home at 5:30pm and saw all goats around the hay feeder as I drove past down our street (can see the barn and pen from the road) and their faces where in the feeder. Went out at 7:15pm and there was still a bit of hay in one feeder but none left in the other. filled them both up and by tomorrow morning they will be empty.

    I feed a supplement called fastrack so I dont have to feed as much because they utalize all they eat instead of just some of it.

    On cold days and nights I will put extra hay out because they need the digestion to help keep warm. And they will eat it if there.
  5. Epona142

    Epona142 The farm that Hope began

    May 25, 2008
    Madisonville, TX
    I put hay in there in the mornings. Sometimes its empty in the evening and I add more, sometimes it isn't and they get fresh hay in the morning. Just depends on them; I suppose you could say I feed free choice hay, though never more than twice in a day, and the little greedy guts have eaten it all a couple times and had to do without until next feeding.
  6. redneck_acres

    redneck_acres New Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    Our goats get fed Alfalfa hay twice a day. The does get grain twice a day when they are milking. We normally feed any leftover haystems to the steers. The goat kids get grained once a day at the moment-I believe. My dad is in charge of the feeding. I only do it when they are not home. We use the square/rectangular bales here.
  7. greatcashmeres

    greatcashmeres New Member

    Jul 13, 2008
    I have square bales of grass hay. They get hay twice a day. If it's cold, then I give some in the middle of the day. They usually let me know, if they need it middle of the day. I use black tubs and a laundry basket on the floor.
  8. Cinder

    Cinder New Member

    Mar 2, 2008
    I feed twice a day but watch to make sure they get enough in those two feedings that it lasts most of the day. Sometimes on colder days I give an extra feeding in the middle of the day. My milk does get feed twice a day when on the milk stand, the others just get it as an occasional treat and then toward the end of their pregnancies.

    I have feeders that I put the hay in and am still trying to figure out how to stop all the wasted hay that ends up on the floor. I do pick up that hay right away and toss it to the horses and llamas who could care less if they are eating off the ground. So, it's not a complete waste.
  9. FunnyRiverFarm

    FunnyRiverFarm New Member

    Sep 13, 2008
    Hudson, MI
    I feed hay pretty much free choice in racks/bags but offer limited quanities at a time to minimize waste. The goats always have hay available, but not enough for them to pick through for the best pieces and leave the rest. Of course, they always end up wasting some, but feeding this way they waste a heck of a lot less.
  10. Epona142

    Epona142 The farm that Hope began

    May 25, 2008
    Madisonville, TX
    A laundry basket . . . that would make a GREAT feeder hung just at the right height! Or heck, even one of those standing tall ones would work if strapped to the fence!

    Why didn't I think of that!! :leap:
  11. Amos

    Amos New Member

    Oct 2, 2008
    I think it definitely depends on where you live, the cold really affects how well they can maintain their bodies, I know some people only feed grain to their prego and lactating does, but we find we have to feed everyone grain or else they get too skinny, especially in the winter.
    We have 10 larger breed goats, and we were going through one compacted 50-60 alfalfa bale a day, but switched to grass with some alfalfa mix in round bales, and aren't going through quite as much now. We have cattle panels that we cut for hay feeders, and if you ask me, they waste enough.
  12. Amy Goatress

    Amy Goatress New Member

    Oct 1, 2008
    We give ours hay twice a day.
  13. keren

    keren owned by goats

    Oct 26, 2008
    I feed limited hay, just because I cant afford to feed them free choice! Nutrition guidelines state at least 1kg hay per goat per day, I probably provide between 2 and 4 kg. Mine will clean everything up - every last scrap - by the next day's feeding, but they are content and dont scream for more so I think I am at a happy medium here - giving enough to satisfy their needs and not giving extra so there is no waste. They also get a grain ration - all of them, including bucks, wethers and dry does. Giving a small grain ration means you can feed less hay. Yes, the bucks and dry does could do just fine without the grain ration, but their hay intake would probably double.

    FWIW I feed hay in the morning and grain/pellets at night. My goats also have four lick blocks - one is a goat mineral block, the next is a copper block (because for some weird reason the goat specific block doesnt contain copper :? ), then there is a calcium block because I have had trouble with hypocalcaemia at the end of pregnancies and through lactation, and the fourth is a protein-molasses block. Also the bucks and wethers get a 'stone' block (ammonium chloride)

    Thats my nutrition program in a nutshell lol
  14. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    I feed morning and night also.... in the winter... :)

    In the spring ..we feed once... in the evening...they graze all day.....we have irrigated pasture...... :greengrin:
  15. badnewsboers

    badnewsboers New Member

    May 9, 2008
    Newport, NC
    Only our young does and the bucks get any hay. They're in a smaller pen with not as much forage. They get fed coastal bermuda hay. We put in in tubs and troughs but they just knock it on the ground anyways. The mature does and kids are in a huge pen that leads into the woods-so lots to eat.
  16. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    They dont have access to forage so alfalfa is out free choice in a hay feeder that has 4x4" openings. The vertical bars on the other feeder was way too much waste. We put a bar up around it so they stand with their front feet on that, reach down & yank out a good chunk...when I see it happening I throw it right back in.
    But I do feed some of the waste to the chickens and use it for bedding for the goats. Makes a wonderful floor furnace in the winter!
  17. SDK

    SDK New Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    Yucaipa ca
    this is pretty much identical to what i do.. i can't afford to give alot of hay.. so i do alfalfa pellets, some grain(does only), and measured( weighed) hay. like no waste and everyone is happy and healthy..
  18. BeeLady

    BeeLady New Member

    I keep hay in a home-made feeder made from cattle panel. That feeder has never been emptied by the goats but what is leftover is fairly stemmy although clean. They will eat some of the stemmier hay if I don't keep giving them leafier hay.

    I give about 1/4 to 1/2 cup grain AM & PM per doe (3 mo pg) and one new flake of hay each feeding unless there will be a freeze and I will give them more hay. The hay I am feeding is gordo bluestem and not very high in protien which is one reason I am feeding them a mare&foal formula grain mix (high in calcium, Vit A). They do put much more hay on the ground than they do in their rumen, so I ration the hay.

    The goats do have some green forage still on the ground and I am watering more so they will continue to have this grass. I let them out after the dew dries in the morning and these girls have gone from never having to browse in their lives to chowing down on real grass and weeds.

    My goats appear to me to be very healthy, at an appropriate weight and with a bit of excess energy (lots of get up and go, run and play, etc.). I have not studied goat nutrition but my untrained eye tells me they are healthy and getting what they need.
  19. liz

    liz Active Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Shelocta PA
    This is how I've done it for 9 years and they all are happy and healthy!

    I fill hay racks with 5 flakes of Timothy mixed hay at 6-7 pm, they all get their grain ration at this time as well. This is for 4 adult does and 2 yearlings.
    The bucks get 2 flakes as well as their grain at the same time, winter months. They then have no option but to eat what they normally would have wasted........I also use plastic milk crates as hay baskets set on the floor, easy for me to get too.

    When the does freshen, the feeding gets upped to twice a day, but less hay in the evening as there is always some left in the racks come morning. This is usually at 4:30 am and around 5 pm. When spring comes and they have the option of browsing, the hay is less frequent. I don't give straight alfalfa and my does have always done well with milk production and keeping condition.