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Winter's Rest Farm
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I'm a first time goat owner. I have a hay question. I'm looking for hay for my goats for winter. What is the best alfalfa/grass combination to feed? I'm thinking I need different hay for the boys & girls? I have one doe in milk now, she will be bred this fall, one 3 month old doeling and (2) 5 month old bucklings. They are all mini-Nubians.
 

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By combination of grass/alfalfa are you asking about the alfalfa to grass ratio or are you asking about what kind of grass?

No, you don't need different hay for your bucks/wethers and doelings. For the doe in milk I would go with a straight alfalfa hay. If possible, make sure your hay has been tested and ask for a copy of the test results.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Id also agree. A good quality alfalfa is hard to beat. No need to worry about boys or girls as long as the boys are all still intact working boys. If wethered then some ammonium chloride in their loose mineral mix would be needed.
 

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So while feeding goats, is a pure alfalfa hay better than a mixed alfalfa hay? I am getting ready to buy hay and have found a first cutting alfalfa for 4.00/ bale. We are use to feeding a grass hay (which they have been wasting a lot) and a mixed. I am only feeding 2 does and a doe kid.
 

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they will waste some hay no matter what . our goats wont eat first cut anything. we only feed 2nd or 3rd cut the hay we just got has a little clover and alfalfa in it but is mostly grass. i am looking into a feeder that catches the uneaten hay, it is supposed reduce waste we'll see. it is made from blue plastic barrels.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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A straight alfalfa is going to be better then a mix. Though in the end it comes down to the grower and his methods of farming. As for cutting, first typically has a bit more stem but thats good. Stems are where most of your fiber is at. The higher in fiber, the longer it takes for the feed to pass through their digestive track allowing them more time to draw out more nutrients from the feed. BUT first is also typically the best cutting as it also draws out more nutrients and minerals from the ground. Later cuttings have less and less as there is less and less available.
 

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So while feeding goats, is a pure alfalfa hay better than a mixed alfalfa hay? I am getting ready to buy hay and have found a first cutting alfalfa for 4.00/ bale. We are use to feeding a grass hay (which they have been wasting a lot) and a mixed. I am only feeding 2 does and a doe kid.
That is going to depend on a few things. Straight alfalfa is better for lactating does because it has more protein and TDN than grass or grass/alfalfa mix. If your does are open or short bred, then straight alfalfa can cause them to get too fat - especially if you grain them. For heavy bred does, there is evidence to suggest that the calcium content in alfalfa can cause a doe to quit producing calcium then, when she kids and has to mobilize calcium from her body, she can go into milk fever. Most alfalfa hay contains more protein and TDN then open or short bred does need, so the excess is eliminated through urine and manure. There goes your hard earned money. If you get a better quality of alfalfa than your girls are used to, it can also cause bloat. I also find that straight alfalfa is too 'hot' a lot of the time, and leads to excessive fighting, getting into trouble, etc. If your winters are cold, a grass/alfalfa mix will help keep them warmer than straight alfalfa because grass is harder to digest and digestion is what creates heat. As a general rule of thumb, I would not buy 1st cutting alfalfa if I could help it because it tends to be more stemmy and goats do not like stemmy hay, therefore they waste it. I hope this helps.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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That is going to depend on a few things. Straight alfalfa is better for lactating does because it has more protein and TDN than grass or grass/alfalfa mix. If your does are open or short bred, then straight alfalfa can cause them to get too fat - especially if you grain them. For heavy bred does, there is evidence to suggest that the calcium content in alfalfa can cause a doe to quit producing calcium then, when she kids and has to mobilize calcium from her body, she can go into milk fever. Most alfalfa hay contains more protein and TDN then open or short bred does need, so the excess is eliminated through urine and manure. There goes your hard earned money. If you get a better quality of alfalfa than your girls are used to, it can also cause bloat. I also find that straight alfalfa is too 'hot' a lot of the time, and leads to excessive fighting, getting into trouble, etc. If your winters are cold, a grass/alfalfa mix will help keep them warmer than straight alfalfa because grass is harder to digest and digestion is what creates heat. As a general rule of thumb, I would not buy 1st cutting alfalfa if I could help it because it tends to be more stemmy and goats do not like stemmy hay, therefore they waste it. I hope this helps.
Disagree with 90% of this and I have fed literally thousands of goats on straight dairy quality alfalfa all year round. More often then not, first cutting and have never has any issues EXCEPT, last year, our grower brought us some hay that turned out to be 31% protein and was indeed to hot and caused bloat. But when mixed well with a lesser hay, worked fine.

But as with all things goat related, two sides to everything :)
 

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I really am swayed towards a nice rich 2nd or 3rd crop tested alfalfa hay or alfalfa mix. Must test and have good proofs.
 
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