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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Here with no pasture, we feed a flake of dairy quality alfalfa per goat per day. About 18 flakes per bale. Making it about 1 ton per goat per year. But at about a year old I am switching Legion over to an alfalfa grass mix. As close to 50/50 as possible. Going to feed the same amount but the lower in protein you go in hay, the more you should feed. If you chose to do a straight grass hay, id feed twice as much at least.
 

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Cuzco must be an easy keeper! We only have to feed hay in the winter, but for the years we kept Cuzco alone in our backyard it was easy to monitor his intake. I wouldn't give him fresh hay until he'd finished the old stuff, so usually it ended up being about one flake every other day unless it was really cold, in which case he'd eat the whole thing. Of course, we also supplemented him with goodies from the kitchen and treats on walks, but not enough to make much difference. I've only ever fed straight, 100% grass hay, and after he was grown I never fed grain until about two years ago when he started to get old.
 

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Get your hay tested so you know what is in it. It is the only way you are going to know for sure what nutrients are in your hay and how much you should feed to meet your goat's nutritional requirements.

The grass hay we produce runs an average of 16%-18% protein. That is very high for a grass hay. But that is only one of the components you need to look at in the overall picture.

In my opinion, if you want to feed a grass/alfalfa mix you are better off buying both alfalfa and grass hay then feeding the amount you want of each. That's what I do. As a hay farmer, I will tell you it's a very fine balance of getting grass/alfalfa hay dry enough for the grass to be dry yet still moist enough that the alfalfa leaves stay on the stem. They are different plants (grass & legume) and have different growing and harvesting cycles.

Here are links to two places where you can have you hay tested. If you read the information on their sites you will be a well informed hay buyer and will be able to feed your goats the correct amount to meet their nutritional requirements.

http://www.equi-analytical.com/
http://www.dairyone.com/
 

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I am close to what Dave does. I feed five goats 1/3 bale per day. Plus they have straw to munch on and all the cardboard they can eat when they bust out and raid my garage.
 

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Haha! I give Nibbles my junk mail to eat every time we walk down to the mailbox. Newspapers are her favorite, but glossy catalogs are almost as good, and those pesky credit card offers will do in a pinch.
 

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Not all goats are created equal. and to say that you will need X amount of hay can not be done.
some goats weigh 150 and other weigh 250 lbs. some goats are still growing and others are pregnant or lactating.
Here is what the book says.

For a maintenance feed multiply the weight of your goat by .02
so if my goat weighs 185 lbs then i will need to feed 3.7 lbs of hay a day (185 x .02 = 3.7)

for young growing goats pregnant and lactating does require there body weight times .03
so for a 185 lbs goat that is still growing /pregnant/ lactating you multiplied by .03 you need 5.55Lbs of hay a day.

I have heard that many of the health problems goats have are caused by feeding too much hay we kill them with kindness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I thought hay was pretty much free choice and its alfalfa and grain that is over fed. If left to browse on their own, they'd pick at grass,etc. all day long.
 

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When we had Cuzco penned in our little back yard in town, I fed free choice grass hay in the summer to keep him from over-grazing on the selenium-rich grass and weeds in our yard. Too much natural stuff and his hair would fall out! He didn't mess in the shed when the weather was nice, so we could leave the hay out as long as we wanted. But in winter I would ration his hay because if I gave it free choice he would pee and poop in it and then he didn't want to eat it. I didn't like the waste, so I only gave him as much as he would eat in 1-2 days. I never felt that he needed grain or alfalfa in his younger days (and Phil is allergic to alfalfa, so we try to avoid it).

Now that we live on a farm, the goats have free choice browse year-round. The little goats also have what amounts to free choice grass hay in their shelter because I use an unopened bale to make the shed bi-level so they will share the space. I change the bale when it's eaten/trampled to the point where it's no longer much higher than the floor. That takes about six weeks. I also scatter fresh hay over the rest of the shed every few days as it gets eaten/soiled. They get fed once a day with the horses, so the hay in their shed mostly ends up as bedding.

Cuzco's hay is "free choice" because he has no back teeth and can't really eat it any more, so it just sits there and makes him feel like he always has food within reach. At least it gives him something to occupy his jaws.
 
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