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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How much mold is ok for feeding alfalfa? I need some tips. Last year, I fed my pregnant goats a Timothy alfalfa mix, and I noticed some bales were powdery and there was some mold. This year, I switched our lactating goats to alfalfa, and I’ve noticed it was mostly stems with some square bales being more powdery. Some flakes of hay the goats will not eat. Some flakes are obviously moldy to my untrained city-girl eyes, so I use those for chicken nesting boxes. We got two square bales from the same supplier this year of first cut alfalfa. They told me it was heavy because it was “sweating.” It felt obviously damp. This batch looks more leafy…but I opened up a bale and checked the middle and there are mold spores throughout the flake. It is especially damp on the bottom (it had no contact with the ground), and the flake is very solid like a hay brick. It also doesn’t smell like sweet hay. Kind of like glue? Maybe? It does not feel warm though. People were baling hay to beat the storms this year, and I’m suspicious this hay did not actually dry out or got rained on. Thoughts? Is this ok to feed goats? Is this normal for alfalfa hay? The orchard grass mix we got from this producer is very nice, green, dry sweet smelling. Should I find a new supplier for alfalfa?
 

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Zero mold is okay to feed goats. Do NOT feed hay to goats that is moldy. There are way too many risks, especially to pregnant or milking goats. They can get listeria from it, and it can be passed through the milk to humans.

The hay should be sweet smelling, I totally know what you mean by glue smell. I would find another way to get alfalfa. We have a terrible time of dealing with mold in our hay due to our wet climate. Make sure you are buying bales that have been fully cured, and stored in a dry area. We like to keep ours up on pallets to cut down on the moisture absorption through the ground. A real game changer for me to avoid mold from storage was rotating the bales every time I took a new one. So instead of taking a bale off the top of the stack, I'll take it from the bottom. It's a pain, but we haven't had mold since I started doing this.

Hope this helps! There's nothing I hate more than moldy hay.😣
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Zero mold is okay to feed goats. Do NOT feed hay to goats that is moldy. There are way too many risks, especially to pregnant or milking goats. They can get listeria from it, and it can be passed through the milk to humans.

The hay should be sweet smelling, I totally know what you mean by glue smell. I would find another way to get alfalfa. We have a terrible time of dealing with mold in our hay due to our wet climate. Make sure you are buying bales that have been fully cured, and stored in a dry area. We like to keep ours up on pallets to cut down on the moisture absorption through the ground. A real game changer for me to avoid mold from storage was rotating the bales every time I took a new one. So instead of taking a bale off the top of the stack, I'll take it from the bottom. It's a pain, but we haven't had mold since I started doing this.

Hope this helps! There's nothing I hate more than moldy hay.😣
Yeah…I had a bad feeling about this hay…Interestingly, they are not listing their alfalfa online this year. I wonder if they realized it was bad. I can’t find ANY alfalfa for sale now. All the ads were taken down that were up a few weeks ago. Would an orchard grass-alfalfa mix be ok if I supplement with tums? Sometimes I’m not sure if it is just dusty hay, but when there is white powder, I’m sure that is mold.
 

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Would an orchard grass-alfalfa mix be ok if I supplement with tums?
I'm not familiar with what you are referring to here, but I think an orchard/alfalfa mix would be okay. If you think they need more alfalfa, you could always give them alfalfa pellets. I'm unable to get any alfalfa hay in my area so I buy pellets exclusively as their alfalfa source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I don’t want to have an attitude to the hay producers in the area, but it seems they are not very good at what they do then…We’ve gotten hay from 4 different suppliers and all had some moldy bales. Only tractor supply had mold free hay and each small square is $15. I got 15 Timothy-alfalfa bales today from a guy I got Timothy hay from last year. When I got home and put them in the hay shed, I noticed at least 4 had a blacker area with white powder on a corner or side. Some bales seem to be straight timothy and have no alfalfa as well…I don’t remember this being a problem with him last year, but I didn’t get the alfalfa mix from him before. All the orchard-timothy from the producer with wet, moldy alfalfa looks wonderful, though. So I guess he has the right method/crew working for that. I’m starting to think good alfalfa is just not something I will find here.
 

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I don’t want to have an attitude to the hay producers in the area, but it seems they are not very good at what they do
I understand the feeling, but do understand that farmers who are feeding cows and sheep have different standards for mold. At least they do around me. Also the hay farmers can take more losses of bales with the large amount they produce. My hay guy is most certainly good at what he does, but it doesn't mean I won't get a moldy batch here or there. We goat people just have to be super picky. 😉 Now that he knows I don't like mold, he always picks me the nicest stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I also just realized they know I’m feeding goats and might be picking lower quality bales because “goats will eat anything.” One hay producer actually asked me if they really do eat tin cans and said, “You know, they can get by on anything, right?” I was like…no they can’t. At least not dairy or goats you want to thrive. The alfalfa bales we’d been feeding were like 70% stem and half seemed to have a white powder that came off them when I moved them. It really made me wheeze and get rashes on my arms. I think 4 out of the 20 we bought were green, leafy, and sweet smelling. Some were so bad if I started taking flakes out, I’d have to take a shower immediately. I’m not very confident when speaking to people in person, since I’m new to farm life. I thought the mold wasn’t good but was second guessing myself. I’m trying to speak up more. Other people told me it was fine, but I don’t think they know what they’re talking about. Of course I never gave them a bale that smelled like glue or had big patches of mold. It’s frustrating. I think I’ll avoid alfalfa around here and inspect each bale before I feed it to them.
 

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I explained to people that cows can eat a small amount of mold in the silage as they have huge rumens that hold a lot of feed. Goats have small rumens (compared to cows) and a little mold that a cow could eat will kill a goat. They start to understand, usually.

I agree, tell them you want good horse hay, not too stemmy. (Goats eat a little stem, but waste a lot, too).
 

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Haying is an art. It takes 7 days to get hay dry bailed and stacked.If you watch your weather and you have not had rain for two weeks find a field that is being bailed pick the hay out of the field.
the week before the fourth was perfect weather for good haying. so i bought 180 tons of hay.
buy hay early this year with the drought in the south west hay is going to get realy pricey
 

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If all you can get that is not moldy for alfalfa, if you can get a good grass hay , I would supplement with alfalfa pellets. I've had to do that depending on the weather, and paying for mold is like burning up your $$$. NEVER feed anything that is moldy. I've had very good success with my Nubians with this when I can't get good quality alfalfa. And frankly, I wouldn't buy from this person again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks all for your feedback! We had a drought for 2 months. Rain was forecasted for about a week, but it never hit until the weekend. Then, we had about a week of storms. A lot like what is happening right now. I saw a lot of people panicking and moving bales of hay in the area. I saw a huge load of hay being moved during a torrential downpour, and I jokingly thought, “I hope that’s not the hay I buy!” I do understand farm panic when there’s always something to be done. I bet haying alfalfa is a bit different than Timothy, and they’re good at one and not the other. I’m going to try to find a source to bulk buy alfalfa pellets. Currently, the power is out and might be for 48 hours. Our well is electric, so we are using fresh creek water and buckets that caught rain for the animals. We’ve run out of toilet flushes… Refrigerators and electronics are running off two small generators. We might try to see if we can power the well with a generator. Before winter we are going to get a generator and have the house set up to be entirely run off that if the power goes out.

My sister’s Chameleon died in her hands today after battling an illness for a long time. He loved her so much. We are going to miss the lizard monkey, but he’s not suffering. Coops and shelters held up during the insane winds, though tarps tore, a table and umbrella went flying like 30 yards and just touched our duck pen. I spent much of the night shining lights at shelters. It’s been so weird today. I’m happy we have a full shed of mostly edible hay and no animals were injured in the storm.
 

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We feed chaffhaye for our alfalfa source. Might see what's available in your area. Some goats do take time to adjust to it but once they do it's zero waste .my goat lick the feeders!!
 
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