Switching To Alfalfa Hay

Discussion in 'Goat Frenzy' started by GSFarm, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. GSFarm

    GSFarm New Member

    312
    Oct 6, 2007
    Fairview, TN
    The only good quality hay I could find around here was alfalfa! I'm using just a mixed grass right now, but it's pretty much gone now.

    I was wondering how to switch the goats over to alfalfa. Do I still have to feed grain? Thanks
     
  2. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    You can switch up, but I would try to keep feeding your regular hay along with it for a couple of weeks, increasing the amount of alfafa, just like you would do changing any feed; slowly.
    As to the grain question it will depend. Are you milking or do you have nursing kids?
    Right now my Boer moms, just bred, live on alfalfa (plus free choice loose minerals) They wont' get grain till a few weeks before kidding and then on into about weaning time.
    Their 9 mo old does will continue getting their grain for several months.
     

  3. kelebek

    kelebek New Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    South Texas
    I give all of mine a bit of grain mix everyday, granted most of my does are prego, but even my bucks and wethers are getting pellets and grains with their hay rations.
     
  4. GSFarm

    GSFarm New Member

    312
    Oct 6, 2007
    Fairview, TN
    ok thank you.

    also do I feed les alfalfa than regular hay?
     
  5. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    NJ
    I switched over suddenly because I ran out and it was all I had.

    As to how much you feed - I feed the same as with the grass hay. If you find them leaving it because they are full then you can cut back on how much you provide for them.

    I only feed morning and night 3 laps each feeding and my grandma who watches them says they nibble and pick at it all day.

    But it is always gone by the time I get out there for evening feeding.

    I still feed grain all year round. Alfafa hay doesnt give them all the nutrients they need especially if pregnant or nursing. At least from my experience.
     
  6. PACE

    PACE New Member

    404
    Oct 8, 2007
    Mass
    My dad accidentally got 4 bales of alfalfa instead of my regular grass hay. Being caught in a brief moment of stupidity I just threw a flakes in to fill up their hay racks, as usual. The change was sudden. I went back a few hours later and they were huge! They loved the stuff and just gorged on it. Pace hardly touched his dinner he was so full, but they were perky and everything otherwise. I gave them fresh baking soda and watched them, and I didn't give them their nightly grain. They were absolutely fine with the change. Their poop was the same and everything. I noticed a lot less waste because it was such good hay. I just had to switch back to grass hay and they WERE NOT HAPPY! They went on a hunger strike for a few days :roll: but now they are back to eating the grass hay, none the worse for wear.
     
  7. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    NJ
    "hunger strike" that is a good name for it!

    the hay I got has a couple bales of mixed grass with alfafa and they are so happy that I opened a bale of more alfafa then grass.

    I have 20bales of just straight grass hay - I know once we get down to them they will turn their noses up at it! Beggers can't be choosers though
     
  8. Duchesse

    Duchesse New Member

    78
    Oct 31, 2007
    I thought alfalfa hay had to be rationed in small amounts because it made them too fat :shock: :?:

    Also, alfalfa hay is alot more expensive then grass hay. How can you afford to feed it free choice?

    Alfalfa pellets, :? alfalfa cubes, :( alfalfa hay :cry: can someone tell me the difference and which is "best". :roll:
     
  9. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    NJ
    I feed a alfafa mix hay and I don't feed it in small amounts but I don't give it free choice either.

    Alfafa hay isn't a must - this is the first year I personally have had more then a couple bales of alfafa at a time (I bought 100 bales of it).

    If you want to supply alfafa to your goats the alfafa pellets are a good choice in my oppion.
     
  10. redneck_acres

    redneck_acres New Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    Idaho
    We feed all of our goats Alfalfa hay. We give grain to the does twice a day when they are milking and give them no grain when they are dried off. They get Alfalfa hay twice a day and have access to pasture and free choice minerals. The bucks get grain when we feel it is needed. We tried using those hay cubes-and the goats just spit them out and give us a nasty stare:).
     
  11. sweetgoats

    sweetgoats Moderator

    Oct 18, 2007
    Peyton CO.
    I know people feed Alfalfa hay (Mainly Dairy people all the time, but I do not know that I would feed it to my wethers and Bucks all the time, for fear of UC. I do feed it to my does after they kid, and everyone when the weather is REALLY cold.
    Our Grass is about $2.00 -$3.00 more then the Alfalfa.
     
  12. jBlaze

    jBlaze New Member

    254
    Oct 9, 2007
    Oregon
    About switching hay, this is sorta weird. I always thought that changes should be gradual also, but with the goats, I have noticed that they just love any change, and it does not seem to bother them at all. If I am feeding one type of grass and switch to another, they will snarf up the new stuff even if it is poorer quality. If I feed both at a time, they will eat the new stuff, then after a day or two will eat whichever is beter quality. But it is just funny to see them excited about crummy hay just because it is new. (not really crummy of course, just not as good.) So, no, I see no problem with sudden switching as long as the quality of the grass is good, so that the richness of the alfalfa does not catch them off guard.

    We feed alfalfa twice a day and supplement with grain as needed, which depends on the goat. We have two that get seperated out at grain time cause they are pigs and fat. Everyone else is just getting a bit now. I have not used hay cubes. I have used pellets when we are feeding grass hay, because the alfalfa provides more nutrients. And yes, I think feeding alfalfa is much more a dairy thing. My dairy animals do better on it for sure.

    Feeding alfalfa is fine, not a UC factor, AS LONG AS you balance the mineral concentrations. UC becomes a problem when there is an imbalance, and I believe that heridity is a much larger factor than feeds. (of course water intake should always be maximized to reduce likelihood.)

    :)
     
  13. ksacres

    ksacres New Member

    161
    Oct 30, 2007
    San Antonio Texas
    We try to feed only Alfalfa, but sometimes, we just feed what we can get! Dairy goats are usually naturally thin and don't seem to have much of a problem getting over fat with a regular kidding and lactation cycles. In my own does I usually have more trouble keeping them in condition then them having too much, so I like them to put on a little condition during the dry period, then they can loose some during lactation and still look good. Lactation is the single most demanding life stage of any mammal-but much more so in specifically dairy animals. Good quality alfalfa is a must for supporting lactation- poor quality hay (of any kind) will result in a much lower milk yeild. Hay is a main course, grains should only be used to supplement or to help maintain body condition during lactation or late pregnancy (or support growth and pregnancy at the same time-in the case of young does). In this area, grass hay is usually more expensive than alfalfa, but not always. The hay we buy when we can afford it is irrigated alfalfa- at least 2nd cutting When we can't afford it, we buy whatever we can find at a reasonable price. Right now we have 3rd cutting-and the goats LOVE it, and they waste less since it's such good quality, and not as thick stemmed, they will eat all of it, instead of picking off the leaves. Yes, they still waste-they're goats after all- but not as much as they do of the grass or mix hay we have feed.
     
  14. redneck_acres

    redneck_acres New Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    Idaho
    We've never had any problems with UC in the bucks and we recycle the stems or any hay the goats dont eat and feed it to the bucks or steers.
     
  15. liz

    liz Active Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Shelocta PA
    Most times mine get mixed grass hay, usually about this time of year though I pick up a 50# sack of Alfalfa cubes and break them into pieces the girls can manage. Which is what the shorter days are for...crushing hay cubes or crocheting afghans!! Sometimes shelling corn. When you run out of daylight it helps to keep idle hands busy. They usually get the crushed cubes at about a half cup each as well as their grain and freechoice hay/minerals at bedtime. Only the grain at 2pm when I get off work. Bucks too.
     
  16. PACE

    PACE New Member

    404
    Oct 8, 2007
    Mass
    Well, I get the hay from a neighbor, who knows that I am buying the hay with my money, so he gives me a discount... he's very nice :D . He ran out of good grass hay.. so now the goats are leaving like half of it in their feeders and picking through/dropping the rest :shrug: :sigh:

    So I'm thinking about to switching back to the alfalfa he has (just for the winter). It's really good quality.... but I'm not sure. I just have three wethers. I do limit the alfalfa just a bit, and they don't waste much at all! They love it. Also with the colder wether coming... I'm not sure what to do. I guess I'll look around for different grass hay. But I still wouldn't know where to look.... hmmmm.....
     
  17. Duchesse

    Duchesse New Member

    78
    Oct 31, 2007
    At this time I feed alfalfa cubes which I moisten and flake and add to their grain in the morning.


    The only pellets I've been able to find were for rabbits. Unlike the alfalfa cubes, it had wheat middlings, alfalfa meal, dehulled soybean meal, soybean hulls, and added vitamins. My sister picked it up for me. I didn't feed it to them. I've continued with the alfalfa cubes until I can find some alfalfa pellets that are pure. :roll:

    What do you think of these rabbit pellets?
     
  18. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    NJ
    I use alfafa pellets that are labled for horses, not sure about the rabbit ones. To much soybeans is not good for them.

    Try to find a store that carries horse feeds and they should have the alfafa pellets
     
  19. Wendyann

    Wendyann New Member

    14
    Nov 10, 2007
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    As much as I have learned so far from goatweb and other very smart goat people soy is a no no for goats. My goats get Bruhum (sp) hay, alfalfa pellets free choice,the grey mineral for cattle and baking soda. They get a mix of BOSS and oats sprinkled with kelp twice daily. Each goats mix is different because they are different. Doelings,wether,bucks,and milker.