feeding- grass hay compensation

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I just went to buy more hay today for the girls and thought I would check with some more knowledgable people, (maybe I should have checked before). There are two different places that I can buy hay from neither one is an alfalfa hay. I have bought samples from each and talked to a local who raises cows, he recommended one person as having a better hay, -it was fine leafed and still greenish colored. The other hay was "weedier", heavier stalked, and more tan colored, i recognised island grass,timothy,some clover and even yarrow. I bought from fella #1, then I thought that maybe I made a mistake and there is more vitamins in the variety pack hay. The goats didn't seem to have a preference- What do you think? So I have hay #1 for now and 4 does, all bred for kidding from another couple of weeks through to may. They get a goat ration about a pound + a day with a good scoop of BOSS on top. They all act like they are starving all the time- should I be giving them more grain if the hay isn't alfalfa? Or add alfalfa pellets to their grain? One older girl- nubian 4 yrs- just snorts it back and is always looking for more. They don't look thin (huge guts) but are bony down the spines and fine legged, the toggenburg girl looks a little scrawny(more hollow through the pelvis) but not overly, I don't see ribs or anything although I can feel them. I asked a friend who raises sheep how to check for body condition but I think it is different. Anyway I worry about my girls being an inexperienced goat mama and all This will be our first year with kiddings, I started with the nubian freshened with her two kids and didn't get her rebred last year, and since added a couple more girls last summer so I am hoping for bucketfuls soon!!! PS. I don't find local dairy goat help, most use thier goats as field improvers with sheep/cattle as the focus or raise nubian crosses for meat goats and feed excess milk to swine Thanks for any input

-- Terri in NS (terri@tallships.ca), January 04, 2002


Hi Terri, I teach my customers and 4H kids to feel over the ribs. I think the spine conditioning test is for folks who have been in goats a long time. The ribs are fairly foolproof. If you feel over their ribs and only feel ribs and skin, than yes they do need more weight on them. This would not count on a very good milker in peak production. If you feel over the ribs and you can not feel the ribs and grab a handful of fat, than you are at my barn :) If you can feel the ribs but they are under a layer of flesh then that is nearly ideal, especially for this stage of pregnancy. It will give them that little bit of flesh to milk off and not get to thin. Now no matter what anybody tells you don't go changing everything at once. I would add some calcium to the diet of your dairy stock, grass hay has none and most grain mixes/products aren't made for lacatating anything. Grains are high in phospherous and low in calcium, so adding some alfalfa pellets would be great, you want to aim at 2 parts calcium to 1 part phospherous, which I can't spell today!!! Are you saying each of your goats gets the pound+ of grain each day or 1 pound for all 4? I pretty much aim for 1 pound of grain per 100 pounds of body weight per day. My girls would like more, I do have more grain out to the youngsters than they consume. When a doe is 100 days pregnant, we slowly over the next weeks, add to the diet until she is eating the full 2 pounds a day. My girls get 1 pound of grain in the morning and 1 pound of grain in the evening, and all the grass (17% protein) hay they want. I keep my grain mix in the 13 to 14% protein level since I have a good deal of protein in my hay. Once the girls are milking they get about 1 more pound of grain in the morning at milking for 1 and 1/2 quarts of milk, and again in the evening. Sometimes my best milkers will get a supplement like Calf Manna or Purina's Annimax over their grain if they start looking to lean for my taste. So a large goat that is also milking the gallon of milk everyone talks about would be eating 4 pounds + of grain each day. My girls are large though, buy the time they kid they will be over 200 pounds, in peak production they will usually be 185+. If they didn't have that extra flesh to milk off they would have that walking skeleton look that is called "dairy character" in swiss breeds and is called "emaciated" in Nubians!! :) Do everything slowly I change grains or add to grain over a 2 week period. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), January 04, 2002.

Sorry that wasn't clear -They are each getting a pound to a pound and a half of goat ration. So I will slowly increase the ration of the most pregnant girls to two pounds a day. Would that be with added alfalfa pellets or is that separate? and how much Alfalfa pellets per goat per day do you think I should start with and up to what level. I think from your descriptions that the oldest nubian is probably a little on the fat side, the other two nubians are about right and the toggenburg is a little thin. I'll start giving her a little more grain. Thanks for your help! Terri

-- Terri in NS (terri@tallships.ca), January 04, 2002.

I wouldn't change your grain then, perhaps just offer up alfalfa pellets in each ration. I perhaps have alfalfa pellets as 1/4 the ration, and like you feed no alfalfa hay. Lots of times they won't eat the pellets if you have alfalfa hay for them! Keep up the black oil sunflower seeds, the true perfect feed! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), January 04, 2002.

Thank You Vicki, it puts my mind at ease to double check what's going on here especially with babies on the way.

-- Terri in NS (terri@tallships.ca), January 05, 2002.

what amount of BOSS would you recommend for a 100 lb. goat? currently I just put about 1/4 cup over the feed per feeding.Also, Cookie is 3months pregnant,has a huge belly, but is thin over the hips.Eats everything she can reach and acts starved.She was wormed before breeding so I don't think she has a big belly from worms.Does this sound like I should expect more than 2 kids?She is a kinder goat, bred to a registered pygmy buck.

-- VickiP. (countrymous@webtv.net), January 05, 2002.

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