Saturday, April 23, 2011

Goat Logistics, Part 2

Our last two large square bales of hay pretty much, well, sucked.  There was so much straw in them that the mule even turned her nose up at a lot of it.  Don’t even get me started how much was wasted by the goats.  I’ve been able to pick up the unacceptable parts from the goat manger and use it as bedding for the chicken coop and as a top layer in the goat kidding stalls, but it still drives me nuts that we got such crappy hay for the money.
The feed store only had small squares of alfalfa hay available…..for $10.50 a bale!  No way was I going to pay that.  So I’ve been really working on giving the goats some time in the backyard pen where there is plenty of green to munch on.  Not only because I’m trying to reduce their hay consumption, but because they will benefit from the fresh greens.  I don’t want to put everyone down there at once so I’ve been giving them turns; two goats per day and everyone gets down there every other day.  Well, almost everyone.  Annette isn’t too keen on being moved as her kids aren’t bright enough to follow her to the back yard with me so she just yells & yells for her babies instead of munching grass.  So I’ve been cutting some grass for her and giving her some “alone” time with a bucket of fresh cut greens in the kidding pen.
Paul is planning on putting up some cattle panels in a few other green areas on the property as temporary grazing paddocks.  Unless there is inclement weather in the forecast, they’ll just spend the night in those paddocks so I won’t have to drag everyone back & forth to / from the goat barn.  I don’t see them spending more than a week in the temporary areas, not only because they’ll probably chomp down all the greenery, but because I really want to try and reduce their parasite load by rotating their grazing area.  I’m assuming that their worm problem stemmed from the fact that they had been living (and poop’n) in the same area for over a year.
Paul has also marked off the perimeter of a larger area of woods that we’ll eventually (hopefully this spring) enclose with permanent goat fencing.  I’d even like to have the larger area sectioned off into four separate sections so we can continue with the rotational grazing system.
In the meantime, I guess we’ll be on the lookout for some decent hay.  Going to be tough though as it’s been a long time since the last cuttings were baled last year and this year’s grass isn’t ready for haying yet.  I’ve considered giving the goats alfalfa pellets in lieu of hay until we can get fresh stuff, but I haven’t figured out how much to give (or how much it’s going to cost).  The alfalfa will definitely be better for the pregnant and milking goats, but I wonder how they will adjust to getting pellets instead of their usual fare of hay.


  1. I just learned that henbit is edible this year. I plan to mix it with poke and lamb's quarter and any other green I can find and try it that way.

    I refuse to pay local farmers what they charge for alfalfa. It never could compare to hay out of Kansas yet they want the same price. Thankfully, I don't have to buy alfalfa anymore!

  2. Hay is such a big expense - I have been very, very lucky in that I have found a source with first cut bales at $3/bale. He got rid of most of his cattle but still cuts hay - it's pretty much a hobby. Thank goodness! I told him I want 400 bales a year and willl pick up 100 per quarter. That gives him a steady income and me a steady price. But I will never divulge my source! The added benefit is that it is full of clover and my sheep LOVE it. Good thing, as I have very limited grass. I have used alfalfa cubes for winter and occasionally before weaning, but never pellets. Let us know what you find out.