Feeding goats: alfalfa vs hay


designated lawn flamingo
9 Years
May 27, 2010
Reno, Nevada
Hi guys!
I'm getting my first goats this weekend. A doe and a whether Nigerian, five months old. I am just somewhat confused about feeding.
I went to the feed store today an bought a bale of alfalfa, a bag of purina goat chow, and a small bag of treats because they are skittish.
So do I feed them like the dog? A certain amount of chow three times a day or do I just ensure that the bucket always has food and they free feed? Do I leave the bale in their area so they can snack on it whenever they like? They will not have access to weeds or anything. Their area is all dirt and a big shade tree.

Also, they are not used to people. Is there any special treat I can give them to make them get used to people quickly? I don't want them to just get attached to me, I want them to feel comfortable around all people including strangers.

Thanks in advance!
I feed my goats once a day. But they have pastures to browse in. Be careful not to feed too much so they don't bloat. Alfalfa can be bad for male goats if you feed a lot it can cause urinary issues. Mine love fruit and veggies as well as leaves, weeds and hay. They may take time to get used to new stuff but mine even eat pumpkin now.
Okay then should I just put a few scoops in the bucket? Or should I buy two buckets? Also should I move the alfalfa out of their reach? So many questions! The feed store lady just told me to use alfalfa as food and bedding. Seemed weird so I bought the chow as well anyways
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When we had our goats they would "free range" during the day and we wouldn't feed them anything, just provided them with fresh water. When we had nannies that were due to kid we would lock'em up separately from everyone else, and feed them sweet feed, and good quaility alfalfa hay.

As for treats...goats will eat anything. I once left ( not meaning to of course) a notebook...came back in a couple of minutes and it was gone and the goats were munching away on the paper!

They really enjoyed stealing the scraps I "tryed" to give to the chickens.

~ Aspen
At the feed store, sometimes ignorance is bliss. Alfalfa is too expensive to use for bedding. Use straw or shavings for bedding.
Feed alfalfa lightly since you have a wether. I make feed troughs on wooden bases, using those black pans for mixing concrete in or else PVC pipes cut in half. But buckets will do in a pinch. I would give them each one. How's Petey? Oh, and the Storey books on goats are wonderful.
LOL they can have the junkmail!

I worry because there isn't really anything on the ground for them to munch on. My backyard is like a barron wasteland. There's nothing for them to forage besides dirt and sand. I just want to make sure they are getting enough nutrition.
Thank you. I will move the bale away then and sprinkle some on the ground daily. The buckets are nice because they can attach to the chain link fencing nicely. It's a small bucket. I'll buy another one and place them about three or four feet apart. Maybe put a few cups of the chow in twice a day?

Petey is well! He's back to his old self and his old weight! He's so funny! I'm so glad we were able to save him!
Do you have a garden or somewhere where you can get weeds/grass? If so you could just pick some fresh weeds/grass everyday for them for an extra healthy treat. I would give them the pellets maybe only once or twice a day at the most.

Bossy, one of our Jersey girls we're milking right now gets sweet feed in the mornings when we milk her, and a small scoop at bedtime. Depending on how big your goats I would sort of measure it by that. I would think the chow (pellets) would sort of be a "treat". I would make sure they eat their hay, and then give them a scoop of pellets.

You can buy all sorts of hay feeders etc to put your feed in. You can also buy a goat feeder trough for the goats. Works pretty well. We bought a coule of those.

~ Aspen
Funny as it might seem, goats don't like eating off the ground. Worm larvae are present there. You could make a hay rack or use a laundry basket or something. I feed my full sized goats pelleted feed ; two of those plastic scoops they sell for pet food once a day. Kids get one scoop. Glad to hear Petey made a full recovery. He was looking pretty rough there for a while.
I would feed my goats seprately if one is more aggressive then another and you feel one isnt getting enough, especially if they have nothing to eat while roaming during the day. grain is good for goats but only 1/2 cup to cup a day I think I was told, and none for males as well as alfalfa as is gives male goats stones they cannot pass and will die (anything high in calcium).
As far as bedding go's I agree with the others, alfalfa is retarded expensive to use, I used straw or pine shavings using alfalfa is kinda rediculous. I feed my goats orchard grass at night as well as free range durring the day... but mine are kinda spoiled...
My goats are fantastic pets, enjoy them they are great!

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