Goat Feeding Question - free choice hay?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by FreckleFace, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. FreckleFace

    FreckleFace Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 26, 2011
    Let me preface this by saying that I am a total newbie with goats. My husband and I recently purchased two Nigerian Dwarf cross goats from a local petting zoo. They are females, about 4 months old. We've had them two weeks. The lady at the petting zoo told us to feed them a few handfuls of hay and two cups of grains per day. Mostly what I've read says that goats should have hay free choice. (They don't really have access to brush or grass in their pen.)

    So, the goats are used to the petting zoo where they are fed treats all day long. They are FAT! So far, I haven't left the hay out free choice because they eat and eat and eat. They never seem to stop. I'm afraid they'll get bloat or become even more obese. Instead, here's their daily diet:
    2-3x a day I fill their small trough with hay
    1x a day feed them a small handful of grain each
    1x a day hrow a couple handfulls of weeds in from the garden

    Since they are browsers, is it wrong not to let them have hay free choice? How do I know if they are getting enough food? Should I worry so much about bloat, or just go ahead and let them eat as much hay as they'd like?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    If you leave hay out all day long they are going to eat it. I would never free feed a goat. They never stop eating. I have two Nubians and they each get 1 flake of alfalfa each evening, and they are out of their pen all day to graze on weeds.

    You free feed them you are gonna spend a fortune in hay. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011
  3. FreckleFace

    FreckleFace Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks a lot! That's exactly what I needed to know. There's so much conflicting information out there, it's good to hear other people's experiences. [​IMG]
     
  4. IDaho ChickieMom

    IDaho ChickieMom Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 10, 2011
    Buhl, ID 83316
    Quote:Do you have them on any pasture at all? Also, how many flakes fill their small trough? Is your hay alfalfa, grass or a mix? Until I know that, can't advise you on how to feed their roughage. Cut the grain totally. Even tho they are growing, since they are obese, they don't need the grain.
    IDLaura
     
  5. FreckleFace

    FreckleFace Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 26, 2011
    The hay is orchard grass, given to us by the petting zoo. She said it was fresh and good
    quality. They get one flake to share in the morning and another in the early evening.
    Their fenced area is mostly moss, not grass or brush (lots of tall trees on our property so gras doesn't grow. We don't even mow!) They do nibble on the moss and tree bark, but it isn't much.

    Is it okay to give them leaves/ weeds to munch on?

    Also, we have been toying with the idea of leading them on a harness for an hour in the afternoon to give them access to brush. Is that a silly idea?
     
  6. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    I would absolutely cut out the grain completely. The orchard grass hay is perfect for them and if they are only getting it morning and evening that should be fine, especially if there's nothing to browse on in their pen.

    Leading them around is fine too, I'm sure they'd enjoy it. I don't know what kind of tree's you have, just make sure they don't get into anything poisonous. Might want to Google a list.
     
  7. FreckleFace

    FreckleFace Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 26, 2011
    Okay, that's great to know! I was worried they might be hungry because they cry a lot during the day. But I think they are just expressing their discontent when we go insideand stop playing with them . We try to keep them occupied so they don't get bored, and they have toys to climb on, but I don't think they'll be satisfied until we move into the goat pen with them! [​IMG]
     
  8. carolinagirl58

    carolinagirl58 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2011
    Lugoff, SC
    They cry because they are used to being hand-fed all the time. Don't worry about it....they are fine. I don't have a problem with giving them free choice hay as long as it's not alfalfa. If they were on pasture or woods, they would browse off and on all day so I really don't see why it;s a problem for them to have unlimited hay? I used to give my goats access to hay 24/7.
     
  9. elevan

    elevan Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Hi there! Welcome to the wonderful world of goats [​IMG]

    Are you a member of BYH yet? I would highly recommend heading over there and checking it out (it's a sister site of BYC)...you'll find lots of great info about goats. Also of interest to you may be the Goat Feeding Discussion that I started there (link is in my signature)...a lot of herd members have shared their feeding practices and there is lots of Q&A.
     
  10. FreckleFace

    FreckleFace Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 26, 2011
    Quote:That's a relief! I suppose maybe the crying will settle down over time? I noticed that when we go inside they always sit and stare at the house waiting for us to come back. They were pretty skittish at first. But now they just love us! I can't figure out how to post a pic, or I'd show you all how cute they are!
     

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