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Alternative Winter Goat Feed

                            


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
I do my best to spoil my goatie girls, but this year the costs are close to bankrupting me! Alfalfa hay is the main course of their diet, with sweet cob and BOSS for dessert. I purchase everything. I live in a heavy snow, forested area. I'm ready to start thinning trees (needs to be done anyway) to try to save a few dollars. My goats free range about four months out of the year, but I confine them when the world turns white.

I've seen mentions of coppicing. Are there things that I can grow and harvest by hand that will help me to conserve on hay?
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
In parts of europe a technique called shredding was practiced in which trees that kept their dry leaves on(in this case elms)were harvested of their branches every few years.The trees are grown as a long pole and the side branches are allowed to grow out.Deep in winter the branches are cut and the dry leaves fed to livestock.Of course the breeds were adapted to such foods too.


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Kahty Chen


Joined: May 07, 2010
Posts: 26
Location: Southern Oregon
I'm going to experiment with coppicing Madrones here in Southern Oregon.

Locals say Madrone is the one tree goats are sure to destroy, and Madrone coppices easily, so it seems like a natural fit. I don't know how nutritious Madrone is, however.

What trees have you observed your goats eating?

This online book lists what goats will eat, and what will coppice "stump sprouts after injury": Native Woody Plants of the United States, By William Van Dersal.
http://books.google.com/books?id=DXNthekD6hsC&pg=PA56&lpg=PA56&dq=madrones+goats&source=bl&ots=hE8TlhhweL&sig=mswU_bAZ0nUSorjqSQey6UTK8Y4&hl=en&ei=KBjwTMXuB46isAPD7uTACw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=madrones%20goats&f=false
                            


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
All of them!

Alder, they love alder, with fir being their next favorite, pine, tamarack, spruce (not a favorite...possibly due to the sharp needles?)

They love wild roses, snowberry leaves, but no other parts of the snowberry bush, ninebark and goats beard.

Last year when they were actively logging, I got permission to raid the slash piles for the branches they had stripped of the trees. I would load up a pickup load, take them home, dump them, in the morning all that would be left were bare branches, they were totally stripped of needles.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
My sheep have been digging up tree roots, which they seem to prefer to their hay, darn them.  These are mostly Live Oak roots, but they also eat Elm bark and roots. 


Idle dreamer

                    


Joined: Aug 24, 2009
Posts: 106
one reason we find that hay gets expensive is, goats and sheep waste as much as they eat. We take hay to the feed mill where they grind up the hay and add corn and molasses,  the goats love this more than anything,  they use a lot less hay that way and there is now waste whatsoever.  We have cedars that need to be thinned out, the goats love them.  We cut them by and by, so when one is eaten, the next one is cut. They also like to eat pine in winter, but not in summer.  Their favorite is honeysuckle and sawbriar.  All our overgrown areas with lots of honeysuckle have been cleared out, I am debating growing it on the side of the fence away from the goats and then cutting what they need without destroying the plants. 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Yes, our goat-like sheep waste a LOT of their hay.    Fortunately it is not wasted as all goes into the kitchen garden. 
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3112
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
Mt.goat wrote:
In parts of europe a technique called shredding was practiced in which trees that kept their dry leaves on(in this case elms)were harvested of their branches every few years.The trees are grown as a long pole and the side branches are allowed to grow out.Deep in winter the branches are cut and the dry leaves fed to livestock.Of course the breeds were adapted to such foods too.


my understanding was that shredding is done in the late summer while the leaves still have most of their protein intact.  tried it this year with black locusts, and it worked very well.  smells really delicious in the hay loft and the goats go mad for it.

I don't know how the black locusts will respond to it yet, but I'm optimistic and recommend the technique.


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Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I've read that willow works well for this.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
                    


Joined: Aug 24, 2009
Posts: 106
tulip poplar ought to work very well as it sends up multiple shoots wherever you have cut it off. My goats will do flip flops for poplar leaves. I had thought of drying poplar leaves for winter feed but  a drawback is the work involved in cutting and drying.  Maybe if you keep only one miniature goat you could make a dent in your winterfeed utilizing leaves. 
                            


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
I just keep thinking that there has to be a practical solution to this. Asked one of my friends..
who laughed and said that there is a reason for fall butchering and also reminded me that way back when, families didn't keep entire herds of goats, they only kept what met their individual needs.  My goats are for weed control/fire abatement (due a great job!), milk products and to produce kids. Unfortunately, I'm just now managing to grasp the concept that I can raise all the kids I want.. but unless I SELL them, it doesn't buy the hay. Most of my goats are registered, some dual registered and from nice lines, so there is some potential for income, or at least to offset the costs of keeping them. They are a lot of fun and pleasure to be around, so I get that too... but with hay prices, that's some pretty expensive entertainment. I do plan on doing a bed of goat berries and innoculating it with shaggy mane spores.

Anyway, keep those suggestions coming! They are greatly appreciated... and I keep thinking that there is probably some simple food solution that is looking me right in the eye and I'm just not seeing it.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3112
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
blackberries hang onto their leaves through the winter and goats love them.  don't know what your situation is, but blackberries are very rarely in short supply around here.
Lisa Paulson


Joined: Apr 17, 2010
Posts: 254
I am observing this thread , having horses we don't cull by butchering in fall but I gravitating towards having other stock and that will be the practice of keeping only breeding stock  through winter.  All these contributions are great and applicable to more than goats I should think so thank you all.  What method do you feed hay that it is wasted?  Our horses seem to love the prunings from apple trees and grape vines  too.  I have been searching for methods for feeding horses so that there is limited waste, they tend to paw their feed if it is not contained and hay coming in flakes is often lifted and shaken everywhere to the ground and stepped on and wasted. 

I came up with hay nets secured in barrels that are cut high enough that the horse cannot simply toss the hay out but they can put their head down in .  I thought about getting discards of chain link and cut carefully to fit in the barrels and worked so there is no sharp edges and placed over the hay and secured with chains and metal snaps so they cannot lift but the weight of the chainlink causes it lower as the feed is eaten down and they have to work at getting the feed in smaller bites pulled through the grid of the chainlink (much like actually pulling and tearing grass during grazing)  rather than grabbing mouthfuls they drop and waste or shovel in too quickly.  This is something I might try with other animals as well  to prevent waste.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3112
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
just spent a couple hours with some goats who gave me a couple more suggestions.

broom - Cytisus scoparius
might take a pretty sizable stand, but it's prolific and productive stuff.  neighbors might object to you planting it.  the seeds are good chicken food.

winter squash - Cucurbita pepo, C. moschata, C. maxima
the squashes in question today were sugar pie pumpkins, but quite a few varieties from those three species keep very well if they're protected from hard frost and wide temperature swings.  I've kept Hubbards (a variety of C. moschata) for over a year and I'm told they'll keep for 18 months if they're fully ripe when harvested and they're handled carefully.  the seeds could also be dried and stored even longer, but that would get a little labor intensive.  I'm planning a large crop of Styrian pumpkins next year for human and goat food.  could take up less space than hay if they were stacked up carefully.
Paula Edwards


Joined: Oct 06, 2010
Posts: 411
I fed two sheep through winter with only two bales of lucerne. But I invested quite some time finding them outside food. We have plants here which are declared as noxious weed like privet or honeysuckle and roses. I fed this. And our green grocer has always stuff in a crate which is no  more for sale. But they didn't like this very much and preferred their privet.
                    


Joined: Aug 24, 2009
Posts: 106
blackberries hang onto their leaves through the winter and goats love them.  don't know what your situation is, but blackberries are very rarely in short supply around here.


how many acres you got in blackberries? 
At home if a goat got sick she got blackberry leaves first thing.
Our goats love honeysuckle best, it is sunday dinner and desert wrapped in one, second comes sawbriars,  blackberries are last on their list of favorite things, unless you cultivated them, you want to keep goats away from them and they managed to get inside the gate, then they just have to have it.  I don't know if it is just our goats.  There are not enough wild ones around to make a big dent beyond snacks in their feed requirement.  They are not as hard on the multiflora roses as I would like them to be either.  If I come along and stand right there, yes.  If I cut them and feed them that way, then they love them.  Who has time? That is what I have goats for, so i do not have to cut that stuff.
                            


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
I don't have any blackberries. I do have a few wild raspberry plants scattered randomly about. No broom either  .

Tel, I lived on that side of the state for more than a decade. I'm amazed at the differences in climate/vegetation with only a few hour drive. I used to pick GALLONS of blackberries down by Vancouver lake, freeze them individually and not only would I use them throughout the year, but I shared them with friends and family. Some places the blackberry vines were so thick that's all you could see is mounds of vines. I remember having an abundance of both evergreen and Himalayan varieties.
There was a small broom plant growing on my road a few years ago. It was about 10 inches tall... and I debated what to do with it. It was such a nasty weed over on the coast! Anyway turns out not to be the case here, it got "plowed" by a snowplow and that was the end of the broom.

My property is really diverse, but I'd have to say that the bulk is in what I would consider "high forest". I need to learn what's here and more importantly how to use what I have on hand. Ongoing process!
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3112
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
there's a goat rescue outfit over here that teams up with the Boy Scouts to dispose of Christmas trees.  the Boy Scouts get a couple bucks for picking up the trees after folks are tired of them, and the goat rescue gets them for free and the goats eat them.

I don't know that conifers offer complete goat nutrition, but maybe.
Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 161
Location: North Carolina
Elfriede B wrote:
tulip poplar ought to work very well as it sends up multiple shoots wherever you have cut it off. My goats will do flip flops for poplar leaves. I had thought of drying poplar leaves for winter feed but  a drawback is the work involved in cutting and drying.  Maybe if you keep only one miniature goat you could make a dent in your winterfeed utilizing leaves. 


I strip off leaves of many trees to dry for my goats as winter treats.  Sourwood and tulip poplar don't dry very well, but the other stuff does.  Maple, sweet or black gum, elm, grape leaves, kudzu, lespedeza, black or honey locust.  The last three are legumes and have high protein.  Mulberry leaves are high in protein and calcium.  The fewer goats, the easier your job is.  If I had only two goats, I could probably put up enough forage for them for winter, but not with a herd situation.  We get sometimes over a foot of snow on the ground here, but most of the winter, we have fescue or ryegrass in the pasture.  Also you can plant winter wheat.  Oats winter kill if it gets very cold.  I pick up acorns, dry them well so they don't mold, and they get a few every day in winter.  Makes for a high butterfat milk too, that tastes good. 


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Joined: May 04, 2011
Posts: 19
Location: 5a, cool humid, 34"rf,
find a cheap wagon or trailer and buy 3 by 3 by 8 ft bales for half the price of small squares

Character- every decision you ever made culminating into the moment we call now.
Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 161
Location: North Carolina
hanjoil wrote:
find a cheap wagon or trailer and buy 3 by 3 by 8 ft bales for half the price of small squares



The farmers here don't put up that size, unfortunately.  They do some round bales, but can't get alfalfa except in the small bales and the cost is exorbitant.  We keep the alfalfa hay in a closed building with a dehumidifier running so it doesn't mold.  Moldy alfalfa can produce coumadin like effects in animals who eat it, which is another reason I'd like to discontinue it if we can find a viable alternative.  Also looking for ways to be more self sustaining and not buy so much outside feed. 
Paula Edwards


Joined: Oct 06, 2010
Posts: 411
Do you strip the leaves while the tree is green or do you rake up fallen leaves?
Our sheep walks most nicely on a lead so she can eat other peoples lawn. You can as well find neighbours who don't mind if you tether your animals there. Or you go after the market and pick up the leftovers or to the greengrocer.
Or you know your noxious weeds, and cut the goat the weeds she likes. You might call garden maintenance businesses that they deliver their prunings to you.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3112
Location: woodland, washington
    
  58
ediblecities wrote:
Do you strip the leaves while the tree is green or do you rake up fallen leaves?


strip trees while they're still green toward the end of summer.  think of it like making hay out of a tree.  by the time the leaves fall off a tree on their own, they're pretty devoid of nutrition.  which is why they drop off the tree.

sounds like Red Cloud has more experience with this than I do, and so might give you more information.  I plan to see if I can get two cuttings from my black locusts this year.
Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 161
Location: North Carolina
ediblecities wrote:
Do you strip the leaves while the tree is green or do you rake up fallen leaves?
Our sheep walks most nicely on a lead so she can eat other peoples lawn. You can as well find neighbours who don't mind if you tether your animals there. Or you go after the market and pick up the leftovers or to the greengrocer.
Or you know your noxious weeds, and cut the goat the weeds she likes. You might call garden maintenance businesses that they deliver their prunings to you.


I know most of the poisonous plants for goats.  They can eat black walnut which is poisonous to horses.  In fact it is a good wormer for them for some types of parasites.  They self regulate and don't eat much.  They have no sense about the rhododendren, azaleas, and mountain laurel and poison themselves and can die easily from ingesting even a small amount.  You'd think they would learn that these plants make them sick, and avoid them, but mine don't.  Even privet is poisonous to them, but my goats have always relished a small amount and never seemed to be adversely affected.  There is something in goat saliva which neutralizes tannic acid, (to a point), so they can eat acorns which might poison a cow.  However, I've had other goatkeepers tell me theirs were sometimes poisoned on acorns or ate so many they lodged in their stomach and they lost rumen function and died. 

I do strip off tree leaves green and dry them for them (small quantities as a treat more than anything else).  They enjoy them in winter when they are on hay rations and can't get the fresh leaves.  I let the goats show me what they like best.  Their favorite is black locust.  They love honeysuckle but will not eat much at the time.  When they've had enough they look for something else.  With locust, they never seem to tire of it. 

I've never gotten anything from elsewhere than on our own property.  We are organic, and I don't trust anything elsewhere.  I know what we put on our soils.  We are using a lot of trace minerals, like kelp and DE and lim e and soft rock colloidal clay on our pastures.  The first few months after we started doing that, our goats stopped eating so much hay.  They were apparently getting more protein and minerals out of the pasture.  They also stopped eating their full grain ration, as apparently, they no longer needed it.  Milk production went up, and weight gain was significant, esp. in young, growing stock.  I think I learned a lesson in this, and I want this to happen, for them to get off most of the grain.  True health starts with healthy soil. 

I can't tether my animals as there are too many unattended, vicious, killer dogs in the neighborhood, as well as coyotes, Bobcats, and such.  My husband and I are getting too old to really handle them that much any more.  Also , we have too many to tether.  We have plenty of fenced pasture, but feed hay year round due to heavy rains here a lot of the time.  Can't do what we used to do, and goatkeeping, especially with dairy stock, is very labor intensive as you know.

I want to thank all of you who are posting on Permies.  I enjoy so much finding out all this new information and hearing from others who are doing the same as me.  We are all learning and growing, are we not?
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
can someone tell me about making my own hay. I have some grass pasture where I am experimenting with some grains, but I would like to dry the grass and hay. I have no knowledge on the subject other than somehting i read about feeding rabbits basically any sort of grass, fresh or dried as hay is ok. Is it as simple as scything up the grass and drying it? Also since not EVERY kind of grass is edible how would i begin to know if i have any harmful ones? Eventually I plan on getting a goat or two but right now im thinking of it in terms of my rabbit. I imagine it would be super easy to dry enough grass and maple leaves dandelions and purslane to feed one rabbit for the winter (with supplemental pellets). but it seems that rabbits and goats have similar conditions. Any sources on small scale hay making
Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 161
Location: North Carolina
boddah wrote:
can someone tell me about making my own hay. I have some grass pasture where I am experimenting with some grains, but I would like to dry the grass and hay. I have no knowledge on the subject other than somehting i read about feeding rabbits basically any sort of grass, fresh or dried as hay is ok. Is it as simple as scything up the grass and drying it? Also since not EVERY kind of grass is edible how would i begin to know if i have any harmful ones? Eventually I plan on getting a goat or two but right now im thinking of it in terms of my rabbit. I imagine it would be super easy to dry enough grass and maple leaves dandelions and purslane to feed one rabbit for the winter (with supplemental pellets). but it seems that rabbits and goats have similar conditions. Any sources on small scale hay making


You certainly can scythe it up and let it dry (thoroughly so it doesn't mold), and feed as winter feed.  I made some big bags, out of a porous cloth, to store my loose cut hay in and sometimes we just throw it in the loft, loose.  However, it is a very high humidity there and it tends to rehydrate.  Our best hay is kept in a former workshop, which is closed, and has a concrete floor and it keeps very well in there.  Younger grasses, before they go to seed, are highest in protein.  I think the rabbits will eat most anything. 

I raised rabbits for a while and got them totally off purchased feeds.  They love a little clover along with the grass as it makes a complete protein together.  I only gave mine a salt lick with minerals in addition to the fresh greens and dried hay daily.  I slowly transitioned them off the pellets.  I also gave them lespedeza, maple leaves, sourwood leaves, Jerusalem artichoke tops (sunchoke), common daylilly, cleavers, dandelion greens, pea vine trimmings, goldenrod, lamb's quarters, kale, cabbage, and various other things.  Pretty much the same stuff I give my goats.  Justs transition them slowly into anything new as it can cause digestive upset until they get used to it.  Small amounts of anything is best.  They had slightly smaller litters until I figured out what worked best and then litter size went back up to normal.  They were very healthy on this diet, but had to worm them sometimes as I found some parasites hatching in their droppings, so must have got them from some of the fresh greens growing near the ground.  I wormed them with Ivermectin, but with further research, I think an herbal alternative would have worked.  As long as their feed is not moldy, they should do ok and you will have to find out what forage crops you have plenty of in your area, as this varies globally.  Don't give them too much fresh stuff at one time, it might mold.  Only give them what they can clean up in a few hours and keep hay before them all the time.  Just remember legumes with grasses for protein, and they need both. 

With the real food they were now getting, their coats became very shiny and also their eyes, an indication of improved health.  Very vigorous, healthy babies.  When they were on pellets, they seemed lethargic.  With fresh, green food they became vigorous and energetic.  They actually seemed happier, as formerly they would lie around in their pens and look depressed.  You should be able to more than dry enough hay for the winter for one rabbit.  They especially like timothy hay, but remember, variety is best. 

I think we should start a separate thread on feeding rabbits.

If I only had one goat, I could probably dry enough hay to feed them.  I'm enclosing a picture of the udder on one of our young Nubian does. 


[Thumbnail for Midnight udder 005.JPG]

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Red Cloud 31 wrote:
I think we should start a separate thread on feeding rabbits.

If I only had one goat, I could probably dry enough hay to feed them.  I'm enclosing a picture of the udder on one of our young Nubian does. 


i am pretty sure there is a thread going on rabbit feed. i remember being there a few weeks ago. one thing i would like to note however is that i have read that cabbage is a terrible thing for rabbits. rest of the advice sounds good. thanks
Michael Grant


Joined: May 19, 2011
Posts: 13
Location: Northwest Missouri
Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
I've read that willow works well for this.
http://www.hbrc.govt.nz/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=RFmrV7TSPVM%3D&tabid=244&mid=1229

Research has shown the feed value of willows to be 65-70% dry matter digestibility, which is about the same as lucerne hay. A crude protein level of 15% is well above that required for livestock maintenance.

Willow leaves are also high in zinc and magnesium, which are both important animal health elements. However sodium (salt) levels can be low in willow leaves, and, if little or no pasture is on offer, a salt block should be available.


"It's an odd quirk of human nature that once a man has made up his mind to be a farmer, he wants to get into action quickly, irrespective of the dozen and one factors involved."--Haydn S. Pearson, "Success on the Small Farm"
Joan Fassler


Joined: Feb 23, 2013
Posts: 4
I have done some nosing around in this subject.
Grass of any kind grows so poorly in the New York Adirondack park.
Stinging nettle makes a great hay, very nutritious. So does hops and their vines, comfrey in small amounts, Jerusalem Artichoke, stalks and roots, Bamboo; leaves and shots. I found out the zoos use their decorative bamboo between hay deliveries when they run short.

Fenugreek if you have it handy and sweet lupines.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
 
subject: Alternative Winter Goat Feed
 
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