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Roundbale or forrage?

 
Posts: 47
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So if I have a couple goats on a very small lot, is it enough to just have a roundbale. Or do I need to forage for forage for them on public lands? I hope to keep at least two milkers but the place I'm looking at is only half an acre. I know with a cow they can make do on a round bale but would not want to keep one without more space for grazing. Having sufficient dairy to meet our milk and cheese needs is one of my necessities. I just need to find a way to make it fit into the limited space we will be on without spending an arm and a leg on feed.
 
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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I have not raised goats, but my understanding is they can live on just hay. Whether this is accurate for goats giving milk, I do not know... surely someone goatier than I will pop in soon to elaborate..

I assume you mean a round bale of hay, not haylage; haylage starts spoiling much too soon after opening for a couple goats to get through a round bale... maybe a week.
 
pollinator
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A round bale of good quality hay can be used to feed dairy goats, but be forewarned that they may waste a great percentage of the hay if you are using a standard bale feeder, like one used for cattle. After eating a bit they will climb up through the rails and then atop the bale, soiling the bale and making it inedible. It then becomes just a playground. Also, rain can also spoil the hay to the point that goats will not eat it, thus the bale needs to be weather protected.

Hay alone may not give you the milk production you desire. This is why most dairy goat keepers use a grain mix supplement in addition to hay or fresh greens. The grain serves a duel purpose.....it provides the added nutrition and energy needed, plus it rewards the goat at milking since the grain is normally fed during the milking process.
 
Gail Jardin
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Thank you for the helpful information. The property I can afford is much to small for goats to forage (only a half acre). There is a conservation area about a half mile away but someone would probably frown on my kids if they walked their goat to graze it. I think I will get a roundbale and maybe gather some other materials when we go hiking in the conservation land (with the dogs not the goats). Why am I talking about them like we already have goats?
 
master pollinator
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Goats will eat tree leaves, so if you plan to have goats in the long term, research tree forage crops which you might be able to grow in your climate.  You can grow a lot of trees on half an acre, which, even if it is not enough to provide all the diet for the goats, can provide a good supplement and interest for the goats, who will get bored just eating hay.  Some forage trees are even edible by humans (linden, moringa).

Some tree leaves are toxic to livestock, so be careful not to just feed any random tree to the goats.

 
pollinator
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It may be better, if you do not have a tractor, to get some small square bales of good quality hay. You can more easily handle 50-60 pound bales than 800 to 1200 pound bales. Also, you can feed the goats the hay each day rather than have the hay get spoiled as it likely would with a round bale. Finally, a round bale can collapse on and kill sheep and goats, as they eat the bottom out and then the top collapses.

If you are nonetheless dead set on round bales for some reason, IF you can tip it up on its side with your tractor you can unroll the hay like a giant roll of toilet paper and feed it out to the goats a bit at a time. It is super messy to do it that way, and the hay won’t fit in typical feeders like the flakes from square bales will. At least the little darlings won’t climb up the bale to play and poop and then refuse to eat the defiled bale. But the round bale is still out in the weather and you’ll lose a lot to spoilage from weather. Square bales can be stored in any little shed.

I have tried the round bale thing. Never, ever again. They are cheaper per ton, but a PIA to handle, and WASTEFUL of good hay.
 
gardener
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I feed cows round bales and sheep square bales. Enough explanation has already been given on why square bales. When the sheep birth we add in alfalfa to help with the milk. All our animals get a little grain in the evening. It helps to train them, like getting cattle into the area where we can load them on trailer, medicate them,  etc.
 
Gail Jardin
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I was going to opt for roundbales because they are more affordable and all I've used in the past. Typically when I would have them delivered they it would get tipped on it's side and I'd cover it with tarps. I guess a lot of it get's 'wasted' and ends up being mud break on outdoors on paths and pens etc. but it still was more economical than buying square bales. I guess I will research sources for squares and see if I can price it to be about as affordable despite the wasted hay.
 
wayne fajkus
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While wasted hay is a mulch and will improve your land, i suspect that the amount you will accumulate will totally cover your small tract.  I'm also concerned about the amount of time it will take. 3 adult cows will eat a roundbale in 2 weeks. 2 horses maybe a month. That would equal months for you.  Stagnant and mouldy come to mind.

A bakery will buy 50lbs bags of flour, a guy that makes a pie a month will buy a 5lb bag. Yet the guy is not thinking he is overpaying.  He's buying in the best qty for his needs.
 
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Location: Alberta, Great White North zone 4
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You can pull hay off a round bale and throw it over the fence it works fine.
Also the reason that square bales are expensive is because they are hard to handle and wont shed rain so they need to be covered. Buy them when they are freshly baled in the field, this will be much cheaper.
I'd still buy a round. Never leave them on end the rain will get into them.
 
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Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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Like Wayne said, the roll bales and goat manure will improve your land and makes a great garden spot. if you can fence it off from the goats it may be worth growing them forage to throw over the fence and supliment their hay during the growing season. Any number of cover crops make good forage.
 
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