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Goats Not Eating Straw in Alfalfa

 
Posts: 73
Location: Central Valley California
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My partner and I are very new to goat raising. We have read Natural Goat Care and are trying to implement as much as we can to make their diet organic. We went to great lengths and monetary expense to buy them organic, expensive, alfalfa. They just pick through it for the yummy leafy parts and leave about half of it strewn all over the place, mostly straw. They act like they are hungry all the time even though they have a big pile of good, expensive, organic alfalfa in their feed bin. Are they playing us, or is this straw truly not appealing to them?
 
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
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First thing to know - goats are picky! What someone's goats LOVE, another person's goats hate - mine hate alfalfa!!. It might be that because the foodstuff is new they are viewing it with suspicion and might take a while to get used to it.

Second thing to know - goats are untidy with hay/straw. Once they have pulled it out of the bale or feeder and it's fallen on the floor, NO WAY will they it. So to save you money (since that hay you bought sounds like super fine stuff) see if you can fashion something that catches the hay before it reaches the floor and then you can put it back up to the feeder.

Third thing (and you've probably already worked out from Pat Colby's book) - the goats themselves are the best ones to know what they need in their diet. That maybe explains something about point one above - maybe the something that is loved in one place offers the minerals that those goats need but at the other place are being found in something different. They will eat what they need to be as healthy as possible so long as they have free access to lots of different things, so try to relax and trust them.
 
Shelly Randall
Posts: 73
Location: Central Valley California
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Thanks Alison. That makes sense and gives me some mental relief.
 
Posts: 3375
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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There is very little food value in the stems--mainly fiber/roughage. Good for cattle to chew on, but goats don't seem to eat it unless they are truly starving.

It will make good bedding if you pick it up before it gets wet.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 11364
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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My sheep don't eat alfalfa stems either, but alfalfa stems make excellent mulch! So it all works out.



 
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Our goats go for vines first, broad leaf, before any kind of grass.
 
Posts: 26
Location: northern Arizona, USA, 6,000 feet elev, zone 5b
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In response to Tyler's comment about mulch.....if you let the straw sit on the ground for a while they will cut it into little tiny pieces with their hooves which makes it very useable as a mulch and easy to handle. ~Pearl Bigelow~
 
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Goats will generally drop the alfalfa stems on the ground, and this becomes the bedding in the barn. We clean ours out every six months or every year and use it for making compost. Goats will eat more stems if the alfalfa is finer, which is usually true of the later cuttings. At a feed store in late summer you can find later cuttings. I haven't generally seen organic alfalfa available, though.

You can also get alfalfa pellets. In that case they won't have a choice to drop the stems. But then you have to provide some other bedding material. To us it seems easier to let the waste alfalfa be the bedding material.
 
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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you can grind the alfalfa up, and then feed it to them. They can't really pick through it that way.
 
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