Just for the sake of clarification... I'm thinking about milking does in particular. From what I've read it sounds like non milkers don't need an "extras". Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I also read the post on feeding no grain and still having a good milk supply - that sounds great! I just don't have a clue where to begin there... We've been having fencing issues and the goats (at this point) can't live in the woods. We do cut branches and bring them fresh food on rainy days or when we are having fencing troubles.
I've been mixing my own grain and sprouting it (Wheat, Barley, Oats, Peas, Black Oil Sunflower Seeds) and adding a top dressing of alfalfa and flax. I don't let it sprout a long time - as in looking like grass. You can just see the little sprouts peeking out.
Does anyone here do this? What is your favorite grain mix? Do you notice a difference in milk production and/or goat health with the various grains? I found the info here and that's what got me started thinking this direction http://www.landofhavilahfarm.com/loh-feed-regimen.htm, but would like more feedback on it to make sure I'm not barking up the wrong tree!
The only difference in milk supply that I've noticed so far has more to do with whether or not the goats have been out in the woods.
We grained for years because it was fast and easy. We ditched the convenience and now on the stand we feed sunflower heads, comfrey, lambs quarters, miners lettuce, dandelion, turnip/beet greens, siberian pea shrub, berry vine, black walnut leaves and/or whatever else I can grab a little of one my way through the garden. Takes longer but again serves two purposes, I thin the garden a tad/prune some plants and give the goats a wide range of nutrients/trace minerals. If/when our wheat/buckwheat/vetch/<insert cover crop here> is up I will also cut some of it, plant and all, for them. It sounds like a lot of work, but we only milk seasonally so its only for a couple months a year we are messing with the milk stand, and I would be playing in the garden at this time of year anyway. In my experience feeding grains is tricky because they will eat way more than what they would eat in the wild, parts of it are missing, and its kinda flat nutritionally. (see the milking through post for a better explanation). Just my thoughts, YMMV.
PS: Im not surprised the forest is where you notice a difference in milk production, as counter intuitive as it sounds, ours increased when we laid off the wheat/sweet feed and added the variety we use now. Plus getting them off just pasture and into a forest gives them a huge variety of plants to choose from. We are in the process now of planting all of the above goodies in each paddock so they can browse as they feel the need. The paddock areas we planted last season mostly all self seeded this year so it will also become maintenance free.(hopefully)
I haven't tried sprouting, although I purchased a 50# bag of oats for the purpose of trying it a couple of years ago. Just never got around to it! That website belongs to someone who is really active on Facebook groups and is still raising goats, so I imagine she keeps her info up to date on there and would have posted if it wasn't working for her.
When you try a new method of feeding, just write down everything you're doing and when so that you can see any correlations as they occur with weight gain/loss and production increases/decreases. And of course, don't feed anything that has mold growing on it or smells funky.
Every time you till, you lose 30% of your organic matter. But this tiny ad is durable: