Can Goats Eat Alfalfa?

Last Updated: 18.11.19

 

If you are still not sure what goat shed design best fits the space that you have available, take a look at the models that we have selected for you and added in the buying guide that we have prepared on the topic.

In this short article, we will try to find an answer to the question of whether goats can eat alfalfa hay. So, if you own a goat, or if you are just interested in the subject, be sure to keep on reading.

 

Is alfalfa hay safe?

All goat owners out there should know that, because alfalfa is rich in proteins and calcium, it should only be fed to goats in certain situations. Vets point out that this type of hay should be given to pregnant, sick or debilitated animals.  

In fact, some vets argue that alfalfa is the only kind of hay that can provide lactating does with the necessary amount of proteins. Alfalfa should be introduced into the diet of a pregnant doe gradually because any sudden changes can lead to serious health problems.  

However, this does not mean that goats cannot eat alfalfa in general. In fact, adding some of this hay into your pet’s diet might be a good idea, provided that you also supply it with another kind of hay as well, that is is less rich in proteins. Because alfalfa is easy to waste, the specialists argue that it is best that you invest in pellets.

Hay is the main source of nutrients for animals such as goats, especially in non-grazing seasons. You can also feed it to your animal if you live in an area where you cannot let it free to browse for food by itself.

Grass hay is a good source of food because it includes a moderate amount of proteins. Each animal needs between two and four pounds of hay, depending on its age and size.

Chaffhaye

If you are a goat owner, you have probably heard about Chaffhaye. This product is a combination of various types of forages and it can be used as a substitute for hay. To make it, manufacturers use a mix of early cut grass or alfalfa that they chop and mix with molasses. This choice is good for the digestive system of the pet because it is combined with bacteria cultures.

Per 100 pounds of body weight, a goat needs up to two pounds of chaffhaye. This estimation is true only when the product is fed as an alternative to hay. To put it in perspective, one 50-pound bag of chaffhaye is the equivalent of an 85 or a 100-pound bale of hay.

 

Grains

Pelleted grain mixes or grain, in general, can also be supplied to goats as it can provide the necessary vitamins and minerals. To make the process of selecting grains easier for novices, there are manufacturers that distribute special mixes that were formulated to be fed to goats. Most options include one or more of the following forms of grain: rolled grain, whole grain or textured grain.

Before you start feeding your pet goat too much grain mixes, you should remember that grain is very rich in fats. As a result, it can cause bladder and kidney stones when fed regularly to animals that are healthy.

Still, if your goat has dental issues or if it is underweight, it is recommended that you feed it regularly, but only for a short period. To avoid the risk of the pet developing stones, you should only purchase grain that also includes an ingredient called ammonium chloride.

Most vets also inform pet owners that if they feed grain to their companions they have to regularly check for signs of obesity. Another aspect that you should remember is that older goats are more likely to suffer from obesity than younger ones.

 

Pasture

Because goats are ruminants, they rely on pasture or hay to fulfill their basic dietary needs. According to specialists, these animals need at least eight hours of grazing each day. The best pastures available are those that contain mixes of grass and clover.

The best system that you can implement to make sure that your goats are healthy is to alternate between two pastures. This way, the pastures can regenerate and you can also avoid having to deal with parasite problems.

One crucial step that you have to make before you give access to the pet to pasture is to remove all the plants that might cause harm to them. If you want to be extra safe, you can contact your local County Agricultural commissioner as he/she will be able to provide you with a complete list of plants that are poisonous.

To avoid bloating, it is best that you avoid putting your goat on a pasture that is both wet and rich in alfalfa or clover.

 

The importance of good forage

Because goats have thin skin and because they do not develop thick coats during the cold season, quality nutrition is essential. This is true because a byproduct of bacterial fermentation is heat. Therefore, feeding your pets correctly can keep them warm from the inside out.

To not interfere with this process, it is advisable that you do not make drastic changes to the diet of your goad. Instead, you should focus on introducing new foods gradually.

Water and minerals

It is vital that your goats have access to a source of water at all times. If you own more than a few goats, it might be a good idea to invest in an automatic watering system. This way you can eliminate water waste. As current users note, these systems are particularly useful during winter.

Minerals are also a vital part of the day-to-day nutrition of a goat. Although they come in many forms, loose and block minerals are the most popular among farmers. If you keep your goats and your sheep together, it is advisable that you invest in minerals that are suitable for both species.

This is an aspect that you should not neglect because while goats need and like cooper, sheep cannot tolerate it.

 

Maintenance

Goats are not difficult to take care of. Still, every four to six weeks you have to trim their hooves. If you do not do this, there is a risk for the goat to develop lameness and even an infection.

However, hoof trimming is not very challenging. If you find the entire process difficult, you can ask your local vet to do it for you. Besides, you can find special hoof trimmers in most farm supply stores.

Another thing that you should not ignore has to do with vaccines. Your pet should be vaccinated for rabies, Clostridium, and tetanus. While the rabies vaccine can be somewhat hard on the animals, the other ones are not.

To make sure that you vaccinate your animals at the correct time, it is essential that you keep in contact with the local vet. These vaccines should only be administered by somebody that has the training to do so.

Taking care of goats also means knowing the most common diseases and health issues that they might develop. So, it might be a good idea to go online and read more on this topic.

 

 

Bibliography:

1) Is alfalfa bad for goats?

2) Feeding goats: alfalfa vs hay

3) Nutritional Needs of Goats

4) Is alfalfa really a poisonous plant?

 

 

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