Friday, November 12, 2010

Hay an Important Roughage For Your Goat

Enough Hay for the Henry Milker Goats for a Year

Quality roughage for your goat is a key to quality milk production and good health. Because goats are ruminants, the majority of feed consumed should be roughage. This includes feeds such as your favorite shrubs, woody plants like your prized fruit trees, and also hay and pasture.

When considering the quality of roughage for goats, a distinction should be made between “poor quality” roughage for cattle and “poor quality” roughage for goats. Goats are not able to digest the cell wall of plants because feed stays in the digestive tract a shorter time. Therefore, plants with thicker cell walls, such as straw, provide almost no nutritive value for goats, but may be sufficient for cattle. However, goats will eat various plants that are not palatable to cattle, such as leaves from trees and shrubs.

The photo shows a bale of alfalfa hay grown and baled in Casa Grande, Arizona. This is quality hay but probably a little too heavy for most goat owners to handle.  It weights about 2,100 pounds, more than a ton. In weight, this bale is equivalent to about 42 bales of hay that I buy for my goats. This bale is bound for an overseas buyer. My brother Don "Mac" Henry is the John Deere rep in Arizona who provides much of the technical expertise in setting these very high tech baling machines up and keeps them pumping out hay.

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