Not all hay is created equal, especially when it comes to knowing What hay do goats eat. Know what to look for and what to avoid when purchasing hay for your herd.
When learning how to raise dairy goats that are healthy good milk producers all boils down to their feed. Give the best hay so you can enjoy the best milk.
Goat owners often ask: “What’s the best hay for goats?” It’s a tough question with no single answer, as different types of hay can play different roles in a goat’s diet.
Even though we will cover all of the hay options goat owners have, what is available in your area will narrow down the list you have to choose from.
The most common hays are grass, legume, and a mixed combination. We will also discuss their benefits, where you can buy them in the USA, and what are some alternatives if the hay in your area is less than optimal quality for your goats.
What hay do goats eat, and why do our goats need it?
Hay is a type of forage or feed made from dried grasses, clover, legumes, and other plants. Hay is an important source of nutrition for goats and provides them with essential fiber to aid digestion. It also helps keep their teeth worn down which can prevent diseases such as bruxism (grinding of the teeth).
Goats are ruminants which means they digest their food multiple times. They chew and regurgitate hay more than once, digesting it in various chambers of their 4 stomachs. Goats are similar to cows in their digestive process, and both can often be seen chewing their cud throughout the day and night.
What is a cud?
A cud is a portion of food, mainly hay or grass, that returns from the stomach to the goat’s mouth, where it is chewed again. The act of chewing cud is known as ruminating.
Different types of hay to consider for your goats
Let’s go over a few of the types of hay that you can feed to your goats, along with their quality to your herd.
Grass hay is the most common type of hay for goats, and it typically consists of a variety of grasses, including timothy, brome, orchardgrass, and fescue. It’s an excellent source of fiber, which helps keep their digestive systems working properly. It also contains some protein but not enough to meet the dietary needs of goats.
Legume hay is made from clover, alfalfa, and other legumes. It’s higher in protein than grass hay and also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals which can help keep your goats healthy.
Mixed or Combination Hay
Mixed or combination hay is exactly as it sounds – a mixture of grass and legume hays. It offers the benefits of both types but should be used sparingly because it can be difficult for goats to digest.
Can goats live on hay alone?
Yes and no. Goats do not need grain to flourish; however, hay alone may not be enough to raise a healthy and strong herd. I find it best to offer a balanced diet that includes hay and other feed, such as alfalfa cubes, grains, minerals, and vitamins.
What is the difference between straw and hay?
It’s important to note that hay and straw are not the same. Straw is made from cereal grains, such as wheat, barley, oat, rye, or triticale. It has a much lower nutritional content than hay and should only be used for bedding or as an occasional treat.
Benefits of each type of hay that goats eat
Alfalfa hay is high in protein and calcium, making it a great choice for pregnant or lactating goats. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, and E which can help keep your goats healthy.
Timothy hay is a great choice for young goats because it’s low in protein and calcium but high in fiber. It can help keep their digestive systems running smoothly while providing them with the necessary nutrients.
Orchard Grass Hay
Orchard grass hay is high in protein and calcium, making it a great choice for all goats. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, and E which can help keep your goats healthy.
Legume hay is higher in protein than grass hays but should only be fed to goats in moderation. Legume hay is good for milking goats as it contains more protein, vitamins, and minerals than other grass hays.
Mixed or Combination Hay
Mixed or combination hay offers the benefits of both grass and legume hays. The leaves of grasses change as the plant matures, making grass hays more digestible
Oat hay is great for goats that need a little extra energy. It’s also high in fiber, vitamins A, B, and C, which can help keep your goats healthy.
Where to find quality hay in the USA
Good-quality hay can be hard to come by, and it is often best to purchase it from a reputable supplier. Most farmers’ markets, feed stores, and online retailers should have a good selection of hay available. It is important to make sure that the hay is fresh and free from mold or debris before feeding it to your goats.
Local farms can be a great place to purchase hay. The hay is usually of high quality, and you’ll know that it has been grown and harvested on the farm itself. This means that you will know exactly where your hay came from and how it was handled before it reached your goats.
Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are great places to look for hay. You can often find hay that is being sold at a reduced price by individuals who are looking to get rid of their excess supply. However, it is important to make sure that the hay is fresh and free from mold before feeding it to your goats.
Feed stores are also great places to purchase hay. Many feed stores carry various types and qualities of hay, so it is important to check the labels before purchasing. It is best to pick hay that is free from mold or debris.
Hay auctions can be great places to purchase hay. Auctions offer a variety of different kinds of hay, often at prices that are cheaper than those available for retail. Inspecting the hay thoroughly before bidding is important, as some bales may contain mold or debris which could harm your goats.
What to do if you have low-quality hay
If you have low-quality hay, there are still some options for feeding your goats. You can mix the hay with other feed, such as alfalfa cubes, or supplement it with high-quality hay. It is also important to make sure that any hay you feed to your goats is free from mold and debris so as not to harm your goats’ health.
On our homestead, we supplement with Chaffhaye to compensate when our hay options locally are less than optional.
Feeding Chaffhaye or Pelleted Feed
Chaffhaye and pelleted feed are great alternatives to hay for goats. Both What to do if you have low-quality haytypes of feed contain a mix of hay, grains, and minerals that provide complete nutrition for your goats. They are also easy to store and can be mixed with other feed if needed.
It is important to provide your goats with the best hay possible. Quality hay is essential for maintaining the health of your goats, but it can be difficult to find in certain areas. Fortunately, there are a variety of sources that you can use to purchase hay for your goats, such as feed stores, auctions, and individuals selling excess supplies at reduced prices.
You may also look into Chaffhaye or pelleted feed if you are unable to find high-quality hay. No matter what, it is essential that you inspect your hay before feeding it to your goats so as not to harm their health. With the right hay, your goats will be healthy and happy!
What hay can goats not eat?
It is essential to ensure that the hay you feed your goats is of high quality. Goats should never consume moldy hay, as it can cause digestive and respiratory problems or other ailments.
To provide proper nutrition for your goats, look for grass hay containing a blend of different grasses. Inspect the hay carefully before feeding it to your goats so as to not harm their health. With the right type of hay, your goats will remain healthy and happy!
Finding the best hay in your area for your herd is an essential part of raising dairy goats that are healthy and productive.
Now that you know What hay do goats eat, you are one step closer to raising a herd full of amazing milkers.