Goats are said to eat anything at all and I have found that NOT to be true. Well, sort of. :) I think that they have gotten this reputation because first of all they are naturally curious creatures that chew on anything and explore their worlds with their mouths. Secondly, they don’t like new things in their territory and anything new added they will test, rub on and try to destroy. Thirdly, I think it is because in the world of goat breeding, at least half the goats born are bucks. Bucks are not usually as wanted and sought after as the does because you can't milk them. So there is an abundance of cute little bucklings for sale cheap. People by them all cute and little for pets for their kids. Soon they grow up to be large and stinky when in rut. Also most people don’t have any kind of adequate fencing to keep a goat in. Especially, if they bought a goat on a whim. Goats are by nature escape artists. So because the goat kept escaping they would get tied to a tree as a pet. Goats are browsers and very soon everything edible in the area is gone and since they weren't moved around enough were always hungry. So anything they could get to if they got loose they would at least try to eat. Like can labels and such. I don’t know. But these are just my ideas as to how they got that reputation.
Our goats are not the above stated kind of goats. We have a running joke running on the property that if something shows up. (a stray) it will soon be over weight. As we really like to take the best care of our animals here on the farm and tend to over feed or what my intention is….to give the best diet to the animals that we can. Especially, if the animal is a production animal like my goats.
Our goats will not eat just anything. As a matter of fact most people I talk to, after having goats for a while, all have the same issue. Hay wastage. I don’t feed alfalfa hay. I use pellets just for that reason. Even though I use pelleted alfalfa they still need a lot of roughage in the form of grass in summer and hay in winter. People will pay exorbitant amounts of money for the best alfalfa and hay.
They all use the standard hay racks available to the public at any farm store…. The goats grab a mouthful and yank it out, eating what they want as they go along. The rest ends up on the ground, pee'd on, step on and sleep on. Expensive bedding I say. So I prayed about it and thought about it and tried many ways to try to save hay and years ago God showed me a winner that works very well. It doesn’t totally stop the wastage. But sure improved everything. What gave me the idea is, God drew my attention to this.
I noticed that our back fenced areas were always neatly trimmed behind them. Manicured as if I had taken hedge trimmers to it. The back areas are fenced with hog panels.
I watched over time as the goat would put their heads carefully through the large, sturdy holes of the hog panels and reach as far as they could to eat the privet and browse that was beyond the fence. Hmmmm.
Two different ones.
So I took a hog panel and put it across the pen in my barn. I cut it to fit wall to wall. About 2 feet out from the wall. And cut a piece of plywood to fit down into it at an angle. (highest part at the front and almost touching the ground at the back.) Now don't laugh at my artwork now everyone. :)
The goats put their heads in thru the hog panel openings and hang their heads down a bit to eat.
They are to lazy or it is to much effort to take their head out of the hog panel after every bite. So they just stand there with their heads thru over the hay eating away.
They do pull a little thru, like if they get startled with a mouthful and drop it. But when I clean the plywood off of stuff they would not eat, about once a month, there is just a lot of shaft and short pieces they didn’t want or could not eat. The rest almost all went to body condition and milk!
I have been using this method for years. It is not patented. Feel free to try it. Here is my disclaimer: build and use at your own risk. I guess anything could happen if done wrong. Also DO NOT try this with horned goats! A few tips: Always use a hog panel with holes big enough for the goats to easily get their heads thru. If you have many goats a long hog panel works great because their heads are all thru the panel while eating and no fighting or side butting goes on. The back wall has to be solid and the sides solid or the hay will fall out or goats go in to walk on the hay. And you might have to play with the plywood a bit to get it cut right, at the right height and angle. You want the high part toward the goat and about chest level. And the back lower so the hay slides back toward the solid back wall by gravity. Anything dropped from their mouths slide back down to the back of the feeder to be picked up again to be eaten.
I also found thru the years that the goats eat Bermuda better than fescue or a mix. They pick thru it less as usually Bermuda is Bermuda, not much else mixed in, all taste the same I guess. Also for me Bermuda hay keeps well two years with out getting moldy if kept in the dry hayloft in the barn. Fescue seems to draw moisture and get moldy if not used up in one year and even if it looked fine after two years the goats won't touch it. they will Bermuda.
So there you have it. susan's hay saving, goat hay rack! Let me know what you think!