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If you’ve ever had goats, then you know how big of an appetite they can have. Goats love to eat, and they require a lot of hay to keep them happy, healthy, and full. However, as much as they love to eat, they can be quite wasteful, too. It’s not uncommon to find them tossing their hay on the ground or making nests out of it.
So, how do you not waste hay with goats? In general, placing a barrier between the hay and animals is helpful to reduce waste, particularly if you have large amounts of hay that must be put out at one time. Using hay feeders, feeding racks, or rings can be effective barriers to help reduce wasting hay with goats (Source: University of Kentucky)
Read on to explore some tips and tricks on how to keep your goats from wasting hay. You might also enjoy reading 13 Types of Goats You Can Find in Texas And What Makes Them Unique.
1- Use a Hay Feeder
One of the simplest and most effective methods to prevent wasted hay is using a goat hay feeder. But keep in mind that hay feeders come in all shapes and sizes, from simple wooden troughs to complicated metal contraptions.
Regardless of the design, the purpose of a hay feeder is to keep the hay off the ground and contained in a specific area. When choosing a hay feeder, look for one that is appropriate for the size and number of goats you have.
Remember that each type of hay feeder has its own pros and cons. Once you’ve chosen the right feeder for your goats, place it in an area where your goats cannot trample on it. I found that using a hay feeder not only helps save hay but it can also help ensure that your goats don’t consume contaminated hay from the ground.
2- Feed in Small Portions
Another way to keep your goats from wasting hay is to feed them in small amounts rather than one large pile. Splitting up the hay into several smaller piles will encourage your goats to eat it more quickly and efficiently. Plus, it reduces the amount of hay that is left on the ground when they are done eating.
In addition, feeding smaller amounts gives the goats a chance to eat all of the hay before it starts to go bad. The truth is that many goats enjoy small meals throughout the day.
I encourage you to consider feeding them in small amounts about 3-4 times daily rather than a large amount once or twice a day. Not only will feeding your goats in small portions help reduce wastage, but it ensures that your goats are well-fed and healthy.
3- Use a Hay Net
A hay net is another method for controlling hay wastage. Typically, a hay net is a nylon mesh bag with holes that allow your goats to eat from it but make it challenging for them to pull hay out of the bag.
Also, using a hay net is an excellent option if you don’t have an appropriate fence or feeder to exclude your goats from the hay. The hay net is hung over a stable structure, and your goats can access the holes, pulling just the hay they need without wasting it.
4- Place Hay Higher
Goats naturally eat from the top-down, which means they will eat hay they can easily reach first, and anything under their feet is likely to be wasted. I believe that another way to prevent wastage is to hang your hay over your goats at a higher level, in which they must stand up to reach it.
For example, hay can be hung over a bar placed on an elevated post, which lifts the hay out of reach of your goats. A quick warning, though: make sure you have assessed the design of the structure used and ensure it’s safe for your goats. I encourage you to watch this video to discover how to stop wasting goat hay with a simple trick.
5- Clean the Feeding Area
Cleaning up the feeding area can help prevent hay wastage. Droppings and trampled hay build up under the feeder, and around it, and if not cleaned regularly, it can lead to more hay wastage.
You can prevent this from happening by regularly raking up these areas and adding them to your compost pile. Cleaning up the feeding area not only reduces hay wastage but also keeps your goat’s environment clean and healthy.
6- Supplement with Grain
If you are still having trouble with your goats wasting hay, you may want to supplement their diet with grain. Grain is a highly concentrated source of nutrients, and goats love it.
In general, by feeding your goats a small amount of grain each day, you can reduce the amount of hay they waste and help them get the nutrients they need.
7- Limit Grazing Time
If you have goats that graze in a pasture, they may be inclined to waste hay if they are not hungry enough to eat it. To encourage your goats to eat the hay that you provide, I suggest you limit their grazing time in the pasture.
Typically, limiting your goats’ grazing time will help to ensure that they are hungry enough to eat the hay rather than just grazing on grass all day.
8- Keep the Hay Dry
Goats don’t like eating wet hay, and wet hay can quickly turn into moldy or spoiled hay. I encourage you to make sure that the area where you store the hay is dry and well-ventilated.
If you are storing hay outside, keep it covered with a tarp or under some type of shelter to protect it from the elements. And keep in mind that wet hay can also attract pests like rodents and insects.
What to read next:
- 7 Tips and Tricks on How to Increase Milk Production in Goats.
- 5 Key Benefits of Using Electric Goat Milkers.
- How Long does it Take to Milk a Goat with a Milking Machine?
- Enhance Your Goat Milking Experience with these 5 Best Goat Milking Machines.
Preventing hay wastage when raising goats requires a little bit of planning and a few changes to their feeding routine and environment. I encourage you to use a hay feeder, feed your goats in small portions, use hay nets, hang hay over your goats, and clean the feeding area regularly.
With the right strategy, you will reduce hay wastage and save money, time, and energy while keeping your goats healthy and happy.
By implementing the tips and tricks I have discussed in this blog post, you can help make your hay supply last longer and keep your goats happy and healthy.