Milking went more smoothly yesterday. One of my problems is that I've been weaning the COB (rolled corn, rolled oats and rolled barley) out of the goats diet. I've been slowly replacing it with a mix of whole oats, whole barley, wheat berries, field peas and sunflower seeds. This has been a two month transition. For the last couple weeks we've been done with the COB and onto the whole grain mix. Some of the does have been on strike. This is the worse time of year to be making changes in diet and thus, having does not eating their grain. Some are, some aren't..This is a huge problem for two reasons: one: they really need the extra calories right now as their bodies are designed to produce large quantities of milk, but they can't just do it on a hay diet. If they don't get the calories, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals their bodies need, their milk production drops, the milk itself doesn't taste as good, and most seriously, they can have other health issues like Ketosis, which is what Rose has been dealing with. Furthermore, if the goats aren't eating their grain, they don't really want to get on the stand, nor do they think they should have to stand still to be milked, thus some of the confrontations we've been having this week at the milk stand.
So, I was just about to break down and go buy some COB or even some Goat Chow, when I had an epiphany: why do the goats like the goat chow so much? Molasses. I need to mix in a little extra something that will sweeten the deal. I've never been big on sweet feeds. I worry about their long term dental care. This however, is just starting out as a quick fix and we will go from here. I mixed a little over a tablespoon of molasses into each of their feed rations and voila, everyone ate all their grain. I only needed help getting Rose on the stand, and Zinnia still needed her back hooves held down, we are getting there.
Another note about goats diet and feeding changes. I've been noticing that the milk is not as creamy as last year. I've also been brushing the goat's coats which naturally they are shedding this time of year, but a few of the does also have dandruff. I read a few articles on feeding olive oil, olive by products, soy or corn oil to goats. I got to thinking that while I'm still feed sunflower seeds to the goats, the reduction in corn does reduce their overall fat and oil intake, thus possibly the drier skin and less fatty milk this year. While soy and corn oil are much cheaper, they are not as healthy and they are gmo crops which we are trying to reduce in our own diets as well as that of the animals. So olive oil would be the preferred choice. Sam's club had 3 liter bottles for fifteen dollars, only fifty cents difference between the extra virgin and cooking olive oil, so that was a no brainer. So, now I find myself adding a Tablespoon each of of olive oil and molasses to the goat's feed twice a day. We'll see how long this lasts. I don't like to add extras, extra steps, extra cost, unless they make a significant difference.
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