Sunday, May 15, 2011

Milking and milker diet adjustments

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.

11 comments:

Buttons said...

Emily I think the molasses is not going to hurt your goats. It health benefits are greater than the dental worries. Olive oil is a great choice. I can't wait to hear the results. B

Jewel said...

Hi Emily, Are you still sprouting your grains? Why is it that all animals love corn? My chickens and rabbits adore it. I know it's not the best thing to give them but I still do, I also give some five grain scratch mix.

I'll be getting my goats soon, so am gathering together my supplies, and will be considering what to feed them. We have a large pasture and forest with underbrush where they'll get turned out everyday, but I have to make a decision on what grain to feed at milking time. Thanks for writing, it's always to fun to read what you're up to way up in Fairbanks.

adalynfarm said...

We might be getting a friends Angora who is in milk (and supposedly large and easy to milk) but between what you've been dealing with as a veteran milker, and what I read today with respect to sanitation, I am having second thoughts ;-)
We'll see though. Our does all have dry skin at the moment, and seems to happen in the spring to us... I've been a little lazy about their minerals and wonder if that's what's giving our girls trouble. I assume you are giving yours some kind of free choice salt/mineral. I remember last year being surprised at what a difference it made...
Your bees sound like they are doing as well or better than mine!

Emily said...

I feed the sweetlix meat maker vitamtin and mineral supplement for goats. Sometimes the feed store here in town has the one for dairy goats, and that is what I'd buy if they had it in stock. The goats eat it up, especially the does at this time of year

I have been taking a break from sprouting, but I've been wanting to get back in the rhythm, I did start some soaking this morning. The goats so far really don't care for their grains sprouted. The more they are sprouted the less they like them. So I've been wanting to do an overnight soak, maybe a two day sprout and then feeding it. I'm hoping that with the molasses and olive oil they'll eat the slightly sprouted grains. But really I've just been needing them to eat their grain ration. Now that they are eating it dry, I'm going to see if I can push some molasses sprouts on them.

Denise said...

Emily, I have used coconut oil in my goats' feed when they needed the calories, and it's been great. Only glitch is that it's solid at room temp, so I have to warm it. In winter that's a pain, as it immediately hardens when I put it with the grain. But they ate it, so I guess everything worked out okay.
Where do you buy the peas you use in your mixture?
I'm feeding a homemade mix that has too many ingredients, but I'm working on paring it back. Right now it's 6 lbs barley, 3 lbs oats, 2 lbs ground beet pulp (this one I'm phasing out due to all beets being GMO), 2 lbs BOSS, 1.5 lbs ground kelp, and 2 lbs alfalfa pellets softened overnight with water (don't have any alfalfa hay). I mix all these ingredients then add 32 oz of molasses to stick it all together. (I could probably use less molasses.) What I'm seeing is that this mix keeps the weight on my heavy milkers, helped put weight back on a couple who were looking TERRIBLE after illness and kidding, and it's easy to mix in herbs as needed (dewormers, etc.) because of the molasses.
I'm hoping to grow enough beets and carrots this summer to chop up or grind in a meat grinder to use instead of the commercial ground beet pulp.
Haven't tried sprouting yet, but I'd like to. I have some goats that would eat pretty much anything, and others who still manage to pick through the grain mix to avoid something they don't want to eat. Amazing how those lips can sort feed, isn't it?!r

Emily said...

Denise, thanks for the coconut oil tip. I'll have to do a price comparison. I do tend buy more coconut oil than I use so that might work. As far as the peas, right now I'm using the last of a twenty five pound bag of organic whole peas I bought from Azure Standard. I was looking into ingredients high in protein and the peas and lentils were among the cheapest compared to things like quinuoa. AK Feed has field peas, If I remember correctly I bought the whole peas because they field peas for planting weren't any cheaper. It has been a while since I bought them, I bought them for sprouting and feeding to the goats and then since they've been rejecting the sprouts I ended up feeding my sprouting mix, dry, and they are mostly eating them. I've wanted to feed beet pulp, but keep thinking I need to grow more beets. Last year we tried to grow fodder beets, the turnips did much better, only I didn't store them well nor did I ever get around to washing them or chopping them up. So we would throw baseball size turnips to the goats who would gnaw around them- they tried to eat them and sometimes managed before they froze into turnip ice balls. I enjoyed seeing what you are feeding, thanks. Oh- one more thought, I think the best ideas for peas would be to grow a huge hedge of siberian pea shrub and collect the pea pods. Or, maybe even smarter, just go around and pick other people's established pea hedges from the outside, I know it would take more time than I've got but it's an idea, a good project for some older kids.

christin b said...

Can someone post a recipe for non gmo homemade feed for dairy goats?
Can goats handle fat like we can? I wonder how much? I have a skinny dairy goat but don't want to feed her anything we would not eat because we drink her milk.
Goats and humans have lived together forever.....do you think people always feed them grain? I can't see the herdsmen thousands of years ago feeding grain....why do we have to now? And I thought ruminents are not to eat anything but grass like cows.

Emily said...

Christin, look back at my post on Decided on sprouting grain for goats, on it I link to a farm Havannah? and on her site she has multiple whole grain or sprouted recipes including their protein content. I am currently making what I believe is a Gmo free grain ration. I am buying local barley and oats, organic wheat berries and black oil sunflower seeds that I don't think are gmo but I am not positive. I do about 3 parts barley, 2 parts oats, 1 part wheat berries and 1 part sun seeds, I soak them for a day, drain overnight and add olive oil and molasses before feeding.

As far as diet for goats, I think historically goats were allowed allowed to browse and range over larger areas of woods, forests and pastures. I think that if goats were able to forage on brush and trees year round that their diet would not need to be supplemented as much as goats kept in small pens and fed dry hay year round. Also, we push them to their limits breeding them yearly and milking them most the year, so their nutrition and protein requirements are higher. Milkers put a lot into making milk and babies, and it can be challenging to keep the weight on them. I think you could feed less grain if you feed quality hay, specifically significant amounts of alfalfa lay and other legume grasses, and herbs, and brush. I know that before soy and corn were available people use to feed dairy animals beans, beets, carrots and other root vegetables in place of grains. Now, this course would be more expensive but I think, better for the animal.

As far as fats go, seeds like black oil sunflower seeds are a good source. I've heard beet pulp is a great feed for goats, but it is mostly gmo. I've heard that goats fed compressed olive cakes leftover from olive oil processing, do really well. And there have been some experiments feeding dairy animals different types of oils, vegetable, corn, soy, olive, etc.

Let me know if that helps or if you have more questions. This is a topic which I am very interested in, and I have asked these same questions continuously since first buying our goats. Emily

Leigh said...

Hi. I found your blog while researching making my own goat feeds. Similar thoughts but in totally different parts of the world.More to think about with good information in both the post and the comments.

Anonymous said...

Emily- Heather Andrulli here: this is an old post, but wanted to give you a comment on sweetlix meatmaker v. the dairy formulation. The meatmaker is what you want if you are feeding brome/grass hay as your base feed. It has the 2:1 calcium to phosphorus that the goats need. The dairy supplement is designed to be fed to animals on an alfalfa hay diet, with its higher protein/calcium, so it only has a 1:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio- which is a problem if you're not feeding alfalfa.
Also, on the sprouting: the higher protein isn't achieved until about day 5-7 in sprouting barley. I have had no success getting them to eat sprouted barley, but great success getting them to eat a mix of 3 parts barley, 2 parts oats, and 1 part BOSS...

Emily said...

Thanks so much for the information Heather, I'm going to put looking into Sweetlix on the top of my research list and plan on making a switch. I feed alfalfa hay off and on and I always feed a couple cups of alfalfa pellets to the milkers or bred does. I haven't ever had luck getting the does to eat grains that are more than a day or two into sprouting, but I do feel that it must make digestion easier. thanks again. Emily