Feeding Alf Alfa Pellets vs Hay $$$ analysis. ??? Hay feeders!

Discussion in 'Dairy Goat Info' started by Daniel Babcock, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. Daniel Babcock

    Daniel Babcock Member

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    I just did a cost break down for my area comparing feeding pellets vs hay. The difference was shoking to me! Here it is:

    I purchase alf alfa pellets at a retail location for approx $13 per 50 lb bag (current price) which is $520/ton. (I can purchase some times as low as $11.00/bag w tax)

    If I purchased in bulk through Cargill I would still be paying $9.82/50 lb bag or $393/ton. Plus tax

    I can purchase high quality alfalfa for $150/TON (here in Utah)

    Initially I assumed that due to the wasetfull nature of goats it would be much more cost effective to feed alf alfa pellets.

    However the goats would have to waste 71% of the alf alfa hay and none of the pellets in order for the cost to be the same using retail pellets.

    And they would have to waste (62/38) 62% of the alf alfa hay and none of the pellets in order for the cost to be the same using wholesale (Nutrena) pellets assuming I can get them.

    I cant imagine that goats, managed properly would waste this much hay.


    If I were to spend $150 on feed I would obtain the following amount of feed:

    Retail 576 pounds
    Wholesale 765 pounds
    High Quality Alf Alfa Hay 2000 Pounds

    For me, this is significant! In my limited experience, I feel the goats do better, and eat more alf alfa hay, and it is SOO much more cost effective for me to go that route.


    Now I need to change my management. I have been feeding my goats morning and night tying them to a short lead and feeding them 2lb of pellets out of their individual feeders. I like this as it gives me an indication of how much they are eating, and insures all are eating because it eliminates bullying.

    Now that I have decided to feed alf alfa hay. What is the best way to feed this to #1 minimize wast and #2 keep dirty/wormy feed out of feeders?

    Thanks to all!
     
  2. Sondra

    Sondra New Member

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    build you some hay feeders either wood or cattle panel bent to hold the hay up off the ground. You still will wast hay but not as much. Also start them off gradually with the alfalfa hay as it can be to hot for them to start off with. In other words start off with a flake or two then gradually up it until it is free choice while cutting back on your pellets. Boy I wish I had alfalfa hay here.
     

  3. NubianSoaps.com

    NubianSoaps.com New Member

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    The problem for me is this....in your frozen tundra, non humid state, when hay is cut and shipped to you, it likely stays within a few percentage points of it's protein, you likely never see mold or leaf shatter. Here the nicest hay comes into my state, and if the moisture content is high enough so you don't have leaf shatter, you have mold. By spring when I need my alfalfa hay to be at it's highest protein and carry the amounts of vitamin E it can, it is at it's lowest from sitting in a hot humid barn all winter. When you are feeding alfalfa hay that is in this condition you also have to up your protien which is the most expensive part of feeding dariy goats. Then comes grain for kids, because they will only pick at leaves which are pretty much non existant on the hay here. Uncertified alfala hay untested for blister beatles and no hay comes with protein levels before purchase, none. So 50% loss of hay is pretty normal even in the best hay feeders because the goats simply won't eat the larger stemmier parts of the hay we get here.

    So feeding guaranteed 17% protein alfalfa pellets that are 100% alfalfa is much cheaper for me.

    You are also not adding up the cost to have it hauled and stacked in your barn. The square footage of building relagated only to hay storage. The labor to clean up all the spent hay. Plus your a guy. Would you be hauling and stacking and maintaing a bulding and a trailer and truck to do this for your wives herd? Really? 20 years from now? Paying labor kills my on profit.

    50 pound sacks of alfalfa pellets that are stored 8 miles from my house that I can pick up 8 a week.....I will never go back to buying, hauling, stacking, storing, and worrying over alfalfa hay ever again...unless I moved up north. Vicki
     
  4. stoneyheightsfarm

    stoneyheightsfarm New Member

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    Yeah, the hay is cheaper, if you can get good quality and it will keep. In Utah, I wouldn't think that would be a problem.

    I've seen various feeders and since I've only had the type I built, I can only give the comparison that other folks have told me. The type that goats pull the hay through and eat vs. what I have seems to waste much more. Here's a link to mine when it had just been built:

    http://i424.photobucket.com/albums/pp324/stoneyheightsfarm/IMAG0031.jpg

    http://i424.photobucket.com/albums/pp324/stoneyheightsfarm/IMAG0033.jpg

    The goats put their feet up on the step and head through the feeder to eat. I have one doe who liked to try and wiggle the whole front half of her body in the feeder when she was younger, so I'd make the slats a little closer together if doing it again.

    I have enough space with this feeder that some of it is for hay, and some of it has feed bowls in it where I put their grain (not milking).
     
  5. Daniel Babcock

    Daniel Babcock Member

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    Vicki you are always a wealth of knowledge!!! I always really appreciate your candor

    "I will never go back to buying, hauling, stacking, storing, and worrying over alfalfa hay ever again...unless I moved up north." Vicki

    I can pick up this hay in 1/2 ton bales any time of the year. I can get nutrition analysis. Storage is a non factor as I will get one or two 3X3X8 bales whenever I need them.

    I have been feeding them small amounts of hay and I still have 6 bags of pelletts so I will gradually wean them off the pellets and onto the hay!
     
  6. Sondra

    Sondra New Member

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    Yep and you are up north soooo
     
  7. shawhee

    shawhee Member

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    Daniel,

    When we get up to ID, I plan on switching all of mine over to mostly hay as well. Here in TX we just have too much humidity. I have some Colorado compressed bales that I feed some to the goats, and so far it is keeping, but I would not store this through the winter - as Vicki said it will loose a lot of nutritional value. I have shipped in the big 3x3x8 bales here (cost a lot more than what you are getting them for), and fed to my horses last winter - loved it, but such a hassle to keep it covered and moving it etc. I think in the climate that you have you would be fine with it. Hopefully Tracy will come on and give her point of view as well, as I believe that she feeds alfalfa hay mostly too.

    Shawna
     
  8. Daniel Babcock

    Daniel Babcock Member

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    Billie-

    That is a great looking feeder! Is it covered to keep the elements out? How far apart would you put the slats? Thanks
     
  9. Sondra

    Sondra New Member

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    Daniel you will want the dividers closer together or you MM will be up in there. plus the FB can still get in I'll go measure mine after bit.
     
  10. NWgoats

    NWgoats New Member

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    No matter how good your feeder is, your goats will waste some hay. And, as Vickie says, they won't eat stems. I also did a cost comparison for the hay vs. pellets. Since about 1/2 of alfalfa hay is stems, that is 1/2 of it wasted. So, since I have to pay $280.00/ton for it, that doubles my cost to $560.00/ton!!! So, for me, the pellets were a no brainer. Also the consideration of hauling/storing the bales. Unless you have a tractor, it is impossible to move 1/2 ton bales (round or square) And, are you absolutely positive that you can get it any time you need it?Most of our hay supply here gets to be pretty slim pickins along about March. Even the guy I buy from (the grower) runs out about then. JMHO.
     
  11. wheytogosaanens

    wheytogosaanens New Member

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    We feed high quality alfalfa hay as well. Here in North Idaho the 2nd cutting alfalfa is so excellent! Protein runs about 22% and the goats just love it. If I feed them 3rd cutting, they have a tendency to get the runs, it is that rich!

    We so have a nice dry climate, like Utah. Storing and stacking is not a problem (but it is work!) but my husband happily does all of that with my sons. He loves the goats and will spend time and money to feed, house, and upgrade stock (anymore, that just means I get to buy a really nice buck when I need one).

    We have finally figured out the local connections and can now buy oats and barley in bulk - $200/ton for whole oats, practically organically raised (no spray, commercial fertilizer) and $180/ton for whole barley. We store it in 55 gallon food grade barrels that cost about $15.00 for our initial capital outlay there. Mouse proof, moisture proof (rain and snow) and convenient to have near the pens. Oh, and the goats and horses cannot get the lids off either.
    Doesn't hurt that the largest supplier of these types of storage containers in the United States is 8 miles from us in little podunk Athol.

    As far as feeders go, we like both the keyhole feeders (work best when the goats step up first and then put their heads in the feeder) or the Tartar gate feeders (I know, my husband really doesn't mind spending for quality stuff!) which have small square metal holes, like a grid, that the goats have to work the hay out of. Making something similar out of stock panels would probably work very well. Make them in the shape of a V (wide at the top for easy loading) and some sort of lid with hinges (we make ours out of half rings, not regular hinges anymore) with some metal to keep the wood from getting soaked in the winter.

    Since we have gotten the bottle calves we now go around all of our feeders cleaning up the spilled hay and feeding it to the calves, which are growing just great on it. Of course any cattle or horses would make a good clean up crew, thus reducing feed loss even more. And thus, alfalfa hay up north is truly a more economical and healthy way to go (love getting that long fibre with the hay I am feeding).

    BTW, we just get 80-100 lbs bales as they stack easily and that is the way our hay guy bales them up. He and his family are so good at baling hay that we don't "shop" around. Consistent quality, nice folks, and we are at the top of their list every year and will take care of us in a lean hay year.

    Camille
    P.S. We pay $200.00 ton Delivered this year for the 2nd cutting alfalfa (my DDs call it candy hay. About 70% green green leaf and fine stemmed after that. The goats eat the stems, but the Boers eat everything - even on the less expensive 1st cutting hay with larger stems they eat it all - and of course the cows and horses are happy to be the clean up crew for the stems).
     
  12. VickiLynne

    VickiLynne Member

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    Billy,

    Could you email me the feeder pictures. I can't view photobucket.
    Thanks,

    Vicki in NC
    [email protected]
     
  13. Agape Oaks

    Agape Oaks Guest

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    I'm in TX too & am fortunate in living near some big horse ranches. I found a great hay supplier who brings in 18 wheeler loads, stores in a nice hay barn with fans going to keep it from molding & delivers & stacks it for me. We do have some waste of course, but are having new hay feeders built (I'll post pics when they're done) that I think'll cut down on some of the waste. We raised a steer one year on wasted hay :). We also feed alfalfa pellets.
     
  14. Qvrfullmidwife

    Qvrfullmidwife New Member

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    "cattle panel bent"

    make it utility panels for far less loss and waste
     
  15. stoneyheightsfarm

    stoneyheightsfarm New Member

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    Vicki in NC, I'll e-mail them to you. :)

    Thanks, Daniel! I'm quite proud of it. I modified a design I got from someone else, and it works well for us. It is covered and completely enclosed. The photos were taken the day after I built it and there was much work to do yet to complete the barn. I started it when my husband left for work in the morning and finished it just as he was driving up the driveway to come home. (My mom watched my kiddos, and I LOVE power tools! :) ) The feeder is the dividing wall between my feed room and the girl's part of the barn. That open wall in the back of the photos is now enclosed, there is a roof, and any new photos would be dark in comparison. I was going to take some, but can't find the camera. (Hopefully my husband hid it, and it isn't part of one of my kids' "projects" !) You'd be able to see just how little waste hay there is, since I cleaned the barn out completely maybe a month ago, and there are just a few handfuls of hay on the ground now.

    I made my boys' feeder as similar in structure as I could, using primarily leftover lumber. I put their slats 5 1/4 inches apart, and that seems to work better. When they are fully grown, I may need to move them, but it's pretty simple work with a cordless drill in hand. The girls' slats are 6 1/2 inches apart, and you'd be amazed at how much a stubborn and willful goat can squeeze!
     
  16. Ashley

    Ashley Active Member

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    I made mine with horse panel (it's not cheap) , which is 2 x 4 instead of 4 x 4 (utility panel) and really like them. My goats hardly waste much hay at all. I too am feeding alfalfa hay instead of pellets, they don't waste much with these feeders and it works out cheaper for me.
     
  17. shawhee

    shawhee Member

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    Daniel,

    Another thing you can use is pallet decking. I have built slow feeders for my horses out of it and it works great and is very sturdy. You can search the forum for the picture of the goat feeder that I made out of a 330 gallon tote carrier as well. I am amazed at how little waste there is from this feeder; the goats can not get their heads in it but pull through the grate with their muzzle and lips instead. I had 4 goats on the tote feeder and everyone did very well even with my bossy matriarch out there.

    Shawna
     
  18. Daniel Babcock

    Daniel Babcock Member

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    Sondra-

    When you get a chance I would really appreciate the measurements on your hay feeders for the MM's. If you have a pic that would be fantastic as well!

    For those that feed hay, how much hay do the goats waste? 10% or closer to 50%? Thanks

    The little hay that I have been feeding my does has come from some bales of alfalfa that were thrown in with the grass hay that I purchased for the bucks.

    My goats must not be picky as they eat the stems and all. I am hoping once I transition over to exclusively feeding Hay that through proper management the goats will continue to be vigorous eaters and eat the stems and all. I beleive that I can "teach" those goats to eat the stems!

    I will purchase 3rd and 4th crop alf alfa which is much leafier with finer stems.

    For those who feed alf alfa hay, how much should I anticipate feeding per goat per day?

    Thanks for the great comments on this thread!
     
  19. goatkid

    goatkid New Member

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    I live in the north and feed alfalfa hay. My goats waste hay in spite of having feeders. They pull it out when they eat, and though the adults can't fit through the opening to the feeder in the main pen, the kids can. My bottle baby pen has one of those horse hay feeders and, once again, they pull some of the hay from the feeder. I don't think my wastage is as much as 50%. More like 25%. Without a calf creep feeder, when I try to free feed alfalfa pellets in feed bowls, the goats waste these as well by dumping their bowls or walking in them. Here, I can either get alfalfa hay delivered in 1800 lb bales for $175 a ton, pellets for $7 to $14 a 50# bag depending on how far I want to drive or drive 65 miles each way and buy pellets in bulk for $200 a ton. Right now, buying the bulk pellets isn't practical because I don't have any calf creep feeders and can't keep the pellets in my truck bed until they are all fed. The bulk pellets and hay are all produced by the same person, so the protein is the same. Right now, I have him stack the hay near the goat pen and cover it with a good hay tarp. I'm currently feeding 32 goats about two and a half large flakes daily plus 10 scoops of pellets. When feeding standard small squares of hay, we figure one flake per day per average size goat, or 1 ton per year per goat. When feeding hay, I've learned that if you feed too much, they waste more so I feed twice a day and see how much they are cleaning up.
    Ideally, I would like to be able to free feed the milkers pellets in creep feeders. My friend has the setup to do so and what we have observed is that her milk production goes up when she feeds the pellets. Kathie
     
  20. doublebowgoats

    doublebowgoats Active Member

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    A couple months ago we started feeding alfalfa hay instead of pellets. Found a guy that buys 100lb bales by the trailer in some other state and stores them in his barn. We cut a square in one of those white barrels and put it in there. I would say waste has dropped to 10% with the barrel. With the pellets I fed out of feeders that hook over a 2x4 but my herd queen would always knock them over right away trying to get to one little piece of corn or something.