Non GMO Feed for Dairy Goats

Rose Merry300.jpgOne of my greatest challenges was transitioning two Alpine does from a conventional diet to non GMO feed for dairy goats. When the does were purchased, one was in milk & the other was pregnant (unbeknownst to us). Not wishing to stress them more than necessary, their diet of alfalfa, dairy grain & hay was continued.
A little fodder was added to their food almost immediately. Once they stopped flinging the sprouts around and actually tasted them, the does were hooked. As the rye/sunflower seed fodder was increased the grain was decreased. Soon, five pounds of fodder replaced their grain at the morning milking. They each consume their five pound ration and are still trying to lick up every single sprout when I drag them from the stand.
The does were transitioned from dairy pellets to a homemade blend of oats, wheat bran, black oil sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Loose minerals are offered free choice & they get an herbal wormer preventative.

Avoiding alfalfa, now a modified crop, proved to be the most troublesome. Years ago, my constant quest was to find a stable source of good quality alfalfa hay to feed my dairy goats. Now, I no longer wanted alfalfa and the hay could be lesser quality because of the amount of fodder the animals consume. Good fortune was with me the day my daughter found an ad for orchard grass hay grown by an alpaca breeder. No alfalfa, not stemmy, delivered and stacked in the barn…truly a dream come true.
Alfalfa contains a lot of calcium which lactating animals need. Finding a substitute was stretching my brain. The problem was solved after searching various goat forums. A tablespoon of calcium carbonate is added to each doe’s fodder which eliminates the need for alfalfa pellets.
Rose Merry, the doe in milk, didn’t drop production during this transition. Even if she had, I would have been satisfied since her overall condition improved. She was quite thin when she arrived and later became alarmingly so. The further weight loss was due to the stress of the move; it took her a good while to settle in. Halfway through the feed transition, her previously dull coat was shiny and sleek. She went from a walking skeleton to a healthy girl with well-covered ribs.
Now we have dairy products that have not been contaminated by GMOs and three charming goats to make life interesting.
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Non GMO Feed for Dairy Goats — 4 Comments

  1. Diane, what an excellent post. Close to the heart of many goat owners.

    Could you elaborate a bit on your fodder? What exactly is it and where do you get it?

    For alfalfa replacement, I’ve been growing comfrey. It is rich in calcium and protein and can be fed fresh or dried. On the various goat lists I read folks are switching to chaffhaye alfalfa, pledged to remain non-GMO, but I don’t have a dealer within 200 miles.

  2. Thank you,Leigh.
    I grow the fodder, which is really just sprouted grain, in my basement. Here is a post I wrote at the beginning of the year. I do things somewhat differently now, but the concept is the same.
    Right now I’m sprouting rye that I buy from a local farmer & black oil sunflower seeds.
    Thanks for the insight about the comfrey. Funny, I have that stuff growing all around & never realized it was high in calcium.
    I wonder how the chaffhaye growers can make that pledge unless they grow alfalfa where there is no wind or insects to cross pollinate the GM stuff with theirs.

  3. I did not know that alfalfa was a gmo crop. We considered raising rabbits, since it seemed like it would be easy to avoid feeding them corn. I decided that for right now, they are too cute and too much like cats for me to be able to slaughter them. I don’t have chickens yet because I’m a little worried I’m not going to want to slaughter them, either (my husband would likely be able to do the slaughter, but I need to be able to let it happen without falling apart).

  4. Butchering is the toughest part of this way of life. I look at it like this. I eat meat and when I buy it from the store, I’m pretty certain that it didn’t have a nice life before it died. My animals are treated humanely & as cage-free as possible.