I ran out of Chaffhaye about 2 weeks ago now. Taxes are breaking us, and I need to sell some goats to buy a pallet. It’s interesting not having it and seeing the stark difference in my goats production. I figured that, since I had regular rye grass hay and lots of alfalfa pellets (I feed the alfalfa pellets so we get enough calcium, Chaffhaye is so broken down and digestible my milkers need the pellets as well, though kids and bucks do great on the Chaffhaye alone) we would be fine for a few weeks. Not so. I will explain a little better.
For a few months now we have basically been grain-free in our goat barn. Most people use grain to boost protein levels, usually through soy in the feed. The soy, in turn, also seems to boost milk production, which is great to most people. I want good production as well, and grain is cheap compared to alfalfa, so of course I try to feed some to my milk girls. However, for a while now they have refused to eat any and all grain offered to them. In fact, it’s been close to a year. We have had excellent reproduction and kid growth, and milk has been just as plentiful as before we started feeding alfalfa (we used to feed rye grass hay and grain). The goats loved the introduction of Chaffhaye to their diet over a year ago now, and started refusing grain rations. I thought it was a change in feed formula, and went through many bags of grain trying to find one the goats would eat. I finally gave up and gave them an extra serving of Chaffhaye to get them on the milk stand, and tried to get them to at least eat oats and sunflower seed. We added the alfalfa pellets when we started seeing calcium issues and the goats have thrived on what is basically a grass/legume hay diet.
Fast forward to today, 2 weeks after running out of Chaffhaye. The goats are going through a 50lb. bag of horse 14% feed pellets at an astonishing rate and milk production has dropped across the board by at least 1 cup a day per goat. When talking about nigerian dwarfs that’s a big drop! It would seriously compromise my numbers if I were on milk test, and shows poorly for my barn records on each doe as well. The girls are going through the rye grass at the rate of 1 bale every 2-3 days vs. 1 bale every 2 weeks, and need extra alfalfa pellets, plus they are grazing their small pasture down to nothing, always hungry. To say I am surprised how much they have been affected is an understatement, and I only hope we can recover some of the loss when I get another pallet of Chaffhaye this week. And just to be clear, I ruled out parasite overload, length of lactation, and any other feed changes. The only thing different is the lack of Chaffhaye and sudden eating of grain again. Truly amazing….