Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hay, hay, hay

We bought and brought home a bale of hay yesterday, a round bale weighing 700 lb.  Our winter supply, which we got in October last year, is nearly finished.  This is the tail end of the feeding season here in the Cariboo.  Our animals will keep getting hay for a couple of months, depending on the weather, but we feed them a decreasing amount of it.  Already, they are down to three feeds a day instead of the four they were getting during the cold weather.  By late May, they'll be ignoring the dry stuff and nibbling on twigs and greens instead.

Goats (and sheep, too), like a hay with lots of variety.  We get something with plenty of alfalfa in it for the winter, but for the spring hay, we like more of a mix.  My herd really appreciates having weeds in their hay, as long as there are a variety of them.  Sometimes, we'll get cheap hay from a farmer who is trying to develop a new hayfield and has things like burdock, willow shoots, and thistle.  These are all delicious to my bunch.

We find hay to be pretty expensive here.  For the mix that's strong on alfalfa, we paid around $175/ton.  The mix we're going to buy to finish out the season is more like $125/ton, but the outside of it is weathered, so there will be more wastage.  I estimate that each of my adult goats eats half a ton over the winter.  Luckily, they can find all the forage they need on our walks for six months of the year.

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