There are many farmers who love raising goats, and you might find them to be fun companions, too. These animals are very playful and they can be a joy to care for.
However, goats are also known to be a bit messy, and this can lead to them wasting hay from time to time. You need to keep hay around to feed the goats, but it can be annoying when goats are wasting the hay.
Wasting hay has the potential to cost you a lot of money, and this can be problematic, to say the least. How can you keep goats from wasting hay reliably?
Read on to learn about several things that can help you to keep goats from wasting hay. If you use this advice to the fullest, then you shouldn’t have a tough time getting the results that you’re hoping for.
1 – Don’t Feed the Goats Too Much Hay at Once
One of the biggest mistakes that farmers will make involves putting too much hay in hay feeders. Sometimes it might seem easier to put a lot of hay in a hay feeder, but this is actually just going to lead to more wastefulness.
The goats will be more likely to waste the hay if there is an abundance of hay around. When you go overboard with the hay, the goats will have an easier time grabbing a lot of it at once.
This can lead to the goats not being so careful about how they’re eating. They’ll keep pulling out hay until they’re full, but they’re also likely to waste quite a bit of hay by letting it stay on the ground.
If the hay gets too nasty, then you won’t be able to keep using it. Putting only the right amount of hay in the hay feeder is truly the way to go.
This will ensure that the goats will be utilizing all of the hay that you have given them. Avoid the urge to go overboard with the hay and just give the goats the amount of hay that they need for now.
2 – Avoid Putting Hay on Soil
Some farmers will just place hay directly on the soil when they’re feeding the goats. Although the goats will eat the hay like this, it isn’t going to be ideal.
More hay will be wasted if you just place the hay on the soil than it would be if you put it in a hay feeder. It’ll wind up being far too easy for goats to waste the hay, and the hay can get dirty a lot easier, too.
The goats will likely only eat the hay that is at the top, and they’re going to naturally shy away from the hay that is directly touching the dirt. This means that a lot of the hay will go unused, and you’re going to want to change your approach fast.
It’s true that the hay on the ground will be more likely to get moldy fast as well. If you don’t want the hay to get spoiled, then you need a solution that is better than placing hay directly on the soil.
3 – Make Sure to Use Hay Feeders
Making sure to use hay feeders will be your best bet to keep goats from wasting hay. Hay feeders can be kept in secure locations and they can make it so that goats can only grab a bit of hay at once.
It naturally makes it more difficult for goats to waste hay because they can’t just access an entire pile of hay at once. They can stick their heads by the hay feeder to grab some hay and eat, but they can’t waste hay.
There are a large number of different hay feeder designs that you can consider using. You want to use a design that makes it so that goats will have to stick only their snouts in the little holes.
If the holes are too large, then some of your goats that have horns might get stuck in the hay feeder. The smaller holes help your goats not to be wasteful, and this is really the route that you should be taking.
4 – Hay Nets Can Also Be Helpful
If you raise horses, then you’re likely familiar with hay nets. Hay nets can also be used to help goats avoid being wasteful because they do a good job of catching the hay.
Hay nets will be a much better solution than placing hay on the ground for your goats. It’ll help you to keep the hay elevated so that it won’t get dirty and messed up.
Goats can access the hay from the bottom by nibbling at it. You’re going to need to raise the net high enough so that horned goats won’t get stuck in the netting, though.
The idea is that you want the goats to have to reach to get to the net so that they’ll only be touching the hay with their snouts. This works similarly to the hay feeder idea, but it’s a vertical net that the goats will be eating the hay out of.
5 – You Could Stop Using Loose Hay
Sometimes farmers decide that it’s just best to stop using loose hay entirely. You can still feed your goats by using pellets instead of loose hay.
In some ways, pellets are going to be preferable to using loose hay. The goats won’t be able to waste hay like they could when you were giving them loose hay.
Goats use way more hay than they need when they’re grabbing loose hay from a pile, but it’s different with pellets. You can just give them the pellets when they need them and there won’t be any messes to worry about.
It is important to point out that goats need to have access to some roughage, though. This means that it might be best to feed goats with a mixture of pellets and loose hay.
You can use less loose hay than you did before, but it’s probably a good idea to still give them some. There are farmers who do feed goats only pellets, but it’s up to you to decide which option is best for your goats.
How to Use Hay That Has Been Wasted
What should you do with the hay that the goats have left strewn about? Unless the hay is particularly dirty or moldy, it might be able to be used in certain ways.
Keep reading to get some ideas about how you can use this hay that the goats have been wasting. It should help you to avoid wasting too much money on hay.
Hay Makes Good Compost
Did you know that hay can be placed in your compost bin if you have no other use for it? This is a strong idea because people will often use compost to help grow crops on farms.
You can put some hay in your compost bin to ensure that it’s being used up in some beneficial way. It’s a lot better than simply throwing the hay out, and you should be able to turn the excess hay into nutrient-rich compost.
This is a good thing to do when your hay is too dirty to be utilized in other ways. You have other options for using hay that might be more appealing than this, but this could be the best route to take when the hay isn’t in great shape.
Just Put the Hay Back in Your Hay Feeder
Just putting the hay back into your hay feeder might work out just fine. You’ll need to check the hay first to see if it’s still good, though.
If the hay doesn’t look like it has been soiled or ruined in any way, then your goats should still eat it. Placing the hay back into the hay feeder could help you to avoid wasting it all.
You could shake the hay off before placing it back in the hay feeder as well. This can remove bits of sand or dirt that might be attached to the hay, and your goats should be more likely to eat it.
Goats won’t eat directly off the floor, but they will eat hay out of the hay feeder. Even if you didn’t think this would work at first, it’s going to surprise you to see how much hay you can save instead of wasting it.
Feeding the Excess Hay to Other Animals
Goats might not be willing to eat hay that has been on the floor, but that doesn’t mean that other animals will turn their noses up at it. If you have other animals on your farm, then you could just try to give them the hay that the goats are wasting.
Horses will be the easiest animals to feed this excess hay to. They’ll definitely eat the hay that you put in front of them, and it won’t even be a big deal.
Another option is to feed the hay to alpacas because they aren’t picky. So long as the hay isn’t moldy or bad, it shouldn’t be hard to get alpacas or horses to eat everything.
It’s good to be able to feed your animals with the hay instead of letting it go to waste. If the goats won’t touch it, then other animals on your farm just might.
Using Hay as Mulch
It’s very likely that you have crops and garden areas on your property if you’re taking care of goats. The hay that is being wasted by the goats can be used to help your garden out.
Hay makes for pretty good mulch, and this could help your gardens to stay tidy. You can control weeds and protect certain plants using hay mulch.
Granted, not everyone likes using hay as mulch, but it can be pretty good. If you want to avoid wasting any of your hay, then using it as mulch for your gardens won’t be a bad idea at all.
Try Using the Hay as Bedding
Of course, hay is utilized as more than just food for animals on your farm. It’s pretty common for hay to be used as bedding, and there isn’t a reason why this excess hay can’t be utilized.
Check the hay to ensure that it isn’t moldy or bad before moving forward. If it seems fine, then it could make great bedding for various animals on your farm.
Some people even use this hay in their chicken coops, but you can pretty much use it for whatever. Put it in the barn to help give animals warmth and you won’t be wasting any hay at all.
You’re going to need lots of hay to help keep your animals warm during the winter months. If you can use the hay that the goats are wasting in this fashion, then that’s definitely a win.
Goats are going to waste hay at least a little bit because that’s just how they are. You can take steps to mitigate the amount of hay that they’re able to waste using the advice above.
If you avoid feeding your goats too much at once, then only a small amount of hay will be wasted. You can also make things better by using hay feeders or hay nets to ensure that goats can only access small bits of hay at once.
When goats do manage to waste hay, there will be options for you to consider. You can still use the hay in various ways around your farm, and this can keep you from feeling like you’re wasting money.
Whether you’re feeding the hay to your horses or alpacas, it’ll be a good thing to avoid letting the hay go to waste. Hay makes for good bedding and it can even be utilized as mulch for your gardens.
If all else fails, then you can put hay in your compost bin to ensure that you’ll get nutrient-rich compost. You know what can be done to keep the hay from being completely wasted now, and it’s just up to you to decide which bits of advice you’re going to take to heart.
I have a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When I’m not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, I’m at home with my wife, two daughters and a dog. Outside of family, I love grilling and barbequing on my Big Green Egg and working on projects around the house. Growing up, I had pet dogs, cats, deer, sugar gliders, chinchillas, a bird, chickens, fish, and a goat.