Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Case for Weighing Hay

My hay scale!

I try, as best I can, to be frugal and resourceful when feeding my band of critters.  I use coupons for chicken feed, know who has the best price on goat grain, and have calculated the correct amount of Chaffhaye to weigh out for my does.  Hay has been a different story, I normally throw out a flake or two to the bucks depending on the cold.  I never really took the time to research their nutritional needs.  

I've heard the praises sung for weighing hay by Juliana Lehman, the founder of the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank.  A few extra minutes of weighing hay allows your livestock to get the nutrition they need.  At the moment, I don't own horses, but this principle applies to goats as well.  Every bale of hay, as well as every flake of hay, has a slightly different weight.  A flake of hay are the sections of a small rectangular bale.  I've had bales where the flakes are uniform, and bales where some flakes are much larger than others.  Because of this you never really know if your livestock are getting the right amount of food, and if yours are anything like mine, they always think they're starving.

I've found it's much easier to research proper feeding guidelines for horses than for goats.  This being said the amount I feed my goats may be different than what others feed theirs.  I found a great luggage scale on Amazon for around $8.  I've hung some good ole baling twine in my hay shed and added a carabiner, so I can bring the scale in the house when I'm done.  It's been too cold to leave it out.  I tied a piece of baling twine to the handles of my muck bucket and viola, hay scale!   I've calibrated the scale to not include the weight of my bucket, so I can add hay without having to do any fancy calculations.   Now I can monitor how much my goats are getting and adjust accordingly.  I'm no longer randomly tossing out to much or too little, and my hay waste is a lot less.  Believe you me goats are notorious hay wasters!  My bales are lasting longer too.   

Since most days are crazy at the Ranch, I try to prep all of my feed ahead of time.  As soon as the bucks are fed, I go back and weigh the next feedings hay, so it's ready to go.  Now, I'm not only saving money, but my bucks are well fed AND I end up saving time as well.  I can't say enough about my good ole hay scale!

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