Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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Hi. I have 2 ND wethers that have been on straight grass hay and Timothy or Orchard grass pellets. I have only been able to find a 50/50 alfalfa/orchard and Timothy hay mix to get through winter and spring. I know they shouldn't have straight alfalfa hay because of the high calcium content. Is a mix still a problem? I have added a little extra pellets and a little less hay to compensate, or is this necessary? I am more concerned with urinary calculi than copper deficiency. I use COWP and high copper and zinc goat minerals. I have lost a ram to stones and one of the goats had a slight blockage from grain feed. None of our males are on grain anymore. Stones are primarily caused by excess phosphorus, but can be from excess calcium too. Have any of you had problems with 50/50 hay long term? Thank you for any help.

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Hi Kim- yes, high calcium diets can certainly contribute to stone formation for the boys. They are called calcium carbonate stones, where those formed from high grain consumption are typically struvite or apatite stones. The good news is that management techniques for avoiding them are basically all the same =)

If that is the only hay you can find, I do understand your concern, especially since you have dealt with stones in the past. They do still need that long stem roughage in their diet, so increasing the pellets to offset the amount of hay they are consuming is a great idea. The other upside is that you were able to find a blend, instead of just straight alfalfa, so I honestly think that is very helpful.

Keep in mind that stone formation has other contributing factors than diet. Urine pH and total water balance within the animal have great impacts. Ammonium chloride is a great tool to acidify the urine and help keep stones at bay. It is effective for all 3 of the stone types mentioned above because they tend to form in alkaline urine. You may want to add some over their pellets. 

The other thing that stones like to form in is very concentrated urine. Water consumption tends to go down in winter, so I would consider warming their buckets a couple times a day to encourage plenty of water intake.

I hope this info is helpful =)


Thank you so much! Very helpful information!

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