I always test my hay for Relative Forage Quality (RFQ). I have it tested through my local UGA extension agent. The hunt for good hay at the same price or cheaper than average hay can be a challenge. This year I found Rye Grass/Red Clover mix hay with RFQ of 135 much cheaper than high quality Bermuda which usually only tests around 100 RFQ. The graphic below gives an idea of what type of hay to look for here in the Southeast that has the potential to be good hay for lactating animals. The dark blue background on the chart indicates the target RFQ for lactating animals. As you can see Bermuda and Bahia do not make it to the dark blue. They are good hays for dry animals but do not make the cut for lactating animals. These are the most common hays in our area. If I can find and feed a hay such as Rye Grass that tests well, I will have healthier does with plenty of milk for the kids.
I like to put a handful of Purple Top Turnip seed in my seed mix for a goat snack in the annual forage plots.
Broomsedge has value on our farm. As we gradually improve our pasture's fertility a small patch at at time, we still rely on our unimproved pastures during fall and winter. Our pastures contain a lot of Broomsedge. No one told the goats it was supposed to be poor forage. In late summer it begins producing its seed head. For about two weeks the goats will eat the tops of the Broomsedge trying to produce seed. Then the seed matures and they stop grazing the tops. We let it grow and do not cut it. Later in the fall when the frosts start to kill off the summer grasses and weeds, the bunches at the base of the plants are still green. It has been stock piled over the summer/fall and does not seem to be affected by the frost and remains green.
This summer we planted Cow Peas, Millet and Sorghum Sudan grass over an acre. After the bucklings were finished we put 40 does in for a couple weeks as the clean up crew to eat as much as possible. The does cleaned them all up by October 7th. The peas were so thick that no weeds survived so we had a clean area with only Pea and Millet stubble. October 14 after a good rain I no-tilled in about 70lbs of Wrens Abruzzi Grain Rye and about 20lbs coated Crimson Clover then came back and broad cast another 20lbs of Rye Grass. I put out 2 bags of 34-0-0 ammonium nitrate. We had some warm days and the Rye is really taking off. It will be a nice Christmas present for the does.
Experimenting with Sunn Hemp this year. It grew 30" in 30 days. I put a two string electric fence around it to keep them out while it grew. When I let them in I moved the two wires to the top of the post so they can go under. We cut a path, installed another fence to split it up and rotational graze it. When I move them to the other section I can move the two strands lower on the post in this field and move the other field's wires to the top of the posts. It has some corn in it also. The goats are loving it.
Our bucklings are into the peas now. This is a mixture of mostly peas with some corn, sorghum sudan grass, and buckwheat. The white flowers are the buckwheat blooming. If you click on a photo you can see a slide show of larger photos.
Great weed for reducing Barber Pole Worms.
Click here for an overall decription of Sericea Lespedeza