Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Noodleville Review: Chaffhaye Alfalfa

Thought I’d share a bit about one of my new favorite feed items for the goats.


As my readers know, I raise dairy goats. I want healthy, productive animals who maintain body condition and I want to be able to afford to maintain them.

Each producer manages their herd in their own way based on what they can afford and what works for them. I’ve always fed a diet that includes grass hay of some sort for roughage, whole grains on the milk stand for calories to maintain body weight, good quality loose minerals and alfalfa in some form as the base of their diet to provide calcium and protein to fuel milk production. I don’t feed much grain or concentrates and feel my animals are healthier on a forage based diet.

In west Texas, good alfalfa is hard to come by and even harder to afford. And, if you happen to spring for a nice bale, those picky goats will pick through the bale, eat all the soft leaves and waste most of the stems… When a so-so quality, 55lb bale of alfalfa is running $18.50 a pop, this is far from economical. Alfalfa pellets on the other hand have no waste & they store easily. I would only buy Standlee brand pellets because they are a GMO free product and unlike other local brands, it was dust free, not preserved with animal fat (yes, some pellets for herbivores contain animal fat and that's just nasty!) smelled great and at $10 per 40lbs, I felt like I certainly got my monies worth.

A couple months ago, I started having supply issues… My store frequently ran out. And then the price started creeping on up… Current price is $12.99 for 40lbs.

Heard about Chaffhaye and discovered I had a semi-local dealer and thought I’d give it a test run. First, I gave Kimber a call and chatted a bit… She was really helpful and even sent me these lil sample packs in the mail to try out:

Chaffhaye sample packs
Chaffhaye is a GMO free, fermented alfalfa. It’s chopped in the field, allowed to dry to 50% moisture.. Afterwards it’s misted with a smidge of molasses and then inoculated with beneficial bacteria… Once it’s been inoculated it’s baled into airtight packages so the beneficial bacteria can get to work breaking down some of the plant fibers… The end result is a semi-moist, highly digestable fermented alfalfa loaded with natural pro-biotics and beneficial yeast. Click on the video below for a short clip showing how Chaffhaye is produced.



I was VERY skeptical.. Price was $12.50 per 50lbs, but since it’s a semi-moist product, part of that 50lbs I’m paying for is just moisture…. Really thought I’d have to feed more pounds per animal than I was feeding with the alfalfa pellets and if that was the case, it would not be an economical choice for my herd….

Despite my reservations, I bought 6 bags and worked on introducing the new food slowly. Being a new product to me, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I once tried a bag of this chopped, dried TNT brand alfalfa and it was chopped so fine it was almost dust, it smelled stale and no one would eat it…. Knowing this was a product with 50% moisture I had pictured kind of a damp mush..

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the first bag that it smelled wonderful and it was only a coarse chop, not a fine chopped, mushy mess… There were several stem pieces in there in the 6”-10” length, but all were very soft stems..

Here is an up close picture of a clump of Chaffhaye… On the left is what 90% of the Chaffhaye looks like… On the right is a picture of a giant beneficial yeast colony I found in one bag. These yeasty bits are like a super food…. It has a velvety texture and the consistency of a good Greek yogurt.


Chaffhaye up close. Beneficial yeast colony pictured on right...

Curiosity, as always, got the best of me, so I tasted a bit on a dare from my 9 year old son (He double-dog dared me, so of course I couldn‘t chicken out, so quit with the disapproving head shakes!)….

It was kind of yogurt-y with a yeasty hint… Almost like someone mixed beer and a mild yogurt.

I will say it certainly was NOT my cup of tea, I prefer my yogurt sweet, without beer & alfalfa undertones, but the goats fight over these pieces! I have to break them up and distribute evenly between feeders or Bleuberry will hog them all.

Large yeast colony in Chaffhaye
Kimber up at Chaffhaye recommended fluffing up a bucket full and letting it air a bit before feeding the first time and I found this really helped my picky girls give it a try. My grown does LOVED it… Ginger, my old girl who hails from Idaho, land of beautiful alfalfa, was MOANING in her feeder and trying to cram as much in her mouth as possible… She certainly thinks this is much, much better than pellets..

The doelings shocked me.. Being younger, I thought they’d readily attack it, but they acted as if I put poison out for them. Snorting, head shaking and staring at me as if I lost my mind.
So I mixed it up ½ & ½ with their alfalfa pellets and gradually reduced the amount of pellets each day.. By about 10 days in. the doelings were mobbing me at the gate when I brought in the Chaffhaye & were picking around the alfalfa pellets so they could eat just the Chaffhaye…

The bucks took about 17 days to finally try it. Goats like routine so I guess I shouldn't be so shocked that they took a while to make the switch.

We’re almost 8 weeks into feeding Chaffhaye and I must say I’m truly impressed. I have dried up all but one of my does and I am feeding my milking girl about 2lbs - 2 ½ lbs per day. When I fed alfalfa pellets, I also fed about 2lbs- 2 ½ lbs a day, so my fears about having to feed more because of the moisture content turned out to be unjustified.

I had another pleasant surprise… Since I already fed an alfalfa based diet before the switch, I didn’t expect a change in milk production at all, but Bleuberry went from producing right at 4lbs of milk (½ gallon) each morning to producing 4 ½ lbs - 5lbs each morning! She’s a first freshener who has been milking for almost 10 months now, she’s pregnant, plus I cut her down to once a day milking in preparation for drying her up… Yes, I know ½ lb - 1lb isn’t a huge jump or anything marvelous, but to see the jump this late in lactation while feeding the same amounts as I was feeding of the pellets was pretty nifty.

March 2012 doelings: All ear varities love Chaffhaye! Mocha the Lamancha, Heidi the Alpine & Rosie the Nubian
I’m very happy to see that Ginger, who is going on 9 years old, is putting on weight even though she too is not eating more pounds of Chaffaye than she was of the pellets… And Austin, the scrawny Alpine buck I bought at the beginning of fall is actually putting on weight as well which is awesome!
Oh! And I must mention the packaging! I love the packaging on these bales.... It's very compact so you don't need as much storage space and the packaging is very durable. If you're like me and don't have a big hay storage area, you can stack this up outside and just cover with a tarp to keep the sun off of it and it will store well for at least 2 years with no spoilage or loss in nutrients as long as the package is intact.... Plus, you can toss a few bags in your car and not worry about a mess:


I had 6 bags tossed in my lil SUV, plus still had room for groceries & a few bags of feed.


Tricks stopped eating to have her picture snapped.
I have no waste, the goats lick up every last stem & I’m finding that as long as I close up the bag, my Chaffhaye isn’t drying out or spoiling even on a bag that’s been open for 2 weeks.

So, color me convinced, I love this stuff!

For those of y’all interested in learning more, hop on over to Chaffhaye's website for all the techincal info I left out of this post, and if you still have any questions, contact Kimber by clicking here.

For my local readers, hit up Mr. Jack Cress.. He’s been wonderful about accommodating my schedule and is always helpful… Plus, he’s offering the best local price per bale.

Oh, another nifty thing… I am a frugal goat keeper, so anytime I can save a bit of $$$$$ I’m a happy camper.

In October, Chaffhaye did a photo contest on their Facebook page which you can find here: Chaffhaye on Facebook and this picture of Blueberry & Ginger won!!


Our Chaffhaye Photo Contest picture.
I must confess, getting that picture almost killed me. I wanted to be able to show that they were truly eating Chaffhaye, so instead of my usual bucket feeding, I toted the whole bag out.

I had this cute idea of all the girls standing around the bale eating peacefully and looking serene….. But what I got instead was a mobbing, mad dash of goats everywhere, I was barely able to hold on to the bag and get the gate closed!!

Fighting, ear biting, shoving and I had my toes stomped on more than one occasion… Star ducked between by legs trying to get around Ginger, which landed me on my rear, and Bleuberry, in an attempt to keep the bag to herself, knocked it over twice.. One head toss sent my cell phone flying out of my hand and I‘m actually very shocked it didn‘t break and I was able to continue snapping pictures…Took about 30 shots to get just one non-blurry picture and I tried to get Star in a shot, but the Alpines weren’t allowing a Lamancha at the bale, so I had to settle for just a shot of Blueberry & Ginger. To say I worked for that darn picture is an understatement!

And here is our prize.. Hard to read, but it is a coupon for 5 free bags of Chaffhaye! Pretty spiffy eh? They had 2 of these contest in October, so I think it’s great that they hook up customers with cool prizes. So, go “Like” their Facebook page and watch for tidbits and future contest.




Kidding season in Noodleville starts February 2013 and I'm really looking forward to seeing how my next kid crop does when started on Chaffhaye instead of pellets... Also looking forward to my milk numbers next year so I can see how all the girls milk on this at peak lactation...

As a parting shot, here's some of the March/May 2012 doelings chowing down on some Chaffhaye. Cookie the Alpine has a big mouthful and 3 of the other doelings are trying to lick every last leaf from the bag.


Cookie, Mocha, Rose & Tricks

Best Wishes,
C.W




21 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a great, timely post! I saw thid at the feedstore a week ago & wondered what it was really like. Thank you a bunch for posting such great pictures so I could SEE what it looked like. Your animals are beautiful & look so healthyy.

You listed the doelings as being March 2012 kids. Is that right or a typo? They look big for 8 month old kids! What do they weight?

Do you think chaffahaye could send the small sample bags to my feed store so I could by a few small ones to test before I invest in a big bag? Right now im using a grass/alfalfa mix hay & I'm not very happy with it, and like u said, there is so much waste. Very intrigued by this chaffahaye.

Sandy

Anonymous said...

U feed this to billy goats to? I thought the males could not have alphalfa or they would get urine stones? Can you tell me more about this? Our billy goat died this summer from urine stones and we never gave him alphalfa. How do your males do on this?
Wonder if I have a chaff hay seller by me?

Daryl in Tyler Tx

* Crystal * said...

Thank you so much Sandy for stopping by & for the compliments on my girls :)

No, it wasn't a typo.... I have 5 doelings, 4 are March 2012 kids, 1, the lil black Lamancha Tricks, is a May 2012 kid. The March kids all weighed at least 90lbs by 7 months old... Two of them were 100+lbs at 7 1/2 months. I raise them on strict coccidia prevention, lots of milk & good food so they can be bred before a year old. These pictures are about a month old, I haven't got a current weight on them.

I'm happy the pictures helped. I'm a visual person, so I like to snap pictures of everything so I can share :)

Not sure about Chaffhaye sending samples to the feed store... If the feed store is a dealer, I bet they have some sample packs. Just ask them, and if they don't, give Kimber a call & she'll help you out :)

Hi Daryl! Thank you for stopping by & taking the time to comment!

I'm very sorry you lost your buck :( The taboo of feeding alfalfa to bucks is false!

Urinary calculi is caused by an imbalance of phosphorus & calcium in the diet. Grain & grass hay/pasture are phosphorus items, alfalfa is a calcium item. You need to feed a ratio of 2 parts calcium to every 1 part phosphorous to your bucks. Too much of either item is not good. I have ALWAYS fed my bucks alfalfa & I have NEVER lost one to urinary calculi. The only buck I ever had a problem with was one I purchased... He was on grass hay & grain when I bought him & I had to take action to set him right as soon as he got here. My boys are thriving on the Chaffhaye alfalfa.

Here is a good article by Sue Reith that details UC treatment & at the bottom it details how to prevent it:
http://www.dairygoatinfo.com/index.php?topic=13.0;wap2

Go to Chaffhaye's website linked in my post & use their dealer locator to see if there is one near you.

Anonymous said...

Ok - I LOLed at the mental pic of you eating a bite of chaffahay on a dare! Yuck! Haha Wondered about ur contest pic, being a goat owner myself I can definitely see the mobb knocking u over & bickering. U really earned ur contest pic huh? Pretty goats, they look very healthy but y do some have no ears?

Leigh said...

Crystal, I so much appreciate this post. I've been reading about chaffhaye on some of the goat discussion lists I belong too, but nobody has really explained it very well. The closest dealer is about 3 hours away though, so I doubt I'll be trying it anytime soon.

Since alfalfa is expensive and hard to come by here too, I'm going to have my comfrey tested next year for protein and calcium as an alternative to alfalfa for my goats. That one I can grow myself.

petey said...

Great post, I've never heard of the stuff. I like the look of it. Would it take the place of long stemmed hay in a pinch? I wonder if EmmaLouMoo would like that for a supplement..hmmm

Rose said...

I just got my first bags of Chaffhaye yesterday! I am excited to start using it to supplement my goats through the winter. I hope I can save on hay usage and buy less alfalfa pellets.

* Crystal * said...

Hey Petey, you outta call Chaffhaye & see if you can find a sample pack to try out. I still have hay out because my herd is dry lotted and they need something to occupy them.... But it's not a fancy top quality hay I used to buy.... It's just a very weedy grass mix. I know some folks who use it instead of hay, but I just needed an affordable means of feeding quality alfalfa so I haven't tried it as a sole hay/roughage replacement.

I cut Bleuberry's grain ration by 1/4 and then fed the Chaffhaye in place of pellets & she's maintaining body condition & milking better than she was on pellets...

Hi Rose! Thanks for stopping by :) I hope your goats like it as much as mine, but don't get discouraged if it takes a while for some to take to it..... Could not believe my bucks & doelings took so long to switch! Big babies act like the sky is falling if I change *anything* lol As to pellet use, I'm not feeding any alfalfa pellets anymore.... I used up the last of my stash during the transition phase as I was mixing the pellets with the Chaffhaye.

If you haven't already, go "Like" their FB page & maybe you can win one of their next contest, then you'll stretch your feed budget even more ;)

Hi Anonymous- Yea, the Chaffhaye wasn't exactly my cup of tea in the flavor department, but I can honestly say I've tasted worse things! lol And yes.... The photo Op mob was awful! Don't think I'll try that again :)

As to the earless goats, those are my beloved Lamanchas. They are Americas only breed of goat (all other breeds have different countries of origin) & they are just wonderful! Very hardy animals who are easy keepers, milk well, and they have yummy, high butterfat milk.... On average their butterfat numbers are just a hair behind the ever popular Nubians :) They aren't really earless, they just have tiny ears... Ears come in 2 varities gopher & elf... All of mine are gopher eared. The tiny ears are genetic, and a dominant trait, so breeding them with normal eared breeds often gives you a high percentage of tiny eared kids (usually elf ears in those crosses).

I was a die hard Alpine fan for many years.... Swore I'd never own those "strange earless goats" but after buying my first, I'm 100% hooked and these goats are slowly taking over my herd :)

Rose said...

Crystal,

Please send me your coccidiosis/kid care information when you get a chance. I really need a good coccidiosis preventio program for this spring because I have it BAD at my farm. Let me know what you do and I will give it a shot. My email is rosesgoats(at)gmail.com

I love your blog. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Wow ur goats look pretty, real shiney! Those baby goats are huge tho if they are already 100 pounds and not a year old yet! I am new too goats & I didnt know u could feed goats alfalfa. I thought it makes them bloat? I have 4 pregnant nubian nannies I wonder if this would be good for them? Do u sell chaffhay? Do u know anywhere in Oklahoma that I can buy it? Im by Lawton. Thank u. Don

Anonymous said...

Friend just emailed me this blog link, what a great post! Cant believe there is really a town named Noodle! Read through some of your old post and was in stitches laughing so hard. Your Sufferings of a Mother post and the Shocking Kind of Love post had me rolling! I honestly had teaes running down my face from laughing too hard. Hehe
I have east Fresian dairy sheep & my hay man is selling his acreage and retiring so I have been thinking of trying this or alfalfa pellets. Do you find one easier to feed than another? Very hapy you posted a photo of the chaffhayee up close. I had been wondering what it actually looked like. I must say u are brave, I wouldn't have tasted it! Hehe Good blog, beautiful stock I will be a regular reader now.
~ Shonna in Alton

* Crystal * said...

Hey Rose! Sent you an email :) Thanks so much :)

Hi Don, thank you for stopping by. No, I don't sell Chaffhaye, I just started using it and wanted to share my thoughts on it. Chaffhaye's website has a dealer locator, or you can call them to see where the closest one to you is.

Thank you for the compliments on my babies, I do adore them. :) Plenty of milk, strict parasite prevention, good minerals & good food gives you nice big, growthy kids like that :)

No, alfalfa won't bloat your goats. Sudden feed changes can be detrimental to your herd, so any changes need to be made gradually over a period of time, and I reccomend putting out a bit of baking soda for them to use as needed too. For your bred girls, alfalfa in some form, be it pellets, hay or Chaffhaye would be good for them. They need the calcium for growing the skeletons of their fetuses, and when they come into milk they can use up quite a bit of their body stores to produce that milk & lead to problems like hypocalcemia which can be deadly.

Hi Shonna! Happy to know my blog sent giggles out into cyberspace :) How many sheep do you milk? Do you drink the milk or use it for cheese making? I've never tried sheep milk, and have never seen a dairy sheep in person... They don't seem very common.

As to ease of feeding Chaffhaye vs Pellets, both are easy to store, no waste options. I did find that my long, shallow pellet feeders were not ideal for Chaffhaye, they made a mess. So I switched to deep fenceline buckets in my doe pen. They hold more and I have no waste..... I should have took a picture of them. You can see the baby pen feeder, the red fence feeder.... In the kid pen I have 5 of those scattered around and just fill them up..... They work, but I want to make something like a keyhole feeder so I can leave Chaffhaye out for growing babies 24/7 & not have to worry about feet in feeders... It's on my to-do list, so if I ever get around to it, I'll post pictures :)

Oh, and the Chaffhaye comes out in flake-like chunks.... If I fed the chunks whole, the goats snatch them from the feeder and end up tossinh half on the ground, so I break up the pieces in a bucket before feeding. :)

Thanks again for stopping by & for your nice comments!

* Crystal * said...

Leigh, did you know all your comments were going to my SPAM folder and not publishing?? I just found 3 comments from you there, so I got them off the SPAM list.... Promise, promise I wasn't ignoring you! :(

I know a lady who grows a huge comfrey plot just for her goats. She feeds it to all her does right after they kid and swears it cuts down udder edema. Her goats love it! She's trying to figure out a good way to dry it & store it easily without it falling apart....You being the garden guru you are, I bet you can grow plenty for your goats :)

When you are able to get some tested, would you mind sharing the analysis?

Leigh said...

Cyrstal, I've had several people contact me by email lately, telling me my commnets weren't showing up on their blogs. I have that happen with my blog too, and have learned to look in spam. I advised them to do the same but never heard back. I can't imagine why blogger has all of a sudden decided a long time blogger and commenter like me is a spammer! Thanks for letting me know.

I just added 25 more comfrey plants to my front yard herb garden. I've had a hard time keeping them alive, mostly because of our hot dry spells, also because I've realized I'm not giving them enough nitrogen. I'm taking measures to correct that and replace the plants I lost. I will definitely share the results after I have them tested.

Comfrey does dry crumbly, as your friend can attest. My plan is to go ahead and crumble it up with other herbs and make a top dressing of it. Seems a better option than as hay. Once I figure out how much I need to feed for protein and calcium, I hope to feed fresh and dry the same amount for winter use. Like everything else it takes experimentation!

Anonymous said...

Hahahaha!! U seriously tasted a bite??Oh you doll are one weird chickie, but dear me you surely are hilarious! I have been reading through ur blog for 2 days and feel like I know u.
I cried when I read about ur mom, so very sorry, u gave her such a touching tribute :(
I felt ur frustration w/ur Bloody Battle of Wills (but laughed some 2) & I was in gut bursting hysterics reading about the UPS man & the Shocking love/taser story. How entertaining ur world is! I could hardly tell my honey about it because I was laughing to hard, so he had to read it for himself. lol This chaffhaye post was nicely done, I saw chaffhaye shared it on their FB wall, as well they should, what a testomonial!!.
Ur goats look very nice. I started using chaffhaye with my 20 yr old rescue mule & she does very well on it, but I never thought to try it with the goaties. I have 4 nigerian girls and 1 nigerian boy and I think I'll try feeding them some to and see how they like it. Keep on writing dear, u have a knack for it. If we ever meet in person, I'm buying u lunch!
Sincerely,
Sophie from NY

Anonymous said...

Hi Crystal! Dont no if u remeber me but I bought Mina from u as a bottle baby. She is doing very good. Such a loving gentle goat and a real good milker, she gave us twin boys in February, one was polled so we kept him to use on some of our other girls. We fed the alfalfa pellets this whole time but after reading this we wanted to try the chaffahay becuz we can get it for the same price as the pellets, but 10 more pounds in the bags. Problem is, only 2 of the goats eat it well. I put in down in the pans and they nibble it, but usually kick it over before they finish it all & it gets wasted. Mina wont even nibble it. Any tricks? We have been puting it out for 5 days now. I lost ur contact information so thought I would try to reach you here on ur website. Didnt know you had neubians and the no ears goats though! They are veru cute! Thanks again for Mina, she is the children's favorite girl :-)
Anna in Lubbock

* Crystal * said...

Aww thank you very much Sophie, you are so sweet :)

Anna! Hi!! I still have your email so I will send you an email with my phone #! I'm so happy Mina is doing well for you, do send me pictures if you can, I'd love to see her. Her sister Lilly belongs to a local friend and she's been doing very well as a first freshener too, though I'd expect nothing less from Sabrina's daughters ;) Very cool that you got a polled kid to keep!

As to the Chaffhaye feeding problems.... First thing first is get those feeders off the ground. If they soil it with their feet or by messing in it, they will never touch it... Plus thats a good way to give yourself parasite issues by letting then eat from something that can be contaminated by fecal matter. I use fenceline feeders right now and you can get nice deep ones from TSC fairly cheap.

Once it's in feeders up off the ground and secured so they can't be knocked off, just put it out and leave it. I offered a lil each day to the bucks.... They took FOREVER to try it so don't give up.

Goats tend to be creatures of habit and routine, and loathe change of any sort. And, contary to popular belief, they are picky eaters, so give them some time and they'll come around. With the doelings mixing it with their alfalfa pellets helped a lot, and each day I gradually reduced the amount of pellets in the mix. :)

Anywho, hope all is well with you and yours and thanks so much for the update on Mina :)

Anonymous said...

Great pictures Crystal, the goats look healthy. They dont bloat on alfalfa? Your other blog pictures show the goats lookin very bloated.
What do you think about feeding this to meat rabbits? Do u still have rabbits? A feed store here has it so I think I will try it. Does it rot after opening? How long is a bag good for after opening? Robert

* Crystal * said...

Hi Robert!

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment :)

No, I do not have rabbits anymore. It was a pain keeping my bucks from going heat sterile the last brutal summer we had them... I was doing ice bottles, fans, misters... Just got tired of it, lol. But I do think you could feed Chaffhaye to them! I fed mine alfalfa hay and they loved it, but wasted a lot. Give it a try and start them out on small amounts, I bet they'll do great on it!

As to the bloat question... No, quality alfalfa isn't going to bloat your goats...As with any new food item, start slowly with any changes.

Dairy goats who are expected to pump out gallons of milk a day for 300 days NEED a good source of calcium, and alfalfa in some form is a great way to supply it. My form of choice is Chaffhaye.

My goats aren't bloated :) What you are seeing is healthy, well developed rumens. A dairy goat needs to break down large amounts of roughage to milk well. So while the term "hay belly" may be a big no-no to horse folks, us dairy folks want to see these does with lots of body capacity. The better developed the rumen, the more forage they can break down which means more milk in the bucket :)

quiltstuff said...

Came to your website from the dairy goat info forum....thank you for the story about Star and Houdini....I laughed until I had tears streaming down my face...you tell a good story. I have also been trying the Chaffhaye and think it is great. If only my closest supplier wasn't three hours away! Do you remember the coffee commercial that had the line "Good to the last drop"? That last photo of the doelings with their heads in the bag of Chaffhaye should be captioned "Good to the last leaf". Keep writing....you're doing a very good job.

Anonymous said...

beaux animaux. aimer votre écriture très drôle