I figured I would post here and see if anyone had any new ideas/thoughts for me.
We're getting to the point in the winter where it's REALLY a struggle to keep weight on my old girl [same thing happened last winter, though I caught it faster this year. However, she seems to have lost weight more quickly this year] and, since I care about her, I'm worried!
Basically, the goat in question is turning 11 in April [but she's an OLD 11 - like a horse that acts 35 at 20], is missing at least one molar and a front tooth [I found the molar when she lost it. She had a hard life prior to me so there might be more missing molars - not sure], is an Angora, and is up to date on minerals/worming/hoof care/etc. She's also EXTREMELY arthritic but I feed her a glucosamine/yeast supplement that really seems to help.
She lives with my horse and a younger Alpine-cross wether in a 6 acre pasture full of hills. She's stalled at night during the winter, with the wether. In their stall, I'm doing the layered bedding, or whatever that is, approach - where you pile fresh bedding [hay, in this case] on top of the old so decomposition creates warmth. She LOVES that, it's actually warm-ish and it's probably her favorite thing.
On to food:
I had been feeding, for the pair of goats, 1 flake of local grass hay and a flake of alfalfa every 2 days in a "slow feed hay net" - the kind with 2x2 holes since it actually seems to be perfect for goats to eat normally out of.
However, I'm not sure how much of that she actually eats and how much she just picks at.
I was talking to a lady at the feedstore today and she suggested that I should possibly cut down on the alfalfa since, due to Hazel's missing teeth, she might unable to actually fully digest the hay that she is eating but that the hay she's eating is making her feel too full to eat enough pelleted feed. I'm not sure what I think of that, but it does seem very mildly logical. But at the same time, I'm skeptical.
On the "grain" side:
I don't like to feed grain-grain. I'm a horse person first and, while I know the two are totally different, I really prefer to stick to forage-based "stuff". Not to mention than my tack/feed/storage room is REALLY small [12x5] and feeds that everyone can eat save space!
That being said, in the morning, I had been feeding her about 1/2lb of soaked beet pulp plus 1/3lb rice bran pellets everyday, plus her glucosamine/yeast supplement, about an 1/8 cup flax seed, and MannaPro goat minerals as a topdressing. She rarely finishes her morning meal. She'll eat most of it, but a little is always left.
In the evening, she's been getting a small handful of dry beet pulp, plus about 1/3lb of rice bran - all dry. She always cleans this meal up.
Today though, I had a small epiphany. What if I tie the wether for the evening feeding too [he's tied for breakfast, but I usually let him be loose at dinner], feed her WAY more soaked stuff at dinner [she always seems hungrier in the evening], gave her plenty of time to finish eating, then, once she's done, feed the wether his stuff, etc?
That would give me the ability to start a large batch of food soaking overnight, then just make sure she ate the whole amount by the end of the next day - over multiple feedings.
I WAS able to get nearly a pound of soaked beet pulp+some alfalfa pellets and a smattering of rice bran into her with this method for the evening feeding. She didn't finish it all [got distracted/full by the last 1/2 cup] but she made impressive inroads. Ate more than I've seen her eat in a while.
I'm going to try it tomorrow. I started 1lb of beet pulp, 1lb of alfalfa pellets, and 1/2lb of rice bran soaking for tomorrow. I'm hoping that she might be able to eat all that...we'll see!
The other issue is that she does very very little grazing this time of year. She has plenty of grazing opportunities [blackberries, weeds, leaves] but she spends most of the day laying down, observing life. She has a few spots she LOVES to sit...but she will literally spend the whole day sitting in those same spots without really shifting.
On one hand, I'm thankful she doesn't expend more calories chasing the horse+other goat all over kingdom come, but I wish she were grazing more.
During the spring/summer, grazing isn't an issue for her. It's just right now.
Oh man, this got real long. Obviously I don't care for her one little bit.
HA. That could not be further from the truth. She is the sweetest thing, like a fluffy white ray of sunshine. :)
Thanks for any help/thoughts you might have! I'm pretty much ready to try anything. I would just like to not feel nearly every bone when I pet her [through several inches of hair]. Perfect world, I would LOVE nothing more than to have to put her on a diet...but I don't really see that ever happening.
Last thought - I HAVE considered separating her from the other goat overnight and giving her a bucket of mush for her to finish at will [she would eventually finish probably whatever I gave her, if given enough time], however I worry about her keeping herself warm -alone- overnight. It doesn't get too chilly here, but 25*F is a pretty average nighttime temperature here, this time of year = skinny old goat keeping herself warm??