The goats have been with us for a few months now, and while they're still just about five months old, they're no longer babies. Which is to say, they eat A LOT. More to the point, they eat what I give them, but they'd like to be eating quite a bit more. Our buck is getting to be quite the butterball these days. They get grain and hay in the morning and hay alone in the evening, and they've eaten every bit of browse they can reach in their fenced yard.
The fact that we have twelve acres that's loaded with good browse makes it somewhat ridiculous that we keep our goats in their yard and feed them expensive alfalfa bales. We don't have a milking doe right now so at the moment, none of them need particularly rich feed. They'd do fine eating mostly browse, supplemented with a small amount of hay. The fact is, due to time and money constraints, we don't have any pasture fencing set up for them yet, so I can't send them out anywhere during the day. We let them out loose on the weekends sometimes when we're working outside, and they dutifully follow us wherever we go, but since I have to be inside working during the week, I can't just let them run around unattended. This is a rather unfortunate situation. What do you do when you can't let your goats out to browse?
You bring the browse to them! I think I've hit upon a workable, temporary solution to this problem (movable pasture fencing is still the long term goal). This morning, while the goats were happily chowing down on their grain ration, I took some pruning shears and cut them an armload of browse. I brought it in a big bundle to their yard and stuffed it into the hay rack. They were THRILLED! They love fresh leaves even better than hay (and they looooove hay), so they were some happy kids, indeed. Collecting it took me all of two or three minutes. I'll do it again tonight, I think, but I'll take a bucket and get more for them next time. It's a few extra minutes tacked on to morning chores, but so far I think it's worth it. They get (free) browse and I get to save the hay for when we need it more (winter). It's a win-win situation.