However, I came across an alfalfa haylage product called Chaffhaye. The website has a lot of information about the product - more than is usually seen, in my experience. I decided to drink the Kool-Aid and buy a couple of bags to feed Nimo probably almost 18 months ago. He ate it well-enough, but I could tell it was not his favorite food and when he had the ulcer-scare a little over a year ago, I ended up taking him off all of his feed except for hay for a few weeks. Because the Chaffhaye was kind of a pain for me to get - I had to meet a dairy goat breeder (the only dealer in my area) in the middle of a parking lot to make an exchange of goods for money. It was making me feel a little bit like a drug dealer, and it really wasn't convenient at all, so I stopped using it until a couple of months ago when a feed store near the barn started carrying it.
Nimo still absolutely prefers regular alfalfa hay in a bale to Chaffhaye; however, I came up with the idea of letting him eat it out of the bag, so now he thinks he's really getting something special and wolfs down several pounds of it every day:) (It turns out that Nimo is only smarter than I am sometimes!)
Why don't I just feed regular alfalfa instead, you ask? It's hard to find a consistently good-quality alfalfa hay in this area. Sometimes the bales are great, sometimes they are moldy and incredibly dusty. Even Standlee's compressed bales that I had been getting from a local Tractor Supply store were a little dusty, despite looking really good. And they were expensive (almost $20 for a 50# bale)
Here's why I prefer the Chaffhaye over regular alfalfa.
- It's a little cheaper ($16 for a 50# bale).
- It's not dusty, ever. It is always nicely moist, but never wet.
- It's never moldy. The way Chaffhaye is chopped and bagged means the quality control is pretty good and I've never had a bag look anything other than fantastic.
- The bags are rain proof. You can literally store these bags outside in all weather conditions until you're ready to use them.
- Because it is a bagged hay, I don't get hay all over when I haul it.
- The Non-Structural Carbohydrate level is 3.5-4.2% on an as-fed basis. I'm not an expert on insulin-resistance or Cushing's disease, but I think that level of NSC is pretty safe, even for horses that need a low-starch diet. It's not an issue Nimo has, but I'd like to keep it that way:)
- It's GMO-free. In case you didn't know, alfalfa is often "RoundUp Ready," which means it has been genetically modified to not die when Monsanto's RoundUp herbicide is sprayed all over it. I'm not a fan of GMO crops or Monsanto, so I am happy to buy a product that isn't a part of that cycle. However, because Chaffhaye is also weed-free, I'm sure there are still chemicals used on it. I'd buy organic if I could, but I suspect all the organic alfalfa ends up with the commercial organic dairy industry for the cattle and goats.
- It's fermented, so that means it smells sort of sweetly sour. I think it smells OK, but some picky eaters may get turned off by the unique odor.
- Once you open a bag, you've got 7-10 days to use it up. In the winter, you can push it a little because of the cold, but in the summer, using it up within a week or so is ideal because the warmer temperatures can push the fermentation process into overdrive and that's when mold can form.
- The company reports that it does spray the chopped alfalfa with a molasses to jump start the fermentation process. I mentioned the low NSC level above, but I think it's still important to know about the molasses.
- There can be white yeast colonies located throughout the bag. They are usually on the top or the sides. They can be surprising, but they are totally safe, according to the company, and they are the good yeast just doing their fermenting thing. Nimo has eaten many of the yeast colonies and never had an issue.
- It can be hard to get - not very many feed companies carry it and shipping it from the one online place (Countryside Organics in Virginia) I know that carries it is so expensive that you might as well learn how to grow alfalfa in your yard.