Building a Goat Shelter and Bedding


| 10/2/2014 12:45:00 PM


Finally, Part Three of Goat Keeping 101, Shelter and Bedding. As always, life on the farm is never dull and getting side tracked is just part of being a farmer. We just attended our first farmers market after a three month break over the summer and now breeding season has started. It’s a bit later this year, but all our does are waiting for cooler temperature to come into heat. Now that the humidity has gone down and the temperatures have moved from the mid-nineties to the mid-eighties, I am expecting the does to all come into heat at once. Of course.

We have learned in our years of goats keeping us, that a few, simple things are just important to keeping your goat herd healthy and safe. Fencing was one, and shelter and bedding are another. Simple to install, simple to keep up and clean, but oh so important in your operation.

The Shelter

Oh, too many times have I heard “what do you need housing for? They are goats, they can be outside!” Ok, they are goats, but wrong, they need a decent shelter from the elements, especially rain, wind, and heat. It also serves as a protection from predators.

Like us humans, goats can get sick from exposure to extreme weather like rain, snow, strong winds and heat. Goats have hollow hair shafts that function as an insulator and help them to withstand moderate heat and cold. Their coat does not provide protection from severe cold or soaking wet or heat and so they will need shelter to help them stay dry and warm. It is also important to note that the more energy the goat uses to stay warm or dry, the less energy is available to make milk.

Housing does not need to be elaborate or expensive. In more temperate climates like ours, a three sided shelter, closed to the prevailing wind and rain direction, with a roof to provide a dry space is sufficient. Most of our shelters have 5-foot high partial walls, allowing room for air circulation over the top of the wall, which we call the summer gap. In a cold climate with snow, an all enclosed barn is appropriate. For our winter, we close the summer gap in the moms’ or birthing pens with plastic sheeting to provide a draft and rain free environment for the pregnant and lactating does and their newborn and young kids.



Before you start construction, take a moment to think about a couple of things:

RobertaFParrish
10/14/2014 1:31:19 PM

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