Basic Goat Shelters for Your Homestead Dairy Herd


Homestead dairy goats need shelter. These are high-value animals that you’ll be working with on a daily basis, so it’s reasonable to provide infrastructure that’s convenient and comfortable for you and your herd. If you’re new to managing goats, you may want a shelter that is temporary and adaptable; chances are you’ll want to change your approach down the road. Experienced goat managers may still find use for flexible and portable designs as pasture shelters. Proper goat shelters don’t need to be fancy, but they do need to serve a variety of purposes. Even a basic dairy goat shelter could or should

• Protect goats from weather conditions
• Allow you to work with goats out of the weather (i.e. milking, hoof-trimming)
• Be located near a convenient source of water
• Include (or be near) a protected milking area that excludes goats (to keep it clean)
• Have (or be near) an area to store hay, straw, and/or grain separate from goats
• Have the ability to separate kids from adults, or individuals if necessary
• Be able to stand up to goat behavior, including rubbing, climbing, and jumping
• Be moveable to allow for rotational grazing

My wife and I have experimented with a variety of basic goat shelters for our homestead dairy goat herd. We generally kept our goats on pasture spring through fall, changing their grazing areas once a day to once a week, using overnight shelters that could be moved once a month to completely new ground to help break the parasite cycle. After moving the shelter, we collected the month’s worth of bedding and composted it, providing a regular supply of fertility for our vegetables. Kids were left on does during the day, and separated at night, which allowed us to milk every morning. We used several forms of winter shelter before building a permanent winter barn; we still used pasture shelters spring through fall. The permanent barn’s design will be a future blog post; here we discuss our experience with various non-permanent shelters.

Cattle-Panel Hoops with Tarps 

Goat Sheds Hoops

A line of 4’x16’ cattle panels bent into hoops, held in place with rebar pounded into ground, makes an easy shelter with tarps or plastic lashed on top. While panels can be expensive, we sourced most of ours used from auctions and elsewhere. These are easy to set up and take down, and all the constituent parts can be repurposed if you change shelter plans later on. The ends can be blocked off with more panels or wooden walls as desired. The shelter above left housed the herd, while the shelter above right housed our milking stand. These can be winterized by stacking straw bales along the open ends for insulation, and keeping heavy snow knocked off the tarps.


Goat Sheds Bend

12/26/2018 2:34:24 PM

Tarps can be dangerous as goats like to tear things apart. They will get tangled in the mess and be strangled in them or it wraps around a leg and the leg dies. Just letting you know, I've seen it happen, not to mine, to someone else.

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