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Providing Shelter for Your Goats

To keep your goats safe, you need to provide them shelter. How elaborate your goat shelter is depends on where you live, what structures are available, how much you can afford, and how many goats you plan to have in the shelter. Some of the things to consider when deciding where your goats will live include:

  • Flooring: Dirt or gravel floors are best, although some people prefer wood. Dirt absorbs urine, and both gravel and dirt, when covered with straw, are warm. Avoid concrete because it's cold and hard on the goats' bodies, although it's easier to clean.

  • Bedding: Regardless of type of flooring, you need to use some sort of bedding for warmth and comfort. If you do have to use a concrete floor, make sure to put down 3 to 4 inches of wood shavings or straw to insulate the goats.

  • Dimensions: Consider the height and width of the shelter. Goats need to have 10 to 15 square feet of housing if they also have an outdoor area. When building, think about how easy it will be to muck out old bedding. Having to bend over or stretch a long way while mucking is uncomfortable and hard on your back, so if the goat shelter you build won't be taller than you are, don't make it too deep.

  • Climate: An open shelter may be fine in a mild, dry climate with good fencing from predators, but it won't work in an area of heavy snow and wind or the open range. Make sure that your building is in an area with good drainage and, if it is open, that it faces away from the prevailing wind.

  • Herd composition: If you have or plan to have a lot of goats, you need to make sure you have a large enough structure or plan to build more shelters over time. Groups such as bucks, does, and kids to be weaned need separate housing areas.

  • Storage: Remember that you need to have an accessible (to you, not the goats) place to store feed and goat-care tools.

  • Access to water: Having easy access to water, but it isn't critical in most cases. Just remember that if you don't have a water source close to your goats' area, you'll be hauling water every day for a long time.

  • Other considerations: Regardless of the breed, you need an area for doing routine care, such as hoof trimming or clipping. If you're raising dairy goats, you can use the same space for milking. In addition, if you're planning to breed your goats, you need kidding pens, which can be 4 feet by 5 feet; the number that you need depends on how many goats are kidding at one time. Plan on leaving your goats with their babies in kidding pens for two to three days, and make sure that you stagger their breeding so they have a place to go.

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