How to build a goat house. Practice homesteading with goats, and build a goat shelter with these goat house ideas.
The Goat House | Proper Housing & Shelter for Your Goats
One of the best advantages a goat has over buying other animals like a pig, cattle or sheep is that she shelter and equipment they require are a fraction of the cost of startup and upkeep. There are some people, especially livestock novices, which buy their animals first and then need to figure out how and where they are going to keep it. You do not want to put yourself in such a predicament that can unnecessary complicate things for you and cause stress. It would be great to think about an idea of a safe area or facility that will be like their home. Typically goats are raised in a loose environment where they are free to move about in a pen instead of being confined in a stall. Allowing the goats more freedom is a good idea rather than the ladder because goats are very active and social creatures that require company. Believe it or not, there is also less work involved with loose housing compared to putting them in a stall. Goats are even known to injure or, worse, kill themselves if they hold onto a rope. Stalls are more expensive because of construction and material that is involved. You also could not make more flexible space – you can’t squeeze an extra goat or two in a stall unless stack them; not possible. Goats are not particular so whatever space you can give will work just fine, nothing fancy is a requirement. You can house your goats in a shed, garage, old coops or barns constructed of any material. Still, a goat house should be airy (not drafty) with adequate lighting and easy for even you to work there. Meaning doors should be wide enough for you to fit through, ceilings tall enough while you’re lifting something and, ideally, with water and electricity.
2.1 – Shelter Options
A new type of housing called the Hoop House, is framed with tubular steels and covered with a dense plastic canvas. They can be bought with many types of end coverings for the tubes or with none. What’s greats is that they do not need a building permit as it is malleable enough to be removed without a problem should you change your mind? This type housing is open, thus airy, and less costly than most other structures. If they are not setup properly though, several disadvantages can develop. For example, they can act as wind tunnels if they are not closed tightly at the ends. These ends should be hidden within some wall or barrier as well so goats would chew on it out of curiosity or stab their feet with it. During the warm climates, it is easy for the hoop shelter to be a storage, milking area, and housing. In the wintertime, more care should be considered to close off any air gaps and keep snow piles away from the area. Most goats do not have to be warm with heaters or insulation as long as they have been conditioned and have their thick fur. However, the house should stay dry to prevent colds as they are likely to contract pneumonia.
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Goats are very adaptive animals but still require protection from wind, sun, rain and snow. The ideal starter shelter for beginners that have two or goats is to go for something basic, economical under $300 to do. A starter housing should have standard dimension lumber, an earthen floor for protection and ventilation and should be finished building in under two days. When it is made small, there might be shortcomings such as storing foods and material and no distinct area to place a milking stand. This problem can be easily resolved just by expanding what you already built later in time when it suits you. A simple three sides shed that faces away from the winds direction is good enough.
Flooring and Bedding are two different things, but when you are deciding on which flooring best works for you, it is helpful to know what type of bedding would be available, the cost and effectiveness. Two commonly used options for bedding are wood chips and straw that many use as an absorbent for urine or water, an insulator, or to cover up feces. Straw is a better choice as a warmer during the winter and is often less costly. Peat moss is the most absorbent bedding and can suck up even 1,000 pounds of water for every 100 pounds of material. Many owners hardly purchase this though because if its cost. Oat straw can absorb about 380 pounds of water per 100 pounds of material. Wood shavings are very absorbent compared to straw and easy to handle. Goats waste hay when used for food. They will pick and choose delicate leaves and stems and leave the rest on the ground so when that happens you can recycle it to use as bedding. It is the least absorbent out of every other option, but hey if you paid for it already, why not still make use of it? There are several other options you can successfully use for bedding like corn stover, oat or peanut hulls, shredded paper and dried leaves. No matter what route you go to, keep in mind that goats may attempt to nibble on bedding prior to sleeping on it. Because of that, you will want to avoid using dyes, heavy metals, and other possibly harmful substances. When time goes by, and you gain more experience, you will learn the type of bedding that works for you.
There are several flooring options you can choose to give your goats. Most owners will use wooden flooring because they already have a location made of wood. It is a material that is highly absorbent and will not rot. This type of bedding often absorbs a lot of liquids and thus should frequently be changed. Wood is typically warm and dry as long as the structure itself contains no leaks yet they not a desirable flooring for many because of the large amounts of wet bedding that accumulate faster than wanted.
Experienced goat raisers want concrete flooring slightly less in comparison to woods. It is cold and ‘sweats’ at times the air is warm and moist. It is not possible for liquids to flow off of it, so a thick layer of bedded is required. There are not many significant setbacks to this flooring except that though the top layer is dry and clean, the bottom can be very swampy with litter. A good trick to know if you have enough layers of dry bedding is to kneel on it. When you get back up, and your knee is wet, you know you should pile some more bedding. Alternatively, you can level your face like a goat would and if your eyes or nose waters or feels stingy, chances are your goat can feel that too and it is not good for them as well. Concrete floors are a walk in the park to clean, which many desire during the hot months and stinky litter. Debris can be scooped clean, skidded away or hosed down with ease using a sanitizing solution. Cleaning helps lessen the likelihood of diseases being transmitted between the goats.
Dirt and gravel floors are the ideal choices most people will go for after deciding. Many people who discover its benefits will even tear out their old flooring just to install it. They are the easiest to upkeep. It swallows excess urine away, requiring you to make less bedding and lowers expenses. Soil is also warmer and the most comfortable flooring for the animals, more so when you use a little amount of bedding. The only thing about dirt is that it can harbor many fly eggs if it is not cleaned and limed properly prior to bedding again. As long as you ensure that is done, issues are nonexistent. Insulation is typically not necessary, yet it is highly favored and virtually stop condensation, prevent water from freezing and help keep the place more habitable for you to work. Insulation is not needed, but whether you use it or not, you should never use the plastic material around the shelter as it will contribute to humidity and condensation.
The proper size requirements depend on some factors: herd size, feed, bedding and storage, climate, space for exercise and pasture availability. It also should be noted should you decide you want, need and can handle a separate milking area. Typically you should provide a goat with 12-20 square feet of space. If you reside in a warmer area or have a sizable pasture or barn, you can knock off a few more square feet because the animals will spend more time outside exercising or enjoying the fresh air. 10-12 feet are minimum space requirements though so if you are thinking of breeding more goats, you will need additional space during spring and summer times. It could be that you need the space year round should you decide to keep some offspring and increase the size of your herd. Bear in mind that you also need space for storing the bedding, feeding hay and a separate section for manure and dust.
2.2 – Fencing your goats
Finding the perfect fencing that works for you and your goats is one of the most important, and challenging, tasks that there is to make. Without it, it would not be too farfetched to find out your goats are frolicking around anywhere after they exit to create all sorts of mischief. They will do any maneuver they can such as jumping over it, crawling beneath it, standing on top of it, squeezing through it or pushing against it to see what is on the other side. One fence builder once mentioned his way of testing a goat can go through a fence is if he throws a good amount of water at the fence and water can pass. Even if you were able to make it so they can’t leave, they still would attempt to find a way to get past it. Fencing is a must not only to keep your goats in, but to keep any predators out. If you have just a few goats on your property, you do not need to worry yourself over pasturing. Goats will turn their nose upon the grass, plants and clovers as they browsers and prefer shrubs, trees, and brush. Goats will attempt to jump on any sturdy type of material so you will want to keep your vehicles and other things of value to you separated from them. Before I mention the best types of fences, I want to mentions the fences you are better off avoiding to use:
- Rail Fencing – Most might picture this first in their mind to use. However, this fence is not a good option unless this sucker is as solid as a rock. Goats will find some way they can maneuver their way out there and give you the slip. It may not take them long either so you do not even want to take a chance doing this.
- Woven Wiring – Alternatively, people may refer woven wiring as field fencing and is a cheap option in expenses to do. It has many disadvantages should you ever decide to use it. If you buy a goat with horns, they will end up trying, and often succeeding, to put their head through the fence and then have complications getting themselves free. Another bad scenario: they will attempt to stand on top of the wiring or lean against it so it can sag to the floor and triumphantly walk over it. Although it has posts, which that are spaced tightly, eventually it will succumb to sagging no matter what from the weight of the goats pressing against it. This type of wiring can become useful though when paired with electrical fencing.
- Barbed Wire – This is a bad choice around breeds that are characteristically tender-skinned and well-uddered. It is the least attractive fences if you are a visual type of person, but some people may buy it with the belief that it could deter potential predators. More people who are familiar with it would agree to just to get rid of it.
- Style Picket Fence – This is another terrible trap for most goats. It is also one of the most dangerous fences you could have because when a goat tries to stand on top of the picket fence with their front feet they have a high probability of slipping. When that happens, they could impale their neck, another body area or get trapped in the middle of two.
There are better and safer options for fencing that secure you the trouble of your goats escaping from you:
- Chain-Link Fencing – This is the best style fence for people who reside in a small area. There are several options of sizes you can choose from starting from a 6-foot link. Goats that are standard sized can quickly go over 5-foot fences, so you figure out what height your goat is and keep the fencing high to keep them in. Unfortunately even with such a small place, it will not work for those that have a small budget.
- Stock Fencing – An excellent and somewhat cheaper option compared to the chain-link would be stock fencing or stock panels. It is made of welded steel rods in 16-foot long panels by 3 to 5-feet in height. A beautiful choice that works for most people is the 13-wire combo with 5-foot high sections that are spaced out narrowly at the bottom rather than the top. They are much more efficient at keeping kiddings inside too. If you’d like, you could also hook this fence to standard wooden to steel posts. They can easily link with another by using the little cable clamps. It is just as easy to remove them swiftly cutting them when finished. They are the most ideal for goat pens.
- Detailed Stock Fencing – The general stock fencing is an excellent fence, yet does possess one issue: if you have a horned goat, they can get their heads stuck between the rod openings of the gate. A more recent version instead has smaller spacing between each rod. This detail makes this fencing more costly to buy, but it is much safer and worth if you have such a breed.
- Electrical Fencing – Electrical fencing is also an excellent option that requires your goats to be trained to have a level of respect for it. Once they figure out the result their curiosity takes them; it is possible to fence wider areas at a smaller expense. You initially want to train your goats in a small area. All it takes is getting zapped 1-2 times, and they will stop trying to crawl beneath or jump over it. You do not want to count entirely on that happening, however. They have a strong sense of curiosity and will attempt to try it out again when they believe it is not powered up. Because a goat unconsciously jumps forward after it receives a shock, you need to be on standby during the training. There are two types of fences. The low voltage is often cheaper but fuses out easier by weeds or tall grass. The low impedance charger is more money, a couple of hundreds but possesses enough energy that even weeds or fallen branches over a wider distance can feel the sting.
- New Zealand-Style Fencing – This fencing system has lately become broadly familiar. The fence was made from New Zealand to oversee intensive grazing. The fences are chargeable, and can use a 12-volt battery or solar powered energy. This style fence can emit an extreme amount of voltage in just a fraction of a second – around 5,000 to 7,000 volts. It is not an absolute level of energy that can cause any serious damage to a goat or predator, but it is definitely enough to leave in their memory.
- Woven Wire – Also known as field fencing, this option is less expensive compared to stock panels; however, it is much more flimsy. It is a workable disadvantage though, and when combined with an electrical wire, it can prevent goats from standing on the fence and destroying it.
That was Chapter 2: Goat House from our Homestead Handbook: Raising Goats