Livestock

Goat Housing

Goats need access to adequate shelter all year round and 24 hours a day as well, in case the weather is bad. All goats suffer in windy, wet conditions and suffer equally as badly with hot sunshine and flies too. They are much less hardy than sheep or cattle and are more likely to become ill from being outside in bad conditions.

At some times of the year in the UK, it can be more practical to keep your goats indoors. This can either be at night only, or can be in 24 hours a day. If kept indoors, the animals should have enough room to move around, and ideally an area where they can take some exercise should be provided.

Characteristics of goat housing

A suitable “goat-house” should be well-lit, with natural light and have adequate ventilation, but it needs to be free from draughts, particularly at ground level. The shed can be adapted from whatever outbuildings you already have, and can be of wood, stone, concrete or a mixture of these.

Goat housingGoats housed in a shed.

You could build a shed yourself, or is it now possible to buy ready made stable type sheds, and even from some suppliers, ready made goat sheds or shelters. It should be bedded with either straw, shavings or a suitable alternative, to create a warm dry bed.

Bedding and mucking out goats

Goats can be deep littered, with the bedding being topped up regularly then being mucked out completely every month or so, or they can be kept on shavings, and cleaned out each day. Every goat should have approximately four by four feet of space allocated to it (of course less is needed for very young kids or Pygmy goats).

Drainage in your shed should be good, to counteract any build up of smells, fumes and urine. Ideally the floors should be concrete and sloped, so that any fluids drain away from the goats' bed. An earth floor can be used, sometimes with a cinder base to assist drainage.

When planning to begin keeping goats, do as much research as possible. You need to find out what suits you best, and what sheds are available to you. Consider what kind of goats you are getting and ask yourself if you will you need an area to milk them in if you are getting dairy goats?

An area to tie up your goat indoors is useful for foot trimming or giving medication, for example. Consider how they will fit into your routine; if you know you cannot feed them until 8pm every night due to other commitments, it may be best to have electric lighting in your goat-shed.

Hay, straw and feed

Storage for hay and straw also needs to be available. If you live in an area where you may not get out in bad weather to collect supplies, then you may need to be able to keep a larger stock of hay and straw at home.

Ideally a hayrack should be provided in the shed - high enough for hay not to become soiled, but not too high that the goats have to stretch to reach it. Hayracks can be homemade from wood, or metal ones can be bought from smallholder/farm supplies stockists.

Feeding goatsCommunal hayracks between goat pens.

Make sure their supply or stock of food is kept securely away from the goats, in the case of escapees; even if they do not eat the food supply, they will chew at feed sacks and jump on them, and feed could easily be ruined by being soiled or damaged. Over eating if they get into the food store can cause them to be ill.

It is best to not house horned and hornless goats together, as a horned goat can do considerable damage to a hornless goat.

Tethering goats

Goats should not be tied or tethered when inside. Also do consider carefully whether your goats need to wear collars, as these can catch on things, and may be dangerous.

Goats can be penned in a shed individually, or kept together in one larger pen. Goats like to see each other, even if penned separately, so provision needs to be made for this in the type of partitions/gates/hurdles used. Remember that individually penned goats will need a water bucket, hayrack and food bowl in each pen.

Beth Fairley

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