Looking for the perfect goat housing? You’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about setting up a comfortable home for your goats.
From choosing the right location to designing the perfect layout, we’ll cover it all. So read on and get started on creating a cozy home for your herd.
One of the biggest advantages of raising goats is that they can be raised in much more confined areas than horses or cattle.
You don’t have to have hundreds of acres on your property to raise goats. An acre or two of land is sufficient.
That said, there are some considerations you will need to keep in mind when planning out your goat housing. Here’s what you need to know.
Goat Housing Where Is The Best Place
First, do your research about where your goat shelter will go on your property. Believe it or not, goats aren’t defined as livestock in all areas. In some places, they are listed as companion animals.
Because of this, picking the ideal location for your goat shelter can be a bit tricky.
There might be certain regulations in place that restrict you from putting your goat housing exactly where you want it on your property.
Keep in mind that some goat breeds are noisier than others. That can be problematic, particularly if you have nearby neighbors in a suburban area.
Nobody wants to hear goats yelling their heads off all day and night!
Not only that, but you’ll need to make sure the goats have ample access to pasture, grains, and hay. They need space to exercise and forage as well as a palace to seek shelter.
Your shelter should be located at the highest point on your farm. This can help you prevent pooled water when it rains and mud holes in the spring.
Make sure the barn is accessible at all times of the year and during all kinds of weather so that you can get to your animals to provide them with hay.
Depending on how many goats you have, it might make sense to have the shelter near the house.
This will provide added protection from predators and make it easy for you to get out to the barn to check the animals each day.
Goat Housing How Big Does It Need To Be?
Goats don’t need a ton of space in their shelter – and it doesn’t need to be expensive. However, it does have to offer adequate protection from the elements, including rain and wind.
Ultimately, your goats don’t want to spend all of their spare time indoors. They’d rather be outside eating and exploring.
The shelter is really just to give them some protection from the elements and a place to sleep at night.
Ideally, you should provide about 15 square feet of space per goat indoors. This is the bare minimum and should only be used as a guide if your goats have plenty of room to roam outdoors.
Otherwise, plan for 20 square feet of space indoors plus an additional 30 square feet so they have space to exercise.
A simple three-sided shelter will work just fine to protect your goats from the rain. They also need some protection from the sun and from drafts.
Some good options include repurposed facilities like old dog houses, calf hutches, or greenhouse barns.
You could even big a hoop barn or a pole barn with just a roof. You can build your own shelter if you choose, too.
DIY Goat Housing
Most people build shelters out of wood but you can even use repurposed materials like plywood and field fencing. Other options include pallets or metal sheeting.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t spend a ton of money building your goat shelter because it will probably get destroyed quickly!
Goats like to chew and jump – so while you want your building to be sturdy and liveable, it does not need to be the Taj Mahal for goats.
Three-sided shelters work just fine during the grazing season, but during the kidding season, you may want to provide your goats with a little bit extra.
If you’re kidding – especially during the winter – you will need a solid building to provide protection for the birthing doe and their newborn kids (who are more likely to succumb to cold, wet weather than adults).
You can use livestock panels to separate the space into individual pens.
When it comes to kids, each goat will need at least a 4’x5’ kidding pen.
The same pen can be used for multiple doings and their kids provided that you take the time to clean out the bedding and sanitize the area between births.
What is the Best Goat Bedding for Your Goat Housing?
There are many different materials you can use for goat bedding, including shredded paper, straw, wood shavings, and corn cobs.
To keep your goats comfortable, plan on providing about 15 square feet of bedded area per goat.
You have a few bedding options to choose from for your goats.
Many people use pine shavings since they are highly absorbent and last up to a week. They’re easy to clean out, too.
Straw is another good choice. It can be expensive and your goats should leave it alone most of the time – but occasionally, goats will munch on their straw bedding.
That’s not ideal, since it can lead to parasite issues if it’s already contaminated with manure.
Some people use pelleted bedding – like what is used for larger livestock, such as horses – but this can get expensive.
Sawdust is another one of the most popular options. It’s the cheapest and easiest to spread. It prevents any odors and is easy to clean up.
Wood Chips, Sand or Paper
Other options for goat bedding include wood chips, sand, and shredded paper. Choose the option that’s the least expensive and most readily available for you, depending on where you live.
Whatever you choose, make sure you don’t allow goat manure to accumulate in a pen.
It contains high amounts of nitrogen and though it is in pelletized form, making it the perfect fertilizer for your garden, it still has the potential to make the other goats extremely sick.
What Do You Put in a Goat House?
When you’re designing your shelter, keep in mind that these animals prefer to sleep with their heads uphill (not unlike us) and that they prefer to sleep on raised areas, like bunks or shelves.
You may want to include these when you are designing your goat house.
Also, make sure your goats are protected from drafts.
Although goats are hardy animals that don’t usually show any signs of being cold, drafts can slow the growth of your goats since their energy will be directed toward staying warm instead of putting on weight.
This can be detrimental, especially for meat goats.
Drafts can also increase the likelihood of disease.
If there are heavy drafts blowing across floors or beneath doors at night, all goats, especially young goats and pregnant dogs, are more likely to suffer from conditions like pneumonia or occurs (diarrhea).
Do your best to limit drafts by making sure the goat barn is well insulated, but whatever you do, don’t confuse drafts with ventilation.
While drafts should be done away with, ventilation is essential. You might want to consider putting some vents in at the top of your goat housing so that warm, wet air can escape and cool, dry air can help your goats breathe a bit better.
Adding Windows to Goat Housing
Consider adding windows to your goat house. These can be closed for warmth in the winter and opened in the summer for cross-ventilation.
Don’t forget that your goat house will also need places to feed and water your goats. Depending on how many goats you have, you’ll need to allow space for feeders and watering troughs.
You will also need a spot to provide minerals. You can free-feed minerals in a tub or you can use mineral blocks. Either way, you’ll need to provide some space for those.
Finally, remember that goats are curious. They’ll spend much of their time exploring their new shelter – so smart construction is essential.
Don’t use plastic or unprotected insulation. Instead, use natural materials like gravel, sand, dirt, and concrete as the floor of your goat house.
Avoid building a wood floor, since those can soak up urine and be tough to clean.
Goat Shelter Should Be Portable
Here’s another design feature to consider as you are planning out your goat shelter – do you want it to be portable?
If so, you may want to build it on wheels or skids. This will allow you to move it to new areas so that your ghosts consisted have access to fresh pasture.
Many people design A-frame-style structures for this purpose. They’re easy to tow behind a tractor or ATV to get goats to new locations easily.
Do Goats Need Shelter at Night?
For the most part, you can safely keep your goats outside at night.
There are a few caveats to this though.
If the weather is extremely cold or wet, you may want to get your goats inside. Goats hate getting wet, particularly if there’s a blustery wind accompanying the rain.
It can lead to an increased likelihood of disease or even death.
Plus, you have predators to worry about. In some places, predators like coyotes, wolves, and cougars can completely decimate a herd of goats.
You’ll want to lock them up in a barn to make sure they have the protection they need.
If you decide to leave your goats outside at night, you better make sure you have a strong, secure fence in place to keep them protected. This leads us to our next point!
Fencing for Goats
Although not technically part of the housing system itself, fencing is an integral consideration when you are planning out your goat housing.
The old adage goes that if a fence can’t hold water, it won’t hold goats. While that’s a bit of an overstatement.
It’s true that goats are some of the most adept escape artists – and you’re going to need a strong, sturdy fence in order to keep them contained.
Many goat keepers choose to rely on not just one, but two separate fence systems for added security. You might use an exterior fence and an interior fence.
The interior fence can help keep the goats correlated exactly where you want them to (for example, if you only want them to eat one section of pasture).
At the same time, the exterior will prevent them from escaping and keep predators out.
One option that you can use is a high tensile fence, but this can be expensive. Plus, smaller predators (that may attack kids) like foxes can easily walk through six-inch-high wires.
Woven wire fencing is a better option. You can add a strand of barbed wire at the top to keep predators out.
GOats can be taught to respect electric fences but this takes time – so you may want to have another type of fencing material as a backup.
Also, keep in mind that when goats are panicked or startled, they’ll bolt through just about any type of fence, including electric.
If you decide to use an electric fence you should have four strands and make sure the bottom strand is no more than a few inches off the ground, with the next about a photo off the ground, and the next no more than two feet off the ground.
The fourth should be less than three feet off the ground.
You can use materials like net fencing or livestock panels, too, but remember that goats enjoy climbing. The fence needs to be anchored well so that the goats can’t push it over.
Goat Housing The Takeaway
Goat housing can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. The most important thing is that the goats have a place to stay dry and warm, with plenty of ventilation.
Follow these tips, along with the advice of an experienced goat farmer or veterinarian, and you should be able to provide your goats with a comfortable home they will love.