Building goat housing on your homestead is fairly easy, they don’t require much. They need a simple easy structure that allows them to come in and out of the weather and sun and provides them with a comfortable place to sleep. Some people prefer to build more complicated buildings with separate areas for birthing, milking, and to separate sick animals. Both of these are fine, it all depends on your ability, your time, and of course, your budget. In mild climates, goat housing really only needs three sides.
Hazards to Watch For
Goats are very curious creatures. Just as when a small child is in your home, you tend to put things away that are potentially dangerous, you need to do the same with goats. Thing such as nails sticking out or a broken piece of fence. or tools laying around all become possible hazards for your goats.
Electrical boxes and wires are also a hazard to goats, they can bite into the wires or chew on the box, the result could be fatal. Glass windows are not a wise thing to have in the goat housing because they love to jump, which could result in a badly injured goat if they hit the window. Besides jumping, goats love to climb. Make sure there is nothing for them to climb on, like the roof of their house, they could easily slip off and break their leg.
Goat Housing Requirements
You need to allow 15 square foot per goat inside the housing as a minimum. If you are raising miniature goats you can allow about 10 square foot per goat. These are the minimums and bigger is always better. If your budget and room available allow it, goat housing should include; an area to keep their feed separate from your goats, a separate pen in case you need to separate the goats, and a milking area if you are raising dairy goats. Anther option you can include when building goat housing is a “nursery” to separate the kid when it’s born.
The best-designed form of goat housing allows the goat owner to feed the goats through what is called a keyhole in the fence. The keyhole allows the goats to only put their heads through to eat and drink. Allow one keyhole per goat for feeding and one extra for water, goats do not usually all drink at once. The keyholes should fit their heads only and not the bodies. Goats like to eat all day long so keeping hay in a manger, a cradle that sits off the ground, keeps the hay clean, and available at all times. For more information on feeding your goats properly see Feeding Goats on the Homestead
The best floor for goat housing is a firmly packed, dirt floor, it allows the urine to drain away. If you choose to provide more comfortable bedding, you can use straw. Waste hay is the best solution for goats, as long as it is not moldy. Waste hay is the leftover hay that your goats do not eat. This allows you to use the leftovers after the goats are done eating, which saves you money.
If goats are left standing in wet bedding for too long they can develop a condition called Footrot. They can also get udder problems if they lay on cold, wet bedding. The way to prevent these things from happening is to keep their house clean and dry at all times.
Keep their daily bedding clean and dry by spreading a fresh layer of straw on the top of the existing every few days. Each spring as the weather starts to warm up it is wise to remove all of the old bedding and start over with new fresh bedding. Repeat this same process in the fall as the temperatures start to become cooler.
Goats produce about one and a quarter pounds of urine daily. That urine becomes mixed in their bedding. When you clean their house, that bedding makes excellent fertilizer for flower beds, vegetable gardens and fruit and nut trees.
Goats are curious, they are also like contortionists in a lot of ways. If there is the smallest way for a goat to escape, they will find it. They are capable of flattening their bodies to crawl under a fence just as easily as they can leap and jump over it. Goats also like to rub their backs on fencing. If the fence is not strong it will bend from the goat’s weight providing them a way out. I have also seen goats put their hooves in the squares in the fence and climb their way right of a yard. Goat fencing should be made of mesh, called field fence, or of electric wire.
Woven Wire Fence
This type of fencing should be 4 feet tall for the calmer breeds and 5 foot tall for the more active breeds. For more information on which breeds are calm or active, check out my post on Goat Breeds. Although this fencing comes in 6″ and 12″ openings, the 6″ is definitely the better choice, it keeps the kids from slipping through it. Remember that goats love to climb so do not put any fence bracing on the inside of the fence, it will only give your goats a launch pad out of the pen.
Electric Wire Fence
An electric wire fence is simply done by placing some type of posts, be them metal or wood, with wire strands attached at certain heights from the ground up. Every other strand or so is then connected to an insulator that the wire runs through. The wires all run to an electrically energized box which is grounded and connected to electric. Animals seem to know that the fence is energized and tend to stay away from it. If they do get curious, when they touch it they will get a small shock and will usually stay away from it from them on. This fencing however, does not stop the goat that can and will jump over it.
Inspecting Your Goat Housing
Unlike with my chickens and other animals on the homestead, I walk my fence and housing area for my goats daily to make sure they can’t play Houdini anywhere and that there are no dangerous situations. Doing this daily allows me to catch potential problems way before they surface. Have fun building your goat housing, make it strong and safe and both you and your goats will be pleased.
Do you raise goats on your homestead? What does your goats housing include and how is it designed? Tell me about it in the comments below.