Preparing for Goats - Housing
A safe shelter is very important. They need to be protected from weather as well as predators. Something that can be closed up in the winter on cold days and nights. Maybe your location is in an area where there are a lot of predators that may be a problem even in the summer. You may need to consider something with good ventilation so they can be safely closed in on warm summer nights.
The shelter will need to be cleaned, so keep in mind how you will be doing that and can the tools or machinery be easily moved in and out of the building. Where will you be putting the manure?
Goats like to see out of the pen! Actually, I believe any animal does. It is easy and secure to house your goats in a horse stall, but they can not see out! If they need to be in the stall for an extended amount of time, maybe rig a piece of livestock panel in the doorway to keep them in and leave the door open.
Don't get stuck in having to have the best of everything. Our farm has changed greatly over the years and whatever we had at the time, worked. Life changes and so do goat herds, so it's alright to be flexible.
Feeding area needs to be set up so they can not step in the hay or feed. They will, and they will not eat it once they do. Water needs to be placed so they can not knock it over or step in it. They will!
Free access to the pasture is the best, but it does not always work out in every set up. When we got our first goats, they did not have free access. We walked them back and forth. When it rained, we ran out and brought them in. It was frustrating! I suggest a shelter of some kind in the pasture so you don’t have to do this. Plus, we were home and could. Most people aren’t.
Tethering should not be done on a regular basis or instead of pasture. Since goats are great at clearing brush and weeds, it can be done but ONLY when you are there on the premises! Many goats have been attacked by dogs, died because of weather that changed quickly, strangled and from heat. They are completely defenseless when tethered.
To wrap it up, these are just some basics to keep in mind:
• Safe weather proof shelter before you get your goats.
• Feeding area where the feed and hay can be served without it getting stepped on.
• Free access to pasture or a small shelter in the pasture. They need exercise to be healthy!
Goats are social and love can love human companionship. If they do not feel safe and clean, their temperament will not be as good as it could be and you may not enjoy them as much.