When caring for goats, whether as pets or as a small or large scale production enterprise, it is preposterous to ask our main question in any circumstance. The reason being that caring for goats will always require some form of housing or shelter to be provided.
This also extends to the rare circumstance of rearing goats in a free-range system, as ultimately, the goats would need some shelter to find their way back to. However, it is easy to understand how certain people would make the mistake and ponder about goats needing shelters or not, especially as goats are quite the robust and stout creatures, capable of enduring difficult climates.
This fact about goats doesn’t translate to goats not needing shelter, it just highlights the point that they don’t need you to do much when it comes to their shelter.
Unlike horses or cattle, goats don’t require extensive or elaborate shelter provisions and can relatively be raised in a much smaller area than the former animals. All goats really need shelter provisions are somewhere dry that keeps them warm and offers them protection from the rain and snow.
Often, a simple large shed that has a south faced opening is more than enough for raising goats. Nonetheless, a large shed isn’t sufficient for all goat shelter provisions and the reason for that is simply the varying factors to be considered beforehand.
There’s quite a lot of factors to consider before you can say you’ve provided a safe and adequate shelter for the goats you’re raising. For example, where you stay matters, as well as, the materials and structures available, your budget for the shelter and the type/breed of goat you’re raising.
Dealing with these factors and many more that exist isn’t that hard a task, well, if you know what you’re doing, but not to worry, highlighted below are the several factors to be considered.
Factors to be Considered For Goat Shelters
Apart from factors like where you live, the structures needed, how much you can cough up and the breed of the goat(which will be highlighted in a different section), there are a lot more factors to discuss like climate, herd composition, feed storage and some more.
So let’s get right to it.
- Where You Live: as we’ve stated above, goats unlike horses or cattle can be reared in significantly smaller areas, with even spaces in suburban areas being considered and often used for goat shelters. This leads to the fact that where you live matters, be it in a farmland or a suburban area, as with one or two acres of land, you can construct a proper shelter for raising goats. Where you live also influences other shelter factors like flooring and climate, especially the latter, because whatever shelter you construct must take into account the climate of that specific area. Other relatable elements come into consideration under this factor, such as the zoning requirements for your area and also the rules and regulations of the state. For example, in some states or areas, goats under the guiding rules are defined as livestock while in other states or areas, they are defined as companion animals. Now, you might not pat any mind to these definitions at first, but they have a great influence on the success of your goat enterprise.
- Flooring and Bedding: an aspect to consider is the flooring of the shelter, and as aforementioned, where you live largely influences this factor. If you’re living in a suburban area and you feel there’s enough space for a shelter or you want to turn a back house into one, you would need to think carefully about the flooring. This is more so important if your old back house has concrete floors or you’re generally thinking of using concrete floors. For a proper goat shelter, concrete flooring is a bad idea, even though it’s easier to clean, it is hard on a goat’s body and cold to them. Dirt or gravel are better ideas for the flooring of a goat shelter, as both can provide warmth especially when covered with straws. A bonus is that dirt absorbs the urine. As for the bedding, regardless of the flooring option utilized, using some sort of bedding for warmth and comfort is highly recommended, an example of this is covering dirt or gravel flooring with straws as bedding. Also, in the case where you can’t utilise any flooring options but a concrete floor, providing 3 or 4 inches of straw or wood shavings as bedding for the shelter is a good idea, as it will help keep the goats warm.
- Shelter Dimensions: a factor people frequently fail to consider is the dimensions of the shelter and how it ought to be. Often they merely settle for something that looks large enough, paying no mind to the actual height or width of the shelter. In reality, what they should do is pay more consideration to the height and width of the shelter, especially when you consider how much space the goats actually need and how uncomfortable it is to clean out cramped spaces. In figuring out the details of the shelter’s dimensions a major factor you should consider is herd composition. If the shelter you build is currently housing 5 to 10 goats, what happens when the herd increases and the shelter now has to house 20 to 30 or more goats. At that stage would your budget allow for restructuring or building a whole new shelter. This is why at the early stage more consideration should always be put into the dimensions of the shelter.
- Climate: the influence of climate on any shelter can’t be overstated, as the change in weather or the prevalent weather of the area you live in will always affect the animals themselves, as well as their shelters. This factor also takes us back to the aspect of where you live, as the prevalent weather of your area is a major consideration. To better understand why and how the climate affects the shelter let’s give an example. If you build your goat shelter in a mild and dry climate, as an open space shelter with fences to keep them in and predators out, you would have done wonderfully. However, if you do the same in a winter climate with heavy snow as the prevalent weather, it would be considered a woeful shelter.
- Feed Storage and Access to Water: unlike the other factors, this particular one is more for your benefit than that of the goats you’re raising. The reason for this is best realized when you consider that you would need everyday access to the shelter to feed the goats, store their food, as well as store goat-care tools. On that note, it would be incredibly easier to have this fact at the back of your head while building the shelter. This also extends to providing water for the goats, and a good way for that is ensuring there’s a water source close to the shelter. Doing that will save you a lot of stress, rather than hauling buckets of water to the shelter each day.
Breed of the Goats
Most people would say the goat’s breed is a very influential factor for the shelter you are to build for the goat, but honestly, it’s a bit of a stretch. The main thing is to have a shelter equipped with an area for doing routine care for the goats.
This care would naturally include things like hoof clipping and such activities depending on what the goat’s need, for example, using the routine care area to milk Dairy goats. Now, the point where a goat’s breed might matter is if you plan on breeding them, if so, your shelter will need a kidding area or kidding pens.
A kidding pen should typically be sized at about 4 feet by 5 feet, but the ultimate determinant of the size is how many kids you plan on kidding at a particular time.
When raising goats there is an absolute need to provide proper shelter for them and this is notwithstanding the fact that goats are naturally hardy creatures that bear strenuous climates.