Basic Goat Shelter

Saturday, July 25, 2009

You’ve purchased a lovely goat, read up on what to feed it, built some tall and hopefully goat-proof fences and now you must decide where it will live. If you have a barn, the problem is solved before it even becomes a question. However, if you don’t have a barn but you want to raise goats, you don’t have to go invest in building a barn.

In any group of people who raise animals, there are purists, there are practical folks and there are those who lie somewhere in the middle. I am one of the middlemen, leaning toward the practical side, so if your resources are limited, you may find this helpful.

Goats are largely mountain-dwelling creatures. They’re sturdy and hardy because their traditional environment required it of them. Adapt or die, as it were, so what you really need is a basic shelter big enough for them to move around in, secure against harsh cold, rain and snow, and functional enough that it can be kept clean. Goats spend the vast majority of their time outside, but need the option of heading inside, especially to get out of bad weather since they hate getting wet.

A small outbuilding the size of a garden shed would work just fine. If you need to start from scratch, you have some options. A three-sided shelter built of plywood and 2x4s works just as well. It doesn’t need a floor, just put some straw down. The handy thing about this kind of shelter is if you’ve built it small enough for 1-3 goats, you can just pick it up and move it when it needs to be cleaned.

Some people use pre-formed shelters like those used to raise calves. For smaller goats, a large doghouse may suffice. In either case, if you go that route, you’ll need one for each goat. If you live in an area with predators, ensure that whatever you fabricate can be closed up tight to prevent coyotes, wolves and wild cats from getting in and killing your goats.

If you’re already set up with a barn, make sure you partition it. There will be times when you want the goats separated. Gates or hog panels work well for this and can easily be moved around to change the layout as needed.

If you keep in mind that in the wild goats shelter under trees, in caves and under overhangs, you’ll be able to devise a general picture of what you need. Orient the opening away from the harshest wind, normally facing south, and you should be in good shape. I’ve even kept goats in an old chicken house; use your imagination and available resources.

One additional note of caution: if you build a small structure, don’t set it next to the fence. Your goats will play on top of it and jump right over into freedom.

— Naimhe Jeanne


One Response to “Basic Goat Shelter”

  1. “One additional note of caution: if you build a small structure, don’t set it next to the fence. Your goats will play on top of it and jump right over into freedom.”

    This is EXACTLY a mistake I would have made. Thanks for the tip! I’ve got two young does coming in a month and while we have a concrete floor barn, it’s more of a shed, and I hope to build something more suitable shortly.



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All Things Goat was created by Naimhe Jeanne (Nee-Vah Jeen,) of Illinois, and Martha Ann, of Vermont, who believe in the humane treatment of goats whether they are pets or raised for milk, meat or fiber. Through news, profiles, recipes and editorials, All Things Goat illustrates how our caprine friends improve the quality of life for many worldwide. Our All Things Goat intern is Lela Perez, of Killeen, Texas.

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