Goat housing is a basic requirement for someone raising goats for milk. Dairy goats need a good shelter or housing to protect them from the elements and drafts. The property you live on may have an old barn, or you might build one, or you might choose to purchase a manufactured one. Since they don’t like to get wet, dairy goats prefer to stay under the shelter or in the barn on rainy days. Large water buckets are essential, and the more goats you have, the more buckets you will need. Smaller buckets will be needed as goat feeders for minerals. A selenium salt block can be propped up on something to keep it off of the ground. Straw is used for a dry bedding. Every day add fresh straw on the areas that you see urine or nanny berries. Goat feeders such as feeding troughs are needed to put alfalfa or hay in. Since goats don't like to eat the alfalfa or goat hay once it has fallen on the ground, you can purchase or build your own hay feeders. Try to use the kind of hay feeders that are made to prevent excess hay loss since hay and alfalfa can get expensive. We sell both small hay feeders and large hay feeders. Barn stalls are helpful to separate a sick or pregnant goat, and a separate room is also helpful to use as a dairy milking parlor. A goat milk stand (stanchion) will be needed for milking your goats as well as other dairy farm equipment.
If your goats don't have a very large pasture or goat yard, they will sometimes get bored. Since they are social animals, don't keep one goat alone. They need at least one animal friend such as a horse, sheep or another goat. Being adventurous and curious, they will get depressed if you confine them to a tether. To prevent boredom, you may want to put climbing structures, cement steps, or boulders in the goat area. They also like to climb on tree stumps. You can buy a horse ball and attach it to the ceiling or a tree limb, but make sure the rope it is attached to cannot strangle the goat. During a long wet winter, they may chew the barn walls because they are bored from endless days of being confined to the barn. They might also chew on tree trunks. Bales of straw can be stacked up inside the barn so they can climb on them. Another boredom-busting idea is to hang a tire without the rim on a fence post. You could even put something as simple as an empty plastic bucket in their pasture for them to kick around. Butting heads with another goat is another form of their recreation.
Solid goat fencing is essential. Goats are known to be great escape artists, so check your fencing often to make sure they haven't figured out a way to unhook latches. Make sure the fencing is high enough for them not to be able jump over. Don't climb over the goat fence yourself, or they will see that they can try it also.
Before 1977, lead paint was used, so if you are housing your goats in a barn built before that, and if it has been painted, make sure you take a sample to a company that does lead paint testing. The barn we have our goats in is over 100 years old, and the paint on the walls looks very old. Although our farmhouse has changed hands a few times in the last 100 years, we didn't know when the inside of the goat barn was painted, so we had it tested. Luckily, there was only a tiny trace amount which revealed it was painted after that date, so our goats are safe. Since goats chew on many things, including wood on barns, it is important you know if it contains lead at a dangerous level.
If you haven't yet built a livestock barn, but you are trying to decide where to build it on your property, make sure there are no poisonous plants in the pasture the goats will be in. Also, fence around the trees in their area or they will destroy the trees by eating the bark. Do not put them in a pasture with cherry trees or oak trees, as both of these types of leaves are poisonous to goats, especially wilted cherry leaves. A pasture with maple trees is great. Dig out all poisonous weeds. You might want to pay a child a few cents for each weed he picks by hand. You might want to look at the Feeding Dairy Goats page on this website to learn what weeds and plants are poisonous to goats.
“Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.” (Proverbs 27:23)
Three Willows Ranch
Located in the McKenzie River Valley of Western Oregon
Copyright 2010 Three Willows Ranch