Goat barn plans (suggestions welcome)

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After gettting out of goats years ago, about 4 years back, I bought just ONE goat....but any goat keeper knows goats are like potato chips.....no one can have just one. :) So now my herd has grown to 10 does, 1 very nice buck and a few pet wethers. Our place used to be a dairy farm, unfortunately the dairy barn (complete with Grade A milking parlor!) was torn down. The building I am using now was the calf barn/maternity ward, it's about 28x60, has concrete floors with NO drains. This has been used as my dh's garage/workshop for many years, but he let me have one end of the building for my goats, with an attached exercise yard. Needless to say, I've outgrown it, especially since I am somewhat crippled up and have to muck this area out by hand. The opposite end of the building has two BIG sliding barn doors opposite each other, big enough to get the tractor through, so the goats and I have outvoted my dh and he gets to move his shop elsewhere. I want to make one big 14 by 28 loafing area for the does, with a narrow 28 ft long hay feeder along the outside wall, which should give them enough eating space as well as free up all the floor area. On the opposite (28 ft) side I would put combo panels, installed so they could be quickly and easily removed. On cleaning day, I could run the goats outside, remove the combo panels, and run the tractor through, scooping everything out the back onto a flatbed trailer. I would still have to do a little shoveling along the sides where the tractor wouldn't reach but it would eliminate a huge part of the heavy work for me.

Water buckets would be on the outside of the combo panels so the does could put their heads through to drink, but not be able to mess up their water. Likewise with the salt and minerals. Milk room would be close by but a separate area. The "old" goat pen (in current use) will become my kidding pens and sick bay area.

I will have room for 2-3 kid pens adjoining the doe pen, which would not be accessible by the tractor but it would be easy on cleaning day to toss the dirty bedding into the does pen for the tractor to pick up. Not perfect, but beats running the wheelbarrow. I would use panels with 2x4 spacing for the kids, rather than the combo panels. I want to use panels so everything can be dismantled easily for cleaning. I will cut doors in the side of the building to allow access to outside runs for the kids. The does would also have access to a large exercise yard fenced with combo panels, with a couple strands of smooth wire on top to make the fence 6' high. I would also attach boards (2x6s?) about shoulder height all along the inside of the fence, for the does to rub on, hopefully keeping them from trashing the fence. Once I get rid of some excess horses and get my Great Pyrs, the does will also have pasture.

My buck pen and stall will be separate and away from the doe barn. I will make it big enough that the wethers can be in with him most of the time (for company), but they would be separated by a divider fence during breeding season to avoid injuries.

Would appreciate comments, suggestions, etc. especially from long time goat breeders. I know I'm forgetting some things, and I want to do this right the FIRST time!

-- Lenette (kigervixen@webtv.net), August 25, 2001


Continue the idea of the putting their heads through the cattle panels or slatted wood walls, that you are using on your minerals and water, to grain feeding also. Nothing is nicer than being able to feed the animals from your side of the barn, and not having to fight the goats with their grain! Except for hay feeding during the really bad winters or rain, try to feed as much hay outside as you can. All hay feeders cause waste, and it is so much work mucking hay out of barns! I don't mind the hay pulled onto the ground so much during the wet winters, it mixes in with the shavings and makes nice compost afterwards, you can even find people who will dig out your barns for you to have this! I am not a fan of cement in with the goats, bedding cost rival your hay costs by the end of the year here. If this were my barn I would keep the cement in the infant baby pens, the milk room, the hayroom, and feed room, and get it out of the milkers stall. Also a power washer is a must to keep your cement clean.

Attach your 2x6 boards at mid-belly heigth as they rub to scratch the sides of their stomachs.

Once the wethers have been in with the buck for awhile they will all become great friends. As long as everything is unhorned, we rarely see bucks or wethers who get mean to each other during rut. It is a very good idea to have your bucks out of site and smell of the does. I actually think it is down right cruel to keep bucks on fence lines with does, the does are horrible teases, and the bucks spend all their time blubbering at the fence! Our bucks are in the front acre of our property.....Welcome to Lonesome Doe :) Make sure and roll up your windows when you drive down the driveway! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), August 26, 2001.

Thanks for the input, Vicki. You had some good ideas. My milkers get all their grain at milking time, but I hadn't thought about keeping the grain buckets on the outside of the panels for the others. I HATE walking into a pen of goats with a grain bucket, LOL! Like trying to swim in a pool full of piranhas.

I have mixed feelings about cement floors, but since dh won't let me take them out, I have to deal with them. Since the goats are outside most of the time in summer, I don't have to bed very deep or clean as frequently, but when winter rolls around, I have to use very deep bedding. Shavings are too expensive to use here, so we use straw, which we can get low cost or sometimes even free. It does make good compost. One thing I do like about the cement floors is when I clean, I can thoroughly disinfect the floors.

We learned early on to feed hay outside as much as possible, but our winters here can be severe. I'm thinking maybe with a different hay feeder, with roof extending over the sides to provide shelter for the does, and maybe a good windbreak, I may still be able to feed outside more even in bad weather.

My new buck is just a youngster yet, and 2 of the wethers have been raised with him. I'm glad to hear they may be able to be constant companions. I hate seeing any breeding animal, buck, stallion or whatever, isolated, as I think it makes them miserable and often mean.

What do you do for keeping grain? I have mine in a separate room with a lock on the door up high where goats and (human) kids can't reach it. I know some people use garbage cans or old chest freezers to keep their grain in, but that would involve my lifting each sack of grain up high to pour it in - not possible with my bad back & neck. So the grain sacks just sit on the floor. My cats keep the rodent population literally wiped out, but I still don't like having my grain the way it is.

-- Lenette (kigervixen@webtv.net), August 27, 2001.

How about some of the rubbermaid-type containers for grain? You could get a low, wide one that you could tip the bag into to fill which could hold one or two bags. That would be an improvement over no container at all. Or another possibility is to look for a shallow refrigerator so you wouldn't have to lift the bags so high. I had to find freezers for 4 barns one year, and started looking at refrigerators for lack of enough junked freezers locally. I did end up using one refrigerator, laying it on it's back. That was the shallowest of the units I set up, and I got the deepest frig I could find, so I bet you could find something that would work for you. I got mine from my town transfer station since they would have the frion removed for me (in Maine you pay for that service when you buy a frig). That was the year I built my barn and I built my milking/grain room to the appropriate size to fit that freezer! I did have to build lids for the freezers since the transfer station takes them off upon arrival, but I would have done that anyway due to the danger of suffocation for children. I have yet to find any sign of rodents inside the freezer, although I've seen ample sign outside! (I know, I need a good mouser or 2 around here, but my old toothless cat will neither tolerate other cats nor will she succumb to old age!)Also, since I keep several types of grain for various livestock, I just put the full bags laying down on one side of the freezer and put the open bags standing up on the other side. This way I can buy a month's worth of grain at one time.

-- Sheryl in ME (radams@sacoriver.net), August 27, 2001.

Oh, I forgot to say that I have all movable panels in my barn and I LOVE them! It makes the barn so flexible.

-- Sheryl in Me (radams@sacoriver.net), August 27, 2001.

I had to seperate my buck from my wethers. Well, actually only one of the wethers and the buck were having difficulties. They are about 2 months difference in age and they were knocking the crap out of each other all day every day for three full days in a row to the point that neither of them were eating and everytime I went to care for them they were both panting heavily. I'd say try it and see, but be prepared to seperate them in the breeding season. I can't imagine that a buck would be at his best after fighting non stop for several months. Mine are disbudded, but they were smashing each other into trees so hard that it sounded like the field mics at a football game.

As for the barn set up, it sounds great to me. I like the idea of an old freezer for feed storage. I use garbage cans and I have a loft where I lift the bags of feed up for storage...ugggh. I have to get 500 at a time so I must store it somewhere.

I have concrete and I sweep it everyday, but I don't use litter during the summer at all. Of course it's Texas and really hot. They have beds to lie on, and free acces to browse whenever they want. I don't close them in at night unless I have cause to worry about them eating something to excess. They choose to sleep outside most nights in the summer, and lie on the beds when it's raining. If and/or when I do another barn I am going to go with dirt floors in the loafing area. The concrete does seem to help the hoofs stay in better shape, but I think dirt would be better overall.

Thanks for posting this, Lenette. I am learning!

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), August 29, 2001.

Well, this is very interesting. I'm not sure if I'll ever end up with goats, but I've learned a lot from this. Doreen, do you buy 500 bags of feed at a time?!?! How many animals do you have??

-- Cathy in NY (hrnofplnty@yahoo.com), August 30, 2001.

Oh no, thats 500# of feed at a time! i'd drop dead lifting 5oo bags!

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), August 30, 2001.

We have just recently invested in a cooler to put the feed in. It sits on a shelf thats about 2 feet off the ground, makes it easy to sccop out of. It is a little difficult to empty the bag into (dear husband does this for me), but it wouldn't be if the cooler was on the floor. This is working great because the lid closes tight to keep all creepy crawlies out.

-- Kristy (raduhu@hotmail.com), December 30, 2001.

Hi everyone! I am building a barn this summer for two baby does that I am getting in Autumn! Ive done alot of research on pygmy goats and am so excited! I am wondering what is the best way to set up the barn and which is the best bedding for a first time goat owner. Also, where should I place the hay and water. Thanks, Ro.

-- Ro (wiseowlet@hotmail.com), April 01, 2003.

I don't have an answer to the question originally asked, but I do have a few of my own. I acquired 2 beautiful Nubian girls when they were 5 years old as pets, and fell in love with the breed. Last year I bought a registered girl when she was 2 months old, and I just can't stop. In a couple months I will be buying at least 2 more girls. The three girls I have now are comfortably housed in a small barn, but it wouldn't be big enough for a forth or fifth goat. So as a result I am planning on building a new barn. But i really don't know how to plan the building out. The goats are pretty much going to be breeding stock, as i am hoping to get a good show line. I was looking at putting a cement base down to support the barn of course, but people have been saying that cement isn't good, why not? If you have any suggestions or comments, please let me know, Thanx Christina, (Roxanne, Rebecca, and Emma - the goats!)

-- Christina (eireland@falls.igs.net), April 13, 2003.

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