If you're a goat owner, then providing a safe and comfortable shelter for your animals is essential. A well-designed goat shelter can protect your goats from harsh weather conditions and predators, and also provide them with a comfortable place to rest and relax.
In this guide, we'll explore the six essential features that every goat shelter should have.
Table of Contents
What is Adequate Space for Each Goat?
One of the most important features of a goat shelter is adequate space for each goat. Goats need enough room to move around, lie down, and stand up comfortably.
As a general rule, you should provide 20 square feet of space per average sized goat. This means that a shelter for two goats should be at least 40 square feet in size.
While goats can live on this small of an area, I recommend you check out our Goats Per Acre article to determine what pen size fits your needs best.
For smaller goats such as Nigerian Dwarf goats, 10 to 15 feet per goat is adequate.
While goat shelters are often small enough to be mobile, it is important to make sure that they are tall enough for your goats to comfortably stand up without hitting their heads on the ceiling.
For 5 free and affordable to build goat shelter plans can be found here.
Proper Ventilation and Airflow
Another essential feature of a goat shelter is proper ventilation and airflow. Goats are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, and poor ventilation can lead to respiratory problems and other health issues.
It is crucial to make sure that your goat shelter has windows or vents that can be opened and closed as needed to regulate airflow.
If possible, consider installing fans or other ventilation systems to ensure that the air inside the shelter is always fresh and circulating.
One crucial note about ventilation is “gaps not drafts!” While it is important for air to be able to circulate so goats don’t breathe in ammonia, it is also crucial that they do not have drafts making them cold.
Protection from the Elements
One of the most important features of a goat shelter is protection from the elements. Goats are sensitive to extreme temperatures, rain, and wind, so it’s important to provide them with a shelter that can keep them safe and comfortable.
Your goat shelter should be sturdy and well-built, with a roof that is waterproof and can withstand heavy winds. Our basic goat shelter protected ours from windy winter days where we hit negative 22 degrees F.
Additionally, consider adding insulation to the walls and roof to help regulate the temperature inside the shelter. During extremely cold days we wished we had insulation in the walls. If you insulate your shelter, it is critical your goats can’t reach the insulation because goats will chew, headbutt, and jump on anything they new to them.
Our goats use our space not only in extreme cold, but also on sunny and hot days to get out of the sun as well. Due to this we ensure they have enough space inside the shelter, but also a covered overhang outside.
We also take additional steps to keep our goats cool in intense summer heat to protect them from heat stroke or other heat related issues. Shelter is a surprisingly important part of this!
We also had to include several plywood boards 4 feet up (laying vertically) because our barn is tall to retain their heat and ensure no rain or snow fell onto our goats. While cold goats are usually okay, cold and wet goats often get sick.
Lastly, the direction the barn faces is important. Not only for the direction of the sun, but also the direction the weather comes. For us that means we have our barn facing east to west along with our feeding station. This gives our goats shade in the morning and afternoon. As well as protection from the worst weather.
This also means considering the direction where wind typically blows. Snow or rain blowing directly in through the ventilation can be uncomfortable and in extreme weather lead to sever illness.
Protection from Predators & Secure Fencing and Gates
One of the most important features of a goat shelter is secure fencing and gates. Goats are notorious for their ability to escape and wander, so it’s crucial to have a sturdy fence that can keep them contained.
The fence should be at least 4 feet high and made of a durable material like welded wire or chain link or braided wire. Make sure the fence is buried into the ground to prevent goats from digging underneath it.
Gates should also be secure and easy to open and close, with latches that goats can’t easily manipulate. Regularly check the fence and gates for any damage wear and tear to ensure they remain effective.
While keeping them contained is critical, keeping predators out is equally crucial. Ensure any openings are small enough that predators such as coyotes, wolves, and bears can’t easily enter.
For more Common Predators of Goats and How to Keep Them Away check out our comprehensive article.
A secure shelter to protect your herd from predators is especially important if your goats are away from the farm such as being rented out to clear brush (goatscaping).
Easy Access for Cleaning and Maintenance
Another essential feature of a goat shelter is easy access for cleaning and maintenance.
Goats can be messy animals, and their shelter will need to be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of waste and bacteria to prevent diseases. Make sure the shelter has a large door or opening that allows you to easily enter and clean the space.
Additionally, consider adding removable panels or sections to the walls or roof to make cleaning even easier. Regular maintenance, such as checking for damage or wear and tear, is also important to ensure the shelter remains safe and functional for your goats.
Aesthetics & Convenience
We built our goat barn out of old subfloors we had left over from house renovations. One lesson we learned is that a new roof and a couple of coats of paint go a long way.
Not to mention your goats are going to beat up on whatever you give them, so it doesn’t need to be over the top or spend a lot of money on it.
For the door, which is our center piece we added a few pieces of painted trim, and our barn looks much fancier for it.
Some goat owners swear by including a feeding station in their shelter. However, I would consider hay storage a must have.
While goat shelters can be affordable and smaller than barns, they still require adequate space for your size of goat. They also require proper ventilation and protection from elements including sun, wind, snow and rain, and predators for happy and healthy goats.
Adequate fencing, and ease of access for food, water, and maintenance are equally important.
If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Until next time!
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