Kind of a spin-off from the goat coat thread. This will be my first winter with my goats (all Alpines) and I live in an area with pretty harsh winters and lots of snow. I am wondering how well they will handle the snow and below freezing outside temps. I have made sure the barn will not be drafty, but it isn't insulated or anything. Is there anything I should be prepared for? Any special hoof care?
Our winters can be pretty harsh, too, and my goats do very will with it. My sheds are simple, 3-sided loafing sheds that face either south or east. I keep them pretty heavily bedded - somewhere between the fetlock and about mid cannon-bone - with either straw or crappy hay. I do my best to make sure they have grass or grass/alfalfa hay during the winter months. Grass is harder to digest than alfalfa, therefore generating more heat from digestion to help keep them warmer. I've never done anything special with their feet. Good luck with your does!
Great. I thought it wouldn't bother them too much, they are Alpine goats that originated in the Alps after all. I am the only person around here that raises goats, though. Everyone else does cows and sheep. The ranchers keep giving me the skeptical side-eye when I say the goats won't mind the cold too much and I started to second guess myself.
Alpines are, well, Alpine animals and evolved in the Swiss Alps. Deep snow, bitter cold etc. Goats do better in the cold than in the heat. I live in Maine and we have some very cold, snowy winters. My goats do great, even when the temp is below 0. They fluuf up their hair, curl up and chew their cud. The rumen is known as the bodies furnace. The fermenting that goes on in that large stomach helps heat the body internally. As long as they have a draft free area, plenty of hay, ice free water and someplace to bed down in, they will do fine.
It gets really cold here too. below zero sometimes for weeks at a time. I offer warm water twice a day, keep the bedding dry, and plenty of hay. The girls have the luxury suite and get closed in at night....the boys (for now) have a three sided shelter, but they did fine last winter. I had no illnesses....