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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As the weather is chilling here, and knowing that I am such a poor papa, I want to make sure I have things covered for our first winter together.

I have a shed that is the size of a two car garage. It is open on one side and the second side where the triangle shape of the roof is is open. There is a 'closet' in there about 4ft x 12 ft where they can huddle if they want. The floor is dry and has twigs and straw.

The roof doesn't leak.

I have a water bucket with a heater under it that will keep it from freezing and I think it is secure enough they won't tip it.

They will be browsing on fallen leaves and apples much of the winter probably, since rather than tilling them in this year I will put them in a piles and keep them dry.

I will be supplementing them with some goat pellets and timothy hay.

I intend to use the timothy hay as a gauge of how well everything else is keeping them fed. If they only pick the leaves, I'll figure they aren't hungry.

I intend to hike in the snow, so I am planning to watch them for shivering, keep them dry and carry some rolled oats or chicken feed to help warm them up if they get shivers.

I am not sure how well they will keep under a cover since they have torn down the tarps I have put up on previous trips. I'm hoping the presence of the older goats will settle the younger ones enough that I can actually go in my tent without a panic. We still need to figure that out. I assume they can lie in the snow OK. But I am tempted to take some moving blankets and put them between plastic tarps.

I have purchased some wool blankets that I am cutting down to fit them for use on the trail, but don't intend to use them when at home. I am thinking to spray some waterproofing on one side.

I have tied them to a ground line at home, to get them used to the idea, but have to keep the lead real short or they tangle their legs real easy.

Do I worry too much or too little? What am I forgetting?
 

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Hello,

will the hay be their main source of energy or will they have to rely on what they browse?

I had a case last year where the goats refused the hay because of poor browse and got dangerously thin (also making a hugh growth spurt in their first year). It took weeks to figure out how to get them back into shape and the main breakthrough was to get them OFF the browsing (which had filled their stomach but had to little nutrional value) and ONTO the hay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's interesting. I would think they would prefer the stuff with more energy.

I can do whatever needs to be done and adjust if things change. They will eat the pellets whenever they are offered, even after a full day of browsing, so I figure that will round out the diet, and the hay will give me an indicator.

I am pretty sure they're on the fat side even though they have plenty of room and we go out once or twice a week.
They actually have a cleavage on their chests.

They greet me loudly whenever they see me so I can't tell if they're hungry that way.
 

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Hi Bob. Where do you live? How cold is it going to get? How wet?

Here's my 2 cents worth. If you have a dry place for them to sleep, their bellies are full of hay, and water for them to drink, I don't think you will have a problem. They should grow winter coats. Unless you are in Saskatchewan out on the prairie, with temps -20, then they shouldn't be too bothered by the cold. Does the open side of your barn face south (that's good). Or does it face into the prevailing wind (west or north)? That's bad.

I've taken my goats showshoeing before. As long as they get enough to eat and a dry place to sleep I wouldn't worry about them too much. Are you going to be snow camping with them? If so maybe somebody else can advise you on that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am in Utah at 5000 ft, 30 minutes from "the greatest snow on earth". South facing opening in the shed, dry ground with straw.

It is possible we could go to 10,000 ft with snow and wind. It wouldn't be too wet up there. But the snow would be deep.
 

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Bob,
I just got back from a Big Wonderful Wyoming pack trip with the goats and noticed your post.

First of all, it sounds like your barn/shelter is good and should work well. I would avoid using straw on the ground, though. Straw holds moisture and is a total pain to clean up. I use pine shavings. 3-4 bags every month or two gives them good fluff to snuggle in. I will give them new shavings if I notice it's going to be really cold (0-30--I'm in Northern Utah) and augment their heated water with some warm powerade mix (they love that!).

As far mountain hikes/camping this time of year there are certain things to do so everybody is safe. I hike into some high country in WY every Sept/Oct and always run into snow or rain for several days. This last trip we had 8 inches when we got to camp and left 5 days later with 16. This was my biggest snow year with the goats, but they are veterans and know the ropes.

My number one concern is keeping them dry. As soon as the saddles some off, the goat coats go on, and stay on! We use the goretex, fleece lined goats from Northwest Pack Goats, and they are great.

Pick a camp site out of the wind and with a lot of old growth/umbrellas for the goats. I do not tie mine ... they will paw out a spot just like a deer under a tree out of the wind. They will pick a better spot than we can, and will move as the conditions change. I don't think there is a real advantage to putting blankets down to lay on, as they will get wet and freeze as soon as the goats pee on them or move and the snow hits them. I constantly check under the goat coats to make sure they are staying dry. The coats will get a little wet on the edges, but should always be dry and warm on the inside over the core of their body. If you do find them wet and cold they need to be taken off and dried quickly. If you cannot get the coat dry, then you are done and need to get them moving and get out.

The goats will forage in the snow and find the tall forbs and evergreens. Mine sustained themselves for 5 days at 9600 feet, but were not pushed hard except for going in and out (4 miles each way). I do take Platinum Performance bars for extra calories as needed for the big days.

Hope this helps or eases your mind. We live in Logan, so we know a little about the cold. Bob, if you want to borrow some coats to check them out, just let us know.

Steve and Shannon
 

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I'm very interested in finding a good goat coat for Cuzco this winter. I've been using a blanket made for a miniature horse, and it's the right size but not the right cut. Ponies, obviously, have much thicker necks and deeper shoulders than goats, so the blanket has far too big a neck hole for Cuzco.

However, the one reason I went for a horse blanket rather than a goat one was because I haven't found a goat blanket that has a tail cover, whereas many heavy duty horse blankets do. Cuzco's tail got frost bitten one year (temperature dipped to -30 degrees for for an extended period), so ever since then I've had to make sure his tail stays covered in cold weather. Can anyone help me find a goat coat with a tail cover?

Cuzco's ears got frost-bitten around the edges too that year, so I bought some mittens at the thrift store and turned them into goat earmuffs. They work great!
[attachment=0:12ha93nu]Cuzco_earmuffs.jpg[/attachment:12ha93nu]
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Steve and Shannon, I appreciate the input.

Thank you for your generous offer. Sounds like I'll be keeping to day hikes with the little ones til it makes sense to buy a coat they won't outgrow in a year. Or just go south during the winter for a couple years.

We camped at Strawberry Res. up in the mountains several times this summer, and the mosquitoes were swarming. I rubbed the goats down with dryer antistatic sheets , and it kept them off. Did you ever rub your goats at night? They sparkle because of the static electricity. They don't sparkle anymore when they are mosquito proof.

Too bad there isn't a waterproofing spray for wool... hmm I don't know that there isn't.

Back from research. Although silicone is non-toxic, the stuff used to spay it is ugly. People use lanolin spray on wool diaper covers to waterproof them. Is goat wool? Has anyone lanolized their goat? Don't you just love newbie stooopid questions?

I'll have to try some stuff on my own hair to see how well it works. I'll let you know.
 

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The earmuffs are great! Our poor Homer was born late at night years ago when it was very cold! The seller told us he almost didn't make it, and that his ears had frozen. We thought he'd be okay, and he was, but days later the top half of his ears fell off. I remember Steve calling home to check on me and our new kids...

"How are things going?"
"Pretty good. Homer's ear fell off."
Oh, the things we get to say... :)

To warm goats and temperate climates!
Shannon
 
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