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Goats are easy keepers but they do require shelter. Unlike many animals, goats will use their shelter to get out of the weather. It can be as simple as a small three sided shed with a roof. You should figure on giving them lots of space since they often hang out in the shelter for long periods in the winter or wet season.
 

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I was going to go with the three sided shelter when I got my first two goats last summer, but I'm glad I didn't. IMHO the climate here in Wisconsin is too darn cold for them during our long cold stretches in mid winter. We have already had night time temps near zero and the boys were shivering in the morning the first few cold mornings. I put fleece insulated coats on them and added more bedding and that seems to have solved that issue for now. What I really need is some more goats to fill the barn :)

The barn has windows on each side and a ridge vent that really helps with cooling and ventilation in the summer. Winters here can be very severe.... I've had runs of -20 for two weeks in a row in the past and actual temps of -40 a few times per year.

Their pen is about 32'x32' and is made out of heavy 4 ga wire hog panels that are 4" squares at the top and get much smaller todards the lower part, each panel is 16' long and 52" tall. The barn is 10'x12' with treated marine plywood decking floor up above the ground on treated 4'x4' stringers. It is uninsulated at this time... but even on very cold days it gets pretty warm inside on sunny days and the shielding from the wind really helps. I'm working on some ides to make a door "flap" that will remail pliable in the cold to further weatherproof it.

Here it is in August 08 just after completing it...[attachment=0:33rffm5l]goatpen08_2008.jpg[/attachment:33rffm5l]
 

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Mike I really like your setup... we have something similar but not near as nice looking.

We converted a hunting shack into a two stall goat shed. It serves for two different pens.. we have the boys in one pen and dairy goat in the other. But inside we put fencing right down the center from floor to ceiling with a gate so we can access both sides regardless of which door we go in from. It has a rough cut lumber floor and straw bedding for warmth. Also two windows for ventilation and air flow.

The doe's favorite place to hang out during the daytime is a tarp we have across the top of the fence in one corner of her pen. Go figure lol
 

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Goats appear pretty good at regulating their own environment. They laze on the spools in the sun on nicer winter days when the temp is above about 25. And lay in the shade under the Oak trees in summer.

What a life .... :p

The coats I got from Rex and Terri really helped. But they have figured out how to undo the velcro and take them off. They are a bit too large for them yet. I added some velcro but they slip down if the boys are jumping around. They look like goats wearing hula skirts then.... hula-goats ! :lol:
 

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If it's dry and cold sometimes goats don't care and will stay outside anyway. But, you do want to check and see if maybe there's a strong draft thru there, or water dripping, or no bedding, or even lice infestation. Go sit in it for an hour or so one night when you think they should be in there and aren't. Of course, they will probably come in with you but at least you'll be able to figure out why they don't like it.

Also, some goats don't like not being able to see you or their person's home, so if the door is oriented away from their line of sight to you, that could explain it.
 

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I was concerned, we were having -25 at night plus the windchill, but my little ones weren't using the shelters. Finally figured out that the problem was the buck. I built three separate shelters down there so everyone would have a place to go, but evidently, my buck was spending all his time chasing everybody in circle. I separated him, and things are ok now. Except that he spends all his time running the fenceline. Won't use the shelter, won't eat or anything. Rut should be ending pretty soon, now shouldn't it? :roll:
 

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We took a 12 by 20 portable carport and put a trucker tarp over it. There is a triangle hole across the back that makes a good vent and on the one side that the tarp doesn't cover all the way, we put up blue tarp. The door way just has a flap of the trucker tarp hanging down and it only goes about half way. So the goats just go in and out as they want. We put up a beam in the center to help support the weight.
Before this we used 2 hog panels and make like quansit (sp?) huts. They worked good last year, but the new one is warmer. I would send photos, but I am still trying to figure that part out.
 

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goingnutsmom said:
We took a 12 by 20 portable carport and put a trucker tarp over it. There is a triangle hole across the back that makes a good vent and on the one side that the tarp doesn't cover all the way, we put up blue tarp. The door way just has a flap of the trucker tarp hanging down and it only goes about half way. So the goats just go in and out as they want. We put up a beam in the center to help support the weight.
Before this we used 2 hog panels and make like quansit (sp?) huts. They worked good last year, but the new one is warmer. I would send photos, but I am still trying to figure that part out.
I'm putting up a car port as a run-in for the horses, and plan to put the tarp over it and enclose 3 sides. My horses were out on 5000 acres with no shelter for the last several years, but it was rough, rolling hills and they could find shelter in the trees and down in the folds of the hills. This year they are on fenced 2 acres with a round bale and water, and they will need shelter.

There is a heated barn for the performance horses, and the farm goats (not especially tame) all stay up there during the winter. My goat knows that barn and goes up there when it's really hot, but he's more people than goat oriented. I'm worried, probably needlessly, about the winter. I don't expect that I'll have to keep him down with my horses. He's had the run of the farm, and the owner is fine with that. It's just that as soon as he hears our car, he's waiting at the gate to be let in with our herd, and spends all his time following me.

I am trying to set up an "emergency" shelter for him down in my pen. I'm planning it for 2 goats. I am not sure what's the best thing for them. I don't think he will go in the lean-to with the horses. They are too rough and he's wary of them.
 

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Goats need a reliable place to be dry and out of the iwnd. Otherwise they get hypothermia quite easily. If you live where it's dry it's not unusual for them to be outside in below freezing temps,
 

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Thanks. It is cold, and the snow is variable. Usually not much until Jan. But there is cold rain for a month or more before and after the snows.

I'm still thinking they will probably be staying up with the couple of farm goats in the "big barn". This is, I guess, for contingencies.That's where he goes now when it is stormy or too hot. The rest of the day he spends browsing, playing or sleeping in the chicken's feed box. Fat goat.

So a south-facing pine hutch with an off-set door, and foam panel insulated walls and roof should be ok? I was thinking of putting in an infra-red heat lamp, wired so the goats can't get to it. Also thinking interior walls so they don't get at the insulation.

Hay over earth for bedding.

My goat has horns. We'll be looking for another prospect at the fair this next week. Hopefully someone's 4H "baby".

I don't want it so big that they don't keep it warm. Cabra is a yearling (he got his new teeth) Saanen. I'm figuring on another, similar one. Do they need to have it much over standing height?

I had considered making it "liftable", so we could move it from place to place in the pen, in case the drainage changed, and for cleanliness sake. Also thought I would make it with a swing-back, slanted, flat roof for cleaning, de-bugging, and disinfection.

I'm running a heater in the water tank for the horses, and will need to do something similar for the goats.
 

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Hallo,

don't overkill ;)

A simple shelter, that keeps out the wind will suffice. No heating system necessary - goats have a very good one "installed" = a filled, working rumen. In REALLY cold nights you can add a blanket but I wouldn't work with a heating system as it will mess with the development of this winter coat.

So enough hay is important and if you want to coddle your goat after a long, cold night, give him a warm tea in the morning (hot water or hot water with some herbal tea in it - try what he likes). Hot drinks is in fact a good way to get enough water into them during the winter.
 

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Very good advice!

I tend to let my horses "rough it", because I know that they can and do handle the winter very well, even without coats...

But the goats look so little by comparison :D

I don't want to overkill, since I know that can do more harm than good. Many animals can be killed with kindness. We have plenty of hay available (luckily). And I do like to make mashes for the horses when it's been wet and cold. Especially for the arabians, even though they grow wonderful "teddy bear" coats for the winter.
 

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Hi,

I have found that my goats don't like mashes.

They love the buckets full of warm water in the mornings.
 

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Heat lamps scare the stuffing out of me. Too easy to start a fire. Like Sanhestar says you only need to provide good hay and a full rumen for them to have their own heat source and if they have a windproof, water proof enclosure they will have it made.
 

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I will take what you've all said in account.

I don't use "heat lamps" per se. I have these industrial-size ceramic elements. They are used in animal exhibits and also in applications where fire is a risk. I use them to heat areas of my basement where the furnace doesn't reach. You actually can touch them, and they won't burn, but they will keep the temp up around 40 F. in the immediate area. I have used them when we have late foals and I want to keep an area a little warmer for the mare and foal, but obviously don't want to blanket them.

I typically use them with a laser gate that turns them on when the circuit is broken by the animal being in the area. Even my iguanas learn how to make that work, and the horses understand very quickly. I had thought about boxing the elements to keep them from getting clipped with horns or during "goat-play", but based on what you're saying, I will leave them off altogether.

And yes, having grown up with horses, I'm very conscious of the dangers of hay dust and fire. Everybody who's been around horses knows their own collection of horror stories.

My goat steals mash from the horses. But maybe the theft is the thrill! He does like warm water and tea. So far, I've found more that he will eat than he will refuse. The only thing he doesn't seem to like are the salted peanuts! He licks the salt off my fingers, but the hens get the nuts and shells. He does like pistachios, but that's a little rich for me! He also likes raisins, and will do just about anything for mulberry leaves and fruit. He also has a passion for candy, thanks to the kids, and (judging by stains on his coat) has at least sampled Kool-aid (orange and red). I've had to put my foot down about the sweets.
 

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http://www.infraredheaters.com/petwarm.htm

Those are very like the ones I use. I get mine from a friend who builds cages and exhibits. I'll check with him and see if they are retail, wholesale or what... I use arrays of them boxed and spaced on either side of the stall, or in one corner if it's a big box stall. I put the fine hardware cloth over them to keep out dust and small particles, and the heavy stuff over the outside to contain everything if they get banged into or dropped.

They are really nice, especially when hooked up with the laser "eye" so that they only run when the animal is there to use them.

In the last barn I was in had these http://www.equinesystems.com/heaters.html.

They were oK, but I thought they kept the barn and arena too warm for horses that were going back outside. I much prefer to keep them on the cool side. I don't like to bring them in at all unless they are clipped, old, infirm or very young. When we have really bad storms, we bring the free horses into the unheated arena now. I'm talking ice storms, or really far below zeroe and windy.

The goats all come and go in the big barn at will. It's mostly warmed by the animal's, and there is plenty of bedding. I found out today that I can set aside a stall to confine them if the weather is seriously rotten, so I'm much more at ease. This is a big, old fashioned barn with deep box stalls, all wooden walls and good air circulation. If the weather stays bad, they can stay in, and exercize in the small arena (without the horses).
 
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