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This will be my first winter with goats! Does anyone have any advice? I have a barn with warm stalls and straw for them and I won't be kidding until the spring. I would like to know the dos and don'ts during the winter! :rolleyes: Thank you!
 

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What is the floor of the barn made of, dirt or concrete? If dirt, then all you need to do is bed it about fetlock deep with straw or old hay. If the straw/old hay is dusty, give it a quick misting with water to settle the dust. If concrete, bed it about knee deep to provide an insulating layer between the goats and the concrete since concrete conducts cold and holds it more than dirt. Do not use heat lamps as they will create a very big difference in temperature and can cause pneumonia. If possible, feed grass/alfalfa hay because digestion is the major source of heat and grass is harder to digest than alfalfa - thus provides more heat. Check for drafts and seal them off if possible. Watch out for ammonia and keep it neutralized - especially if you are shutting them in at night or during storms. Ammonia can lead to respiratory problems/pneumonia very quickly. Try not to shut them in any more than necessary because it can spread illness quickly, and all animals need sunlight and fresh air to maintain health. Sunlight is a natural enemy of bacteria and virus - no sunlight and the bacteria and viruses can take over.
 

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I have concrete floors, and I use old hay now for bedding. I do have one open window (glass broke out several years ago when we had cattle) we were going to cover it with plastic, but decided not to so there can be air flowing while they are shut in at night, but I noticed that the snuggle with each other this time of year:) I do have a heat lamp, but I will only use it if it's necessary. I have a doe due in January, so I might use it for a couple days depending on the temp outside.
 

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we have fiber goats so hay/shavings for bedding isn't the greatest. We have concrete but we have sleeping platforms for them to get off the ground. They find their buddy and snuggle in. For the wee ones we have a couple of plastic closed in dog crates. As long as 2 can get in there, that's the warmest place for them to sleep.

We don't have even pairs of snugglers though. The herd queen is not liked very much (she's serious about her position) so she might get a coat unless she relents and starts to snuggle with someone.
 

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We have Nigerians and we keep heavy straw down in their barn a night. They also have free choice hay when they're not on good grass. We have a sliding door on the barn and we crack it On the end so the goats will have warmth. Like Amy said, they will snuggle at night for extra warmpth and the will help also. What breed of goats are they? If theyre a larger breed you could put a small horse blanket over them. This will help for extra coziness.
 

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What is the floor of the barn made of, dirt or concrete? If dirt, then all you need to do is bed it about fetlock deep with straw or old hay. If the straw/old hay is dusty, give it a quick misting with water to settle the dust. If concrete, bed it about knee deep to provide an insulating layer between the goats and the concrete since concrete conducts cold and holds it more than dirt. Do not use heat lamps as they will create a very big difference in temperature and can cause pneumonia. If possible, feed grass/alfalfa hay because digestion is the major source of heat and grass is harder to digest than alfalfa - thus provides more heat. Check for drafts and seal them off if possible. Watch out for ammonia and keep it neutralized - especially if you are shutting them in at night or during storms. Ammonia can lead to respiratory problems/pneumonia very quickly. Try not to shut them in any more than necessary because it can spread illness quickly, and all animals need sunlight and fresh air to maintain health. Sunlight is a natural enemy of bacteria and virus - no sunlight and the bacteria and viruses can take over.
What is fetlock deep? Another thing I don't understand is draft vs ventilation. I have a book telling me to make sure my goat shelter is well ventilated but not drafty.
 

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What is fetlock deep? Another thing I don't understand is draft vs ventilation. I have a book telling me to make sure my goat shelter is well ventilated but not drafty.
They just mean if you have some way that fresh air can come in but not make the barn drafty that's the best. Like, I shut all the doors in my barn but leave a window or two open, unless it's super cold. That way they get air but not enough that it will get drafty.

Oh and fetlock deep means it comes up to their fetlock. The fetlock is towards the bottom of the foot above the hoof. It's hard to explain without a picture or goat to point it out on. :p
 

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What is fetlock deep? Another thing I don't understand is draft vs ventilation. I have a book telling me to make sure my goat shelter is well ventilated but not drafty.
The fetlock is the first joint above the hoof. Have you ever been sitting in a house and can feel a very slight breeze that chills you or just barely moves the curtains? That is a draft. Ventilation, on the other hand, is a noticeable amount of breeze or wind like would come through an open window. Does that help? :laugh:
 

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Jumping in with further questions...

What is cold? 30 degree? 20 degrees? (I have pygmy/nigerian dwarf mix). The goats took over the chicken coop (retired and empty for about 15 years). On foundation with plywood floor and a bale of hay. It's the perfect size for two goats. Probably could fit another two easily.

The Goat Coop has one window with screens on either side. Do I cover it partially to decrease size? At what point am I going to close them in at night? Cover over their screened window? Use the heat lamp? Bring in the dog kennel?

Bear with me. I,too, am new to this and visualize finding two sweet girls frozen inside the coop. I am also scared of mothering them to death.

See attachment... first small building on left is the goat coop. You can see the window is covered up. The one on the other side is the same size with screens. Thanks!
 

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What is cold? 30 degree? 20 degrees? (I have pygmy/nigerian dwarf mix). The goats took over the chicken coop (retired and empty for about 15 years). On foundation with plywood floor and a bale of hay. It's the perfect size for two goats. Probably could fit another two easily.

The Goat Coop has one window with screens on either side. Do I cover it partially to decrease size? At what point am I going to close them in at night? Cover over their screened window? Use the heat lamp? Bring in the dog kennel?

Bear with me. I,too, am new to this and visualize finding two sweet girls frozen inside the coop. I am also scared of mothering them to death.

See attachment... first small building on left is the goat coop. You can see the window is covered up. The one on the other side is the same size with screens. Thanks!
What constitutes cold is going to depend on a lot of things - the humidity level, the size of the goats, what you are feeding, whether they are adults or kids, floor of their shelter, and how many you have just to name a few. High humidity will always make it feel colder than it is because of the moisture in the air. The smaller the animal the less body mass and the faster it will lose body heat. Concrete conducts and holds cold more than dirt will. The fewer animals you have the less body heat there is to share. Straight alfalfa is easier to digest than straight grass, so there is less heat produced through digestion and your animals will get cold faster. A wet animal will lose body heat faster than a dry animal will. Are you talking about adult goats or are you talking about kidding? I live in Wyoming so I don't even worry about my adult goats until the temps start hitting about 0 with a wind chill of about -10 or so - and that depends on how quick winter hits. If it has gone from summer to winter overnight, then I get concerned and lay in extra bedding. If there has been time for them to grow a winter coat, not so much. If rain is involved, then all bets are off because a wet animal will chill faster than a dry animal and different management is required. If I have does kidding, however, I start paying real close attention to them at about 32 degrees - higher if there is a cold wind blowing. I never turn on heat lamps until it hits below freezing unless the doe is a first-timer and kidded in an open spot and the kid(s) are chilled. My does never have heat lamps unless there is a kid involved - regardless of how cold it gets - because they are a good way to cause pnuemonia due to wild temp fluctuations. Talk to the old-timers and find out which direction storms come from - around here it's the north and east - and block those windows. Facing your shelters to the south is usually a safe bet. Block all windows facing north, since that is where most blizzards come from. Lay in a good layer of straw or old hay for bedding - at least fetlock deep, deeper if necessary. Find and block all sources of drafts. Make sure the roof does not leak. Make sure rain or snow cannot blow into their shelter/house if at all possible. Find some old carpet and tack it up on the interior walls using cement nails, tin nails, or washers put over nails. The chances of you finding 2 frozen girls are slim to none. Goats are a lot hardier than most people give them credit for. The key is bedding their shed/shelter/house deep and providing them with a means to get out of the rain and snow.
 
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