Keeping Goats in the Winter

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by Beckngoats, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. Beckngoats

    Beckngoats New Member

    Ok, I know it's barely Summer. But best way to prepare the goat housing for the Winter months,is in the nice Summer weather. Yep, I'm that crazy gal who shops for Christmas gifts ultra early too! :)

    That being said, for all of you who live in cold climates, what do you do to keep the goats comfy during the cold? Do you let them out? Where is the cut off point temperature wise? How cold is too cold for goats? Is it ok for them to be out in the Snow? Do you use goat coats? How do you heat their indoor enclosure?


    Thanks!
     
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  2. Goats Rock

    Goats Rock Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    NE Ohio
    We get super cold in the winter- if you have a good barn or building that is draft free but has good ventilation, deep straw, fresh water (heated water buckets work great!) and quality hay- your goats will be fine. The hay is important as the rumen acts like a furnace and needs an almost constant source of hay to keep them warm.

    I have only ever once put a coat on a goat and that was last winter. I had a yearling blow her coat in Jan. (silly girl) and was really thin haired when it went down to -29ºF outside. In the barn it was about zero. I had to put a calf coat on her.

    Goats do the best at around 50º-70º but survive at lower and upper temps. Shade in summer, shelter in winter! Oh, and some goats love snow, others won't go outside until Spring! It all depends on your goat!
     

  3. lottsagoats1

    lottsagoats1 Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2014
    Middle Maine
    I live in Maine and it gets very cold up here. This is what I do:

    My goat area is open all the time so they can go in and out at will. I only shut it if it is snowing or raining very hard with a driving wind. Dairy goats are basically all descended from goats from the Swiss Alps, so they do well in cold climates, more so than warm/hot climates.

    The stall they share is bedded with kiln dried shavings.

    Since I don't have a free choice 24/7 hay feeding area, they get fed hay 4 times a day in the coldest part of winter. Digesting fiber is what helps keep their body temp up.

    I feed grain every day. In the winter months, I buy beet pulp pellets and give them warm, soaked beet pulp mixed with their grain for the added fiber and moisture. I usually add a fat supplement (Omegtin or Rice bran meal) to their night meal for the added calories.

    I don't use heated buckets because I refuse to have electricity in my barn unless I am home. I haul water to them from the house each chore time. (My kitchen is uaully full of water buckets in various stages of thawing)

    My goats are always pretty healthy being allowed to go outside all winter long. The more they move around, the warmer they will be. Since mine are usually pregnant, I want them moving around so the kids can get into birthing position and the walking, bouncing around helps them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  4. Beckngoats

    Beckngoats New Member

    Thanks! Here in North Central Wisconsin,we get pretty chilly. Last Winter we had some lows that were negative 30, wind chill negative 45!

    Any suggestions on heating their stall?
    We have them housed in a detached garage,that we turned into a goat and miniature horse stall. We have one section of the three car garage with the goat stall, then a few feet away is the horse stall. The rest of the garage has tack, hay, food, etc. It isn't heated and not air tight,but it has standard garage doors and two window that can be closed. Plus, the critters have 3/4 inch rubber mats.
    We want to build a raised goat bed so the boys don't have to lay on the ground.
     
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  5. Goats Rock

    Goats Rock Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    NE Ohio
    You don't need to heat their stalls. As posted before- dry, no direct wind, water etc. Your goats will do just fine!
     
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  6. lottsagoats1

    lottsagoats1 Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2014
    Middle Maine
    Actually, heating for livestock is the fast way to lose them. The heat causes moisture which causes pnemonia, opens the door for footrot and will allow the cocci and worm eggs to thrive all winter long when they usually die from the cold.

    Livestock are not humans, nor are they pets who have evolved with humans for thousands of years and adapted to indoor heat.
     
  7. GoatieGranny

    GoatieGranny Member

    905
    Jul 26, 2013
    We are in WI, too, so I understand your concern. But like every one said above, the goats do fine in the cold.

    Basically, deep bedding in their shelter, warm water if possible...it REALLY helps, and lots of hay.

    Our goats don't like to go out when it's really cold out. We figured out that when it's 17 degrees or above, sunny, and little or no wind, they enjoy some time outside. If it's any colder, windy or even cloudy, they just ask to go back in right away. All goats are different and I admit, ours are slightly spoiled, but just watch yours to see how they react in various weather conditions and you'll figure out what they are comfortable with.

    We do not use goat coats and we do not heat the barn. When it gets down around 0, we will put out a heat lamp for one of our girls who is a little less tolerant of cold. We have it screwed into the wall, behind an iron fence and double tied up to a bar in case it would somehow fall, it would not land on the ground. They can't reach it because it's behind bars and too high, but it seems to help Bella on those really cold days. (Like a couple winters ago when it was down to -25 regular temp and wind chill hit -52. We had weeks of weather like that and it was stressing her out. Oh, and we made them some very warm oatmeal on those days. Just soaked it in hot water for a few minutes. They really loved it.
     
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  8. Beckngoats

    Beckngoats New Member

    So. apparently they will do fine.
    I am going to be the wreck worrying about them in the cold!

    Thanks for all the replies!
     
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  9. CountyLineAcres

    CountyLineAcres Well-Known Member

    Jan 22, 2014
    Mineral Ridge, Ohio
    I hope we aren't going to sound heartless when we say that we don't put them in a barn in the winter. They stay in the pasture, paddock, or pen that they are assigned to (outside) with about 1 of our livestock huts per 2-5 goats. We fill the hut with straw and typically put plywood underneath to keep out the cold. They have the option to be protected from the wind, snow, etcetera 24/7.

    Now to some, keeping a goat outside would seem harsh, especially in Ohio winters; however, you would be surprised on how warm and insulated those huts can be! Jeez, I crawled into one to put more hay in, and I needed to take off my winter jacket!

    Of course, our kidding pens for the does are inside the barn, and dam and kids stay inside until it starts to warm up. We don't want any kids getting stuck out in the cold!
     
  10. Mini Oberhasli Owner

    Mini Oberhasli Owner New Member

    8
    Sep 26, 2020
    Central Wisconsin
    Hello from central Wisconsin! I am a new goat owner and noticed you went through some of the same worries I am currently going through being new to this :) I wanted to reach out to you in case you wanted to chat a little more or offer advice. Thank you!
     
  11. MadHouse

    MadHouse Well-Known Member

    In Manitoba we have long winters that can get extremely cold, -40 or even colder. We have snow from Oct./Nov. until March/April.
    Because of that I have only one animal door to keep the heat loss at night to a minimum. No heat, except in the milk room, and that is on only when I am milking.
    My goats don’t have the choice of in or out, I make that choice (because I have females and males and only one door).
    The door is open most of the day.
    They go out every day, sometimes just for a very short time, but usually for about 4 hours. I put out hay and they come out and eat and stand in the sun. I clear the snow for them. They have wooden platforms to stand on and shelter from the wind.
    My barn is small and they wouldn’t get enough exercise just staying in. The fresh air is good for them.
    The only days the goats stay in all day is during snowstorms and when it doesn’t get warmer than -20 F outside.
    I have NDs and a Nubian. The NDs have fantastic coats well equipped for the cold. Nubian not so much. She gets a wool sweater when it gets to -15 F, but I take it off as soon as it gets warmer again.
    My heat lamp is in the chicken coop, and usually just to prewarm it, then gets turned off. I use the heat lamp in the newborn’s warming barrel as well.
    Here is a picture of the same goat, summer vs. winter:
    upload_2020-9-26_8-56-0.jpeg

    upload_2020-9-26_8-58-25.jpeg
     
  12. Mini Oberhasli Owner

    Mini Oberhasli Owner New Member

    8
    Sep 26, 2020
    Central Wisconsin
    Thank you so much for the reply! My two 6 month old girls are starting to grow their coats already since we had a few nights near freezing :) The biggest concern we have been struggling with is getting the ventilation right. We converted a 8x10 shed into their barn and opened up horizontal boards along the top of the roof for cross ventilation and plan to close their door in really cold weather with a dog door we cut to size. We have the door facing the prevailing wind so we put up wind blocks. I currently spot clean their shed (concrete flooring) every day and put down stall refresher to keep the ammonia down. I am hoping to use deep litter in winter as long as I can keep the ammonia levels down. It's going to be an experiment, but I get the sense a lot of new goat owners go through this learning process ;) It's been a steep learning curve for us, but I think we are getting a hold of the goat trade!
     
  13. MadHouse

    MadHouse Well-Known Member

    I don’t know if your cold temps stay consistent, but here, I don’t have problems with ammonia smell in the winter.
    I cover the pee and poo with a light layer of bedding every day.
     
  14. Tanya

    Tanya Well-Known Member

    In South Africa I dont get snow but we get biting winds and some winter rains. My two have a goat pen with an insulated doghouse to sleep in. They have dirt flooring covered in thick hay. This is cleaned every second day. The dog house is made of thick wood. Lined with carpet inside and a winter fleece blanket over the outside. Straw and blankets inside. Blankets are washed daily and fresh ones inside. They dont like it raining but have beautiful winter coats.
     
  15. Mini Oberhasli Owner

    Mini Oberhasli Owner New Member

    8
    Sep 26, 2020
    Central Wisconsin
    That is super cute you put blankets in there for them :) I would worry they would eat them! I will look into putting a curtain over the door where the wind comes in as long as I can 1) train them to go through it and 2) not eat it :)
     
  16. Tanya

    Tanya Well-Known Member

    @Mini Oberhasli Owner funny enough if the blankets are in the dog house they wont eat it. But outside its fair game. My Gizmo used to run around with his when he was much smaller. Now he ignores it.
     
  17. alwaystj9

    alwaystj9 Active Member

    85
    Apr 10, 2019
    Zachary, Louisiana
    Yes...I keep my goats in the winter...........
     
  18. Mini Oberhasli Owner

    Mini Oberhasli Owner New Member

    8
    Sep 26, 2020
    Central Wisconsin
    When do you all start your deep litter? It is in the 30's here at night and 50's during the day. Is it too soon to start?
     
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  19. goatblessings

    goatblessings Fair-Haven Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2015
    Southwest Ohio
    I don't deep litter. Have found that unless it's under 20 throughout the day the goats do just fine. We have about the same weather, I just keep the hay rolling and the pens clean. Deep litte does hold in heat, but these temps right now it's unnecessary. It's a honking mess to clean in spring.