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Hi,
I am new to goats and very excited to bring home 2 Nigerian Dwarf kids (wethers) at the end of October. I've been reading as much as I can, but still I am not 100% confident in my plans for shelter and fencing. I have a few questions as well. Can I have your expert opinions, please? I have found some great ideas here already :) As an FYI, I live in Wisconsin, and soon winter will be upon us :(. We can expect to have a few snowstorms where we are dumped with up to 10 inches of snow or more. We will have a some days where the temps dip below 10 degrees and maybe even a day or two or three where the temps go below zero. Otherwise temps are generally in the teens - low-mid twenties.

Shelter: just under 5' x 5'. This will be their only source of shelter. I do have a barn as I have horses, but currently I did not have plans to bring the goats in the barn. Is that okay? I worry because if they don't want to come out in the cold or snow, the small shelter really limits their ability to exercise. If I keep their area plowed, will the goats come out to play, even in the cold winter?

I want to add a sleeping shelf - about 2 ft wide and the length of the shelter. Is that appropriate for 2 minis? Should we extend the length of the shelter if we take up 2 feet of the floor area as a sleeping shelf? Again, worried it may be too small.
We are actually converting my children's wooden play set that they outgrew. So the shelter will double as a play house as there will be two levels, bottom is their shelter and the top is where they can climb to.

Should we insulate the shelter? For bedding, I plan to use the same pine shavings I use for my horse stalls, 4 inches deep. I plan to use a rubber stall mat under the shavings. Would straw be warmer for the winter months? Should I buy two goat blankets/coats? What is a good brand to order?

Fencing - what is better, cattle panels or woven field fencing? How far apart should the posts be, every 8ft?

Size of outdoor pen and location - I was planning on putting the goats' pen and shelter within the fencing of my horses, so in essence they will share the paddock, but the goats will confined to only their area and separated from the horses. The horses have electric tape fencing, and the goats would have panels/field fencing. This will serve as double protection from any dogs or predators as any predator would first need to get through the electric fence and then have to get through the actual goat fence. Confused? Picture a large horse pasture with a 32'x32 area for the goats within the horses' pasture. Does this sound ok or should I create a completely new space for the goats, outside the horse area? I was going to make the goat area 32' x 32' with various toys and "mountains" for them to play on? Good size? The electric will not be attached to the goats' fencing, my fence charger is pretty strong and I don't want my babies getting the jolt of their lives!

Feed - grass hay (may contain 10% alfalfa) and loose goat minerals and salt. Obviously clean water. No grain. Okay plan?

Health Care- trim hooves every 6 weeks with a garden pruner, or should I get a specific goat hoof tool?
De-worm - every 6 months or more often? What specific wormer? Is it the same kind used for horses or should I get de-wormer specific to goats?
Vaccinations - they are coming with at least one CD/T, maybe the 2nd booster, I need to ask. Will they need a 3rd as part of the series? Then annually? Should I have the vet give the vaccinations rather than myself? There is a local goat vet I can use.
I hear talk of having Banamine on hand, I do always have the paste version for my horses. Can the goats also take the paste? How much per pound? Only when they show signs of tummy distress? Or is it also used to reduce swelling and pain from injuries?
Should they have free access to baking soda? What does it do for goats? I seem to get conflicting info. on this one.

Whew, that was a lot to read. If you are still with me, thank you!
 

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Curious too, we just got a pair of Nigerian/ toggs yesterday-- they are in our chicken pen currently for safekeeping....

Where we are it snows, but doesnt really get below the high teens(wasnt planning to insulate anything)...
People will want to know where you are located and how cold/wet it gets to give you good feedback....
 

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I live in Wyoming and we routinely have negative temps and high winds for days on end in the winter time. It is normal around here for it to be -10 to -15 degrees with a windchill of -25 or lower. My sheds are not insulated or closed in. They are simple 3 sided sheds with manure pack and are bedded fetlock deep or deeper. I do not put coats or blankets on my girls, and they do fine. No, they are thrilled about having to deal with snow, but it is a fact of life around here and they adapt. Goats actually do better with snow than with rain. If you are concerned about them staying warm, feed grass or grass/alfalfa hay. Digestion produces heat and grass is harder to digest than alfalfa, thus producing more heat.
 

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Healthcare:

Hoof wise get the special hoof trimming clippers. They're not expensive and they'll do a better job than garden pruners. Worming wise, yes you can use horse wormer but you only give them a little bit of it. I use a local brand called Safe-guard sometimes, but routinely I give an herbal wormer. If they have their CD&T booster than they are done on that till next year. You can give it next year if you want to but that's more of a personal choice. Some people keep all theirs on it all the time some people only do their kids before they tattoo them. The first time you need a vaccine I would ask your vet to show you how to give a shot.

Banamine I Think can be given to goats but I need someone to back me up on that.. I don't know the dosage though. Baking soda can be left out free choice but that's for if you're giving them access to pasture or a lot of brush. It's for in case they get bloated, but if you don't have pasture or a lot of browse and are just feeding hay you don't have to put it out.
 

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Hi, I have kept two nigerian wethers for the past 13 years. I live in Connecticut ant the last few winters have been brutal. They stay in a 12x12 shed I made into a little barn with electricity and water.they have about a 1/4 acre fenced in with wooden spools a dog house and other things to climb on. I have to shovel paths in the snow so they can get around and be outside. I would not feed wethers alfalfa and chance UC. I've always fed them the best grass hay I can find a little grain medicated for UC about 1/2 a cup each a day and quality free choice minerals. The vet comes out at least once a year for routine exam and shots. Mist of the time because it's just them two their fecal comes back negative. Only a few times have I had to worm them. And that was primarily just for precaution. I've kept it simple and I've really enjoyed them. you are what you eat and if you keep it simple and easy on them they will thrive and give you much enjoyment.
 

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the paste banamine is fine but if you go to vet serve they have the injectable and lots of other meds you can buy. if you are unable to get banmine we use children's ibuprofen at double the dose by weight. the goats like the taste and will suck it right down. the only one that vet serve doesnt have yet is Draxxin. TSC has most of the essentials as well as jeffers.
 

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Alfalfa is fine for wethers. The problem is the calcium to phosphorus ratio being correct. It should be at least 2:1 calcium to phosphorus. Most of the time it is actually the phosphorus that is the problem.

You want to make sure that they can get out of the elements. Deep bedding of straw in winter would be better. Make sure it is draft free. Also make sure predators can't easily get to them.
 

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As an FYI, I live in Wisconsin, and soon winter will be upon us :(. We can expect to have a few snowstorms where we are dumped with up to 10 inches of snow or more. We will have a some days where the temps dip below 10 degrees and maybe even a day or two or three where the temps go below zero. Otherwise temps are generally in the teens - low-mid twenties.

•We're in the Barron area, welcome fellow Wisconsinite!

Shelter: just under 5' x 5'. This will be their only source of shelter. I do have a barn as I have horses, but currently I did not have plans to bring the goats in the barn. Is that okay? I worry because if they don't want to come out in the cold or snow, the small shelter really limits their ability to exercise. If I keep their area plowed, will the goats come out to play, even in the cold winter?

•They will make their own paths, no worries. It is true, they are less active in the winter (naturally, like deer). If you'd like, you can plow but it isn't much necessary. I find to keep them entertained in the winter we run around the backyard, or in their pasture. They're happy to be with you. 5x5 is large enough yes. South facing is great for three sided areas.

I want to add a sleeping shelf - about 2 ft wide and the length of the shelter. Is that appropriate for 2 minis? Should we extend the length of the shelter if we take up 2 feet of the floor area as a sleeping shelf? Again, worried it may be too small.

•If you're worried, it doesn't ever hurt to go bigger. With proper support it shouldn't be a problem.

We are actually converting my children's wooden play set that they outgrew. So the shelter will double as a play house as there will be two levels, bottom is their shelter and the top is where they can climb to.

•That's super neat!!

Should we insulate the shelter? For bedding, I plan to use the same pine shavings I use for my horse stalls, 4 inches deep. I plan to use a rubber stall mat under the shavings. Would straw be warmer for the winter months? Should I buy two goat blankets/coats? What is a good brand to order?

•Not necessary. I would use straw over shavings, or use shavings as a base and during the summer. Rubber mats are wonderful for this. You can just bed deep for winter and leave it alone (refresh when needed), or use coats as supplements. With coats you'll need to "wean" them off of them again once it gets warmer. Once you put a coat on, leave it on. Think of it like hair. You can make your own, look online, or purchase through TSC or a magazine.

Fencing - what is better, cattle panels or woven field fencing? How far apart should the posts be, every 8ft?

•I much highly prefer cattle panel or electric. 8 ft is fine, yes. Plenty of support there.

I was going to make the goat area 32' x 32' with various toys and "mountains" for them to play on? Good size? The electric will not be attached to the goats' fencing, my fence charger is pretty strong and I don't want my babies getting the jolt of their lives!

•Sounds good. Predator "control" with two rings and the horses. Good idea. Be sure your horses are ok with them. They are pretty clumsy and sometimes can think of goats as a threat and be equally dangerous.

Feed - grass hay (may contain 10% alfalfa) and loose goat minerals and salt. Obviously clean water. No grain. Okay plan?

•Sounds good. May consider ammonium chloride and copper sulfate depending.

Health Care- trim hooves every 6 weeks with a garden pruner, or should I get a specific goat hoof tool?

•We go every month. We use shears/pruner. Works great.

De-worm - every 6 months or more often? What specific wormer? Is it the same kind used for horses or should I get de-wormer specific to goats?

•Don't worm just because. Only as needed. It depends on what worms you're fighting as to hay type of wormer you need.

Vaccinations - they are coming with at least one CD/T, maybe the 2nd booster, I need to ask. Will they need a 3rd as part of the series? Then annually? Should I have the vet give the vaccinations rather than myself? There is a local goat vet I can use.

•We do three. Most people do two I think? Annually is great. Keep CD&T antitoxin on hand as well, or call your vet and make sure they have some for emergencies. The vet isn't necessary, go ahead and do them yourself if you are comfortable.

I hear talk of having Banamine on hand, I do always have the paste version for my horses. Can the goats also take the paste? How much per pound? Only when they show signs of tummy distress? Or is it also used to reduce swelling and pain from injuries?
Should they have free access to baking soda? What does it do for goats? I seem to get conflicting info. on this one.

•We don't use banamine paste. We use the injectable. You don't want to give banamine "just because" either. Figure out what's wrong prior to pain killers. Banamine is hard on the system as well, so less is better in most cases. It's used in goats to relieve pain, fever, and reduce swelling yes. Many people keep soda free choice, that's up to you. With the diet you're feeding you shouldn't need to, but up to you. It's a rumen buffer. It's a de-bloater. We use in a drench form for bloat.
 
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