Thinking ahead....cold weather

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by HoosierShadow, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. HoosierShadow

    HoosierShadow Senior Member

    Apr 19, 2010
    Central Kentucky
    I was just thinking, what all should we be getting for the winter months....and when.

    We are in Central KY, and it starts getting really cool here usually in mid November to December, nights start getting cool or cold in Oct - usually mid Oct. And that's when we typically have our first freeze.

    By winter, we should have 7 boer does, 1-2 bucks, and 3 does would be kidding before then so not sure what they'd have, plus we have a doe in heat now that if she is bred, would kid at the end of Dec <no more breedings after this - I don't want Jan/Feb babies>.

    I'm coming up with ideas for more shelters, and want to make sure everyone will be out of the cold & wind.

    But how much hay should we try to get? We don't have a lot of space to store it, so we are thinking we should get at least 4-5 round bales, plus the square bales - enough to fill our back shed, and the top of the mini barn.

    Should we buy a couple extra round bales since I used them for bedding as well?
    And any suggestions on storing them for winter since they'd have to be outside? Right now the one we have in their pen is fine with a tarp over it and it's on a pallet - think that would be fine for the ones we buy for winter?
    It's pretty inexpensive to get it now, so I was thinking we should try to get it soon.

    Any tips on what I should have on hand for winter for goats? What about when ice builds up around their pen area? What is the best way to break the ice down and keep from having them slipping and falling?

    I want to get a list going of all the things I need to get and have done. I don't know what the next few months will look like - might be real busy in Sept if things work out, so I have to get busy soon.

    Oh, and does grain typically stay regular price in the winter? I thought I'd check with a breeder friend and see what she says about the feed since we use the same kind/same place.

    How long can you keep grain fresh?
    We usually buy 2 bags at a time, but we've gotten 4 more goats since I bought grain on July 1st, and we're getting our other 3 does soon and they are preggo. Soooo... I'm just wondering what i need to be doing about the grain as well...

    How do you thaw your water? And any ideas on helping to keep it thawed? We don't have electric in the mini barn, and that won't happen til spring, so the only electric run out there is extension chords for emergencies.
  2. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    Good planning to have extra hay on hand! We cant store much more than a ton at a time.
    Having enough shelter for your girls with plenty of bedding will do fine. Boers do sleep out in the snow in some parts of the country even with shelter available. They can be hardy in the cold or heat so long as they have options.
    Its the newborns that need to be out of drafts.

    For those big rubber water tubs I bring out buckets of hot water & break ice up with a hammer.
    Grain should stay pretty level it's the hay prices that skyrocket just when you need to increase amounts for preg does & winter feeding.
    I've stored bags of grain as long as 6 months, but this is Boer Goat Developer, not wet cob (loose grain with globs of molasses in it) If I do store a bag of regular wet cob it gets a little funky after a few months.

  3. Itchysmom

    Itchysmom New Member

    Apr 2, 2010
    Let's see...hay, the way I figure mine is to figure out how much I feed, weight wise, per day then multiply. I always try to get a bit extra just in case winter lasts longer than usual or it is colder than usual. Feed more when it is 20 below than when it is 10 above. I will have at least two goats and my 4 horses. The horses go through 10 ton a winter and I figured to add another ton to cover the goats with hopefully a bit extra.

    I do not know how much your round bales cost, but the goats will waste quite a bit. I would bed with straw rather than figure the hay for bedding. Buy as many square bales as will fit in your sheds. If you buy round bales, this is what we do here. Set them on thier sides next to each other. They do not cover them here as we get snow. If you get alot of rain or ice that will melt, then cover them with a tarp. Usually the part of the round that sits on the ground will have some rot, but only that part. If you can put them on pallets, that would work great. Remember you will have to move these rounds bales into the goat pen. I rolled mine into the pasture last year as we do not have a tractor. We stored them close to the fence and just rolled in a bale under the wire every 5 days. Horses are behind BW on one side so that was pretty easy. One year I bought 300 square bales and set them on several pallets then covered with tarps. I lost a few to mold because water from melt got in between the tarps, but not bad considering it was a very snowy winter and I did not have one huge tarp to cover to whole stack. Last year I had one tarp that cover the whole stack and lost only one bale to was an outside one.

    Around here we have used ash from our wood stove for melting ice. Of course in the spring when the ice melts and it all gets muddy it can be a mess! I have also used loose mineral salt and it works great! If they eat it it is harmless as it is made for livestock anyway.

    If grain is stored in a dry place it should last a long time, several months. The only thing that will distroy it is moisture. If it gets wet or sweats, then it molds. I keep mine in metal trash cans. I know someone who keeps hers in an old box freezer and it works well.

    Keeping water unfrozen is a pain without electricity. I have tried the floating ball trick...but if it freezes more than 1/2 inch it doesn't work. Basically when I go out to feed I break up the ice on the top and toss it outside the paddocks.NEVER put hot water in the tanks to thaw the ice! Believe or not hot water will freeze faster than cold water!

    Hope this helped you!
  4. HoosierShadow

    HoosierShadow Senior Member

    Apr 19, 2010
    Central Kentucky
    More great info thanks! We don't get extremely cold here, the coldest during the day is usually in the teens - BUT - the wind chill does make it feel colder. Our typical temps in the coldest part of the year is 20s-30s. We get more rain than snow. We did get a lot more snow this past winter, but it only lasts a day or two usually and then melts off.

    We use the hay for bedding as well - usually whatever they drop if it's clean we use it. Or, I'll spread it around the barn area where the grass won't grow, so when it rains, they are walking on wet hay vs. mud.
    We have a spot behind the barn near the fence that would be ideal for several roles of hay for winter. The grass doesn't grow there.
    I can't even guess how many square bales we could fit in the back shed, but not many with the riding mower and push mower.
    Sitting bales on pallets w/heavy duty tarp could be a good idea as well. There are all kinds of ads on craigslist for round bales and square bales.
  5. liz

    liz Well-Known Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    Shelocta PA
    Even though I do have power in my barn, I do not use bucket heaters...I want to but DH says no, I hang the water bucket for the girls on an interior wall, it's never been frozen solid but has had an inch of ice over it, I just smack the top with a hatchet, add some hot water carried from the house and the remaining ice slides out, I then fill with fresh warm water. My bucks have a "winter" of those 2 gallon black rubber buckets from TSC, freezing water won't break it and all I do is bounce it off the ground to free the ice...both bucks and does get warm/hot water before I leave for work in the morning, again when I get home and again when I bed them down at 9 pm.

    As far as hay goes, I'm almost ashamed to admit it but I go through 175 square bales between October and May, some think I give too much but I figure with 9 mini goats total, 3 does are usually preggers and I have 2 bullies, it's easiest to take a bale and fill hay racks am and pm than what it is to try and ration so that each gets their share because to the 2 bullies it all belongs to them.
  6. nancy d

    nancy d Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2007
    near Seattle
    Liz your hay intake rivals mine but dont worry your secret is safe with me! :greengrin:

    Another way to help keep your buckets from freezing too bad is to put them in a milk crate & pack straw thickly around them. It works pretty well for "inbarn" use. Havent tried it outside yet. Remind me please, come winter when I complain about it, when the hose is froze & Im hauling from the bathtub. :wink:
    Id sure like to know how Katrina & Melanie do it!
  7. HoosierShadow

    HoosierShadow Senior Member

    Apr 19, 2010
    Central Kentucky
    I wouldn't know if that is too much hay or not, so no worries Liz LOL

    I've seen those black rubber buckets/feed tubs/etc. at TSC, so thanks for the tips! Our buck has one that came from his prior home and I really like those. I'll keep an eye on them and hopefully they will have a sale soon. I know the last time I was there they had certain ones on sale.
    Right now we are using buckets from my husband's work - supplment, etc. buckets from horses. They work great, and the smaller ones the kids are able to reach.
    We give water from the stream that runs through their pen, but I know in the winter we'll have to bring water from the house! Our out side spicket is HARD to get too, so next year I want hubby to redo it and make it easier to get to, because on days that it's not bitterly cold, it will be useful.

    We will have 12 goats through the winter most likely, and 3-4 does will kid between now and Christmas. So I really have to get things going now and get organized so everyone has shelter from the cold, and plenty of hay to get them through the winter.

    Is it typical to be able to find hay to buy through the winter in case we under estimate? 12 boer goats plus their kids, I wonder if 7 round bales, and 30-40 square bales would be enough? I think we could possibly fit that many square bales inside the sheds/mini barn.
  8. Itchysmom

    Itchysmom New Member

    Apr 2, 2010
    You say there is a stream that runs through thier pen? Does it freeze solid in the winter or is there water flow under the ice? My horses have a spring that has water running through and out a pipe into a hole. This water then goes to the pond, which freezes. The runnig water never freezes. All I had to do last winter was knock off a few icicles. If the stream is running, you may be able to knock a hole in the ice to let them drink. Those times when those bucket we all haul needs a day off! I also thot about what nancy d said about the straw packed box. Hubby wanted to try that one year ,but we never got around to it.

    I never really have trouble finding hay during the winter. The price goes up and I have to drive farther tho.
  9. GotmygoatMTJ

    GotmygoatMTJ New Member

    As for the water situation, we have 8 water tank heaters. And will have 2 hanging heated buckets for our horses in their stalls when they have to use them. We have many different pens that will have goats in them. Our buck pen, 3 breeding/kidding/weaning pens that will have 1 tank for all three. Inside our goat barn, In our goat pasture, in our mini horse pasture, in our horse pasture, and one for our backyard. Lots of money put out there. But we will be turning off some. Like when the horses are in their stalls, their pasture tanks can be turned off. Or when they are out in the pastures, their stall buckets can be turned off. Its confusing but its gonna work. lol

    Our hay situation isn't like yours. We have a 10x20 hay barn that can store about 200 bales I believe. Then we have 2 other 10x10 hay storage areas in our 2 barns. And we are going to keep 3 or 4 round rolls in a part of our horse barn that wont be in use, for my large horse, so we aren't throwing her hay all the time.
  10. PznIvyFarm

    PznIvyFarm New Member

    Jul 25, 2010
    I don't know about your area, but my guy charges $5 a bale for hay and straw. The hay bales are bigger than the straw, by at least 33%, so when my girls deliver, i was going to use hay b/c i get more of it for the same amount. The rest of the time i use shavings for bedding.

    I have a heated water bucket for the winter - you might want to get some of those. (I will probably have to get another one since 3 goats already push it to the limit) The first year with chickens i tried to tough it out and skip the heaters, and i was constantly coming out to refill water containers. The heated containers are well worth the aggravation.
  11. Mon Reve Farm

    Mon Reve Farm New Member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Southern DE
    We used two of the larger deep black rubber pans for water with the water deicer unit inside for the goats last year because we hadn't insulated the barn and put up the kick boards yet. So far we have 50% of that completed and expect the rest to be done by end of October. I'm hoping that will keep the water from freezing like it did last year before we bought the deicers.

    Everyone is saying that with the heat and "drought" in our area of southern Delaware this summer there will be a hay shortage which means the prices will go up. Tomorrow we are getting 75 bales of hay delivered to start our stock piling. Another hay guy we have is cutting next week so we will take both trailers and pick up in the field to get a deal there. We have an empty horse stall and a corner in the barn we will fill then may have to put some up in one of those portable garages on pallets stacked on cinder blocks.