Today we're going to take a quick video tour of the doe barn.
I get asked about the best kind of shelter for goats fairly often, so I wanted to film a quick tour of my doe barn and tell you things I like about it and a few things I would change about it.
Gates: Always make sure your gates open towards the animals. This prevents animals from pushing on the gate to get it to open, and also forces them to step back from the gate when you are trying to enter. I have safety chains on my gates: one at the top and one at the bottom. This is a short length of chain screwed to the gate post which loops through the corner of the gate and attaches back to the gate post. This chain prevents my animals from escaping even if the traditional lift-latch fails. I highly recommend these as I have had multiple lift latches fail over the years, for various reasons.
Bedding: I use pine pellet bedding designed for horses. This is super absorbent and makes clean up easy. I have dirt floors in my barns and prefer them for drainage and ease of cleaning. Be aware that if you put a concrete floor in your barn it can be hard on the joints and cold to lay on -- put down rubber stall mats over the concrete to ease joints and help with drainage. I definitely wouldn't recommend a wood floor in a barn, it gets slimy with moisture and begins to soften and rot away, causing treacherous footing.
Ventilation: Goats need a well ventilated barn that still keeps them protected from drafts. My barn is built kind of like a covered bridge, which manages this balance nicely. I like using the chain link gates at either end of the barn because it allows for good ventilation even when the goats are secured inside. I also have a window in the barn that can be opened to provide extra ventilation in the summer months. To protect the glass from breakage I put chain link fencing over the window. With the fencing over the window animals cannot get in or out of the barn even when the window is open -- another important feature for security.
Sleeping shelves and feeder: Goats love to sleep on an elevated platform. I have a few sleeping shelves installed along one wall, as well as a free standing cabinet in the middle that they like to sleep on. The feeder is a board nailed to the wall across 2 blocks, leaving a gap for feed bins to fit into nicely. This hanging system allows me to remove bins for cleaning or trade them out.
Kidding pen: My previous kidding pen is attached to this barn. It has a section of chainlink fencing separating it from the rest of the herd. I'm thinking to start using this again later this year, after it has been repaired. I like it allows the doe in labor to remain close to the herd, while still keeping her safely apart. What I don't like, and largely the reason I quit using it, is that it doesn't have it's own outdoor access the way my newer kidding pen does.
What do you like about your barn? What would you change about your barn? Seen any cool new ideas lately?