Goats need to be provided shelter, but they don't need anything fancy. For most climates, a three-sided shelter out of the prevailing winds is sufficient. Goats need dry bedding and a place to get out of the wind and the rain.
Aquila Acres (the Goat Milk Stuff herdname) goats all HATE the rain. We've always thought that goats truly believe that if they get wet, they're going to melt! So if there is not shelter in their pasture area, make sure they have access to the barn.
Most goat owners have barns that are fancier than a three-sided shelter. But a lot of times that's more for the comfort and convenience of humans than it is for the comfort and needs of the goats.
If you are building a new barn for goats, when you've never had goats before, I have three suggestions for you:
- Build as big as you can afford.
- Initially put up as few permanent, internal walls as possible.
- Put off building until you've had goats for a while.
Build as big as you can afford. It seems that everybody who is a long-time goat owner ends up with more goats than they initially planned. Building all the walls, ceiling, and infrastructure costs a lot more money than adding empty space in the middle of your barn.
Initially put up as few permanent, internal walls as possible. No matter how much thought you put into designing your barn, I've never met a goat owner yet (myself included) who wished they hadn't designed something differently in their new barn. If you leave the inside of your structure open, you can use cattle panels and such to rearrange the inside of your barn if necessary.
Put off building until you've had goats for a while. Don't build something new until you know you are a goat person and like the lifestyle. Put up a 3 sided shelter until you know that. Spend some time. I can't tell you the number of people who build a goat barn and milking parlor only to find out that they don't like the dairy goat lifestyle. Don't be one of those people. You can manage with a 3 sided shelter (especially in the warmer months) for quite a while.
When you do build a barn (or retrofit an existing out-building), you will want to make sure you have room for the following. Some spaces may do double-duty, and the size needed depends on how many goats you "plan" to have.
- Hay storage
- Feed storage
- Medications storage
- Equipment storage
- Record keeping area
- Kidding supplies storage
- Disbudding area
- Wheelbarrow and shovel storage
- A place to milk
- A place to process your milk
- A place to trim hooves
- A hay manger
- A place for the goats to eat their feed
- A place for loose minerals
- An isolation pen for sick or new goat(s)
- A water source
- Kidding pens
- Loafing area
- Buck area
- Baby goat area
There are some amenities that are really nice to have, but are not necessary:
- Concrete floors
- Automatic waterers
- Climate control
- Running water
- A sink
- A refrigerator
- Automatic door closers
- Feeders that can be filled without going into the pen
- Hay mangers that can be filled without going into the pen
- Wide aisles
Disclaimer: This information is provided as an example of how we personally raise goats at Goat Milk Stuff. We are not veterinarians and any information on the GMS website should not be taken as veterinary advice. Please seek the advice of a professional vet before making any changes to your herd management or individual treatment of your goat.