Cold weather is right around the corner for many people so how do you care for goats in the winter? We’re going to walk you through step by step what you need to know for your goats to thrive and give you peace of mind on those long winter nights knowing your goats will be ok.
I don’t know about you but the first major winter storm we got after I brought home my goats for the first time was so nerve racking. I trudged back and forth to the barn in the ice, sleet and snow every couple of hours to check on my goats and make sure they were warm enough, that their water was thawed that they still had enough hay and just generally check on their well being.
What Do You Do With Goats In The Winter
Caring for goats in the winter for the most part is being prepared before it turns cold. If you get ahead of the game and prepare for the change in the weather it makes winter so much easier on you and less stressful on your animals. So lets take a look at how much winter weather your goats can handle.
How Cold Is To Cold For Goats?
One thing that you need to know when it comes to caring for goats in the winter is how cold is to cold for goats. While most goats can comfortably thrive in temperatures between 54 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, however some goats can tolerate lower temperatures depending on their coat. Typically under 20 degrees Fahrenheit is cold for goats and it’s time to take action to make sure they have a place to stay warm. It should be noted that even 40 degrees with a wind can be chilly for goats.
What Temperature Can Baby Goats Tolerate
If dry and nursing baby goats are quite tuff and can handle temperatures dipping into the 20’s as long as they are kept out of the wind and drafts.
Can Goats Stay Outside In The Winter?
Yes your goats can stay outside during the winter. However they absolutely need some sort of shelter to keep them out of the wind where they can snuggle in and stay warm. Depending on how many goats you have the size of the shelter you will need will change. For our two Nigerian Dwarf goats we use a large dog igloo packed with straw so they can snuggle up together in the stay warm. One of the great things about using straw for goats in the winter is it works as an insulation.
Winter Goat Shelter
Depending on your breed of goats, and how many you have the size of your goat shelter will change. For us a dog igloo works during the day and we put them in the barn at night.
Do Goats Need An Insulated Shelter?
Goats do not necessarily need an insulated shelter, it’s better to focus on ensuring that the space is free from drafts and winter precipitation. A great winter shelter for goats is a three-sided structure with one side open. Goats do best with proper ventilation, and this type of structure works well for that when it comes to caring for goats in the winter.
Do Goats Need Heat In The Winter?
Typically when it comes to caring for goats in the winter goats do not require a heater in their barn, for the most part this can cause more harm then good when a goat leaves the warm structure and is plunged into much colder winter weather outside. It’s better to focus on keeping the structure free from drafts and dry
Heat Lamps For Goats
It’s best not to use heat lamps for your goats in the winter, heat lamps can be very dangerous and cause barn fires. They are easily knocked over or off and get very hot. If it lands on flammable objects like straw or even pine shavings in your barn it can easily start a fire. Sadly this is very common. Here’s and article you can read on the pros and cons to using a heat lamp in your barn. Alternatively if it is absolutely necessary you can create a kid warmer.
Goat Bedding In Winter
One of the best things you can use for your goats in the winter for bedding is straw, straw is a natural insulator that helps them stay warmer. Pile it into their barn, stall or enclosure deep and add fresh weekly. You can also use a deep litter method in your barns over the winter to help keep your goats up off the cold floor.
What To Feed Goats In The Winter
Goats in the winter require more roughage in their diet, then in the spring or summer. Feeding on roughage like fodder, hay, grass, and silage will help your goat create heat from the inside out. Without this roughage in their diet they can in some case freeze to death because they can’t generate enough body heat to stay warm. Learn more about what to feed goats in the winter here.
Keeping Goats Water Thawed
When it comes to goats in the winter hydration is super important! Goats do not like cold water so do your best to keep their water thawed and not super cold. A bucket heater like this one can be used to keep the water from freezing. Also using a rubber bucket with a wide surface makes it harder for the water to freeze. You may need to change your goats water out throughout the day when it is very cold.
How Do You Prepare A Goat For Winter
Avoid putting coats on your goats in the winter, goats shiver to fluff their coats so while they may seem cold to us it’s important you don’t put something that will smash their coats down. Having their coat fluffed helps to lock in their body heat. If your goat is ill, or you are dealing with new born kids a coat may be useful but don’t leave it on for a long period of time.
Make sure your goats are getting the proper amount of minerals. In the winter goats grow a thicker coat to keep them warm, being deficient in some minerals can cause them not to grow a thick enough coat to keep them warm throughout the winter months.
Although keeping your goats warm and comfortable can be a challenge in the winter, it is still possible with proper planning and management of your herd. Your goats will survive the winter if you provide them with proper shelter, feeding, and water.