Building the Barn and Floor – Decisions

First rule, regardless of what you decide for a barn floor (or barn design), is to locate your barn in an area where water will not “migrate” into the barn.  If the area has poor drainage, that might mean you need to build up the area under and immediately around the barn foundation.

Before we built the goat barn (12×12), I had planned a concrete floor with drains as I have in my chicken house which has served well there.  However, before starting the goat barn, I decided to get opinions from my favorite goat group.  In the nearly two months which followed, I collected dozens points of view.  Most of those opinions included reasons for the decisions and the results as well as “if I had it to do again” comments.

Based on many conversations, I decided on dirt and have never regretted it.  A dirt floor will absorb the urine into the ground while anything else will collect it and will also retain some odor regardless of the composition or how well it is scrubbed.  With the dirt floor, some absorbs into the bedding and gets removed with cleaning.  When the barn is cleaned, it is taken down to dirt, then deodorizer is spread, then a generous layer of straw.  A good cleaning in early October and then waste hay – always an issue with goats – provides wonderful thick bedding for winter.  A second thorough cleaning is done in the spring after a winter of goats inside much of the time because of our frequent western Washington rains.  I do, however, prepare fresh bedding for kidding in the kidding area at least two weeks prior to due date.

I have never had an ammonia smell which I did have, even with weekly cleaning, when they were on a block floor before their barn was built.  One of the biggest dangers to goats is pneumonia with one of the main causes being ammonia in their barn.  Most important: If you smell ammonia, clean it immediately; you should never smell ammonia in your barn.  Remember, when your goats sleep, their noses are near the ground so if you can smell it, it is filling their lungs.

Another thing that matters is ventilation. We left the space between the tops of walls and the roof open so there would be air flow. There is one small door at the bottom (the right side as you face the front of the barn) so there can be ventilation going up even when the large door is closed.  (Do note there is a difference between ventilation and drafts!)

Keep in mind that the general rule is you should be comfortable sitting on the floor yourself – in other words clean.

I read that goats will not use their bedding area for a bathroom but will go outside. Well, my goats NEVER read that book!

Post script:  I realize I did not address the foundation.  Mine is on 4x4s, set on concrete blocks six feet apart.

Post script 2:  I did not include where I bought my barn plans and a couple of other details; that is at:
https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/vanedengoats.wordpress.com/343

Post script 3:  The roof is clear Suntuf roofing for the extra light and have never regretted it.  It is corrugated and must be installed exactly as directed but it is well worth both the extra expense and the effort.  The corrugations on it are different than other corrugated roofing and need its own installation strips.  Our lumber store folks were invaluable help with this.

Barn Snow 2018-0221

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie
    Nov 18, 2020 @ 08:33:46

    Hi there,

    I’m building a 10×10 foot house for my goats which will arrive in the spring..I am on one acre with some browse and some grass/annual weeds. I will be feeding hay and supplementing with browse and stuff from the garden. I’m starting off with two Nigerian milking does (no kids yet!). Hope to build my herd slowly.
    My question is, is it better to have two hay feeders, one inside and one outside, rather than just one? Also, what size feeder would you recommend for up to six adult milkers? I am looking at designs on line and will probably go with a heavy wire front (2×4 “).

    Thank you for your feedback.
    Julie Kimmel

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    • VanEden Goats
      Nov 18, 2020 @ 20:02:02

      Hello, Julie.
      Welcome to the wonderful world of goats. I highly recommend joining Deborah’s Ning group at
      http://nigeriandwarfgoats.ning.com
      I joined it before I bought my goats and spent many hours there reading through the archives – the best thing I could have done. I also send a copy of her book “Raising Goats Naturally” with all my babies when I sell them. It is now in its second edition.
      First, the barn size: Mine is 12×12 and supports three or four nicely. I’m not certain a 10×10 will support six without adding on. I am able to completely clean mine only twice a year; smaller with more goats would be monthly I would think. I also have Nigerian Dwarf goats. Mine is set up so my manger is perpendicular in the middle of one wall divide it so I can put up one piece of fencing to have a kidding stall in 1/4 of the barn. It has worked very well and both new mom and the other goats have access to all the hay in the feeder. I put a SunTuf translucent roof on it, expensive but I love that I did – lots of light! To make it secure and resistant to damage, the directions must be followed but they are very clear (my lumber store people were incredible).
      Hay feeder: Definitely inside so the hay never gets wet. They know where the hay is and will go to it when they want it. If you put a second feeder outside, be certain it is completely protected from rain, keep in mind moldy hay will make them sick.
      My feeder is the size of a standard bale of hay with the two long sides made of cattle panel pieces cut to fit. It has worked very well. Caution: The kids love to get into it and think they are quite smart when they do! I will send a photo of you send me your email address.
      I keep hay in mine all the time so it feeds whoever you have.
      Sadly, I have a Victorian Hay Manger which was perfect there is little waste hay! However, one of my does got her head stuck and because it is cast iron, we have to use a car jack to separate the bars enough to get her out. Every time I had her head in the right position, she moved. Because she was just 2-3 weeks from kidding, we had to be much more conservative than if she wasn’t pregnant. It looks something like this one (the closest I could find on line) but it sets on the ground (and is quite heavy!) so I just tipped it forward to fill it. Except for the head incident, it was perfect. The kids especially loved it because they could get inside it. I just checked the photos at my goat site – there are no manger photos on it.
      https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ANTIQUE-SALVAGE-VINTAGE-CAST-IRON-VICTORIAN-HORSE-STABLE-CORNER-HAY-RACK-/193268448726
      If you have more questions, please ask.
      Loving our little goats,
      Glenna

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