If you raise goats, keeping these animals warm in the winter is an important consideration. No matter whether you are raising goats for fun or profit, if you don’t keep them warm, you can kiss all the fun and profit goodbye.
1. Goats need to feed on roughage to create heat from the inside out. In fact, if goats are fed only grain and no hay they can freeze to death. Roughage comes from things like hay, silage, beat pulp shred, brush, grass and fodder.
2. Insulation is key. Insulating your barn can seem like a large investment but you will get your money back in the form of warm and comfortable animals.
3. Ventilation is good, drafts are bad. Cold air on the floor of the barn can accumulate toxic gases but proper ventilation will push cold, unhealthy air out and bring warm, clean air from the barn ceiling down. Keep in mind, however, that improper ventilation will create drafts and cold air will blow on your goats. This leaves them susceptible to things like pneumonia.
4. Keep fur healthy. Goats grow furry coats in the winter. Most breeds have a two-layer fur coat with long hairs on top and fluffy cashmere underneath. To ensure that this fur coat remains healthy, consider supplementing your goats with the minerals that support fur growth. Zinc and copper are two such minerals.
5. Avoid coats and other types of covers. If you have a goat that is shedding a great deal or is ill, it may require a coat or cover. Otherwise healthy goats do not. In fact, such coverings can rub fur off.
6. Provide proper hydration. In the winter, water is vital to avoid dehydration. It is important to remember that goats rarely eat ice or snow and hate dirty or stale water. To keep your goats healthy it is imperative that you provide them with plenty of clean, fresh water or risk dehydration.
7. An active goat is a healthy goat. Unless it is bitterly cold, windy or raining or snowing, getting outside for a few hours a day is a great way for goats to create heat. It also provides fun and excitement. Multiple feeding stations is a good way to get goats moving, as are things like toys and climbing platforms.
8. Get goats off the ground. Goats are most comfortable resting and sleeping off of the ground on platforms or deep bedding piles. Fresh, deep bedding and platforms keep goats from lying on cold dirt or concrete which pulls heat from their bodies.