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Amazing Goat Shelters

Result From Imagination & Resourcefulness

Shelene Costello

 

I believe goat owners can have personalities similar to their dairy goats. Characteristics that come to mind include determination, independence, and inventiveness. At our small dairy goat farm in Nebraska, we have recycled and reused many items to house our animals. I talk with people all the time and get new ideas of repurposed items to use for shelters, places to get older, cheaper items to use, and I am amazed at how well some people do with what they find to use for fences and shelters.

 

I believe goat owners can have personalities similar to their dairy goats. Characteristics that come to mind include determination, independence, and inventiveness. At our small dairy goat farm in Nebraska, we have recycled and reused many items to house our animals. I talk with people all the time and get new ideas of repurposed items to use for shelters, places to get older, cheaper items to use, and I am amazed at how well some people do with what they find to use for fences and shelters.

 

I do not consider myself handy with tools, nor am I particularly inventive, but my husband, sister, and many of my friends, both in person and in cyberspace, seem to be able to see potential in any numbers of recyclable resources. Recently, I came across some great photos of recycled items turned into useful barns and fences for goats. I received permission to share a few photos from a friend of some imaginative barn and shed layouts using recycled items.

If your main weather problem is blistering heat, a simple covered area (above) will suffice. A three-sided shelter (below) will protect them from driving rain.
If your main weather problem is blistering heat, a simple covered area (above) will suffice. A three-sided shelter (below) will protect them from driving rain.

These goat owners repurposed wood pallets into barn walls, separate stalls and kidding areas. They used panels from chain link dog kennels as dividers and fencing. Tin was recycled into roofing materials. Lattice boards made nice pen sides, and telephone poles turned into sturdy corner posts.

While some goat owners may turn up their nose at a hodge-podge facility that can result from using recycled materials, others see creativeness and engineering talent put to good use in goat shelters and pens that are efficient and economical.

My father and sister once took an old sawhorse, mounted it on a pallet, put on sides and made a simple A-frame shelter for a couple of small goats. When I visited, I watched the goats enjoying their shelter, then leaping to the top of it and using the top of the sawhorse as a table up off the ground. The sturdy little shelter has lasted for many years in the southern climate, and cost the builders next to nothing to make.

 

On many dairy goat farms I’ve often seen dog houses being used for sheltering small goats. As long as the opening is large enough for goats to get in comfortably, and the shed is big enough for them to stand and turn around it, it can work well.

I’ve used plastic dog crates, with the windows lined with cardboard, or stuck back into a small shed to give some animals a second layer of protection from wind and weather, much like many use them for kids to pile in and sleep.

For quite a few years, I had a pair of bucks who were very bonded who preferred to sleep together piled in a dog crate. They just never outgrew their preference to cuddle. Even with the choice of a roomier shed, they chose to go into that smaller crate. Sometimes I have added carpet remnants to cover the openings of those crates. The goats quickly learn to push aside the door covering to go in and out. I’ve resorted to slipping dog crates into larger heavy-duty cardboard boxes for a short term shelter during inclement weather. The cardboard doesn’t last a long time, but it works well for a few weeks in the deep cold to give a bit of extra insulation, and the crate inside gives stability to the shelter. The flaps at the end of the box made a very nice door to keep out the worst of the cold.

I’ve seen some people use tarps to make windbreaks and shelters that last a few seasons and make relatively inexpensive quick shelters and sunshades.

 

Some goat owners take a welded wire stock panel, fold it into a hoop, anchor the sides down and cover the wire with a tarp to make a quick hoop shed. Many poultry breeders use these sheds, but I’ve seen them used well with small livestock as well, as long as the goats do not have access to jump and climb on the tarp.

I always try to keep safety in mind, as well as convenience when looking at repurposing ideas for shelters. It does not save money if it causes vet bills and injury to precious stock. Sometimes well-placed fences must be erected in order to keep goats from jumping on and possibly destroying their shelters, and hurting themselves.

Small wire and tarp hoop sheds are often advertised for a good amount of money in larger sizes. However, these can be made in any backyard with a little ingenuity. Add a back side to it, and even roll up the sides, and it becomes a lovely shed for warmer climates where the main shelter needed is an airy break from the sun.

These pictures are provided by Sugar Plum Dairy owned and shared by Tracy Shiflett and her husband in south Texas. They have used recycled items very creatively and successfully
These pictures are provided by Sugar Plum Dairy owned and shared by Tracy Shiflett and her husband in south Texas. They have used recycled items very creatively and successfully in building sheds and barns for their livestock, including dairy and meat goats and horses.

We have used our stock trailer as a temporary shed over the years as well, for both the goats and the horses. Depending on the weather, the sides can be left ventilated or not. I braced the underside of the trailer with bricks and logs to keep it from shifting and from tilting with the weight on one end or the other. I know that others have done the same, using various materials to cover the openings to keep the worst weather out. I’ve also seen trailers used for feed storage when building space is short, and it works well when they can be come by reasonably cheap, or are not needed for a while to move stock.

temporary-stalls-recycled-gates-fence-panels-1There is no end to ideas of ways to use everyday things to make dairy goats a bit more comfortable when money is tight. While every dairy goat fancier might dream of the day they can afford that big new barn, the reality is that most breeders and enthusiasts must make use of a little imagination and resourcefulness to make ends meet and keep those goats happy and safe.





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