Helping Goats Thrive In Winter
Goats are a very hardy critter where most of the breeds originated from the Swiss Alps or other high elevation, heavy winter, locations. They are geared and already equipped to handle extreme temperatures and weather. I often see new goat owners get over concerned about their goats’ well-being in the winter. With just a few simple strategies you can easily keep your goats warm and safe in double digit below zero conditions. My intent will be to show you this easy strategy for goats up to 20 degrees below zero and to also help you develop a safe strategy if you have temperatures regularly below in a final paragraph.
Helping Goats Thrive In Winter: Three Components To Success
The three components to success are deep bedding, dry shelter, and lots of food and proper heath. I’ll go into detail on all three. One, is deep bedding. I have always used, here in Idaho, the deep bedding, composting model. We often get temps below zero but not very often below negative 10. What this is is where you just keep piling on fresh straw or grass hay on top of the old, keeping it deep and fluffy. I add about a bale to each one of my shelters every 3 weeks as a rule. Then what happens is as the hay on the lower layers begins to decompose and compost, it gives off heat. So not only do they have a warm fluffy bed they can paw down into but it also has its own warmth generation due to the exothermic reaction caused by decomposition. It works amazing. I just clean out the pens once at the end of winter with my skid steer.
Number two is to keep them under a three sided and roofed, dry shelter. It’s very important to have all three. They need a wind break as well as being able to stay dry. One thing that is critical is to build their shelters where winter time moisture is not allowed into the shelter through proper drainage and elevation to keep their base dry and comfy. I have extensive YouTube videos showing you how. Look at my “ranch updates” from 2022.
Food & Overall Goat Health
Lastly, is food and overall goat health going into winter. Your goats will be thankful for going into winter a little heavy, rather than skinny. A skinny goat will struggle more. Also proper minerals help them to have a proper coat and their hair does all the work for them. After you have this it is important for you to feed in the morning and evening in the winter so they will be well fed twice a day. When goats ruminate they produce heat in that process as it is also an exothermic reaction (gives off heat) and it keeps them warmth from the inside out. It’s especially important to feed in the evening so they have full bellies before they bed down.
With the combination of these three things your goats will easily thrive through winter. Oh, also it’s worth mentioning I don’t suggest goat coats to help them deal with the temps as all that does is squish down their hair and make their natural insulation less effective. The only reason for a goat coat is to keep them dry or to keep the wind off.
Helping Goats Thrive In Winter – Temps Below -20
Goat Club Membership
For more tips about taking care of your goats, be sure to sign up for our Goat Club Membership. As a member you get access to live videos and content, 1/2 off of courses and 10% off of goat gear.