How Goats Thrive Through Winter
Winter will be here before you know it, how goats thrive through winter will determine how prepared you are. Rather this be your first winter or a winter you wished you had prepared for. Get the tips and resources to make this winter a happy and healthy one.
Water is the most essential nutrient for animals. Therefore, in winter, the goats will be drinking more water. A pregnant or lactating doe, their drinking will double. As with high protein diets and mineral intake increases, water increases too.
- Trough or bucket of water that is fresh, clean, and free of toxins. (Get tested local)
- A dry, clean water source area of rocks or a paved surface free of mud in diameter of 8 to 10 feet, it will help prevent unsanitary conditions and the risk of spreading diseases, hoof rot.
- Check water, free of urine and feces, and dump and clean out regularly.
- Prepare for frozen water, use a heated bucket with coiled protected wires. Goats love to chew, so be cautious. If no electricity is available, give warm water daily.
- With power outages, have a water supply, and a generator if available.
Goats are particular about their food. Being a browser, not much will be available in winter months in some locations. Getting the optimal health through winter will reflect on growth, production, and performance.
- Minerals are critical to immune system, it is area specific. Here is a great article for pack goat nutrition.
- Hay storage needs off the ground so that no mold or spoilage will cause sickness or even death.
- Keep hay covered and out of the weather.
- Why a good design feeder is recommended to keep goats healthy and free of diseases. Get the feeder here.
- With each degree drop below freezing .5% to 1% increase in feed.
A shelter through winter needs the proper function for your property to accommodate all goats. They will be sleeping, eating, and resting in one area for months. Therefore, having a safe place for them to stay healthy and comfortable is crucial to their health.
- We recommend a three sided structure with a tin roof. Having the back wall be the barrier to the prevailing winds keeping the weather out. This video shows the importance of shelter and pasture set up.
- Air circulation is very important to prevent pneumonia with air tight enclosures.
- However, outdoor activity is needed for hoof health and vitamin D.
- Goats undercoats are filling out preparing for winter, depending on the climate area, so no heat lamps are needed for adults. For babies, an independently lamp is a good idea and safe to prevent fires.
- Keep your goats warm and dry from rain or snowy weather, check out the goat coat or aka goat shell.
- The goat coat/goat shell video demonstrates how it works and how to use it.
- A good idea to have the feeder inside and under a shelter, so that any waste is used as bedding. Not out in a pasture getting soiled.
- A deep bed method works well for winter months. Start in October and let the hay or straw pile up. This process is where the layers add up and cause fermentation which brings heat, keeping goats warm. Then, clean out in the spring. Layers of dry bedding is to prevent diseases and sickness.
- Young kids are most prone to frostbite. It affects their ears, tails, and feet.
- Frostbite can occur at any climate condition: wind, rain, sunlight, and snow.
- Treatment must be immediate. The therapy includes, warming in water method, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs to control tissue damage. Talk to your vet to prevent further injury.
- Keep does and kids inside shelter with warmer conditions and out of cold weather.
In conclusion, using these tips will teach you how goats thrive through winter. By being prepared you will have the confidence and resources to survive and enjoy the winter with your healthy goats.