Top Tips for Keeping Your Goats Cosy This Winter
We all know that goats hate the rain! Who doesn’t? So it’s important that you are ready to keep your goats warm and dry this winter to prevent them form an array of health problems.
Firstly goats like to live with other goats. This is for security and comfort, and you will often find they all huddle together when the weather turns wet and windy to stay warm and dry. At Wood Green our goats live in groups of 5-15 with a mixture of breeds, ages and sizes.
Housing & Bedding
Goats are browsers, they love nothing more than being out in their field/paddock browsing for food and getting up to mischief jumping on picnic benches and mounds of earth. AKA goat mounds! However it is very important that your goats have warm, damp free shelters to go at night – whether this be that they are shut in at night or have 24/7 access to there shelters and stables.
At Wood Green we have a mixture of housing options depending on their characters, age and health status. Some just love to be out exploring and have the option where as others will be at the gates ready to come in to rest for the night.
Now is the time to make sure that your shelters are damp proof, if you have a stable or shed check the roofing and doors for leaks. Ventilation is vital for goats to prevent respiratory problems, you will still need to have air vents and good air flow if you do shut them in but make sure it is filtered in and not just causing drafts.
You also need to consider the flooring, deep littering is an option so are stable mats. These are great for keeping the chill off the floor but enabling you to keep the stable clean and dry rather than causing a build up. Laying a good layer of bed max shavings and a straw bed will keep it lovely and warm.
If you have a well built stable, high raised, heat lamps are a good option for poorly or elderly goats. It is also worth considering having field rotation options to prevent fields being over churned and possibly leading to a build up of bacteria which could cause the spread of foot rot.
Feeding & Water
Browsing opportunities will reduce during the winter. At Wood Green we collect forage for our goats and dry out the forage for the winter. Willow, Hawthorn and Bramble are great options and can be fed fresh or dried out and given as winter treats later in the year. For older goats, try topping them up with a bit of Apple Chaff – a good mix of forage will keep the weight on in some cases.
Plenty of good quality hay is also vital. Mobile hay racks with roofs are very important during the winter moths as fence racks and bags can become damp and mouldy very quickly. Nets are not ideal as horns can be caught up in them.
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