We built the cutest little goat barn (see our post, Building the Goat Barn). However, CUTE does not necessarily translate to STURDY! Although most elements in our barn design are standing up well to our bouncy little goats, there were a few things that JUST DIDN’T WORK OUT.
Every day we are learning a little more about what works for our goats, and what doesn’t. We did a lot of research originally, and thought we were well prepared when planning out the barn. Everything LOOKED like it would work. But what we have figured out is that we made a few mistakes!
Underestimating how much Jumping, Springing, and Climbing your goats will do on EVERYTHING in the barn (including YOU)
If something is within reach, your goats will try to jump on it. It’s that simple. And they are not “dainty” about it. It’s a mad scramble, especially at feeding time, to get to the food. That means any people, shelves, or other items you may have on the wall become platforms for the goats, and they will ALL try to jump on them at the same time, pushing each other out of the way to get into the “best spot”. In our barn design, we installed a small shelf for a mineral block, and some small plastic containers for their baking soda and salt (see Mistake #2). Each day the plastic containers were repeatedly knocked off the wall (of course spilling everything inside), until one day, they just broke off. The mineral block shelf is still there (without the mineral block), but I don’t know how much longer it will survive! The other night, one of the goats (Leeloo), who loves to stand on this shelf, managed to contort her body around – back legs on the mineral block shelf, front legs on the door – and was able to stretch backwards just enough to reach her feed tub that was being filled on the shelf above. We were laughing so hard at this that we could barely get the food out from under her head!
Using a MINERAL BLOCK for the goats
Now some people may have had success with these (which is why we put one out in the first place), but our goats were not at all interested in the mineral block. In fact, it was just something else to stand on! They did not lick it. We wanted to make sure they were getting enough minerals, so we purchased a bag of loose goat minerals, and the goats LOVE them! We put this out free choice, and the goats will take what they need. It was a bit of a challenge finding the loose minerals designed for goats, as few places here have goat supplies, but we were able to ask a pet supply store order this in for us.
Goats also need access to salt and baking soda (to help with stomach upsets), so we put these out free choice too. We use loose stock salt (bought from a farm supply store), and just regular baking soda (bought in larger packages from the local “warehouse” supermarket). So if you remember in Mistake #1, we originally had small plastic containers installed for our loose supplements. Well, those didn’t work out so great, so we found a FANTASTIC idea online to build mineral feeders from PVC pipe. It was a bit costly to buy all the pieces (especially for three of them), but these actually work! The goats can’t get up on them, and they are very strong and durable, so should last for a very long time. And the goats really do use them! Have a look at this link, Make Your Own Goat Mineral Feeder, for instructions on how to build these, as well as see our finished mineral feeders below.
Not making your stall gates strong enough to withstand GOAT LAUNCHING
When we built the goat barn, we used siding which we got for FREE. It was actually the stuff that is a little too thin to sell, so it is put out as “free firewood” at a local lumberyard. We couldn’t pass this up, as it looks good, and would certainly serve the purpose (even if we had to replace some of the boards occasionally). Inside of the barn, we installed an additional ½ wall of siding, to help prevent the goats from kicking through to the exterior. However, we used this same siding on the stall gates. I had (wrongly) assumed that these boards and my gate design would be sturdy enough for the goats. As it turns out, we have one goat who loves to “launch” herself around in the barn, usually using the stall gate as her “launch pad”. As we are not currently using one of the stalls, we keep the gate open, hooked to the back wall. The goat (Primrose) jumps at the gate, and launches herself backward off it, especially at feeding time. Jeff likes to call this activity our goat PARKOUR time! It didn’t take her long to kick off several pieces of the siding. This wasn’t too hard to fix – we just nailed the siding back on, but this time we attached some additional support boards, which we screwed onto the fronts of both stall gates (to sandwich in the siding). However, we learned our lesson about making sure EVERYTHING is built strong enough to withstand repeated goat launches!
All things considered, our original barn design hasn’t turned out too bad. As I mentioned earlier, we are learning new things every day, so the next barn will be even sturdier! Just keep in mind that whatever you build for your goats, it has to be able to stand up to their jumping. Your goats may look cute, and may be small (especially if you have miniature breeds like we do), but those little legs are strong!