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!
How do you keep the minerals from caking?
We haven’t had a problem with loose minerals caking. Loose salt, however, will cake. The kids (human) like to break it up with their hands while we are feeding the goats. We keep the extra in a tightly sealed container and that keeps it loose.
Muck Ledford says
What is the third mineral you use?
We use loose salt, loose goat mineral (it is a pre-mix), and free choice baking soda. Also give them kelp meal on occasion too.
Katie Pool says
Hello! The mineral feeders – we made a similar version from PVC pipe but for some reason it doesn’t fall down like it should – I have to pour more in the top to get it to push the rest down so they can get at it…do you have this issue with yours?
Ours seem to be working well still. No issues with the minerals clogging, although the salt does crust up when we get a lot of wet weather. We do have a rounded pipe at the bottom – maybe that makes the difference?
Thank you so much for the great tips, which I will certainly keep in mind when I start building my barn for Nigerian dwarf goats.
Don Yelton says
use larger pvc pipe no less than 4 but 6 would be excellent.
I think ours was 4″ pipe – works well for our mini-goats! Since we made these, we have also installed some of the pre-made goat mineral feeders (they have two compartments and just screw to the wall). They work OK, but have had a couple of those broken recently – the goats like to jump up on them. However, these PVC feeders are still in great shape, even after years of use.
Adrian Wiggins says
Hello Goat lovers/professionals!! I am military veteran seriously interested in pursing a hobby and business venture in goat farming. My goal is to focus on breeding and raising them for meat purposes.
Can anyone give me some really good advice on books and websites to study and educate myself? I want to do this right and time is not a factor. I love the comments and any information that can be provided. Please email me at email@example.com
Amy Riley says
Storeys guide to raising goats:)
Andy Starr says
I, too, am a veteran. My wife, Holly, and I bought our farm two years ago. We now have 8 Kiko meat goats. Do your research…each breed of goats have pros and cons. I’ve also found that everyone has a little different spin or thoughts as to breed, purpose, etc. what worked best for us…visiting different farms to view setup – from housing to fence to feed, and of course, talking with the different farmers.
Enjoy your goats. Make sure you have good goat fencing. Remember they don’t like or do well with wet feet. They prefer scrub country not good pasture. Rocks to climb on are good also trims their feet for you. They are good escape artists and in Australia wombats put holes under fences to let them out. They are also good prey for feral dogs. Enjoy your goats they are fun.
If you are looking for herbal/natural remedies for goats a great book if you can get it is by Juliette De Barley levy. Not sure about spelling but a lot of remedies for Animals.
Kelly Stock says
I just have to say… the best advice ever and we have gone through it all as well!! Everything seems like a brilliant idea… until.. they destroy it.. don’t care with a cute lil face the whole time!! Thank you so so much for not making us feel alone!!!
Haha, thanks! Yes, they certainly destroy all of our best intentions. Even our adorable little goat barn is in dire need of repair now. We ended up moving the bucks to this space (as we have way too many does these days to keep them in our original barn), and those boys are really tough on EVERYTHING. We will be doing some major repairs this spring/summer!
Tammie Houston says
Thanks for letting me know that having shelves and the like around a goat barn would be a bad idea as they may try to jump on things. That’s not something I thought goats would tend to do. My brother is planning on getting a barn built here on our property but it seems there’s a lot more to it thane we originally expected. I may just have to hire some custom barn builders for the job at this point. I wouldn’t want the goats to get out or end up breaking our shoddy workmanship if we tried building it ourselves.