Protecting your goats from Old Man Winter

camelot hills logo blackHere at Camelot Hills in east central Mississippi, our winters are not all that harsh.  However, they can get quite cold at times with the occasional freezing rain, sleet and the crippling one inch of snow.   I kid simply because the South is just not prepared for snow and it usually shuts everything down for a day or two.  Old Man Winter can  be a nasty ole goat at times and some goats need a little help fighting him off.

There are many ways to protect your goats for the winter weather, the first being shelter.  Shelter can be very small to very large, depending on your needs and means.  But whatever its size, it needs to be clean and dry.  I have seen shelters take on all sizes and shapes made from many different materials such as hay, pallets and old scrap tin.  You can also re-purpose other buildings for shelter, we took a storage shed and turned it into a pig barn, which later remodeled for a goat shelter.   Some people even use part of their garage.  And to get even crazier, some people bring their goats indoors.  I’ve even seen pictures on the internet of shelters made from stacks of hay with a board on top, talk about simple.  Do yourself a quick search and see what you might like. The most important thing is that it’s clean and dry.

Another thing to think about when protecting your goats from the cold is coats and blankets, especially if they have been shaved!  Goats fur is a pretty good insulator and under normal circumstances they don’t need coats, much like our pygmies who don’t wear coats because their winter coat comes in and coats and blankets are not necessary.  With our dairy goats, their fur doesn’t get a chance to get wooly so they are not protected.

One of the simplest and cheapest ways to get a coat on your goat is take an old sweatshirt, cut the sleeves off and dress them up.  They usually don’t mind it and they will get torn up a bit over time, so take a trip to your local thrift store and get them cheap or dig through that closet and pull out that old sweatshirt from the 80’s and put it on them.  You can also find many coats you can purchase online such as these.  Many different kinds of coats and blankets can be found online at different supply stores such a Hoegger and Jeffers and Ebay and Amazon.  Camelot Hills is currently working on its own line of coats of its own design.  If they pass our testing, they will be available in the near future.  So make sure you subscribe to get updates!

Water!  As we all know, water freezes when it gets cold right?  Well, there are lots of ways you can prevent this.  There are different methods of heating your water so it does not freeze, however you must be extremely careful because of the fire hazard these heaters create.  What we like to do is keep a few buckets in the house so we can just carry out water to them as needed and bring in the ones that freeze to thaw.  It’s simple yet effective and no fire hazard.  Hopefully in the future we will be installing a freeze proof hydrant so we can have running water even when everything is frozen.

The only other major thing is bedding.  Whether you use hay or shavings, make sure you have plenty of it for the goats to bed down in.  Keep it clean!  Make sure you muck out the old and put down fresh hay or shavings frequently to keep it clean.

Remember, a Happy Goat is a Healthy Goat!


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