for people who love the littlest dairy goats
I've got everything setup for my girls (they come home Sunday YAY!) but one important thing I am lacking is the bedding. I've read really great things about cobb bedding but it seems most people in the area are using straw/hay for bedding. Has anyone used cobb? Any advice or tips would be super appreciated!
I've never used cobb for livestock, but I used to work in a zoo, and at a pet store, and I've used it in those situations. It's good bedding! It does tend to mold if it gets wet, but so does straw and hay. I think if I were going to use something other than the spent hay I use, I would choose wood shavings. One thing I would worry about with my own goats, is that they would eat the cobb.
I put down shavings, a thin layer to absorb the liquid and then I put a nice thick layer of straw over that.
Hay here would be too expensive to use as bedding. If you use straw,be sure to make sure it is clean. I have had to throw a couple of bales on the manure pile because they were moldy.
Having tried several things and I like straw and spent hay the best for keeping it clean. I have dirt floors in my barns and this seems to be the easiest way to keep it clean since the poo tends to fall down into the hay and straw and sits on top of shavings and pellet bedding. I use barn lime on the wet spots and then put fresh straw on top.
Let me clarify:
I don't just USE hay for bedding. That is to say, I don't purchase hay for the sole purpose of using it for bedding. I only use the hay for bedding once it's been fed to the goats. THEN, I use the hay that my goats don't eat by the end of the day, to cover the floor. It gets thick very fast, just from using the bits that they won't finish eating. That way, no waste! This is what is known as "spent" hay. It's not dirty, it's just the bits that the goats aren't interested in, or that they pull onto the floor and leave.
I also have a dirt floor, and manage it the way that Julia does. I see no reason to purchase bedding when I have a resource that would otherwise just be wasted. Once the barn floor is thick enough with this layering method of bedding, I pitch fork it up, and put it into the garden, to mulch and fertilize. Nothing goest to waste that way, and in the cost of hay for feed, I've also essentially "bought" bedding, AND fertlizer, AND mulch.
I was planning on composting anything I removed from the enclosures so I'm really glad to see your response on using it on the garden. I'll give a bit more info on my setup and see if you all might have other tips.
The main house is a large 8x8 totally enclosed building with 2 windows for ventilation. The flooring in that is wood.The floor wood is sealed with a child and animal safe non toxic, no VOC sealer.
Would spent hay be best for that area as well?
During the day the door will be left open for the girls to come and go from there as they please into a 10 x 20 fenced enclosure with a peaked shade cloth over the top. The floor there is dirt and gravel. So the spent hay should work perfect there then.
At night the does will need to be locked up in the 8x8 building. I literally live in the middle of a state forest in the mountains and there are a TON of coyotes here that get pretty active from dusk til dawn so I just don't feel safe letting them have free run of the fence enclosure until I get a live stock guardian or two. The enclosure front door is less than 100 feet from my front door and we keep lights out around the house at night but between that and the bear that loves my pond I still feel like having them safely inside of a building the coyotes have no way to access is best to keep them safe at night. Since they will be spending the nights locked in there should I put extra bedding or something more absorbent mixed in?
Also thanks for all of the great info! The breeder has been wonderful and informative but I also like to get input from other experienced people as well since everyone has a different way of doing things. I find that any day I spend reading forums, researching or asking questions about any of the animals we are setting up on the farm I learn some new no matter how much time I've spent learning and researching before.
I personally would try spent hay on the wood floor. You might have to remove it more often, but it would still work, I believe. The thing I've noticed about dirt floors, is that there is nothing soaking up the odor of urine like there is on concrete floors. I don't know if wood will have the same results or not, but as far as bedding goes, I like spent hay. It's basically no cost, and it composts easily. Wood chips will take longer to compost. I don't know about cobb. That might mix more easily into a garden area. The thing about hay, is that you can layer a fresh, thin layer of hay over soiled hay, and it's good again. I think that would be harder with cobb or shavings, but it might just be something you'll have to try and see! I only have experience with it in pet store and zoo situations. lol
Jessica, I don't want to freak you out but you should know, if you have active bears and they discover you have goats, the goats will not necessarily be safe from them in the daytime. We have lots of bears too living on the edge of forest service land in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The bears pass by close to us in the daytime frequently but my dog scares them away. Last fall two goats were attacked and killed by a bear in the daytime near us (they were adult goats). They jumped the fence and killed them in their pen. We have hot wire electric fencing too and lock up the goats at night as well. Coyotes come down along the fence during the DAY and case it for a way in especially when we have kids. We have had great luck with the 6 wire high voltage fence and I keep the dog out there as much as possible but he is in with me at night. They don't like the electric fence so we haven't had any breaches of the fence.
I'm in WNC too and we have a big bear that frequents our land. We have about 300 acres in the middle of a state forest and the majority of our land is forested as well so he just wonders around and shows up in the ponds hunting for fish. I'm really concerned now. I'll have to look into the electric fencing now. We're getting a Great Pyrenees this month but it will be a bit before he is big enough to scare anything off so I'll be heading into town to look into the electric fencing. Thank you for the advice!
Oh and what voltage and gauge wire do you use?
Dogs of any size generally are avoided by bears (unless they're really small). The pup will help. I have 6 wires starting at 6" off the ground-- close together near the bottom so kids don't try to go through it. None of the kids this year have tried but last year a couple ran through it but quickly reversed and jumped back in. They never tried again after that. They do touch it a few times before they are thoroughly convinced to stay away! The adult does and bucks all respect the wires.
The voltage box is a Zareba 10 mile (14 gauge wire) and I have two pens --it covers both of them and I have livestock panels between the boys and the girls and two hot wires on the inside of the boys to keep them from trying to breed through the fence. Get the highest voltage you can and do your research to make sure it's enough for the distance you have. Both of my pens together are only about 500 feet all the way around but you have to multiply that by 6 wires to see the distance you need to cover. I got a bigger one than I thought I needed but I'm glad I did! Also, the grounding is paramount to the success of the fence. My voltage is around 6000 to 7000 all the time but it was lower before I added another ground-- I have 3 now. Of course I've accidentally touched the wire a couple of times and it's a jolt you wouldn't want to repeat!
Also if you do this, you want your neighborhood bear to learn the hard way not to come through that way anymore. I put a piece of raw bacon on the top wire to entice him shortly after I put the fence in. He did come and eat the bacon and has never come through here again. High voltage in the mouth is a strong deterent!! The bears used to hit my garbage cans regularly but they don't even do that since they avoid this area now. But they are still seen only a few hundred yards away going through a different way on my neighbors land.
Thank you so much! I've given all of the info to my poor husband who is on goat guarding duty until he gets it up lol. They are here now and getting settled in beautifully, the entire family is in love already. Thank you to everyone with all of your info and help!