Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

 I thought I'd share a little about how we've set up our barn for the goats for the winter. We have a 17m X 24m (~56' X 80') pole shelter. From what we can tell it was originally just a roof with no walls, possibly intended for hay storage, but at some point it was enclosed with plywood. Over time this plywood has deteriorated leaving gaps. We live on the Canadian Prairies and temperatures get pretty cold. The goats do just fine in our big breezy set-up. 

Some photos:

The door that you see there is always open. It's south-facing and the wind rarely blows from that direction. Most of the light is coming in through open holes. 

This is the north-facing wall. You can see that snow has blown in through it. 

You can see that we've stacked straw bales against portions of the walls to try to cut down the drafts right at goat level. The goats have knocked some of them down. We also left some lying around randomly for the goats to lie beside as insulation.

The temperature recently was down to -35C (-31F), with a -45C (-49F) windchill (the windchill not being as big a factor in the barn). The goats were fine. They didn't do much except eat hay and drink a bit of water, but they didn't seem to suffer adversely. They're very tough little creatures. Obviously mine are acclimatized, and a goat that was suddenly transplanted from the Southern US to here at this time of year would likely not fair well, but overall they do pretty well in the cold.

We haven't been giving the does any grain. The bucks sometimes get a very small amount. They don't seem to have time to build their energy reserves back up after breeding season before it gets cold and they can get rather skinny. I balance out the concern about urinary stones with the concern about calorie requirements.

We also found out that our chickens do just fine in very low temperatures with no extra heating. Their coop is less drafty than the goat barn, but still ventilated. In previous years we've set-up a heat lamp for them but we decided to skip that this year. 

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Comment by Jess on February 2, 2013 at 10:59am
Oh to be so lucky. Love your barn and all the space. They must love it. I grew up on a farm with no near neighbors and now live in a neighborhood so I long for all that wonderful space.
Comment by Marin Waddell on February 2, 2013 at 10:43am

Yeah, we have some good barns here. We were really lucky to find an affordable former cattle ranch that had several barns that, although maybe a bit tired, are still structurally sound. Decent barns, lots of pasture, and good neighbours. Although the people who own all the surrounding land actually live about 15 minutes away. The closest inhabited house is 3 miles away. 

Comment by Kelsie Aman on February 2, 2013 at 7:22am

OMGosh I have serious barn envy right now...what an amazing space for your goats...not sure I am keen on the snow in there but other than that I am in LOVE...going to have to show hubby this when he gets home tonight...Thank you so much for sharing.

Comment by Margaret Langley on February 1, 2013 at 11:52pm
Thanks for posting those pics.Love them! Wish I had a big barn like that. The goaties seem very comfy and happy to me. I'd happily live right in there with them, as long as I could have me an electric heat blanket! LOL!

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