Caring for Your Goats During the Winter Season
Winter season is a stressful time for all of the livestock, which is why it is essential for owners to offer them the best possible living and feeding conditions to make these months comfortable for them. Goats are hardy animals, and cold months can get challenging for them. However, when you know the right kind of care your goats need to survive the harsh cold, you can make it comfortable for them.
Adjusting the care techniques from the warm months to the cold months will ensure that your goats thrive during the winters.
At What Temperature Does it Get Too Cold for Your Goats?
Adult goats are strong enough to easily survive cold temperatures, as long as they get proper feed and shelter. The kids need additional care and attention, mainly if they are born during the winter season and are wet.
Kid goats are weak, which is why you need to take extra precautions to ensure they survive by keeping them dry, offering them warm shelter, water, and feed. It is essential to monitor the health of both adult goats and the kids so that you can give them immediate medical attention if needed to prevent the situation from getting worse.
Winter Care Tips for Your Goats
To ensure your goats stay healthy and safe throughout the cold season, follow these tips:
Offer Secure, Dry Shelter
Goats require a dry, warm place to live comfortably during the winter season. Make sure that you seal up any cracks and drafts in the barn. Check all the pipes and repair any leaks. A buttoned-up, cozy barn isn’t just comfortable for the herd but also prevents them from getting ill. The risk of fatal diseases, like pneumonia, is high for your goats in a damp shelter. Nonetheless, make sure to have the right vaccines in store just in case one of your goats fall sick.
If there isn’t a barn located in your place, provide some other shelter for the goats. You can use a three-sided shelter, as long as there is enough protection present to protect the goats from the winter elements. Make sure to mop the floor at least twice a week to prevent the area from getting damp.
Doghouses are another inexpensive option if you fill them with straw bedding. However, make sure there is sufficient amount for each of the goats so that the dominant ones don’t hoard all the comfortable places, leaving the weaker ones exposed to the harsh winter.
Build the Bedding
Goats spend most of the time in the barn during the winter season, which means the feces and urine starts building up fast. It is essential to regularly muck out stalls and remove the soiled bedding by replacing them with a thick straw layer for their bedding.
You can also use the ‘deep litter method’ during winters, in which you add new bedding over of the soiled bedding. How is that helpful? When the soiled bedding starts composting underneath, it creates heat that keeps the goats warm while they rest.
Keep an Eye on the Water
When the temperatures got down, there are high chances of the water freezing. Make sure the barn has a heater to keep the water drinkable or use insulated covers for the water storage. You can also utilize other nonflammable methods to prevent the water from heating. Make sure you keep checking the water to ensure it isn’t freezing.
Gather and Stock Hay
During the cold seasons, especially when it starts snowing, the goats have to rely on you to provide them with the feed. Make sure you stock up on hay before the harsh season begins so that your goats have sufficient hay to eat. Keep in mind that the goats consume more during the winters as they use more energy to stay warm. Therefore, keep more hay stock in store.
Moreover, it gets challenging to find hay during the winter. Make sure you prepare for the season in advance to provide your goats with sufficient food throughout the cold months. You can also offer them additional goat mineral feed to ensure they get adequate nutrients to stay healthy.
Take Special Care of the Kids
As mentioned before, kids need additional care during these months. Newborns require even more care to protect them from the cold elements and help them survive. Make sure there is a dry and extra warm area for the youngest members as they can’t maintain their body temperatures without assistance.
Newborns are also vulnerable to frostbit if the weather is freezing. Use a hair dryer to keep them dry and hand a heat lamp, out of reach of goats, to provide them with additional warmth. Ensure they have plenty of clean and warm bedding and check on them at various times throughout the day.
To ensure they are getting plenty of food to keep their energy and grow, you can use a standard nursing bottle to feed the kids.
Monitor and Maintain their Health
Aside from offering them sufficient water, food, and proper shelter, check their hooves. In damp conditions, the hooves tend to start rotting. You can treat or trim as needed. During the winters, the goats crowd together for warmth. This closeness can quickly spread respiratory diseases, which is why it is essential to monitor their health. Look out for symptoms and make sure to isolate the sick ones before the illness spreads. Just some extra precaution and prevention can ensure your goats stay healthy and happy.
Keeping and caring for goats can be an enriching experience. All you need is a bit of preplanning for the winters, and your goats will not just survive, but actually thrive during the cold months. Make sure you provide them with dry shelter, nutritious feed, monitor their health, and they will be able to stay healthy and stress free throughout the winters.