IT. IS. FINISHED!!! Kindof. For the most part. We finished converting our old pole barn into our new goat barnÂ a few weeks ago and have since been working on getting the inside complete and ready for the girls to move in. It took a little work to get the inside of the barn human friendly and goat ready. This is the fun part (for me, at least). I guess Judy and Liza saw that we were pretty close to being done and ready to move them in because the last week before it was completely finished, they started escaping from their temporary pen and always found their way down toward to new barn. That was always a fun surprise. So we figured if that’s where they want to go, that’s where they’ll be! We moved them in, along with Greta and Lucy. Here’s what the fuss was all about and a look at how we set up the inside of our goat barn.
Let’s start with the human side first! When you first enter the goat barn, you enter the “human side” of the barn where we laid down pallets on the floor and cedar posts around the Â bottom of the walls. The cedar posts will hopefully keep water from seeping into the barn floor. The pallets will keep our stored hay and straw off the floor. There’s also a dedicated space to store our grain bins as well as a metal cabinet (soon to be installed) that will keep our medical, kidding, hoof trimming and any other supplies that we need. Next to the cabinet we’ll have our two milking stanchions. My favorite part about the “human side” of the barn is that we can fill our hay feeder, baking soda feeder and mineral feeder from the human side without entering into the “goat side.”
The gate that is in between the human side and goat side has two dead bolts, one from each side. This way we can move in and out of either side and keep the gate tightly locked and sealed.
Enter, the goat side of the barn. We made a loafing area with more than enough room for each goat and room to grow. Eventually we’ll add some pallets, tree stumps or other boredom busters in the loafing area so that when they’re in the barn during winter, they’ll have something to climb on, sleep under, etc.
First, let’s look at the feeders. We installed two PVC feeders for our baking soda and minerals. Since we can fill them from the human side, we can keep them nice and full, we won’t have to fill them as often and the goats are able to take the mineral and baking soda free choice. Our hay feeder is nice and long so that everyone has a spot at the feeder (big girls AND little girls) and I can fill it from the human side. Since the girls have to really reach up and pick through the hay, they don’t seem to waste as much. The wasted hay is raked out from the bottom of the feeder and added to the floor for extra bedding.
We have three kidding stalls with two latches on the door; a deadbolt on the bottom and a latch at the top just for added security and safety. Each of the kidding stalls have a wall outlet in case we need to hang a heat lamp or a heated water bucket.. or a clock radio or personal neck massager, you know, whatever they need. We installed a small hay feeder which will be big enough for any bottle babies or full grown girls. Since we kept Greta and Lucy separated in the kidding stall before we started weaning them, we put a dog crate in the kidding stall with them so they had an extra warm place to snuggle up in. I’ve also seen an amazing design that serves a similar purpose that we’ll try next year; take a 55 gallon drum, cut the top open and a 12″x12″ square opening at the base of the drum. Hang the heat lamp above the opening at the top and the baby goats will be able to walk through the 12″x12″ opening and stay warm in the drum.
We have grain buckets that hook over a 2″x4″ or gate but we don’t keep them in the loafing area all the time. We store them in the human side so we can fill them up individually with any sort of extra supplements each individual goat needs; then feed them their specific grain mixture. We feed them a mix of alfalfa pellets, BOSS (back oil sunflower seeds) and molasses rolled oats, then their herbal dewormer/supplements mixed in.
Outside of the barn we installed a large rain barrel that we put up on stilts. There’s two spigots; one that will flow into a water trough right under the rain barrel and one that pipes into a spigot inside the barn. This is freaking awesome! This way we can fill up the goats’ water bucket inside the barn from the rain barrel OUTSIDE the barn. We also hooked up a runoff valve that flows into a separate rain barrel on the side of the barn that will water our flower bed. Now any extra water that would normally spill out of the main rain barrel will be stored in another rain barrel that will water our flower bed. We really love rain barrels at this farm. So far we have six. And they’re awesome.
And I think that’s pretty much it! The girls are all moved in and super happy in their new barn. All we have left is to finish the fencing, but since the loafing area is pretty big for just the four of them, they’re happy to stay in there for now. No signs of cabin fever yet! And not only are they happy and comfortable in there, but I am too! And call me crazy, but I think that’s an essential part of the barn and goat raising in general. If you don’t love it, why do it? The goat barn should be an enjoyable and comfortable environment for the goats and humans. Otherwise, if it’s not, you won’t want to be in there as much and spend time with your girls. And that’s a really important part of raising goats (especially dairy goats). And that’s why we raise them in the first place, isn’t it? We take care of them, love them, give them an excellent life and they give us life in return (milk, meat, babies, etc). So when you’re building your goat barn and figuring out how to build the inside of the goat barn, make it enjoyable and easy for you as well. You’re the one that’s going to be in there every day, feeding them, caring for them, milking them and maybe even being a midwife for them. Make a barn that you love being in and that’s easy for you to operate and work in. I honestly love being in this barn so much that I may or may not have accidentally fallen asleep in the kidding stall while hanging out with the goats one night. But that’s just between you, me and the girls.