Building a Goat Barn: Part 1

| by | construction, goats | 3 comments:

Hello again friends! A few of you have already gotten to know our girls, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. And a few weeks ago we introduced you to our new babies, Lucille Ball and Greta Garbo. Since Judy and Liza’s arrival, we’ve been busily working on their permanent goat barn because according to Dave, Lucy and Greta can’t live in the house forever. However, before we started building I did some research and really couldn’t find much information about how to build a goat barn. How much space do they need? How big should kidding stalls be? What about feeders and waterers? Do they need an in-ground pool or spa?  Would they prefer a breakfast nook or a veranda? So many questions. But anyway, here’s a look at how we built our goat barn.

On the farm, we had a pre-existing pole barn. But that was about it. It was pre-existing, meaning it was there and wasn’t really doing anything. We used it to store a bunch of crap under and pray that the support beams wouldn’t buckle and send the roof crashing down. Or that the poorly attached roof would not blow away and slice someone in half. The pole barn is right across the driveway from our chicken coops, close to the house, close to a water spigot and near a long stretch of field so we figured that naturally, this would be a great location.  Converting this pole barn into a goat barn would make a lot of sense and save us a great deal of time and money because we already have the “bones” so to speak already in place. The problem is that those “bones” are holding on by a nail and a prayer. So first things first, we have to sure up the support beams and roof.

We usually have some big construction projects going on every fall, this year it's the new goat barn! We'll be converting this existing pole barn into a goat barn for meat/dairy goats.
We’ll be converting this existing pole barn into a goat barn for meat/dairy goats.

First, we had to sure up the beams. After some excavating, we found that some of the main support posts were pretty rotten and all together sucky. In the posts that were really, really bad, we dug down about two to three feet. Mixed some quick-crete and poured it into a tube form. We used the container that the greenhouse parts came in as the form and it worked out pretty well! It is basically just a huge cardboard tube which coincidentally, is what pier forms often are. It’s like they shipped our greenhouse in a giant concrete form. Good lookin’ out, Riga greenhouse!

After we got the deteriorated posts fixed and set in or on concrete, we had to add a new post to make sure that the roof didn’t come falling down on us or the goats. The roof was slanted in every direction and warped like a crumpled up cupcake wrapper. This one took some finessing, but with (you guessed it) more concrete, a jack, a support beam and know-how, Dave and Nemo were able to make the pole barn and roof (pretty much) square.

This beam got more crack than a Toronto mayor! Ooohhh... too soon? Nope.
This beam got more crack than a Toronto mayor! Ooohhh… too soon? Nope.
We used this car jack and a 4x4 to jack up the roof so we could remove a crappy support and replace it with a new, more badass support.
We used this car jack and a 4×4 to jack up the roof so we could remove a crappy support and replace it with a new, more badass support.
The dirt under the barn has been getting tamped down by trucks and whatnot and never loosened by rain for probably 593909820 years. That means digging this hole totally sucked ass.
The dirt under the barn has been getting tamped down by trucks, people, animals and whatnot; and never loosened by rain for probably 20 years. That means digging this hole (and all the others) totally sucked ass.
The tube that some of the greenhouse parts came in made an excellent form for the concrete!
The tube that some of the greenhouse parts came in made an excellent form for the concrete!
Here's one of the new piers ready for a new post that will hold the roof up.
Here’s one of the new piers ready for a new post that will keep the roof from falling down. Take that gravity!
Encasing the post in concrete for support
We extending one of the piers to encase the rotted bottom of one of the crappy posts in concrete for support.
That sure ain't right.
That sure ain’t right. But we fixed this one too.

Alright!! So the “bones” of the pole barn are secure and sturdy. Now it’s time to slap on some skin.. you know, the siding. Nemo put up the framing and pieced together all the siding. Because goat barns should be draft free but allow ventilation, we kept the eaves (the space between the roof and the siding) open. This way the barn will be well ventilated all year round.

The beginning of the siding.. lots and lots of it.
The beginning of the siding.. lots and lots of it.
Almost done!
Almost done!
Inside of the barn with the siding almost finished.
Inside of the barn with the siding almost finished.
Goat barns should be draft free but have plenty of ventilation so we'll be leaving the eaves (space between the roof and siding) open.
Goat barns should be draft free but have plenty of ventilation so we’ll be leaving the eaves (space between the roof and siding) open.

Now for the actual interior design of the goat barn! The barn is divided into thirds. One third of the barn will be the “human side” and will house plenty of hay, straw, feed, medicine cabinet and milking stanchions. The other two thirds will be the goats’ loafing area, kidding stalls, waterers and hay feeders. There will be a wall that divides the two spaces with a built-in hay feeder, a space for minerals and baking soda and a gate that’s large enough to get a wheelbarrow through. In my research, I’ve found that it’s recommended that each goat (regular sized) will need about 15-20 sq ft of indoor space. Our new goat barn will be more than enough room for the four goats we have now so that gives us plenty of room to expand! I like to give our animals more than enough room anyway to prevent overcrowding and increase happiness.

So let’s talk about the hay feeder first. There’s many designs out there for how to build a hay feeder but we kept our design simple. I wanted to be able to fill the feeder from the human side so that I don’t get knocked down by a bunch of hungry goats while walking into their area with a bale of hay. That’ll ruin your day, right there. Especially if they hit you right in your sack… of grain. Actually, who am I kidding? You can’t have a bad day when you have goats to hang out with. I knew that I didn’t want a keyhole style (the style where the goats have to stick their head through to the other side of the feeder to get the hay). In doing some research, I read that could be potentially dangerous if you don’t have enough space for each goat and they compete for a spot in the feeder. So we went for the good ol’ fashioned hay feeder, where they have to walk up to the feeder and browse. Underneath the feeder is a tray that will catch everything they waste. We can shovel the excess hay and use it for bedding or even to feed the hogs when we get around to getting those soon! We made it so that any sized goat, big or small, would be able to have easy access to hay. And now there’s no way that Judy and Liza will be able to crawl into the feeder… or sleep in it. Which is the problem we’re having now in their temporary set up. 

Starting the framework for the creep feeder
Starting the framework for the hay feeder.
The finished creep feeder!
The finished hay feeder!

Next, the kidding stalls. We divided the space into thirds to make three kidding stalls. Nemo put up the half walls in between each stall, then added chicken wire above the half wall. We also put in some supports along the main wall which will give us the ability to stretch a tarp or packing blanket over the top of each individual stall. This will come in handy if we have some kids in cold weather and need to keep them extra warm or insulated. Each kidding stall has an outlet for a heat lamp, heated water bucket, radio, electric toothbrush, television, Blu-Ray player or whatever else they may need. Then we installed the gates, making sure that it’s easy to close and open the latch from inside AND outside the kidding stall. Very important. Each kidding stall is a slightly different size but they’re averaging around 6’x9′.

Here's one of the kidding stalls with the framework in place and one of the panels installed.
Here’s one of the kidding stalls with the framework in place and one of the panels installed.
A view of the kidding stalls partially finished
A view of the kidding stalls partially finished
Finished kidding stalls!
Finished kidding stalls!

So there you have it, the first phase of our goat barn is complete! All we have left is to repair the roof, install the gutters and rain barrel, fix up our “human area”, paint and install the mineral/baking soda feeders. After we do all of that and fence it all in we’ll be ready to move all of our girls in there full time! To see the finished barn, check out our post on finishing the inside of the goat barn!

Can't wait to move everyone in, I think they're gonna love it!
Can’t wait to move everyone in, I think they’re gonna love it!

 


3 Responses

  1. February 28, 2014

    WHAT?! This kicks so much a$$ – I am so jealous. You’re giving me lots of ideas here….

  2. March 30, 2014

    […] IS. FINISHED!!! Kindof. For the most part. We finished converting our old pole barn into our new goat barn a few weeks ago and have since been working on getting the inside complete and ready for the girls […]

  3. March 20, 2016

    […] a Goat Barn Part One and Part […]

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