Healthy goats mean tastier milk, happier animals, and softer, richer fiber. Caring for your goats doesn’t end with providing food and water, though. If goats become too cold, dirty, or stressed, they become more susceptible to illness. A barn or covered pen will protect the goats from the elements, but it will still need to be cleaned to make it a pleasant place for the goats to live. Fortunately, maintaining a barn and pen is relatively easy. All it takes is a little daily upkeep.
Upkeep and Cleaning Checklist:
- Clean the barn thoroughly every six months. This means a top-to-bottom clean to get rid of cobwebs, dust, and other grime. Think of it as a spring cleaning for your goats.
- Empty and rinse the water container daily. Don’t forget to refill it afterward!
- Muck out the pens and replace any soiled hay or straw bedding. Goat manure can be used as fertilizer, so if you grow crops, save it. If there’s a designated milking area, especially on dairy farms, make sure it’s clean and neat.
- Replace feeding hay or pellets. Be sure to keep your supply of feed in a place where the goats won’t be able to get into it.
- Check and replace any necessary pest control measures. Depending on the region you live in, this can mean checking mouse traps or replacing fly paper.
- Check the barn for leaks. This task can be made easier in snow or rain, as any leaks will be easier to identify. If there is a leak, fix it. Unchecked leaks can rot the wood and cause the barn to degrade more quickly.
- If it has snowed heavily, check to see if you need to rake the snow off of the roof. Letting too much snow accumulate can cause the roof to collapse.
- If there are any electrical appliances in the barn, such as a heater or radio, make sure they’re in good condition and away from the hay. They should only be used when someone is outside to supervise, since they could start a fire, so it’s also a good idea to make sure they’re unplugged when not in use.
- Replace any worn boards or siding. Goats are notorious for wiggling out through tight spaces, so the barn walls and pen need to be secure.
- Clean any nests out of the rafters. Birds love to build their nests in a safe, dry place, and while they may be cute, their feces could make your animals sick. Discourage nest-building by removing any in-progress nests.
- Analyze the roof for loose shingles or any other kind of repair work needed. This doesn’t have to be done daily, but once every month is a good idea.
- If your barn has water pipes, make sure they’re properly winterized before any cold weather hits. Frozen pipes can burst, requiring an expensive replacement. Check to make sure the pipes aren’t leaking and are in a state of good repair.