The Goat Set-Up

Shortly after bringing our first two 2 1/2 yr old Alpine does home, we bought an older (4-5 yr old) white Saanen doe. We all got a first hand look at animal behavior (does that count as science class?) and spent an hour watching the two Alpines take turns welcoming(?) her. I knew most animals had a ‘pecking order’ but it was interesting to see it taking place among the goats.

Artemis (left) and Ashanti (far right) took turns leaping and butting heads with Candy (white), but she stood her ground and didn’t back down. The kids took turns rooting for whichever one seemed to have the upper hand at the moment.

Secretly I was cheering for Candy as she was older. Kinda like the older women teaching the younger (Titus 2). The younger ones needed guidance. :)

I’m glad to report that after two days of cracking heads together, they’ve finally figured out whose going to rule their little trio. Candy’s calmness amidst repeated ‘pecking’ seems to have earned her the privilege of matron doe.

And now, just for the fun of it, (and because we’re so glad we’re done with the project!), I’m posting some pics of our goat setup. I’d LOVE to hear from seasoned goat veterans and newbies alike on any suggestions or comments.

A cattle panel will stretch across the front here. We needed something we could swing open so we could back the truck in to load it with wood.

Technically this set up is temporary. We build the goats’ pen in our woodshed. We have about three years worth of wood stacked back there, so rather than moving the wood, we built a ‘temporary’ pen in front of the wood piles. After the wood is gone we’ll take the hay feeders and everything apart and move it down to that end of the shed and build a solid wall. We figured this into the plan when we cut out the doors so that we can use the same doorways later.

The goat feeder.

Travis built the feeder after we perused You Tube trying to find ideas that would prevent the goats from wasting so much hay. We found this video and decided to give their feeder a go. It’s based on Harvey Considine’s book and the angled boards are to keep the goats from jerking their head out and pulling hay to the ground. So far it’s working well.

The kidding pen has its own miniature feeder. The black water trough has one end on each side of the fence and the fence fits all the way down to the bottom of the trough. I’m a bit worried that the (goat) kids might fall in and drown so we’re still debating if this is the best setup.

This is the kidding/kid pen. The plan is to milk once a day a couple of weeks after the does freshen (start producing milk after giving birth). We’d let the kids stay with the does during the day and then separate them at night so the does would be ready to be milked in the morning. I’ve heard some say this works well and others who say it doesn’t. I guess we’ll give it a try and find out! :)

We decided to split the door to the outer pen. We hung a thin rubber-backed rug along the edge and cut it in strips to create a ‘doggie-door’ for them to get out and in without leaving it completely open to the elements in the winter months.

Travis used latches that would shut easily simply by closing the door. Froze, glove-encased hands will appreciate that this winter! Our second son devised a string system so that you can pull the string from the outside and lift the lever.

The outdoor pen/pasture measures about 1,300 sq. feet. It encases the tree house and boys’ zip line – but so far the goats haven’t played Tarzan yet. :)

We read several articles and information about fencing for goats. They’re notorious for getting out. After debating through size, cost, and time, we decided to build an electric fence. We used five strands of 12 gauge wire and spaced them so: the bottom wire is 9.5″ from the ground. The second wire is 16″ from the ground, the third wire is 23″, the fourth wire is 32″ and the top wire is 43.5″ from ground level making it roughly 3.5 feet high.

Artemis got shocked the first day, but as far as I know the other two have given the fence a wide berth. Before we bought Candy, the other two did get out once. For the life of us we can’t figure out how – the fence wasn’t damaged, the gates were all shut. . .we’re guessing they jumped right over the fence. So far it hasn’t happened again. . .

I’ll get some pictures of our stanchion and milking set up soon. Hope you enjoyed the little tour of our summer project. :)


Shared With: Frugal Ways Sustainable Days, Encourage One Another, Simple Lives Thursday, Weekend Whatever, Freaky Friday, Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop,

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Paula
I’m Paula - like many of you I wear a lot of hats. Child of God, wife of 17 years, mother of five, reluctant cook, full-time teacher, chocolate-snatcher, and children's author. Various family health issues including Lyme disease and candida has turned me into a 'researcher'. I don't have initials after my name, a degree in anything but motherhood, or a framed certificate on my wall. What I do have is a passion for understanding how our God-created bodies thrive or deteriorate based on what we put in it. Oh, and I also might mention homesteading, homeschooling, fitness, herbs, faith, and anything else I'm thinking about. . . like wow, I need to refill my tea. . .
Paula
Paula

Comments

  1. says

    I loved the tour! Thanks for sharing! One of my newborn kids drowned in the water bucket a couple years ago. =( Now I hang the water bucket on the fence so that the doe can reach it but the kids cannot!

  2. Gudrun B says

    i am just so impressed!!!!
    some thing i have always wanted but never had the ground for…. the township nor the goats would take the confined space here lightly — i might get away with 3 chickens :)

  3. says

    Wow, that is awesome! I wish our setup was half that great! I do think that that watering trough could be a little scary with kids, though. We usually use a tall, but deep bucket for the mama doe so that she can get plenty of water, but it’s too tall for the kids to get into.

  4. says

    Great setup! Thanks for sharing the photos; it’s very inspiring. I am going to get a rubber-backed rug right away for a doggie-door to help with our one little lonely 4-H goat’s shelter to help with the cold that is sure to hit soon. I’m assuming you just used a staple gun to attach it??

    • says

      Hi Beth – Travis explained like this:

      1. face the outside of the door
      2. fold the top part of the rug (to double it) and hold it up against the bottom of the door
      3. screw a 1×4 across the top of the rug to hold it down (we wanted it more secure because we were afraid the goats would bite and rip the flaps off).
      4. Cover the outside of the door with tin (or your preference), covering the 1×4 board as well.

      If this doesn’t make sense, I can see if I can get a picture of it for you. :)

  5. says

    Your set up looks amazing! I just wanted to mention, I used to milk every day twice a day and after a few years of never being to go anywhere for more than a few hours, we switched to latching the kids at night and milking only in the morning. It does have its pros and cons. The main con is putting the kids up every night. Sometimes they can be hard to catch, depending on their temperament. But we still get plenty of milk, although not as much as we used to get. The best part is being able to travel the 50 miles to my mom’s house and not feel like we have to rush back by a certain time to milk again, especially around the holidays.

    Thanks for a great post! Goats are the best.

  6. says

    I think you have a very nice set up for your goat herd. I do the leaving the kids with the does during the day and separating them in the evenings so I can milk in the mornings. Works good for me.

  7. says

    Hi Paula, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (http://annesfunnyfarm.blogspot.com), and I’m visiting from the Barn Hop.

    I love your goat set-up! So jealous! Very, very nicely done. And I also loved the pics of them establishing their pecking order. They are so much fun to watch, aren’t they? I love my goaties. And yours!

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. If you’ve never visited yet, I hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…

  8. says

    Hi, Paula. I’m new to your site, and LOVE all the photos and info in this goat set-up post. Lord willing, we’ll have chickens next year (I checked out your chicken coop, too :) ). I’m SOOOO excited. I’m even more excited to get goats, maybe ~2 years from now.

    • says

      Hi Holly,

      Welcome! It’s exciting to plan for chickens and goat, isn’t it – we’re enjoying ours so much! Glad our info could help. Have fun planning, it will come sooner than you think!

  9. angie says

    milking once a day also allows me to be gone overnight if I want. I just leave the kids with mom and they take care of the milking. LOL They keep my husband and I entertained when we sit outside in the evening.

  10. Sharon says

    Hi Paula, love your hay feeder! I’m wondering if you could give me some measurements? How high is the step off the ground? How wide is the step? How high from the ground is the bottom of the “hole” that the goats put their head through? I’m desperate to build a feeder that they can’t waste so much. I’ve tried making some out of Rubbermaid but they destroyed those in short time. I’m good at building but want to get the height right for my young Nubians. THANKS!

  11. says

    Hi, I enjoyed reading your post. I’m wondering about the hay mangers – did you use a plan on line or somewhere to come up with it? We’re about to built similar mangers – angled slats so the goats eat their hay with their heads inside and then turn heads to exit. We’re trying to figure out the angle for the slats and also have far apart to put them – any advice much appreciated!

  12. says

    Hi Heather,

    In the post I have a link to the video we saw on YouTube which gave us the idea for the manger.

    I don’t recall that the video gave measurements. I think we measured the goats necks and spaced it just enough for them to get their heads in at an angle. :)

    Unfortunately we don’t live at that house anymore or have goats :( – otherwise I’d go out and measure it for you!

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