Goats are warm blooded, that’s why they are vulnerable to the change of temperature. Change of weather can give so much impact for goat, especially because they are an outdoor animal. When the weather starts getting colder, your goat’s coat will start to get thicker, it will not grazing as often as usual and eats a lot of hay. That’s the sign that your goat is preparing for winter. In winter, your goat may need extra care to keep up with the low temperature. It is important for goat owner to know tips to take care of goat in the winter so that the goat will be comfortable and safe from cold and problems caused by the weather. Here are 5 tips to take care of goat in the winter for goat owners.
1. Provide Warm Shelter
The first of 5 tips to take care of goat in the winter is to provide your goat with warm shelter. It is important to give your goats comfortable warm shelter in winter, since they will spend most of their time inside the shelter. The shelter will protect them from chilly wind, snow, and hail. If your region has extreme weather, you have to give your goat enclosed shelter to protect them from the weather. Make sure that the shelter still has good ventilation. You may also need to put plywood on the side of the shelter where the wind hits the hardest.
You also need to give straw bedding inside the shelter. The straw bedding will act as an extra insulation to keep them warm. Make sure to always provide your goats fresh and clean straw all the times to prevent them getting any health problems. You can continue to layer clean straw on top of the old straw. When the old straw begins to compost, it will release heat that can keep the shelter warm. However, make sure that the shelter has good ventilation to prevent from fire. Also make sure to keep your goat’s shelter dry. Damp shelter can be a good environment for bacteria, such as pneumonia, that can give health problem to your goats.
2. Provide Fresh Water
The biggest issue in winter from goat care is probably to always provide the goat with fresh water. In winter, the water freeze easily and make it difficult to provide the goat with unfrozen water. To solve this problem, you can use warm water instead since it has longer time to freeze than normal water. You have to give them to your goat at least twice a day. You can use ice cream buckets since it is easier to knock the ice out of the bucket. You can also invest in heated bucket. If you use heating, make sure that you place the heating outside the goat area to prevent it from chewing the wire and getting electrocution.
You may also need to prepare if there are any power outages. In winter, there is higher possibility to have power outages because of ice storms and blizzards. If you depend on electric water pump or electric heater to provide unfrozen water, you may still need to store some unfrozen water for emergency.
3. Provide Enough Food
To stay warm in cold winter, goat needs more energy to produce body heat. To have more energy, goat needs to eat more food. That’s why in winter, you must feed your goat more foods because it needs that to get body heat and keep it warm. By keep eating, goat’s rumen will stay active and give its body energy and heat. You can also give your goat food supplement, such as grains. Normally, goats don’t need grain in their diet, but they enjoy munching them. Goats normally eat 3-4% of their body weight each day. In winter you may give your goat 4% of their body weight. In winter, your goat may stop going out to the field to grazing and prefer to stay inside its shelter. That’s why you need to give them enough hay in its shelter. You can prepare double or third of the amount of your goat usual food.
You may need to stock up hay for winter since it will be harder to buy it in the unfavorable weather. Store the hay in clean and dry space. Damp hay is easier to compost and can heat up and cause fire. Don’t place the hay on the ground, especially when you have dirty and moldy ground. You can use board and place the hay on top of it. Remember not to feed moldy hay to your goat since it can give your goat health problems. Don’t be surprise if you find many hay end up on the floor. It is natural for your goat to do that since the hay will decompose and produce heat to keep your goat warm. To reduce the amount of hay your goats use for bedding, you can give them more straw so it will use less hay for its bedding.
4. Keep an Eye on Your Goat
If you already done all the things above, you may still have to pay attention to your goat. Healthy goat will not require more extra care since all the previous things are enough to keep it warm and comfortable during winter. Goat has its coat to keep them warm but there are also cases when the goat still shivering despite having all of the things mentioned before. If it’s happen, you can give a coat to your goats to keep them warm. Make sure that you don’t trim your goat’s coat after a month before the frost date in your area, to let the coat grow enough amount to keep your goat warm in winter.
5. Shoveling Paths to the Shelter
You also need to think about how you are going to go to your goat’s shelter if you need to restock your goat’s food and water. It is very important for you to think about the placement of your goat’s shelter when planning to build the shelter. You have to consider the distance from your home or shed. If your area gets heavy snowfall, it may be not enough for you to just hand shoveling the path, instead you may need to use a snow blower.