goat bedding/litter

beeliz(2)January 1, 2008

I have my 2 mini pygmy goats in a nice cozy gazebo which is now their converted barn. I gave them bales of straw for lining the inside walls of the place,and about 3 stacked high all around...they've pulled apart many of the bales,creating a really deep layering of straw on their flooring. how often should I change this in the winter? I've been mucking out their poops and whatever pee's I can find each day..but is that enough? should I be completely changing all of it through the winter or does it help keep insulation by keeping it? Thanks,and Happy New Year

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Can the moisture go somewhere (wooden floor with gaps)? If so, you should be good. Just pay attention to the smell and any obvious wet spots and keep it ventilated good and everyone should be happy.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 5:20AM
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The floor is wooden,but I have put down those rubber cow matts. Is that good? And the top at the ceiling of the place has about 5 inches of screen so the ventilation is definately good. I'm just curious now about the floor?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 10:55AM
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If you don't have it sealed up so that it holds water, or there are no low spots (drastic) in the mats, you should be ok. Just follow your nose and grab a handful of bedding now and then to see how it feels. Most animals handle cold a lot better than moisture/humidity.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 12:50PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

You can use a so-called deep litter system, and not clean it out all the way until spring. As long as you pick up the manure, and any wet spots you can find, and add a moderate layer of new bedding now and again (once or twice a week or so, as it seems needed), it should be fine. If you notice squishy spots or if it gets smelly, especially of ammonia, then you need to strip it out, or at least strip out the wet/smelly areas - it may be the whole thing isn't too bad. Ammonia is bad for lungs and eyes - if you can smell it standing up, then the goats are much too close to it. In future, if it were me, I might put down a fairly thick layer of Sweet PDZ or an equivalent stall-odor-mitigation powder/granule, before I began the deep litter process, and maybe do it even now if you are cleaning certain areas down to the rubber mats. I might also consider using shavings rather than straw, as it is easier to clean the small goat pellets from that rather than from the looser/longer strands of straw. However, I would NOT mix the two, since that makes an unholy mess - speaking from experience with horses - you can put straw over shavings OK, but vice versa is not a good idea.

The other thing to be aware of is that it will be a major job to clean it out come spring - the process generates more mass than you would think!

If you want to clean it out periodically throughout the winter, then whenever you feel it is necessary should be fine - if it is very messy, if the bedding smells, if the whole thing seems dirty, then clean it. If you don't want the goats to pull down the next lot of straw bales, and you want to keep the bales piled up for their insulating qualities, then maybe making a barrier of plywood might work - I am not too sure how to make the barrier goat-proof, however, not being able to see the set-up.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 3:01PM
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yes,thats a great idea...the plywood.thanks for your help,I haven't had a winter yet with my 2 goats. I just want to make sure they're happy and healthy,as I just LOVE them to bits! I guess I'll periodically clean it out so I'm not forced with a major mess in the spring..I can only imagine :)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 4:43PM
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I have 3 big Nubian wethers. They have a small barn with a dirt floor and a raised wood bed. They also have a run in with a dirt floor. The dirt floor is easier to clean. During the summer they both are bedded with Sweet PDZ (the best), pine shavings and a sprinkle of hay on the top, because they don't like the shavings in their face when they sleep. During the summer months both shelters are completely cleaned down to the dirt and started over every Saturday, with daily spot cleaning of poop and urine. The shavings make this extremely easy to pick through. During the winter the last cleaning will come mid November and not resume again until mid March. The last cleaning I will spread a good amount of sweet PDZ and about 5 inches of shavings then instead of removing I start to cover any wet/poop areas with hay each day. This actually creates sort of a compost and will become a heater. You have to make sure it is ammonia free and the top layer always, always dry. You will find during the winter months the smell is almost none. It may smell "dirty" but I don't get the ammonia smell. Dibbit is right, if you can smell the urine it has to be cleaned. Be prepared to spend an entire day cleaning it out when the time comes. It took us 3 truck loads and countless trailer loads. I think this process keeps them warm enough to get through the single digit numbers. When you start pulling the hay out you will see the steam coming off it. Whatever makes them confortable.

Good luck, practice makes perfect and you will find your comfort point. Some people don't like this process, saying the owners are being lazy and this doesn't make heat but try it and notice the heat when you clean it out.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 8:02PM
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thanks! This sounds like a good system for me. I already have a HUGE layer of straw on the flooring...wondering if I should possibly remove it all,start over with pine on the bottom,sound good?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 12:24PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Wait until it is dirty enough to remove anyway - don't do it just to be doing it! I would gradually start thinning it out, removing the wet areas and the dirtiest straw, until there is little enough that removing all of it is a reasonable job. You may have to add more as you go along, to keep the goats dry and comfortable, but I would try to take from the corners and edges and not add new straw unless you REALLY have to until you can clean it all out.

If the goats will leave it there, piling relatively clean straw up along the edges will give you a stockpile you can use for replacing the wet stuff as you take it out. If they won't, then you will just have to work it out as best you can.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 8:20PM
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Thank Dibbit, I basically did that yesturday...seeing as it was like plus 3 here! So I removed all the older damp straw and added some new dry straw. I also moved aside the straw till I got to the bottom and added some of that white powder nice smelling stuff! I use the organic one thats safe for all animals.
then I piled some shavings then dumped the staw pile back over it all...seems nice and clean. The girls seem happy!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 11:40AM
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I second Laturcotte 1 100%. We try to leave about an 8" thick layer of old bedding for the "heater" system. It works! Through the summer...we clean the stalls and/or loafing shed down to the dirt floor (as needed). But come Oct...we start just removing the wet spots and try and selectively get out the berries. Then add fresh staw on top.

I personally like straw the best. We do have wood chip bedding that we use from time to time to throw on an area that we have to take down deeper...but then throw a layer of straw on top.

Our goats (Boers and Alpines) are very good in the cold weather. If you keep the wet spots cleaned up and the drafts out of the barn...they can handle pretty cold temperatures.

Goats are very social (especially with family members). They will lay down together and keep each other warm with their body heat.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 12:00AM
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I was cleaning mine out once a week regardless of how dirty it was.I liked the goats to have a clean bed and would toss the old bedding into the green bin or onto my vegetable garden during the late winter.
It was easier then having it sit there all winter,turning into a frozen lump of shavings and ice.After my first winter of trying the deep bedding system I learned my lesson.I found that shavings were the easiest form of bedding for me to use.They were lightweight to shovel and dispose of,as well as being cheap to obtain.The goats liked to eat them,while they were still fresh,when they entered the newly cleaned shed on the night after the bedding was cleaned.Sherry

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 3:08PM
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