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Caring for goats in winter can be a challenge regardless of your experience level. Novices and veterans alike - as well as hobbyists and professionals - work to keep their goats safe and healthy.
Optimize your goat herd’s health with New Heritage Complete Goat Ration Pellets (16%).
Caring For Goats in Winter: Don’t Wait!
When it comes to helping their herd maintain their body temperature, goat owners have certain considerations.
To begin with, the process of keeping goats warm begins before the cold weather even starts. Don’t let Jack Frost catch you by surprise. As with anything when it comes to caring for animals, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Start planning early; stock up on the things you need to protect your herd while the weather is still sultry!
Your Herd In Winter: Give Them Shelter
Now, goats can actually withstand a bit of cold. They are fairly hardy and robust animals. However, when the temperature dips below freezing, goats have certain requirements to withstand the cold winter months.
The main one is shelter: they will need some place to stay warm in sub-freezing weather. Additionally, some goats’ temperaments make them pretty anxious when it comes to precipitation. Rain, snow, sleet, and hail can be total non-starters for some members of your herd.
If you don’t already have a shelter in place for your goats, you need one. It is imperative that you get or build one before the mercury drops down below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fortunately, the shelter doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive. For example, a straw-filled dog igloo may suffice for small herds of only a couple of goats. They can keep each other warm in winter, and hay is a very effective insulator for these animals.
Some goat herders use the deep litter method during the winter. They simply pile fresh straw on top of the dirty straw.
Now, this method has its pros and cons. On the one hand, the bottom layers compost as they break down, naturally releasing heat. On the other hand, you have to clean it all out when the spring rolls around.
Just know you’ll need to include “additional spring cleanup” to your “caring for goats in winter” to-do list.
If you are looking at a couple of weeks of below-freezing or freezing temperatures, your herd may need bigger accommodations. Since your goats will be spending more time sheltering together, more space will improve their quality of life and conditions. In such cases, 10 square feet per goat is generally a good rule of thumb.
Another thing to keep in mind is that kidding goats don’t have as much natural heat resistance afterward. If you have goats kidding, keep in mind that they’re used a lot of their energy to deliver. Therefore, a heat lamp for the doe and kid - as well as blankets and straw - are crucial.
Hydration is Key to Your Herd’s Winter Safety
Putting a roof over a goat’s head probably seems intuitive when it comes to protecting your herd from the cold. What may seem less obvious is the additional need to make sure you give a goat water when it’s cold. Fresh water is essential to keeping your herd warm in the winter.
Why is this the case?
For one thing, if the herd’s water supply freezes, they can’t drink it. Therefore, when you raise goats in the winter, you need to provide them with fresh, warm water.
The practicalities of watering your herd in the winter can be problematic. Thankfully, there are a few options available.
The first option is simply bringing them warm water yourself, a couple of times a day. Empty ice cream containers can be a useful tool for the process of transporting it to your herd. Their primary benefit is easy ice removal if the water begins to freeze while it’s outside with the goats.
While the ice cream bucket option works for smaller herds, you need something else for larger ones. Heated waterers or buckets are the preferred option to keep water from freezing when you’re dealing with bigger goat herds.
Caring for Goats in Winter: Keep Them Fed
Kidding goats aren’t the only ones using extra energy during the winter. Keeping warm requires lots of extra energy. Therefore, make sure your herd has the calories they need to maintain their heat resistance.
Make sure your goats have full bellies by giving them plenty of good, nutritious food to eat. One easy option is providing your herd high-quality hay in the winter. Another simple, viable solution is nutritious goat pellets.
The important thing is to keep their rumens up and running!
Watch Out For Shivering
When it comes to caring for goats in winter, assessing the success of your efforts is pretty straightforward. Simply put, if a goat is shivering, it’s too cold.
If you see a goat shivering, you have an indicator that they are not adequately regulating their temperature. While goats are generally pretty good at keeping themselves warm, this potential exists. In those cases, goat owners use everything from sweatshirts to dog coats and sweaters to help their goats warm up!
New Heritage Feed Co. For A Healthy Herd In the Winter (and All Year Long)
No matter which season of the year you are preparing for, you want to give your herd the very best. Rain, shine, cold or heat, New Heritage Feed Co. Complete Goat Ration Pellets (16%) are a goat owner’s best friend. We’re here for you whether you’re caring for goats in winter, spring, summer, and fall!
It contains our proprietary blend of essential oils, which works with natural ingredients and nutrients to support goats’ immune systems. Together, this combination helps members of your herd fend off parasites, disease, and infection - naturally.
No matter whether you’re raising your herd for shows, meat, or milk, this versatile food can do the job. Provide your goats with the complete nutrition they deserve and enjoy a happy, healthy herd.For a high-quality food that honors your commitment to raising a natural herd with integrity, shop New Heritage Feed Co.
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