Apart from goat feeding and goat watering regularly, the next most strenuous work is cleaning their shelter. Goat bedding is the first place to start. All living things excrete, and these materials should not be left in the living space for a long time for health reasons. Goat poop and urine can give off really offensive odor when not cleared off on time, and it may cause a health problem for your goats.
Some goats may pick grasses or hays that have fallen to the ground where they have urinated. This leads to most likely contaminated feed. Consuming it may lead to the introduction of diseases that may be difficult to address. One of the ways to reduce the mess caused by the mix of urine and poo, and help make goat waste management easy is the use of bedding.
Beddings do more than help with waste management, it also helps to provide insulation for your goat shelter, making the internal environment of the shelter comfortable for your herd, especially during the really cold months.
With all the benefits you can derive from using beddings in your goats’ shed. It is important that you install some for your goats. It helps them remain comfortable, something they need to be if they are to consistently produce milk or provide good weight for meat as you wish them to. If you are looking for a complete guide on raising goats we also have a great article.
What Kind of Shelter do Goats Need?
It is impossible to talk about bedding for goats and not mention the shelter your goats are housed in. This is because some beddings are more compatible with certain shelters, while you can make a total mess of your goats’ living space if you use certain beddings for some shelters.
Ordinarily, goats; shelters have different sections or units, if you like, for different purposes. There is usually a section where all members of the herd can gather and socialize, there are also sections where different goats are categorized based on their sex. For instance, the bucks are put in a general shed, while the does are in another shed. Also, pregnant does are not put in the same shed as other does, just as sick goats are separated from other healthy goats.
For every section of goat shed in the shelter, there is a type of bedding that is compatible with them. Meaning, the bedding in the pregnant does sections may vary from the bedding used in the buck sections.
Putting all of these together means that the kind of shelter your goats need is one that helps them to feel comfortable regardless of the time of the year. In essence, the ideal goat shelter should be well ventilated – for comfort during hot weather and removal of ammonia gas build-up; well insulated – for conserving heat in the shed during winter; have effective drainage – to reduce the occurrence of diseases that can occur from moisture build-up and easy cleaning.
For ideas on the best shelters or housing for your goats, refer to our inspiring goat house plans that will help you get the best and efficient goat house plans and designs.
Why Are Beddings So Important?
At the beginning of this article, you briefly saw some benefits attached to using beddings in your goats’ shelter. Here is the section that fully explains why you should use beddings and what might go wrong if you fail to use the appropriate bedding for your goat shelter. Although there are different types of beddings, some are more effective when combined with another, while others work perfectly alone.
Here are some of the reasons you should consider using bedding in your goat shelter.
Easy waste management
Removing waste from your goats’ shed can be tiring. Especially when they have smashed it against the floor with their hooves. If you have a concrete floor, you have to scrape it off. The use of water and disinfectant might make it difficult to get rid of moisture. It is more difficult if the floor is sandy as it’ll harbor some urine and poop.
However, with bedding as another layer on top of the floor, whether concrete, wood, or sand, it helps to hold the poop and absorbs most of the urine. All you have to do is remove the bedding, and you’ve successfully removed the waste.
Better moisture control
One of the causes of diseases in goats is the prolonged presence of moisture. Moisture on the flooring of goats’ shed is not in any way beneficial to them. In fact, it may cause foot rot and cost you some money to nurture the affected goats back to health.
With bedding on the floor, you have a lesser need to wash the floor, and the goats’ urine is absorbed by the bedding. Therefore, the goats’ feet do not come in contact with moisture as much. We also suggest the use of a goat waterer to eliminate as much water waste and spillage as possible.
Heat management is important for goats, especially during the cold months. Beddings on the floor provide an extra layer of insulation for your goats during those times when they need more heat than ever.
Beddings are excellent insulators as they absorb heat during the day and steadily release them to the surrounding area when the temperature drops.
The comfort of your herd directly affects their productivity. Therefore, you want to keep them as comfortable as possible. Beddings are usually soft and easy to lay on, they provide a comfortable cushion for your herd when they wish to rest and regurgitate.
Also, for pregnant and lactating does, when their udders are sore, beddings provide a good resting surface for them, helping them maintain their milk production.
Types of Goat Bedding
There are different types of bedding and they are applicable for use in different goat shelters. Usually, they all have absorbent properties and help to make waste management easy. However, they do so to different degrees.
Here’s a highlight of beddings and their properties.
Straw is the by-product of grain plants. It is the stalk that remains of a grain plant after its head or seed has been harvested. Straw is not primarily produced for bedding purposes but serves that purpose excellently. It provides soft cushioning for your goats and conserves heat well during winter.
When the winter months approach, it is best to avoid cleaning out the straw bedding instead, add layers of straw to the already existing ones to make the bedding deeper and provide more insulation.
However, there can be an issue with using straw as a bedding material as some goats might eat them.
Pine shavings are excellent bedding materials. They aid in making waste management easy and provide enough insulation for the herd during cold months. They are cheap, easy to get and absorb moisture efficiently. After they’ve been soiled, they are also easy to remove from the shed. Pine shavings are arguably the best goat bedding materials.
Pellet bedding is another choice of goat bedding material. Although it is normally used as bedding for horses, they also make good beddings for goats due to their great absorbent property, relative cheapness, and ease of management.
They make goat waste management easier and they can be purchased in any livestock accessories store or online. They have the added advantage of being non-consumable by goats.
Sawdust is a product of shaving woods. It is the most common bedding material and arguably the cheapest. It is readily available in any wood processing factory and can be stored inside the goats’ shed. Sawdust is light and requires more quantity to achieve a comfortable soft couching. However, due to the small particles, it traps heat excellently, making it suitable for use during winter.
On the downside, sawdust can cake when moisture gets to it, meaning you may have to clean out more often.
Wood chips, as the name implies, are gotten from woods. They are bits and pieces of wood that cannot be used for construction but as fuel. However, they can also be used as bedding material for your goats. They cannot be consumed by goats, making them safe for use and lets you rest assured that your goats cannot pick contaminated goat feed off the bedding.
They are also good at absorbing moisture, and like other bedding materials, can be further used in your garden after they’ve been cleared off the shed.
Cedar as a whole wood is used for many purposes including goat fencing and decks. However, its use extends to shavings obtained from it. They make excellent bedding material that not only helps to manage goat waste but also helps to ward off pests such as snakes and insects due to the oil the shaving contains.
Cedar shaving oil serves as a natural deodorant that helps to mask the odor of animal waste. They also help to conserve heat during winter.
Sand is not necessarily a bedding material, but some goats prefer to lay on the sand than any other material. It makes drainage easy as you do not have to routinely wash it to remove goat waste. However, it can absorb goat urine so much that the environment begins to smell.
Sand works best when it is secondary bedding, that is, another bedding material is laid atop it.
How to Deal with the Stink in your Goat Shelter
The prospect of using bedding materials is amazing. It saves you an enormous amount of time spent cleaning the floor. This also protects your herd from pathogens. However, it is important to point out that the use of bedding material does not eliminate the need to regularly clean. In fact, you need to keep to a schedule when you begin using bedding materials. Once they get soiled there is a limit to which they can absorb goat waste.
All beddings, including cedar, pine, and all scented shavings you can think of will soon begin to ooze an offensive odor. Once they have had their limit of goat poop and urine. The ammonia in the animal waste builds up over time and needs to be removed from the shed to allow fresh air in.
To maintain good hygiene in and around the shelter, you may need the following.
Fresheners are substances you can use in the shelter to keep the offensive odor of ammonia to the minimum, especially when you are unable to clean out the shelter just yet. They help to make the shelter more pleasant to stay in even after you have cleaned.
Stall Dry Absorbent & Deodorizer is an example of a freshener. It helps minimize the stress of constantly cleaning out the shed and saves you the cost of purchasing bedding materials. With it, you can have a dry goat shelter, devoid of offensive smell, and safe for your goats.
To thoroughly clean the shelter, you will need many items including shovels, brooms, disinfectants, and water. However, the most important of them all, arguably, is a hauling cart. After you’ve held off on cleaning for so long, adding layers to the bedding material that it has become so thick, you need something that will make moving it easier.
Polar Trailer Hauling Cart serves as your companion and helper in moving bedding materials from the shed to wherever you wish to dispose of them. It is rugged, has shielded ball bearings, and wide track rubber tires. It can take as much as 400 pounds of load at once.
Dispose of the old goat bedding
This step, in cleaning and maintaining hygiene in and around the shelter involves removing the old bedding and transporting them to a safe distance from the shelter. Most goat keepers prefer to use the old bedding for other agricultural purposes.
Mulching is the covering of the soil surface with materials, synthetic or biological. This helps preserve nutrients, moisture, and reduce plant competition with weeds for sunlight. Old bedding materials can be used for mulching and they have the added advantage of providing more organic nutrients to the soil.
Old bedding materials help to improve the soil structure and texture when added to the soil. Bedding material such as sawdust holds an enormous amount of ammonia, a compound that contains nitrogen, responsible for the healthy greenery of plants.
Old bedding materials adapted to the soil, especially ones with low fertility, helps to improve the biological activity in the soil and increase the fertility profile of the soil.
The use of bedding materials in goat sheds and shelters is a win-win for both goat keepers and goats. The goats get to be comfortable on soft cushions. They have a steady supply of heat when the weather is cold, and have no moisture on their hooves.
On the other hand, the goat keeper does not have to wash the shelter floor of urine and poop every day to maintain hygiene. Also, the old bedding materials can be used to improve the quality of life for plants in your garden or your goats’ range and pasture.