Raising Goats: Keeping their barn clean

October 9, 2018

One of the many questions I receive about raising goats and keeping goats as pets is: How do you keep the goat barn clean? Today I am going to share how I keep our goat barn clean and how we keep our pet goats healthy!

One of the many questions I receive about raising goats and keeping goats as pets is: How do you keep the goat barn clean? Today I am going to share how I keep our goat barn clean and how we keep our pet goats healthy!

Raising Goats: Keeping their Barn Clean

In this post, learn the best ways to keep a shelter and barn clean when raising goats! These tips for raising goats will help keep your animals healthy! Don’t forget to check out my other posts about raising goats: 15 Things I wish I knew Before I got Goats and The Best Resources for Goat Care.

To start things off, I’ll describe the type of shelter goats need, then I will talk about some tips for keeping things clean! Let’s get started!

What kind of shelter do goats need?

In short: they need a three sided barn or structure.

We converted a storage shed into a goat barn, and it works perfectly. We keep the large doors open during the day, and close them at night to keep them safe from predators.

Before we got the storage shed, we used a large dog crate, which was terribly impractical.

The whole thing was really jimmy rigged. I wired up a plywood roof above the dog kennel and used another piece of plywood as a makeshift door to block out snow drifts in the winter. We even used lots of extension cords to string out a heat lamp to keep them warm when the temps would drop below zero.

I remember wearing my snow pants, gloves, and two parkas whenever I’d go out with the goats, but more often than not, I’d spend hours sitting with them even in the middle of a blizzard. I just loved em too much.

Since their dog run days, our goats have gotten a major upgrade with the Love Shack. The Love Shack is really an outdoor storage shed customized a la goat. We contacted our local storage shed company and asked them to build one for us – I increased the roof pitch and ceiling height. Added windows and a goatie door, and asked for a dutch door rather than a standard door.

One of the many questions I receive about raising goats and keeping goats as pets is: How do you keep the goat barn clean? Today I am going to share how I keep our goat barn clean and how we keep our pet goats healthy!

I love the Love Shack because it allows me to sit with the goats during a blizzard without snow pants on…

Anyways, our goat house, the Love Shack, is something I try to keep very clean. And chances are, if you have goats, you know this is no easy task. Goats pee. A LOT. They poop. CONSTANTLY. They like to take a nicely packed flake of hay and turn it into one million pieces and strew it about the entire pen only eating 1% of it. They aren’t tidy animals, but they sure are cute.

I have developed a cleaning system for our goat pen to keep it clean year round, and I hope you find this helpful. Actually, I hope you also have some ideas to add to this, because I’m always looking for ways to improve our cleaning routine.

One of the many questions I receive about raising goats and keeping goats as pets is: How do you keep the goat barn clean? Today I am going to share how I keep our goat barn clean and how we keep our pet goats healthy!

Raising Goats: How to keep their barn clean!

Straw vs Pine Bedding

You have a few options when you think about bedding, but really it comes down to pine vs. straw. Pine bedding is made of little tiny pine tree pieces that will get in your hair and stick to your clothes. It somehow ends up in your car and I think I even found a piece in my lipstick tube. It’s really messy stuff. But it’s what we use! Here’s why: my goats like to eat straw bedding.

I tried straw bedding and although it was much easier to clean out with a pitch fork, it felt dirtier. The poop and pee seemed to sink down to the dirt rather than being absorbed the way it does with pine shavings. Also, Buckwheat seemed to develop a taste for pee sodden straw, which I found to be disgusting. So we quickly switched back to pine shavings and haven’t looked back.

Ultimately, I think the bedding debate falls into – whatever works best for you and your animals. I’d give both a try, and see what you like best!

Once you decide, make sure to keep extra on hand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come upon an extra hour or two to clean the goat pen, and have been out of shavings…it’s a big pain (sort of like running out of printer ink)! So just keep extra on hand.

Stall Freshener

Oh stall freshener, how we love you! Remember when I said goats pee a LOT? I wasn’t kidding. They pee more than any of my other animals, and that’s because they needs so much fresh clean water to stay healthy. Since they are grazers, their systems are constantly moving, resulting in a lot of pee and poop.

You can buy stall freshener in many forms, but we use the powdered form. I simply sprinkle it all over the floor of the LS, and add a little extra where the goats seem to pee a lot.

Goat’s lungs are very delicate and the ammonia created from their urine is very toxic to them, using stall freshener helps absorb the ammonia and provides a healthier environment for your animals.

One of the many questions I receive about raising goats and keeping goats as pets is: How do you keep the goat barn clean? Today I am going to share how I keep our goat barn clean and how we keep our pet goats healthy!

Lime Wash (Whitewash) / Lime Powder

You can use lime wash or lime powder in your barn / stalls as well to help keep everything clean. In my opinion, Stall Freshener is more effective, but barn lime is said to work. Lime Wash and Lime Powder are two different things.

Lime powder is used on the dirt and in your garden, it strengthens soil. Lime Wash is hydrated lime and is used like a paint to whitewash surfaces. Whitewashing is an age old technique used not only to paint surfaces white, but also because it has antibacterial properties (often used in chicken coops).

We painted the LS with interior paint, but this year I may decided to give the whole thing another coat of lime wash simply because it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than using paint. If you’re interested, here’s a great tutorial on how to whitewash.

The Deep Litter Method

If you’re wondering what the deep litter method is, you’re not alone. The deep litter method is basically a giant compost floor for your animals. This method can be used in the winter to create warmth in the pen. Personally, I’ve never tried it, but I have read about many people using this method with great success.

You can’t use this method during the warmer months because of flies, but as soon as it cools down, you can begin your deep litter. Start by giving your pen a really deep clean. Get everything out, I’d even use a very diluted bleach solution, then rinse, and allow to dry completely.

Sprinkle a heavy amount of stall freshener all over the floor of your structure, then layer shavings or straw over it. When you begin to notice that the floor is becoming dirty, layer fresh bedding down without scooping any of the yucky stuff up. Just cover it all up with some bedding. Repeat this all winter long!

As the manure and urine breaks down, you will have a natural heat source to keep your animals warm in the winter months. If you’re interested in this method, I suggest doing a bit more research, here is a great video showing the deep litter method.

The Non Deep Litter Method

We don’t use the deep litter method, simply because I like to keep their pen very clean and don’t mind deep cleaning their pen weekly. I dedicate about 30 minutes every 7-10 days to deep cleaning the goats pen.

I have found that the deep litter method provides a bit too much moisture for my liking. So I do a deep clean about every 10 days.

To start, I bring in a wheel barrow and begin scooping out all of the pine shavings. I use a broom to really get everything out of all of the nooks and crannies. I can usually fit all of the waste in two wheel barrow loads. It’s a circus each time I try to leave the pen with a wheel barrow while attempting to keep all of the goats on the right side of the fence. Open gates generally mean free-for-all.

Once I’m finished scooping out all of the waste, I sprinkle stall freshener all over the ground. I add extra where they seem to pee the most. Then, I open up a fresh bag of shavings, and sprinkle it evenly throughout the LS.

After, I place back all of their things…furniture, hay bin (in cold months), and sprinkle baking soda in a dish for them to munch on.

That’s it! It really isn’t very complicated, and if you keep all of your supplies handy, it only takes about half an hour every ten days or so.

Around the Pen…

Everything I’ve touched on so far has been applicable to where the goats sleep – a barn, shelter, or building. However, you’ll probably notice that goats poop everywhere! After a few months of being kept in the same pen, their berries will begin to be more and more noticeable, and you may want to eliminate some of them.

Every couple of months, I use a rake, shovel, and broom to clean up the heavily trafficked area of their pen. This includes scooping up their unwanted hay (which builds up quickly), and sweeping/scooping as many berry clusters as I can. We usually back the truck up to the pen and fill up the bed, then find a place to dump all of the waste.

I also discovered that using a leaf blower is a wonderful way to blow all of the poop into one area to easily clean up!

It would be impossible to clean up all of the poop, but spending a little bit of time every couple of months helps out a lot.

If you have access to a meadow drag / grater you could also grate the pen to turn over the dirt in the spring. We have also found moving their feed rack to various parts of the pen every couple of months helps distribute their mess evenly!

It’s important to keep the pen as clean as you can because of goats’ terrible relationship with worms, especially in the spring as things are wet and warm! I hope this post was helpful for anyone interested in raising goats for pets!! Please let me know if you have any questions or tips of your own in the comments below!

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  1. Hello and thank you for all this information. I am trying to convert a horse barn with stalls to a goat barn. The floor is dirt and the previous owners put mats for the horses and then hay on top of the mats. So i am wondering if iShould keep or remove the mats for my goats…
    Thank you for your time!

  2. Hi Chloe, I am writing a children’s book that has a lost goat in it. This article has been great for me, but I would love to talk to you more about goat culture. Any chance we could speak? You can check out my website below to make sure I’m legit.I really would appreciate it.
    Thanks
    Terry

  3. Do you still close them in or does the structure protect them?
    I wasn’t clear with the freshener powder if it eliminates the (dangerous?) amonia?
    I’ve just started closing my goats in their stalls after a major coyote attack, but I can’t imagine redoing all of the bedding every day to get rid of the amonia smell. Thanks!

    • I’m so sorry about your coyote attack! I do lock them in their little barn each night, and I clean it every 10-14 days. If it’s bad weather, then they seem to spend more time inside the barn which means I have to clean it more frequently. I dust the freshener powder on the dirt/gravel after I clean out the pen, and then top it with fresh pine shavings. I try to treat it like a big litter box and pick up and big messes every day or so. Hope that helps! :)

  4. Hi there! I will be bringing home my first goat babies next week. What do you like to use for fly/insect control in the goat house?

  5. Hello! One thing Id like to point out is goats are NOT grazers…. they are BROWSERS… they ARE always moving though, and each goat as a personal preference as to what they like eating….although goats will nibble the tips of grass they are NOT sheep and will NOT clear land…

  6. I have a terrible time with the alfalfa. It falls on the ground then gets wet during the week and the smell is awful. Is there any tricks you can suggest to maintain the feeding area. Scdstuber@aol.com
    Charlotte thank you

    • Hi Charlotte – Yes, I have seen some people use metal wire laundry baskets as hay feeders which are more of a grid and help with the hay. Goats are terribly wasteful! Also, I might consider feeding grass hay with just a little alfalfa, not as rich feed. something like this (https://amzn.to/2TxplEg) – removing the fabric. Mounted to the wall. Hope that’s helpful :)

  7. Hi, I am thinking of keeping Pygmy goats and have a ready made concrete floored, breeze block building with wooden door in a small field – would this be suitable?
    Many thanks,

    • Hi Lucy, I am sure that will be fine! A lot of goat keepers have concrete floors as their surface. This is helpful if you live in a wet environment too. Hoof rot can be a problem with mud, so a concrete surface would be great for that. We live in a super dry climate, so the gravel/dirt compact is suitable for us.

  8. Hello, and thank you so much! We have two new baby goats and are learning everything for the first time. My husand was just wondering what you do with the soiled pine shavings?

    • You can keep the shavings for compost or you can bag them up and take them to the dump. When my girls are in heat their urine is twice as acidic so I dump the shavings near the backside or our property but that is just my personal preference as it’s really stinky and I have a kid with respiratory issues(human kid).

  9. Hello!

    We just got 2 goats and I appreciate all of this information!
    We are using a large dog house that my husband built until we can get the goat house built. I adore the goat house you have! I saw the door is 8ft and the height is 12ft. Can you tell me the other dimensions of this house and any other information that would be helpful in building something like this.
    Thank you so much!
    Jamie

    • Hi Jamie! How exciting – it is 10×10′ and it works well for the four goats. If I got any more goats, I’d probably want a bigger space as it gets tight with them in there at night and they rough house and monkey around!!

  10. I would love to see a video of you putting the stall freshener down (I never can tell how much I should be using), and the pine shavings to see how much you use at a time!

    • Hi Whitney – I have a video I’m going to post on instagram tv – but I use just a light sprinkle layer, I don’t measure so I can’t tell you precisely how much. Probably 3-4 cups for the whole barn? Hope that’s helpful!

  11. I have a question I hope you can answer my friend built a goat house and has three goats even though we keep the goat-house clean the floor which is made of wood never seems to dry even after leaving it open to the wind all day any suggestions

    • Goats pee so much, it really is hard to keep things dry. Do they feed them in the barn? It may help to move the food outdoors. I also would suggest using PDZ, and adding some sort of bedding? Hope that helps!
      Chloe

  12. Hi. Good read. I was going to set up a stall in my garage but there is a concrete floor. Anyone know how much ground to add and what kind?

  13. This is great advice! I feel like I clean everything up and it’s dirty in a couple days. My biggest problem has been keeping the soil dry where they like to pee and poop a lot which is near their feeding area outside. I’ll try moving it around every now and then to give the soil a rest to dry up! Thanks!!!!

  14. I really appreciate hearing from another person who I can relate to. I like things to be very clean so I was reassured that my goat set up could be to the standards that I envisioned. Your daily and weekly routine is exactly how I always maintain the homes for my small animals.

    I visited a couple of goat farms this week and was disappointed at the level of muck and smell. I know that smell and flies go with the territory of farm animals. However, I found it hard to believe that the standards that I observed were inevitable. It was good to know that it IS possible to keep things a lot cleaner and healthier. To me this is especially important for dairy animals. But for any hoofed animals hoof rot is a real danger and we live in a wetter climate anyway.

    I also plan to groom and pick/brush hooves as part of the daily routine just as you would for horses. (It will get the doelings accustomed to the milk stand as well.) We are going to start out slow in expanding our new homestead and I’ll only have three goats so I’d have time to do this. I think it would make the goats easier to handle and trimming the hooves would not be so daunting. When the two ladies were showing me how to do it, their goats’ hooves were packed with muck. (They use straw and whether or not they are intentionally using the "deep litter" method–in summer–that’s the result.)

    So yes, you’re article was very helpful and encouraging!
    -HC

    • Hello! I just moved sites and can reply to comments much easier – I am sorry for just responding to your nice comment! Thank you! I agree – hoof rot is a very real danger, especially with goats in wet environments in the winter. Hoof care is something most don’t realize is necessary when they add goats to their herd! I also worry about parasites with goats, so I try to keep things as clean as I possibly can. Knock on wood, I haven’t experienced any issues yet, not to say it couldn’t happen. I tend to stay away from the deep litter method, due to the build up of moisture beneath, I wouldn’t want my goats laying on that night after night! Thanks again, all my best! Chloe

  15. Hi Chloe! I know you from your collaborations with Lisa at Farmhouse on Boone.

    My girls have recently leased a couple of kids for 4H. We are first-time goat caregivers. We recently noticed the little babes have mites! Do you have any experience with this? I like to use holistic remedies around our little farmhouse and was wondering if you make one from herbs or essential oils for your goats with mites? I’d greatly appreciate any info you could share. There’s not a lot about this floating around on the net.

    Thanks so much!
    Amy | OurAmyableFarmhouse.com

    • Hi Amy – sorry for just getting back to you, I wanted to do some research. I have not had experience with mites, but I did find this article on Fiasco Farm. I don’t agree with everything she advises on her website, but I thought you might find this information useful. Keep in mind – I haven’t tried this out myself. Good luck!!! xo https://fiascofarm.com/herbs/health.htm#Mange

  16. Hi Chloe. My husband and I just bought a farm house that was built in 1900. We are almost done with the major renovations. As spring arrives, my goal is to raise chickens and goats, a hobby farm to enjoy and share with my 8 grandchildren. Thank you for all your opinions and recommendations. I look forward to learning more. I know you hear this a lot, but Butternut is my inspiration! Suzanne from Rockford, Michigan

  17. Hi Chloe, I´m in love with your goat house, would you mind telling me how tall is the door? I have a pregnant goat about to pop out and I´m in a hurry building a little shed. Thank you so much for the great tips

    • Hello Monica! I believe it is 8 ft. tall, and the overall height goes to 12′ inside. We customized the shed to fit my design idea ;). Before, I used a dog kennel! It was a major upgrade. Hope your doe and babies are doing well!

  18. I love your posts that include your goats! I miss mine so much and long for the day I can have them again. I too was obsessed with providing a clean stall for them and used stall mats. I found it made cleaning faster and easier.

  19. Hi Chloe, I don’t have any goats but follow a number of homesteaders who own them on social media. Your posts about how to care for them are always so thoughtful and interesting as well as educational and so well written (plus, I love the photos you take of your goats. Through these images readers like me are able to get a glimpse into their unique personalities). Thank you so much for sharing your experience with these fascinating animals. Cheers, Ardith

    • Hi Ardith, thank you so much for stopping by and always taking the time to say hello! My love of goats just can’t be stopped ;)

  20. I would paint the wood floor will Killz then cover with cheap Vinyl Sheet Flooring. Then you can add bedding on top and when you want to clean it just hose it out.