View Full Version : Very Cold Temps coming - ideas for keeping my goat warm!

Gil's Girl
Jan. 8, 2009, 01:13 PM
Not entirely really horse related, but.....

Its going to drop to below zero farenheit here next week, and my horses live out with sheds and double blankets, they'll be fine. My pet goat has a big stall off the garage, that closes up tight with a big door, has a cement floor with rubber mats and lots of fluffy straw, but I'm worried about her freezing with no other body heat in there - any ideas to keep her a little warmer?

She's got a good fluffy undercoat, but its never been this cold here, usually 20s in the winter. last year she had a different stall where I could put a little metal radiator heater in the space outside of it, and keep her water from freezing and the chill off, but I've opened the space up, and now I can't put it anywhere safely. There's a lightbulb up on the 8ft ceiling - would a heat bulb do anything at all?

A blanket? Or would that just deflate her fluffy undercoat? She's my little baby, I'm honestly thinking of bedding up the mudroom with straw and covering up the french doors with a dog gate so she doesn't tear them down:)

Any ideas? Any goat people out there? I know she's a cold weather swiss breed, but still, its gonna be COLD.

Thanks very much!

Jan. 8, 2009, 02:18 PM
I have a calf hutch filled very deeply with straw for my pygmies - seems to work well. I have three though - they huddle and keep each other warm. But to be honest, it has to be REALLY cold for them to go in there!

Jan. 8, 2009, 02:25 PM
We used a heatlamp (with great reluctance, due to all of the fire warnings) set 18 inches behind a wire fence segment in the corner of their three sided shed when temps. dropped to -10 F here last month. Our three Saanens handled the cold well, though I have one milking doe that tends to lose weight in the winter. I REALLY don't want her getting cold, and would love to get her a blanket if we could.

Pallets (with plywood on top, and deep straw on top of that) also help insulate our three from the cold ground.

I did tell my husband that if the power (and the heat lamp) went out, we were bringing the goats into the kitchen. He reluctantly approved the plan, but it proved unnecessary.

Now we just have to keep them from drowning - with flooding all around, all roads closed (truly, we are on an island with no escape), and no more goat grain (they are eating oatmeal, molasses, chicken scratch, soy lecethin and cooked rice!!) I really wish I had stocked up and thought ahead before this ridiculous winter weather hit.

Jan. 8, 2009, 02:43 PM
The deep litter method is the typical method of keeping these animals warm in the winter.

Jan. 8, 2009, 04:06 PM
I would be very worried about fire using heaters and heat lamps with straw bedding. I know that people do it safely and that's a personal decision.

I sometimes see my alpine goat shivering but there's not much I can do to help her. I tried a foal blanket one year, but she shrugged it off. She's a rescue and lived through a barn fire and does better each year she's with me. If your goat will keep a blanket on, it will at least prevent heat loss. If you decide to use one, get a very lightweight one that won't pack her coat. (I sometimes wonder if using a people parka would work. Put the legs through the sleeves and if possible, zip the jacket.)

I think being out and about and being able to move around is a good thing for animals when it's cold. Keeps their blood circulating.

My goats (the alpine and a pygmy) have a 12x12 stall, with rubber mats over concrete barn floor and about 8" of packed shavings. I don't have straw - which is the best I know - but I sacrifice hay for their beds. I have also put 1 or 2 whole square bales of hay in their stall for them to snuggle against when it's been below 0. Their stall is in the barn and 10' away from the door opening where the horses come and go. The goats have 24/7 access to the outdoors from their stall.

Jan. 8, 2009, 04:40 PM
The chicken industry uses brooder lamps by the trillion - they have to have safety's built in? My friend has one which she uses for her dogs. Seems a good idea, but then I would worry about fire, too.

Jan. 8, 2009, 04:44 PM
I put old sweatshirts on my two pet toggenburg goats. The live in a pasture with a little shed. I cut off the sleeves and the hem (if it is too long). For my wether, I had to make sure the sweatshirt was short enough (from neck to hem) to NOT cover his weeny :) I do this every winter and they don't mind at all. Not sure how much more it keeps them warm, but it makes me feel better. There have been times I have had a sickly goat and I put a couple of sweaters or sweatshirts on them.

Jan. 8, 2009, 07:02 PM
I had a picture pop into my head reading your title.

Could you find a down vest that would fit, then add leg straps with some webbing, if you have a sewing machine?

It might keep the body core warmer without restricting movement.

Just a thought....you don't have another goat that might EAT the vest off that one, do ya? :lol:

Jan. 8, 2009, 07:23 PM
You could bring her into bed with you. Will probably take five minutes before she makes you so mad that you can throw her back outside and you won't care if she is cold!

Jan. 8, 2009, 07:32 PM
How about an extra-large dog blanket?

Jan. 8, 2009, 07:53 PM
MY 3 do just fine with their little barn. As long as they're dry and can get out of the nasty weather they do OK in winter. We've had temps in the teens this winter and , just like the horses, they get thick coats and I just keep hay in front of them and make sure they have access to water. Today was 40, but the wind chill was probably in the teens and everybody was out in a sunny corner munching on hay. Maybe you need another goat?

Gil's Girl
Jan. 8, 2009, 09:33 PM
i DO need another goat, i lost her sister tragically last year, almost lost her too, (proving that just cause your grain room is horse proof, it is not goat proof:()and i just don't feel like i can in good concience get another when i might not be able to cover an emergencies that might arise - i'm stretched thin this winter. i'm sure that won't matter and i'll have one soon though - animals tend to knock on my door and find me.

I think i'm going to try and get her a nice dog blanket, i love the vest idea though - something very chic and swiss, maybe moncler or victorinox! the fire hazard of a heater scares the hell out of me, and i didn't get a good nights sleep once when i used it a couple of nights last year.

I was planning on having the rest of the building converted to 2 stalls this winter so that body heat from the horses would have been plenty, but you know how it is - used it on a false alarm run to the veterinary hospital!

thanks very much for all the ideas, and if anyone has had experience with a heat bulb in an overhead socket doing ANYTHING for the temp, please do let me know!

Jan. 8, 2009, 09:47 PM
http://www.ss4horses.com/product/solid_lambajams.html They make insulated ones too but I can't find one right now. Maybe it would fit even though she's a goat.

instructions for a goat coat

Jan. 8, 2009, 09:50 PM
Deeply bed her area, and lower the roof to creat a small hutch.
A friend uses big dog blankets for her goats.

Jan. 8, 2009, 09:57 PM
I have an infrared heater in my barn. These are safe for barn heaters and not prone to catching on fire or catching anything else on fire. They're also not real warm, but on a cold night, if you stand right underneath it, you can feel the warm rays. (It doesn't warm up the air or the room; it just radiates onto the object under it. My donkey is well aware of this, and often parks right under it. The horse doesn't seem to care.)

Jan. 9, 2009, 11:37 AM
We have 2 huge nubians and one wears a foal blanket. The other is fat and grows a terrific coat so she doesn't need any help, even when it's brutally cold (-10). They live in a stall and love to sleep in hay which is pretty warm.

The foal blanket doesn't cover her butt, but we figure it keeps her chest and midsection warm so it helps.

When she's too hot, she takes it off.

Gil's Girl
Jan. 9, 2009, 11:45 AM
So do most of you guys think that with a bunch of hay and a puffy dog coat, she'll be warm enough? Its going down to 0F now.

Jan. 9, 2009, 01:07 PM
that's about all you can do. One winter during a cold snap (-20) our very old goat, who has since died, was on the verge of freezing to death. Found her leaning in a daze against the wall. Too cold to put a blanket on as she wasn't generating her own heat.

We brought her (and the other 2 idiots b/c you can't separate 3 goats into 2 places) into the cellar where she was able to warm up. Once she did, she went back out to the barn with the foal blanket and was fine for the rest of that winter plus 2 more.

Vet said we had to put her back out after she warmed up b/c otherwise she'd acclimate to the nice 50 degree cellar. She was pretty stoked to be next to the water heater for 24 hours.

Jan. 9, 2009, 01:14 PM
We keep two blankets on our goats. Waterproof dog "turnout style" from Dover and a fleece liner (also dog) from Smartpak. It's about 10 out today.

Jan. 9, 2009, 01:16 PM

Gil's Girl
Jan. 10, 2009, 06:36 PM
ACK! now its supposed to go down to -14 on friday - what is going on here??!!!! anywhere else getting a crazy cold snap this week?

Jan. 10, 2009, 07:52 PM
Incase anyone hasn't mentioned it, be careful with her ears... if they are long enough, they will get wet when she goes to get a drink and then they can freeze if it's cold enough outside.

A large dog coat would probably work well depending on how big she is.

M. Owen
Jan. 10, 2009, 11:06 PM
would a heated dog bed be safe for a goat? something like this:


Jan. 11, 2009, 02:55 AM
Check this out!


Blankets for goats, sheep and calves!

Jan. 12, 2009, 01:52 AM
Chicks has an inexpensive dog blanket for under 20 dollars, but they're quite warm and look just like horse blankets. They're very long wearing, too. Made of 600 denier, I believe. They have a sheet and a blanket, come to think of it!

Jan. 12, 2009, 02:14 AM
Two years ago my goat had to do his duty to a filly of mine to keep the crazy thing quiet -- and he got cold being confined to her stall. I had to have a friend make a special blanket for him -- looked just like a horse blanket (same material) with two elastic bungee straps that went around his belly. He only needed it when it went below 10 as that's the only time I seen him shivering -- he has a wildly fluffy coat, too. Last year he was at the farm with access to move around anywhere he pleased -- he never got cold no matter the temperature (other poster is right...moving around is key). This year he's back with another crazy that came into training doing his duty again but he's yet to shiver -- but he's so fat now that I think I'm going to have to have another specially made blanket for him!! I always keep hay in front of mine, too....

Using the other poster's link...this is exactly what mine looked like (only in my stable colors & embr..)


Jan. 13, 2009, 03:44 AM
I raised goats for years; pets, meat, Star milkers, show-quality, and "just goats" who would do a grand job clearing your brush for pasture. coming from a horse background I had a hard time getting used to the conventional farm wisdom hereabouts. DO NOT clean their stalls! let stuff drop where it will and leave it there! seriously!
the dropped hay will form a web that protects them from the dropped pellets and urine if you leave it alone. after a short time you will notice that the goats will jump up into their stall/house because that deepening bedding is raising the floor. seems odd but there should be no particluar odor and no real mess. I would NEVER do this with a horse but it worked fine for goats.

should you care to, you could sit in that deep and heavily compacted bedding and actually feel the warmth rising from the natural composting down deep in the layer.

then, come spring, dig out your old bedding that smells like it came directly out of a bag of the most expensive garden soil you can buy. I dumped my goat stall bedding directly onto our garden and tilled it in every spring. a side bonus was our Master Gardener program (state ag college extention service) ran a soil test and I sent some to see what I should add to beef up the garden soil. the response was a hoot - they wanted to know where they could buy some soil like mine!

do not be faint of heart and those goats will warm themselves

Go Fish
Jan. 13, 2009, 04:01 AM
Goats really do well in extreme cold weather, particularly if they are confined indoors with plenty of deep bedding. I think the sweatshirt plan is a good idea if you are worried they'll get too cold. Goats are amazingly adaptable to freezing temperatures. In many places in Europe, goats spend all winter outdoors with no sort of shelter at all and do just fine.

Jan. 13, 2009, 04:27 PM
I agree about Username regarding the no-clean stall thing. I was at first aghast when I read about it in my Goats for Dummies book (not the true title)... but after doing it for a year I realized how it worked.

In fact, I know old time horse people that allow the bedding to build up over the winter months in horse stalls;however, they use straw - not shavings. Every spring, the stalls are completely stripped.

Jan. 14, 2009, 08:04 PM
As far as the blanket goes, I used the dover dog blankets, but it wasn't big enough for my overhasli goat. I just bought a weathebeeta growing foal blanket, and it really didn't fit my colt, so I gave it to the goat, and it fits him great. Depending on the size of your goat, they have two versions, one for a younger foal, and another larger size. It wraps around his neck and ties with velcro, and has a belly band. It also is long enough...the dog blankets were not long enough.

I hate seeing my goat shiver. I usually give him some hay stretcher pellets to warm him up. Its going down below o tonight and then getting to 25 below in the next few days, so I am very happy he has a coat.

one year I went to joanne's fabrics and purchased fleece and made a makeshift blanket out of that.

Jan. 15, 2009, 10:34 AM
It was 8f here at 7:30 when I went out to feed. I have the goats locked in my dearly departed old girl's stall , next to the big girl. i closed both top and bottom and they were snuggly happy and ready for breakfast. Everyone "ate in" this morning with fresh warm water and lots of hay. They'll eventually venture out , but seem quite content. Nobody is shivering, but they all are quite woolly and chubby, so i think they'll be fine. Bed them deep, lots of hay and water and shelter out of the wind and you should be OK. Mine are larger breeds, so maybe they're a bit hardier than the dwarf or pygmy breeds. Any of the more fragile breeds I might confine in a shelter until this cold passes.

Jan. 23, 2009, 03:57 PM
Bring her in the house for a bit to warm up that's what I do. My goat likes to sleep in my horse trailer when its really cold in a nest of hay. I have a heated electric muck tub that I run a heavy extension cord to and I my goat shares my Doberman's dog horse blankets. SHe's happy.

Jan. 23, 2009, 04:01 PM
:DSweatshirts worked great for mine!