Sunday, October 30, 2022

How to Keep Goats Warm in Winter

Do goats need heat in the winter?  Learn about goat keeping in cold weather and how to keep goats warm in winter without using electricity.  

How to Keep Goats Warm in Winter

I didn't grow up with outside animals like goats and chickens, so I was like a first time mom the first winter we had outdoor critters.

Goats are fairly cold hardy, so they do well in colder winters.  Where we are in Ohio, we are just below the line of lake effect snow and cold weather from Lake Erie.  

However, it does get pretty cold in the winter.  Luckily, we usually have a few days or weeks of really cold weather before it warms up again for a few days or weeks.

For more articles about raising goats, check out these articles:

How Cold is Too Cold For A Goat?

Typically speaking, most goats are able to weather temperatures down to about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there are a few other factors to keep in mind. 

For instance, you will want to ensure that your goats are kept dry, as being wet will make them much colder.  Further, you will want to give them a place to stay to avoid wind chill as well. 

Wind chill can make temperatures feel a lot colder than they actually are. If you have multiple goats, you should allow them to graze together so they can huddle for warmth as well. 


Do Goats Need Heat in the Winter?

The answer to this question primarily depends on the environment in which your goat lives. If you live in a warmer area where temperatures do not drop that low (below 32 degrees Fahrenheit), then you might not need to heat them.


If you live in a colder environment, however, you will probably need to provide your goats with some sort of heat.


How To Keep Goats Warm In Winter

There are several things that you can do to keep your goats warm in the winter. Before we discuss that, however, it needs to be said that what you ought to do will depend largely on your climate.


If you live in a warm climate, you will probably need to prepare for wind and rain more so than for snow or general cold weather. If you live in a cold climate, though, you will need to do more preparation. 


There are a few different methods that you can use to help keep your goats warm during the winter time. The first is to ensure that they have an indoor or enclosed area to sleep.


Providing a goat shelter for winter is very important. However, if your goats do not have a building to sleep in, you can build a shelter using tarps to keep the wind and rain off of them. 

You can also use heat lamps to warm up specific areas.  We reserve heat lamps for extreme cold temperatures.  We've been getting Arctic blasts of cold air the last few years, so we have a heat lamp to use for a few days.


Further, you should make use of bedding and water heaters to ensure a proper environment for your goats to rest and hydrate in. 

If you have young goats, you could also invest in some goat blankets for them, as they will keep your goats nice and toasty in harsh conditions. 


How To Keep Goats Warm In Freezing Weather

Keeping goats warm in freezing weather is very similar to keep them warm in cold weather, just moreso. For instance, in freezing weather you will definitely want your goats to have an indoor habitat to reside in.


Further, you will want it to be heated, either via heat lamps or by a heater. You will also want to ensure that their food and water don’t freeze in the temperatures, so water heaters are recommended.


It is important that they graze, so providing a space where they can without freezing is important. This can be done by clothing your goats, by placing tarps around to prevent against wind, or even both if the situation warrants it. 


Do Goats Need Bedding in Winter?

Yes, your goats do need, and will benefit from, having bedding in the wintertime. During the summer it is usually okay for your goats to sleep on the dirt ground, but in the wintertime they will need some bedding. 


I recommend using straw for your goats as it is very warm and easy to manage. Many recommend using a deep litter method of bedding for your goats.


What this means is, as the straw in your goats pen gets trampled and dirty, layer new straw on top of it. This will provide insulation and keep your goats sleeping area clean. 


Further, if you feed your goats hay I recommend feeding them in their pen. This way, dropped hay will add to the bedding, maximizing effectiveness. 


Can Goats Live Outside In The Winter?

When it comes to weather, goats are hardy creatures. They can withstand some cold temperatures. However, they should always be given the option of a goat shelter for winter to keep warm when they want to take a break from grazing.


This is why it is good to have an area where your goats can go to bed down during the daytime, away from the wind and cold. 


What Kind of Shelter Do Goats Need In Winter?

During the wintertime, your goats will need a place to stay even during the day. Your goats shelter should be able to protect them from rain or snow and wind. 


This means that your goats should have a shelter with walls and a roof. Further, it is always a good idea to lay down bedding, such as straw, for your goats in their shelter. 


You can provide your goats with a structural shelter, such as a shed or barn, to keep them warm. For warmer or drier environments, you could put up tarping around some trees to give your goats an area to escape the wind.


Ultimately, your goats shelter should be tailored to their environment.

Invest in some good insulation for the shelter.  Avoid drafts in the goat pen, but make sure there is proper ventilation near the ceiling for air flow.


Do Goats Need A Heated Shelter In The Winter?

This question largely depends on the climate that you live in. If temperatures in your area frequently drop below 32 degrees fahrenheit, then yes you will need a goat shelter for winter. 

There are a few ways that you can heat your goats' shelter. The first way is through heat lamps, as these lamps will provide a specific area of heat for your goats. However, they are limited in that you need several to cover an entire area. 

You could invest in an outdoor space heater for a goat shelter for winter. These are nice in that they keep your goats entire area heated, and are easier to control with respect to actual temperature output.

However, they are typically more costly to purchase and run than are heat lamps. You can also invest in water heaters to ensure that your goats water bowl does not freeze over. 

Your goats always need access to water, even during the cold months, so a water bowl heater or heated water bowl are great ways to ensure that. 

How To Keep Goats Warm Without Electricity

One of the best ways to learn how to keep goats warm without electricity is by using a goat blanket, or a goat sweater. These are basically goat clothes that help to protect against the elements.

Typically, goat blankets are used on very young goats who are not as acclimated to cold temperatures as are the adults. However, they can be worn by adults as well. 

Goat blankets and sweaters are very effective against wind and cold temperatures.  Blankets can rub the goat's skin and cause their fur to fall out, so only use them on adult goats when necessary.

However, they are not very effective against rain and snow, as your goats will still get wet. As such, a goat blanket is not a substitute for a habitat, but rather, just makes your goat more comfortable grazing outside of their habitat. 

What To Feed Goats In Winter

Learning what to feed goats in the winter is important, as goats do not like changes in diet. In fact, drastic and sudden changes to a goat's diet can actually cause illness. As such, it is important to slowly transition your goats diet before winter is in full swing.

Many goat owners recommend feeding your goats sweet feed as this provides them with more energy. Your goats need more energy in the winter so as to help regulate their internal body temperature.

Additionally, during the wintertime it can be harder for your goats to graze, as there is less grass and vegetation to eat. As such, you will need to supplement their diet with ruffage. You can feed them grass, hay, or alfalfa so as to ensure that their diet is consistent throughout the winter.

Goats create heat inside their body by eating roughage like hay, grass, silage, and brush.  Avoid feeding only grains because goats can freeze on a grain only diet in cold temperatures.

Keep Goats Active

Along with generating heat from eating hay, goats also create their own by moving.  If it's not Arctic temperature outside, let your goats outside during the warming part of the day to run around and play.  

Now you know how to keep goats warm without electricity and how to use heat lamps in extreme cold weather.

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