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Planning the small barn.

Small barns can be just as functional as their larger cousins (if not more so)

Here's one way to arrange a small building to house four or five milking does.

There's 100 square feet of space in the loafing pen. The does have a door to their outside exercise yard. The feeding manger has five head stanchions spaced about 21 inches apart, and you can feed and water the does from the aisle without walking into their pen.

Grain is stored in metal drums. There's a wall cabinet in the corner to store supplies.

The does are milked on the bench. The milking equipment can sit on the lid of the grain drums or on a shelf you build above them.

Doorways are three feet wide so you can bring in hay or a wheel-barrow without banging your knuckles.

The kid pen is temporary. When the kids are gone you take down the partition and have extra storage room. You can adjust the size of this pen for the number and size of animals in it. A narrow eight-inch gate in the partition between kids and does would let the kids frolic with the big goats and return to their own pen for feed.

Kid pens and hay storage are the hardest part of a barn to plan. This design would be just fine for some folks, but inadequate for others. It depends on how many kids you raise and how you buy your hay.

Five does might produce 10 or more kids each year. If you keep the kids for several months you would need two or three times more pen space for kids than we have shown here.

The hay storage corner holds 16 or 20 midwestern-size bales stacked high. This would keep five does in hay and bedding for a month. It works fine if you can buy a few bales of hay and straw at a time and have a vehicle to haul them in.

But if you want hay delivered you may have to buy more than this at a time. Some goat raisers find it necessary to buy enough hay for the whole season at harvest time. In either case, this barn doesn't have enough room.

You could build a haymow for that extra hay storage. But remember that getting the hay up there can be a headache. Little farms don't have elevators to lift hay. It is certainly convenient to open the trap door and kick a bale down, however.

Ground level storage is easier to fill. You could make this barn larger or store hay in another building. Hay can be stacked quite high and 16 feet is a "reasonable" ceiling height for a hay barn.

Flooring? Cement is nice for aisles and hay storage areas. Many people don't like cement for the floors of pens -- the bedding seems to stay drier if the floor consists of a foot or so of fine gravel or sand.

There's no such thing as a "perfect" small goat barn. The best barn varies with your climate, needs, etc. Visit other goat raisers in your area to see what they're using and find out how they like their barns before you start building.

Housing your goat

Goats are extremely adaptable animals and don't require a fancy place to stay. They do, however, need protection from rain, wind and cold.

Open housing

The least expensive and easiest to build housing features three sides with the open side facing away from prevailing winds. The roof of the housing should be sloped to repel the rain. Thus, the front should be about five to six feet tall, and the back about three to four feet tall. The low height of this roof will help hold the heat down to the goat's level. The open side may be closed down to just a door opening if less than three goats will be housed. Mature goats in open housing require 10 - 15 square feet of bedding space per goat. There should be adequate drainage around the housing area. Three to four inches of straw or low quality hay should be put in the house for bedding. In the winter a manure pack could be allowed to build up. As the lower layers decompose it will provide a source of heat for the goat.

Confinement housing

If you plan to build a barn that can be completely closed as needed, there are many additional considerations. Building and maintenance expenses will also increase with the complexity of the housing. Contact your local extension office for plans.


Allow one or two square feet of window space for each goat that is to be housed. Health problems may occur if there is insufficient lighting.


Fresh air is needed to keep the animal healthy, but be careful to not cause a draft. If you use a fan in a larger barn, the fan should move 15 - 20 cubic feet of air per minute in the heat of the summer and 20 cubic feet per minute of air in the winter. The fan should be positioned to pull air from the floor in the winter and pull air from the ceiling in the summer. A removable hood can be built around the fan to accomplish this task.


The addition of insulation will prevent warm air in the barn from condensing on the cold walls. If humidity is high and condensation is present, health problems such as colds and respiratory problems will increase. It's important to remember to cover insulation with plywood so the goats can't nibble on it.


A mature goat will require 20 square feet of space inside the barn, (free from obstructions), and another 25 square feet of space per goat should be provided in an adjacent exercise yard in addition to the space that is occupied by water and feeding troughs; calculate clear space only.


Goats do not require heat if dry bedding and a draft free area are provided. Bedding should be five-to-six inches thick on concrete, and provide for good drainage of urine. A dirt floor can also be properly covered with three-to-four inches of bedding material.

A confinement housing system will allow you to closely control and maintain your animals, but it is less natural, and has a higher cost than loose housing. Look closely at your existing structures and resources before deciding on which housing system to use.

(Reprinted from COUNTRYSIDE, April, 1973)
COPYRIGHT 2001 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 2001
Previous Article:Underground housing builder addresses misconceptions.
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