Friday, March 27, 2009

Goat Shelter

It's raining today which reminded me that lots of people have asked me what type of shelter is necessary for cashmere goats. Since cashmere goats grow cashmere, they don't need shelter for warmth. However, they tend to seek shelter from the rain and wind.

As a beginning farmer, I was surprised to learn that a lot of farmers nowadays don't keep their animals in barns. Crowding a bunch of animals in a barn leads to respiratory infections, a condition that goats and sheep are particularly susceptible to. Another benefit of not keeping animals in the barn is that there are no stalls to clean. We use our barn for storage (hay, camper, building materials, tools, etc.) and for temporary animal housing, such as when we need to quarantine an animal because it is sick or new to the farm.

In our goat pastures, we've built sturdy, inexpensive and portable goat tunnels. It is extremely important to build these tunnels with sides that are nearly vertical so the goats cannot climb on them. Also, place the tunnel where goats can access both ends so that none of your “bullies” can block the entrance and hog the whole shelter for themselves.

While one person can build a goat tunnel, it requires at least 2 people to set it up. The following instructions are for building a 13’ x 4½’ tunnel. We purchased all materials at the local farm store except the tarp, which we bought at Wal-Mart, and the lumber, metal strapping, and screws. The total cost was about $140. It took us a few hours to build one tunnel. This is how we built ours and they work well for us. Please consider your unique situation before building this stucture.


NOTE: These instructions say to use cattle panels, which we did for the first 2 shelters we built. However, if you have horned goats, I strongly recommend that you use goat panels. They are more expensive but they have 4"x4" openings which are too small for the goats to get their heads stuck in. The total length of your tunnel will be 12" shorter because the goat panels are 48" tall rather than 52" like the cattle panels.

Materials
3 cattle panels (52” x 16’)
9’x12’ tarp
4 – 5’ T-posts
2 – 16’ 2x4s
Metal strapping with holes (about 1/2" wide; it comes in a roll from the hardware store)
1” or 1½” outdoor screws
Fence wire
T-post wires
Twine

Tools
Bolt cutters
Tin snips
Hammer
Saw
Screwdriver
T-post driver
Pliers
Work gloves
Safety goggles

Instructions
1. Using bolt cutters, shorten 3 cattle panels to 10’6” to 12’ (we did 12’, but if I had to do it again, I’d do 10’6”). Make the cuts so there is a closed rectangle on the good piece.

2. Cut the 2x4s down to 14’.

3. Cut the metal strapping into 2” pieces with tin snips.

4. Lay the cattle panels side by side and attach them to a 2x4 using the metal strapping and screws (there should be about 6” of 2x4 sticking out at each end).

5. Attach the other 2x4 to the opposite end of the panels.

6. Using fence wire, attach the panels together in 3 or 4 places along each seam.

7. Set 2 of the T-posts 12’6” apart to form the supports for one side of the tunnel.

8. Set the cattle panels on the ground with one of the 2x4s next to the T-posts. The 2x4s should be under the cattle panels so they end up on the inside of the tunnel. Carefully (you don’t want the bent panels to spring back and hit you) push the other 2x4 toward the T-posts and bend the middle of the cattle panels upwards to form the tunnel. The sides of the tunnel should be nearly vertical.

9. While one person holds the tunnel in place, the second person should install the remaining 2 T-posts to form the supports for the 2nd side. (Alternatively, you can install all the T-posts first and lift one side of the tunnel over one row of T-posts to carefully bend it to fit inside them.)

10. Connect the panels to the T-posts using T-post wires. If all has worked out correctly, the T-posts should be positioned just outside the tarp area.

11. Using twine, tie the tarp to the cattle panels.

Viola! You have a goat shelter. Now, give yourself a pat on the back, get a cold drink and sit back to admire your work for a while.

22 comments:

  1. Hi I am really interested in reading the instructions, but they are not visible, they get really tiny! Any way to repost?

    thanks!

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  2. I don't know if reposting it would solve the problem. If you are using a browser other than Internet Explorer, try opening it in Internet Explorer or I'd be happy to email them to you. Send me an email at beth@mtnhollow.com.

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  3. Do you get a lot of snow? I'm in Wisconsin, so guessing we get a bit more :) I love your plan & very specific instruction. I was thinking of a modification using hog panels (smaller holes) and something stronger than a typical tarp...thanks for planting the seed.

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  4. i tried this method of shelter and within a week the goats had climbed on top of it and the whole thing collapsed!

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  5. Thats frustrating! The key is to make the sides very straight (verticle) and tall enough that your goats cannot scsle them. You also need to keep anything they could use as a step away from the shelter.

    I've also started using goat panels rather than cattle panels. We have a couple of does who can get their heads through the openings of cattle panels and they get stuck. The goat panels only have 4"x4" openings - too small for them to stick their heads through.

    We do not have much snow here.

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  6. i used to have goats, their so funny so a simple little structure like this one can help YOU excape from the big MEAN goats!!:)

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  7. Anon, LOL, Yes! But I don't have any mean goats, just a couple of slightly ornery ones.

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  8. We built our first hoop hut yesterday and we felt like giants after an attempt at something more elaborate that failed. "We" are two sisters in our mid & late 50's that just decided to become shepherds to a very small flock of dwarf goate and baby doll sheep. We are now gung ho to build more & better

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  9. I am excited for you and your sister, and I am glad that the shelter worked out for you. Enjoy your goats & sheep!

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  11. At Bluebell Farm our 2 nubian goats are enjoying their new tunnel. We modified Mt. Hollow Farm's design somewhat. 3 welded wire panels (36 in wide/13 ft long/1x2 in mesh) were secured with 2 inch overlap to the 10 ft 2x4s using fence brads (quicker than screws). Sturdy zip ties secured the welded wire panels to each other at 6 in intervals. At the installation site, 2 t-posts were driven by post pounder 9 feet apart with flat side of post facing the wire panel. Tunnel was pushed up against these posts. The remaining two corner posts on other side were similarly inserted to give @4 ft high tunnel with straight sides. Tunnel was secured to base, middle, and top of posts with fence wire. A 8x12 ft heavy duty plastic tarp (silver face up) was secured to the wire panel framing with zip ties. This design leaves a 6 inch gap at the bottom of tunnel for ventilation.

    Since our goats like to scratch/rub against the inside of the tunnel, we installed 2 additional posts in the middle with smooth edge of post against the tarp.

    We move our goats around from time to time. The unit is relatively easy to reposition by cutting the fence wire, pulling the t-posts, and dragging (2 people needed) to the new location.

    Thanks to Mountain Hollow Farms for the idea and various comments.

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  12. Do the goats not eat on the tarp?? I need a cheap shelter like this but I recently had a tarp in with the goats for a little while and they started eating on it,(they are getting fed plenty) so I was wondering if that was a problem or not, thanks.

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  13. I've never had goats eat a tarp. I have noticed them nibbling on one that was already torn. They were playing with it, not eating it. But they have never bothered the intact tarps.

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  14. Ok thanks, the one I had was a little worn so that was probably why they eating/nibbling on it.Thanks, next time I will buy a new one.

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  15. Hi, I'm bringing my first 3 goats home this coming Friday. if you use this type of shelter and not a barn at night, how do you keep them safe from predators? there are lots of coyotes out by my little 10 acres. Michelle

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  16. Nice blog! Great work.
    If you interested in modern agriculture and farming, then I will invite you to visit my farming blog.
    Farming Goat
    Methods of Modern Farming

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  17. I was searching for a portable goat shelter and found your site! Your shelter looked like the perfect solution since I already had the panels and tarp. Being the procrastinator I am and hoping that the warm weather would last forever, I put off constructing the shelter. When my husband said it was supposed to rain and snow by Tuesday, I knew yesterday was my only chance to get it built! I did not have all the materials and did not want to cut my panels so my husband modified your plans and we constructed the shelter a little differently. We took three 4x16 panels and fastened them together with wire on the 16 foot sides. We then stood it up to form a shelter with a flat roof and vertical sides (4 ft each), securing with t-posts as you advised, although my hubby put one on each side in the center for more support (our goats love to rub against fences). He made sure each t-post was below the shelter top to ensure it did not puncture the tarp. We fastened on the tarp, making it a little longer on the stormy side, put the mineral supplement inside and the goats were very happy with their new digs!! It was simple and it will be easy to move once they are out of feed in their current pasture. Thanks again for such a great idea!

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  18. Thanks for sharing this! My friend is trying to build a tunnel for his goats and we both think that your method will actually work for his case. It’s a good thing that your materials can easily be found at Walmart and even in storage rooms. I can't wait for our project to finish!

    Regards,
    Thelma Bowman

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  20. I think that this is a great idea in making a shelter for your goats. Although, maybe one needs to make it a bit sturdier depending on the condition. Still, the concept is very resourceful.

    Carl Patten

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  21. I have to ask about hail. What would you do during a hail storm? I wouldn't assume the tarp is strong enough to protect them from anything larger than dime sized hail. I just built this tunnel, and now I'm wondering what my contingency will be during severe weather.

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  22. Welded wire pane are in great use these days to build the pet shelters. And for me this is another good use of welded joined grids. you can buy them from the direct manufacturers.

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