So I know about deep bedding in the barn, but how do you make your goats choose to lie on the nice bedding in the barn? There is no way I can keep goat and chicken poo out of all my nice-sized pens. Grass used to be in the pens, but just dirt has taken over most of them, mixed with hay, and crumbled up goat berries. Hay falls from my feeders into these pens and I would like to let it just pile up, but when it rains....ew it stinks as it dries up. It's just awful! So if I do rake it all up, they are left with just bare dirt. The barn can be fresh and lovely, but they are goign to sleep out in the pens if it's no raining or freezing. So what do you all do? Would you rather them sleep on hay mixed with goat berries, or on the bare ground (which is mostly powdered goat berries)? Do you guys actually try to rake up all your goat berries in your pens every day? I'm very interested to hear where your girls take their rest.
Your pens sound (and smell) like mine! I'd like to know the answer to this too. I can tell you that letting it pile up is a BAD idea. It piles up and turns to a hard crust when it's dry, but when it rains, that hard crust turns into a germ ridden, sticky goo puddle that takes FOREVER to dry up---and you will have major health problems! I lost 3 kids this spring to something that seemed to be cocci, even though they were on strict prevention, because of the slimy mess they were in. I'd never had any kind of livestock before and didn't realize what happens with hay when it decomposes.
Then, this summer, with the heat and drought, my goats were all laying in a drainage ditch in the pen--which stayed wet because of all the goat berries piled up. 25 goats hooves are fine. One goat has a horrible infection in one toe of one foot and is missing half of the hoof now, because of the germs in the moisture.
Bottom line, keep those pens raked out. They don't mind the bare dirt like we would, and if they are uncomfortable, they will move. It's hard work, neglecting it is not worth the health risk.
Alpine, Saanan, Nubian and Boer
Every month or so, we rake out the pens where we can. Especially the kid pen which is not that big. Their shelters don't get too dirty so usually we just add bedding there, but occassionally do have to clean it out. These chores also include forking out the spent hay. Most of it usually goes to the horses, but the stuff on the ground that is nasty yets pitched. We then sprinkle some lime on it and the one round hay feeder we have gets moved on occassion.
Mine have an open gate to fields almost every day, but ......they choose to sleep on pooey dirt near the barn. I haven't been raking because I'm not sure what the point is! When I do rake the goat yard, all the hay that has been spread out in the yards is now gone and they lay on loose dirt. So when I go to milk, their teats are dirty with loose dirt where it's not that way if they've been laying on some hay/goat berry mix. The mix is not a bedding I put down, but just what happens after a few days of not raking and hay naturally spreading out. So I just dont know what is better! It does get gross after a rain. Stinks, turns hard, etc. I almost forget what it's like it's been so long since we've seen rain!
This has been a worrying issue for me too. My pens are usually grassy, but now they are soft dust/dirt and berries. I don't think the berries really could be raked. If I shovel I'm going to remove soil too. It doesn't worry me much right now as it is dry, but I've wondered what to do if it starts raining. It will be a muddy mess. I don't have a barn either, just small shelters. I've thought about different kinds of beddings to put down, but nothing sounds very good. Shavings would blow off. They would eat hay or straw. I wondered about mulch, but I'm afraid they would eat that and I don't know if that would be safe...
We have always dry lotted. We tend to clean more in the spring and fall but all th e yards get cleaned at least once a month. Houses too, unless they are not using them. In the winter the houses get cleaned out more often due to being used more.
I really wouldn't worry too much over where they lay. They are going to get dirty no matter where they lay. We sweep our yards in the summer, think the goats would lay on the fresh swept grounds?! Nope. They will find their favorite spot and thats where they plant themselves.
It is redundant and more of a worry to yourself to micro-manage the yards. If your animals are up to date on immunizations, copper boluses and you fecal...ehhh, shouldn't have too many problems. Your goats are in agreeance with Alfred E Neuman "Why me worry...You worry"
If your yards smell, clean them.
If your yards are deep, clean them and fecal.
If your goats are happy let them be happy!
P.S We use cedar chips in the houses and around the hay feeders to help with odor and keep bug populations down...might want to try that
I rake up the spilled hay when it gets deep then I put a layer of wood chipper chips down. They are coarse chips that my hubby gets from his wood chipper. They work great to keep the mud level down and they refresh the area without decomposing into a mess. If you contact tree companies in your area they can usually drop off chipper chips for free rather than paying to dispose of them when they have a tree job near your house. My hubby prefers to give chips away rather than haul them around to the dump or back to our house if the job is in town.
Rose Bartiss - Alpines and Nubians in the Adirondack Mountains of NY.
I need a "like" button Tammy! That is what I was thinking, but I have heard certain people talk about the importance of deep bedding. So...I felt bad they wouldn't go sleep on their deep bedding! Thank you for your input.
Monica..."importance of deep bedding" is for winter. The deeper the bedding, layer after layer helps keep them warm. Some people don't even clean out theri barns in the winter. I do so I can keep parasites on the low or nil and ammonia under control.
The cedar also helps with parasites. And honestly...if you are cleanly with your milkers you are good