A goat pen is a pretty important part of owning goats. Goats are wonderful stinkers. They will jump up on your car. They will eat your flowers. They will get into your garden and eat your lovely veggies and the grapes vines you’ve been caring for so tenderly. And then they will happily cross the road, not bothering to look both ways.
What is a goat pen?
A goat pen is an area that you give your goats to keep them safe from dangers that come in the form of predators, toxic plants, and you (because you’ll be mad if they eat your prized flowers).
The goat pen will also be where their shelters, feeders, minerals, and emergency supplies are kept. It will be their safe place.
Goats really do need us to help keep them safe and contained within known borders and boundaries. They need a goat pen.
Before bringing home your first goat, (you’ll want to read that article next to be prepared for your first goats) but before you bring those cuties home, you need to have your goat pen planned out, laid out, and put together. If you’re like me and end up loving your goats and wanting to spend time with them, then this will be a really special place that you’ll want to be comfortable for you and your goat. A place to make memories and raise your happy goats.
So, let’s start to make a plan.
If you would like to watch the video on Planning a Goat Pen, click the video below! Enjoy!
Let’s start by thinking about what the goals for your goat herd are.
Will you be raising:
- Pet Goats
- Dairy Goats
- Meat Goats
What you need in your goat pen will be determined by what kind of goat you choose.
Pet goats will need far less than dairy goats and meat goats. But we’ll get into that in just a bit.
How big should a goat pen be?
Your goat pen size needs to be as big as your property will allow.
Goats love to roam. A pack goat can travel up to 25 miles a day, so you can see that it’s within their capabilities to go far. If a goat were in a natural environment, without the confines of fencing and boundaries, they would browse their terrain and keep moving as they find the food that they love.
Most of us don’t have that leisure of unlimited land, however.
Each individual goat will need about 200 square feet per goat. With about 20 square feet for sleeping.
Goats need to live in pairs, so you’ll need at least 400 square feet and adequate room for them to sleep at night.
Plan ahead in your goat herd growth
And if you think you won’t get more than two, think again. It’s highly likely that your herd will grow, so you’ll need to plan ahead and be able to expand your goat area or have several goat pens planned out.
The more area you give the goats, the happier and healthier they’ll be.
How do you pen up a goat?
What kind of fence is best for goats?
There are 5 excellent fencing options for goats. This article isn’t about fencing, but you can read all about each option in this article: Fencing for Goats or watch the video: Fencing Options for Goats.
- Pallet Fencing
- Sheep and Cattle Panel
- Woven Wire
- Electric Fence
- Barbed Wire
Any of these will be a great choice. I’ve personally used pallet fencing for my goats for the last 5 years and have had great success with it. But do take some time to study the options in the link above.
Keep in mind that the fence should be at least 4 feet tall. Tall enough to keep your goats from jumping over. You’d be amazed at how high a goat can jump.
Gates for the goat pen
There are days that I’ve huffed around fuming that I was going to take out all the gates in the goat pen and never, Never, NEVER let the goats out AGAIN!
It was my precious grape vines that I’d planted that spring that were doing marvelously…eaten by goats. And now dead.
But gates are an important thing to think about.
When you plan out your pen, plan out where you will locate the gates and think about these things:
Location. Put your gates in an area that is easy to get to. Think about if you’ll need to back a pickup up to the gate. Is it in a low spot where water will accumulate and make a puddle? Will snow drift and make it hard to open in the winter months? These are just a few things to think about as you make your plans.
Size. Please make the gate big enough to get at least a wheelbarrow through. Maybe even a four-wheeler that can pull a little cart. You will regret the day you got goats if you can’t get in with essential tools because you made the gate too small.
Self-closing and goat proof. Goats nibble and nose and get into everyone’s business. They can find a way to open (and close just to stump you) any gate they can. And with your arms full of hay and who knows what else, it’s hard to ALWAYS get the gate closed. Your kids will go in and out to play with the goats and it’s hard for them to get the gates closed every time. It’s very helpful for you and protective of your grapevines to get a self-closing gate.
Gate opening direction. It’s also helpful for gates to open in and against a wall or fence. If your goats get out, you need to be able to open the gate and not have it blocking the goat’s entry when you are trying to get them all in. Having a gate open in will also be helpful when you are entering and your goats are clammering to get out. You can push them aside as you enter. And the last thing that is helpful to know about gate direction is that goats climb and stand on fences and gates and if they stand on a gate, they can stand on a gate and push it open more easily.
Number of gates needed. This can also be a personal preference. I like to have several gate options. But it’s not absolutely necessary.
Cheap goat house plans and shelters
An essential part of all your planning will be thinking about where you live and the climate. Your goats will need to be protected from extreme temperatures, both heat, and cold.
They need shelters that will get them out of the heat and warm in the cold. Goats also hate to be wet, so they also need a place to get out of the rain, hail, and wind.
Goats were actually created to live in very dry climates and will usually do better in this type of climate. If you do live in a wet climate, however, it’s still possible to raise healthy goats.
In your goat pen plan, you’ll need to plan out how you’ll drain water away from their living area, so they aren’t standing in wet, mucky pens.
By far, these are the cheapest options for building goat shelters:
But there are many options that you can choose for your goat shelter. Any barn already on your property can also be turned into a goat shelter. Keep in mind that it is best to give each goat 10-15 square feet each in their shelters.
When you design and build your shelter keep these things in mind:
Preditor proof. If you live in an area where there are known preditors, you will need to lock up your goats at night to keep them safe.
Windbreak. If you live in an area with high winds and low windchill then your goats need to be able to get out of the wind.
Rain and snow protection. Goats REALLY don’t like to get wet. The moment one drop of rain lands on your goat they will hightail it to the barn or shelter.
Ventilation. All animals, including goats, need their shelters to have good ventilation. Otherwise, the smells build-up and excess moisture cause problems.
Flooring. This will become a matter of personal preference. Some shelters will have cement, some wood, and some dirt. I prefer dirt floors for my goats because cement would become incredibly cold in the winter months and needs a lot of bedding to keep them warm. Wood floors have such a high potential to rot. And believe me, there will be a lot of moisture from the goats, they do not go out to use the bathroom. They stand up and then relieve themselves. And it gets wet fast. So dirt floors are what I prefer but you decide what works best for you!
Location. I just recently moved a goat shelter that had been in the same place for 5 years. In the wrong place and I never took the time to move it but every day it annoyed me to no end. You will need to place your shelters in a place that doesn’t block access to moving by with wheelbarrows or hay sleds. And you’ll need to be able to clean it regularly. Put it in a well planned out area, so you can get to it and get in it to clean and help you goats if need be.
Whichever shelter you choose for your goats, just know it will be your goat’s safe place, where they sleep and can go to get safe and out of the weather.
You will also want to think about storage for your goat items. This barn or however you set it up, will need to hold hay, grain, medicine and supplies, and bedding.
You’ll want to know how much hay you’ll need to purchase for your goats for a year. You can easily figure this out with this goat hay calculator. And then once it’s purchased, get it covered so it isn’t getting wet and molding.
Take some time to plan out the goat medications you will need. Goats will get sick just like you and I do. And sometimes goats are really strong until they are really sick, and then it’s hard to get them better again. It’s better to have all the medications on hand in those just in case emergencies.
You can read more about the medications here: goat emergency medication
And knowing what a goat eats, including grain will be beneficial as well: What Do Goats Eat?
There will probably be other supplies that you’ll end up acquiring that will pertain to grooming and cleaning.
Goat pen design
As already mentioned, your goat pen will need to house the goat shelters. But there is more you need to think about.
Where are you going to put the water trough and is there a way for it to water two pens if you’ll have the need for two pens?
Where will the feeder go? And what type of feeder will be best? I built this feeder: DIY Pallet Feeder but just an FYI, goats will waste hay no matter what you do. It’s inevitable.
Where will you put the mineral feeders and how will you protect the minerals from the weather? Minerals are the most important part of your goat program. If your goats don’t have adequate minerals, they get sick quick! Learn more about minerals here: Goat Mineral Guidelines
And of course! What and where will the goat toys go? You’ve got to keep your lovelies occupied and what better way than to add a few obstacles and fun things for them to jump on?
Goat pen for dairy goats
It’s highly possible that you will be bringing home goats with the end goal of raising them for milk. Or if you don’t bring them home with that intended purpose, it’s possible that that will be the end result.
And if that’s the case, then you’ll need to add more planning to your goat pen area. For milking goats you’ll need:
- Milking area with a milking stand
- Securely closed and strategically located grain bin. (Believe me, goats will get into the area where the grain is located and will have a hay day…I mean, grain day. And then goat bloat set’s in and it gets bad.) So, make sure the grain is secure with a tight lid.
Goat Pen for Bucks
If you are raising goats, then you’ll potentially be owning a buck or two. This is when it can get challenging. Bucks are stinky and gross and will need to be contained until they are needed. I don’t recommend keeping a buck with the does year around.
Plan out your breeding season so you know when your goats are bred and when to expect to start kidding.
The pen for bucks needs to be very secure and definitely tall enough that they can’t jump over. The urge to breed is very strong. They will jump, crawl, wedge through anything to get to those girls and they’ve even been known to breed through fences.
You have two choices:
- Make an impenetrable fence between the bucks and does.
- Put the pens far enough away from each other that they can’t jump from one pen to the other easily.
Bucks can be unruly and even difficult sometimes, but they are totally manageable!
Ready for the next step?
That’s a lot of work I’ve just assigned you. But if you’re serious about goats, then you’ll get started right away!
When you plan out all of what I’ve mentioned to the detail, you’ll have a great goat pen for your goats.
And if you make a plan and end up not liking it, the good news is that usually you can make some changes and make it better. In fact, I’m still making some changes to make my goat pen just right.
Hey! Go get those goats!