Winter goat care
Radio inteview source: Linda Spahr, Extension Educator, Penn State University
Goats are hardy animals in winter. However, they require a higher level of shelter than sheep from snow and cold, so most people bring them into the barn, and provide thick bedding for them to snuggle in.
Linda Spahr is an extension educator at Penn State University. She says even a three-sided shelter with the open side away from prevailing winds will help keep goats warm. They can become chilled if the weather is very wet, and if they don’t have adequate roughage. "A lot of folks think that goats need more grain in the winter because that's what makes them produce heat to stay healthy – and that's incorrect," Spahr says. "What actually helps the goats make their own internal heat and keeps them warm is roughage. As long as they have hay in front of them, they can usually maintain their body heat very well."
Having access to sunlight also keeps them warm, and it comforts them to be outside. Spahr says goats need vitamin-D, which is produced when they're exposed to the sun. It's also important that your goats have proper parasite control. Spahr says research is showing that many types of worm larvae lay dormant until the animal is stressed.
"If an animal is not fed properly, if it's cold, if it's not able to get water, then that adds a stressor. When it adds a stressor, then you get this hatch of worm larvae, or parasite larvae, all these worms that really are devastating to goats. They tend to hatch and migrate, and that's when it all starts, when the goat is under stress."
Kidding is a tremendous stressor for females. Since many does give birth during winter, keep an eye out for the onset of parasites. Spahr highly recommends de-worming right after they kid.
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