Winter Time Goat Care...
As I felt the weather shift this weekend, I noticed we left the cool blustery fall weather we have been experiencing and shifted into a noticeable chill in the air. This shift in temperature as well as the significant snow storm we are currently experiencing made me think of how different winter time goat care is to my spring and summertime routine. The number one question I get from new goat owners and people that do not have goats at all is: Will the goats be OK in the cold weather?! The overarching answer to this question is yes! Goats are incredible creatures! As long as they have a dry place to sleep and somewhere to get out of any precipitation and drafts, as a general rule of thumb they will be perfectly fine!
Goats have a wonderful layer of cashmere that they develop underneath their guard hair. This helps to insulate them and trap warm air against their bodies. That is why our sleek gorgeous goats turn into little fuzzy woolly mammoths in the winter time! Rob often remarks as the seasons shift, that they look like little goat/ chipmunk hybrids with their fuzzy faces!
It is absolutely essential to provide goats with dry bedding that they can keep warm in, as moisture and wind are the best ways to get a sick and cold goat. Some people use the deep bedding technique to help hold heat for the goats in the winter time, but that is not something I enjoy using, so a thick layer of wood chips or straw or a combination of both will work well! Another tactic that I used in order to help my beloved goats deal with winter is to provide them with warm water a few times a day. I will carry warm water out to add to my goats water, you would be surprised how much they enjoy it! I also use heated buckets for my goats to ensure they have clean unfrozen water at all time because that is extremely essential for their health and well being.
Goats have an internal furnace that is kept burning hot by their rumen. This is why in the winter time, having good quality hay in front of your goats at all time is required. Not only does this provide them with the quality nutrition that they need to grown and be healthy, but it also allows them to keep warm from the inside out, by digesting all of that roughage in their rumen.
If you want to do something a little extra special for your goats, I found out by accident that Ivy enjoys a warm green tea! Stay warm and enjoy! Happy Goating!