Winter on the Homestead

Our last Minnesota winter was long. We had our two bred Nigerian Dwarfs were due to have kids at the end of February. They both kidded on Feb. 25 and it so happened to be about 10 degrees. Tyson, Kenley and I (Tara) were all there for the births with towels and a hair blow dryer to get the babies cleaned off and dry before they could get frostbite, or even worse, freeze to death. Once the babies were safely born, I had many sleepless nights worrying about the heat lamps keeping the kids warm.

Thankfully, we feel way more prepared for this coming winter, but we still kept it to the basics.

  1. Electricity out in the barn - a much safer solution than using extension chords.

  2. Hot water - twice a day (or more), we bring hot buckets of water out to the barn. The goats love the hot water and it helps warm them up. For in between those hot refills, we keep their water in these heated buckets to keep the water from freezing. I have heard of these buckets being a fire hazard if they do not have water in them, so keep them from running dry.

  3. Free-choice hay - Goats are warmer when their bellies are full.

  4. Heat lamp barrels - Tyson made a couple of these heat lamp barrels for when our next batch of kids arrive. Click here for some basic instructions on how to make one. We would definitely advise using Prima Heat Lamps. They are designed well to keep hay away from the bulb and also weighted so that if the lamp falls, the cage will be higher up. By attaching the lamp inside the barrel, you will have a much safer warm space than clipping it to the wall in the barn.

  5. Elevated Surfaces - Goats love to jump around and will always appreciate a goat playground. We have a concrete floor in our barn so they especially appreciate giving those hooves a break from the chilled floor during winter month

  6. Deep bedding - in the summer months, we clean all they hay and manure out of the barn weekly. However in the winter, we will use the deep bedding method if it drops below 10 degrees. We let the hay and waste build up to provide them warmth out in the barn. The barn typically won’t smell in the winter, but if it does, we take the ammonia smell out by sprinkling Horse Fresh to neutralize the odor.