Choosing the right goat bedding may seem pretty straight forward, but there are options out there. Clean, dry bedding is a big component of goat health. Dirty, wet bedding can contribute to respiratory infections, fungal infections such as ring worm, external parasites, and more. Most of use can’t clean goat bedding daily, but there are things you can do to keep things at their best between cleanings.
Keeping Goat Bedding at It’s Best
We all know it’s impossible to strip stalls and living quarters out daily. However, spot cleaning daily is a great way to stay on top wet area to keep ammonia fumes down and moisture to a minimum. I usually do this after milking, right before the goats go bed down for the night.
Shutting goats out of their living quarters during the day is another easy way to keep bedding clean. On nice days, we shoo the goats outside, shutting the door to the barn. We put hay bags and water buckets outside, and make sure they have something they go under if there’s a sudden rain storm. This keeps them from going to the bathroom in your well maintained bedding, and gives your goats plenty of fresh air and exercise.
In the winter, the goats are inside more, and it can be harder to spot clean wet areas because they tend to freeze fast. If we get to a point where we can’t stay on top of it, we go to the deep litter method. This involves layering the soiled bedding with fresh dry bedding, allowing it to compost and produce a bit of natural warmth
When a deep clean is done, and floors are scraped down, we add barn lime or Sweet PDZ to the bare floor to help absorb any lingering moisture or ammonia smells. In the winter, when it’s harder to stay on top of the moisture, we will also add this to bedding to help control ammonia and aid the materials natural composting.
Goat Bedding Options
Cedar has been known to get goats sick if eaten in large quantities, so it is not a great idea as primary goat bedding. It’s also very cost prohibitive. However, cedar is a great natural pest repellent. In order to use cedar chips effectively, place them into corners of bedding areas and then cover them with your primary bedding of choice
Softwood pellets are a great way to absorb moisture and hold it until a good clean out can be done. These can be purchased as a horse bedding pellet, or as pellets that go in a pellet stove. Put a layer of these under your primary bedding to help control moisture effectively.
This isn’t the best choice as primary goat bedding. Straw doesn’t tend to absorb moisture, and gets very matted when wet and soiled, making it challenging to clean. It’s also not a very cost effective option. In the winter time however, we do offer piled straw for the goats to bed in, as it’s hollow stems do hold body heat in well.
This is the most widely used and accepted form of primary goat bedding material. Pine shavings are absorbent, easy to manage, and cost effective. It’s easy to spot clean wet areas daily, and soiled pine shavings can be added right to the compost pile.