Building a Storage Barn or Shelter for Urban Backyard Goats

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When we decided to pick up some backyard goats for our little urban homestead, I had a bit of trouble getting started with the how-tos, and must-dos for goats, since most information circulating the web is aimed at people with rolling acres or farmland to spare.
So I figured I would share what info I have gleaned in the process of building our own backyard storage barn and goat shelter for our two Nigerian Dwarfs to pass on to anyone else thinking of raising backyard goats for milk or pets!

Basic Guidelines for Goat Shelters

Goats do best in what is called, “loose housing” – basically, instead of being confined to individual stalls or kept with their heads in stanchions like miniature cows, they should free to move about in a common pen. Goats are sociable animals and need companionship, keeping goats locked up away from their playmates is just no fun (and makes for some LOUD goats, I’m told).
Goats, in general, are not awfully particular in their housing needs. Ideally, it should be easy for you to enter and exit the shelter for routine cleaning, the goats feed and bedding should be stored conveniently nearby, and running water and electricity should reachable to make cleaning and upkeep easier and safer.
For warmer climates like here in the Central Valley of California, goats do not have to be kept overly warm if conditioned to the cold through the fall. In any climate however, they will need a place to stay dry and out of the wind. (Goats are very susceptible to pneumonia!) Goats are also active animals and need exercise, so including some kind of shade, climbing or play element to your shelter (or at least in the pen) is always a good idea!
The size of the barn depends on how many goats you intend to keep in your herd. Standard recommendations range from 12 square feet per goat for small breeds like my Nigerian Dwarfs and up to 25 square feet for larger breeds. Here in the Central Valley where the climate is warm, breeders and dairies tend to go with even less indoor square footage per animal, since they spend so much time outside. So there’s really no hard and fast rule as to size!
Basically, when it comes to goat barns and shelters, you can pretty much let your imagination, budget and experience be your guide!

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What We Did With Our Goat Barn!

Our goat barn / shelter is simple, basic, attractive, economical and practical for up to three goats. It is made out of standard lumber (plyboard and cedar panel siding) and has an earthen floor with straw bedding. It offers protections from the elements and good ventilation, and can be built for under $300 even with all new materials (we used a combination of new and recycled materials).
The core of our shelter was originally an upright storage container.. thingy. This shed-thing was left in the backyard when we bought the home (I really have no idea what they were trying for with this odd structure.) This is pretty much what we started with:

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Since our goats didn’t need much more space than this bad boy tipped on it’s side would offer, I decided this would be the perfect base to make the goat barn! I figured this awkward looking boxy thing, if given a little love, just might do the trick for all our goat shelter needs. We tipped it over on its side, took the roof off (which we later used as the side shade for the goats to climb on!) and then covered it in new wood panels and some salvaged wood that was original to the property and that the previous owners had left behind!
Here are a couple of side by side images, to really get a feel for the total transformation! Keep in mind, the “befores” were taken in the springtime, and we didn’t finish this project till mid-winter, so forgive the pitiful looking leafless fig tree in the foreground! lol..

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The Floor of the Shelter

We decided to stick to earthen flooring with standard straw bedding. Wooden floors can be warm and dry, however wood can absorb urine and has a tendency to rot. This means we’d have to go through TONS of highly absorbent bedding, and would need to clean out the bedding frequently. With a toddler and another baby on the way, I wanted to give myself some leeway in my changing out the bedding / barn routine.
Concrete isn’t much better, since it is cold and can sweat when the air is warm and humid. Urine can’t run off, so concrete also requires frequent cleaning and thick bedding.
Earthen floors are by far the easiest to maintain. Excess urine drains away, and less bedding is needed, along with less frequent barn and bedding cleaning sessions. Soil is also warmer and more comfortable for animals. Earthen floors do require occasional sanitizing and deep cleaning from time to time to keep insects and bacteria down, but I’m told deep cleaning is only required once or twice a year. We’re going on 4 months now with our two goats, and the floors are still in great condition from weekly straw bedding changes.

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The Shade and Play Ramp

We took the roof of the original shed, and attached it to the side of the barn with a side door and ramp, so that they goats can enjoy sitting under the shade or climbing up and playing on the roof. They LOVE it! I’ve found that the tin shade is the perfect place to sprinkle their minerals for free choice grazing, and the shade works as a great place to put their food when it’s rainy. Also, it appears this makes a good jungle gym for human kids as well, judging by the reactions of Tessa and our friends children who come to visit and play with the goats.. they enjoy climbing on it almost as much as the goats do!!

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Storage Space for Goat Supplies

For storage, we built a feed and supplies shed onto the side of the barn, which makes an excellent stocked goat supply closet! The wood is from original fencing on our 1950 property that we repurposed for the shed, and hubby whipped this up from scratch.
As an unexpected and very happy touch, while purchasing some old citrus fruit crates to use as a compost bin, I managed to locate a local barn in Ivanhoe, California that had been torn down, and the vintage shake roofing tiles were for sale. The lovely lady selling the crates threw some of the shake tiles into the crate for me when I told her about my project, and how I thought they would look darling on our storage shed roof! So now we have a little infusion of local history in our little backyard barn!
The storage shed fits everything we need for the goats except for the alfalfa and straw bedding, which we keep outside the pen under a tarp, and the milking equipment and “medicine cabinet”, which we store in the kitchen in the house.

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This small and simple supplies shed contains:
– The goat feed (alfalfa pellets and grain) in metal water and rodent-proof storage cans.
– Goat supplements and treats (baking soda, minerals, black oil sunflower seed and dried kelp) in glass, waterproof screw top storage containers.
– A basket of miscellaneous goat supplies, including leashes, brushes and hoof trimmers.
– A jar of sanitizing wet wipes and antibacterial spray for cleaning udders before and after milking.
– A general work bucket to hold supplies while milking or working in the pen.

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So there you have it! Simple, economical and easy peasy! I hope some of you found this helpful, or at the very least fascinating to read about! ^_^

Gingi Freeman on sabfacebookGingi Freeman on sabinstagramGingi Freeman on sabpinterestGingi Freeman on sabtwitter
Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
at
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

43 thoughts on “Building a Storage Barn or Shelter for Urban Backyard Goats

  • 26 February, 2015 at 12:03 am
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    I’ve said this before, I love your goats! They are so darn cute. You put a lot of thought and work into their home, and they look like they appreciate it. 🙂

    Reply
    • 26 February, 2015 at 12:34 am
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      They ARE stinkin’ cute. 😉 We’re actually picking up a third goat this weekend!!

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 12:52 am
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    So cool that y’all have goats!! I like that the barn is not just a shelter but a play house for the goats!!!

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    • 26 February, 2015 at 1:16 am
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      ….and for the kids too! hehe!

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 4:59 am
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    Wow, this looks amazing! Nice work!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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    • 26 February, 2015 at 3:11 pm
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      Yeah, the picture of Odee bouncing his way up the ramp is my favorite. 😉 Forgot to mention, he liked to BREAK the ramp. My husband is going to replace it with a super strong one this weekend, haha…

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 1:08 pm
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    I just love the expressions on their faces in these photos. It’s as if they know you are talking about them… they look right at you! Of course, I am a big fan of the supply shed – very organized:)

    Reply
    • 26 February, 2015 at 3:16 pm
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      Haha, yeah, I do get rather OCD when it comes to organization.. my husband was like, “Couldn’t we just put the things out there in their original bags and boxes? Do they NEED to be labeled?!” haha.. YES. YES THEY DO!

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 1:43 pm
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    Your goats are SOOOOOO cute! I want some! I keep trying to convince the hubs that chickens are a good idea and he keeps going on about homeowners rules. blah blah!
    I love that you are actually doing it!

    Reply
    • 26 February, 2015 at 3:22 pm
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      I want chickens too, and my hubby is against them as well.. go figger! I win on the mini livestock, but lose on the poultry! Haha!

      Reply
    • 26 February, 2015 at 3:26 pm
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      You should look into vertical gardens! They are all over Pinterest! Check it out!

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 2:26 pm
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    Love that shake roof on the storage shed! The got pen/barn is nice an derail seems an OK place to play…kid or kiddie lol 🙂

    Reply
    • 26 February, 2015 at 3:30 pm
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      Yeah, I LOVE the shake tile roofing! Hubby thought it would look too “junky”.. I think it looks country and old timey charming! Glad you agree! hehe!

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 2:59 pm
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    Lovely photos and what a great idea. I really want to have goats one day when I finally have a backyard. Are they hard to care for? And what do you do when you are on holiday?

    Rae | love from berlin

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    • 26 February, 2015 at 3:35 pm
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      They’re not hard to care for at all, and holidays wouldn’t be so hard if not for the fact that I have a milking goat. She simply CANNOT miss a milking, or it hurts her. So I usually have a friend or my mother (who knows how to milk a goat) come milk for me OR, I drop her off at a local dairy to be cared for and milked while I’m away. That is actually the only hard part to owning a milking goat…

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 3:58 pm
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    Wow you did an amazing job! Congrats!

    XO Imke

    Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 6:52 pm
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    How interesting to find out more about this type of shed and also what is within it. It’s so different than my life in the city and so I enjoyed the escape of this post 🙂

    Reply
    • 27 February, 2015 at 7:05 pm
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      I live in an urban area.. not quite city, but def not country either!

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 7:23 pm
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    I know, I will never get chance to make a shelter in my backyard 🙂 but what a composed and well described post, Gingi! I love that goat pic in B&W, you should portrait it!

    Reply
    • 26 February, 2015 at 7:36 pm
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      I had it as my desktop background for awhile! <3

      Reply
  • 26 February, 2015 at 7:42 pm
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    Wow, this is incredible! I would love to have this kind of lifestyle – definitely something to aspire to. Your goats are absolutely adorable, by the way, I just want to give them a big hug!

    xo, Dolce // http://www.mydailysweet.com/
    Leave me a comment; I’m always looking for new blogs to follow!

    Reply
  • 27 February, 2015 at 12:06 am
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    You should absolutely write a goat care book or magazine, and use your photography. And I’m not even kidding! People would buy it!

    Reply
    • 27 February, 2015 at 12:14 am
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      I’ve only owned the goats for all of 4 months, so I don’t know if that quite qualifies me for writing a goat book, haha! But thank you! 😉

      Reply
  • 27 February, 2015 at 11:48 am
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    there’s a restaurant in GA called Goats on the Roof. they really love hopping up there.

    Reply
    • 27 February, 2015 at 7:05 pm
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      Will do! You don’t be a stranger either!!

      Reply
  • 28 February, 2015 at 7:00 pm
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    Your goats must be happy about their awesome shelter and pen. It looks so cute and practical. Great pictures!

    Reply
  • 4 March, 2015 at 9:21 pm
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    Oh I love this! I love how you care for their practical needs and their playing needs. We don’t have the space (or zoning) for goats, but I love to read about and see yours!

    Reply
  • 30 November, 2015 at 8:25 pm
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    I think it’s great that you are able to store alfalfa outside of the shed. That’s probably the great thing about alfalfa pellets and cubes. It seems that they are easy to store in various locations. http://MIDWAYFORAGE.COM

    Reply
  • 11 January, 2016 at 8:19 am
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    Steel sheds needs maintenance and care too. They last longer if you clean and repaint them from time to time to protect them from the weather.

    Reply
  • 26 January, 2016 at 9:03 am
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    I don’t have goats myself but last holiday I visited a friend who keeps them and like you said, they are some stinkin cute pets that I would like to get one of these days. I like the way you have built their shelters, you make it really look easy to live with them. Thanks for sharing.

    Cindy

    Reply
  • 14 March, 2016 at 5:43 am
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    You did an amazing job on this barn. I would be doing most of the barn building solo and could use an extra ‘hand’.

    I notice what appears to be a drain in the middle of the concrete floor. If it is, where did you run it to? Did it go to your septic system, or simply outside?

    Thanks for posting this!!!

    Reply
  • 15 June, 2016 at 3:24 am
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    Those dwarf goats are absolutely adorable!!! I’m not entirely sure how you converted that weird boxy thing in to your very picturesque goat shed, but you did a great job. Love the rustic storage ideas too.

    Reply
  • 27 June, 2016 at 4:57 pm
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    We are looking to do something a little like this for our animals, but we also want to provide an upstairs where guests can stay. I like what you have done to store things in the shed as far as shelves go too. I will have to see what is available in my area that offers something like this. Hope it could work, wish me luck.

    Reply
  • 11 September, 2016 at 11:51 pm
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    Just thought I’d add another option to the goat shelters. We offer fabric covered portable shelters (often called hoop buildings) which can be mounted on top of wood headers, block walls, and poured walls. Covers are manufactured from polyethylene with galvanized metal frames. These are great for any type of animal shelters. Prices and great and very easy to assemble. Take a look

    Reply

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