Goats are known for being messy animals, and keeping their goat pen clean and tidy is often a challenging task.
If you are having difficulty maintaining the cleanliness of your goat pen, you may not be cleaning often enough.
So, how often do you need to clean out your goat pen?
If you use the deep litter method, the goat pen only needs to be cleaned once in the spring and again in the fall. For non-deep litter methods, it is recommended to clean the goat pen every 10 to 14 days, and messes larger than normal may require weekly cleanings.
The main goal of the goat pen is to keep your goats dry and comfortable.
Heavy rains or excess goat poop and urine add too much moisture to the bedding, so you will need to clean more frequently when these situations occur.
With a few simple supplies and a regular cleaning schedule, it will be easier to maintain your goats’ clean, healthy environment.
Read on to learn how to keep your goat pen clean and which supplies make the job much faster.
How To Keep Your Goat Pen Clean
Cleaning your goat pen is probably a task you dread, but it does not have to be a terrible experience.
Establishing a regular cleaning schedule will make it easier to maintain the goat pen, and there are several tools and supplies available to make the job easier.
The type of litter method you use will also determine how much time you will have to clean up goat poop.
Gather Some Tools for Cleaning
The three main tools for cleaning up goat poop are a wide shovel, a pitchfork, and a wheelbarrow.
Some other helpful tools you may need include a rake and a broom.
If you have a tractor with a forked bucket, it will be very helpful for cleaning deep litter.
If you do not have access to a tractor with a forked bucket, you will have to use a pitchfork, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow to get the job done.
Once you have the essential tools for cleaning, keep them in a small closet in or near the goat pen for easy access.
Keeping your tools handy lets you easily find what you need and get the cleaning done quickly.
You may also wish to invest in sturdy rubber boots and a quality pair of work gloves.
The rubber boots are easy to clean by hosing them off with water, and the work gloves will protect your hands from grime and prevent blisters.
Tools with metal handles are often cheaper than those with rubber grips, but you may find the rubber handles more comfortable to work with.
Choose the Right Bedding
The most common types of bedding for goats are made of straw or pine.
Straw is often confused with hay, but the two are used for different purposes.
Straw is typically reserved for animal bedding, while hay is used for animal feed.
Even though straw bedding is not meant to be eaten, your goats may find it tasty and eat it anyway.
If your goats are prone to eating straw bedding, then pine bedding is the better option for you.
Pine shavings for bedding are messier than straw, but they are more efficient at absorbing urine.
Absorbency is important because the ammonia from goat urine will cause lung damage to the animals, and wet bedding is more likely to lead to infections.
The pine bedding will need to be cleaned more often than the straw, but it is better to keep your goats dry and neutralize the ammonia smell from urine.
Check out our full post on the good (and bad) options for goat bedding.
Choose a Litter Method
There are two types of litter methods commonly used in goat pens: deep litter and non-deep litter.
With the deep litter method, you add new bedding on top of soiled bedding rather than cleaning it all out.
This method relies on straw bedding to filter goat urine and feces down to the bottom, where it will compost.
Deep litter starts at 4-6″ inches of bedding and will build up to 3-6′ feet of bedding before it needs to be cleaned out entirely.
The deep litter method, when done correctly, will keep your goats dry, and the fresh layer of bedding on top will help control odors.
The compost layers provide a natural heat source, making deep litter more suitable for bedding in the winter months.
However, it is best to avoid the deep litter method in the warmer months because it may get too hot, and wet weather will add too much moisture.
Warm, wet environments also provide the ideal breeding ground for worms and parasites.
The non-deep litter method uses straw or pine shavings on the top layer, and you will need to use a shovel or pitchfork to remove the soiled bedding every 10-14 days.
Pine shavings are more absorbent than a layer of straw for bedding, so you may need to clean the goat pen every week if you are using them.
The cleaning frequency in the summer largely depends on how often it rains and how many goats you have.
No matter which bedding method you choose, always make sure to have additional bedding on hand.
You do not want to get ready to clean the goat pen only to discover you are out of fresh bedding.
Use a Stall Freshener
A stall freshener is simple to use, preventing odors from accumulating in the goat pen.
The most effective type of stall freshener comes in powder form.
Sprinkle the stall freshener on the floor before you add the bedding, concentrating the product on areas where the goats seem to urinate the most.
If you are using the deep litter method, sprinkle some of the stall fresheners in between the layers of fresh bedding for long-lasting odor control.
Goats have very sensitive lungs, and the ammonia odor from their urine is toxic to them.
The stall freshener will help absorb the ammonia smells, creating a safer environment for your goats.
Use Lime Wash or Lime Powder
Limewash, also known as a whitewash, and lime powder effectively keep your goat pen clean.
Lime powder is typically used as an amendment to the soil in your garden.
Limewash is made of hydrated lime, and it is often used as paint to make surfaces white.
In addition to adding a white color, lime wash also has antibacterial properties.
Limewash is commonly used to paint chicken coops and fences, and it is more environmentally friendly than regular paint.
How To Disinfect Your Goat Pen
Occasionally, it is good to deep clean your goat pen to disinfect it and destroy any dangerous bacteria.
Keep the goats out of the pen while you are cleaning.
There are several products to use to disinfect the goat pen.
Stall freshener has the best odor control, but lime wash or a layer of lime powder also works well.
For hard-to-clean messes, use baking soda and vinegar to remove stains, control odors, and disinfect surfaces.
Avoid using any commercial cleaning products so you do not expose your goats to any potentially harmful chemicals.
Goats will chew on almost everything, and you do not want them to ingest or breathe in any bleach, ammonia, or other toxic substances.
Regularly disinfecting the goat pen prevents parasites, rodents, and other pests from taking up residence with your goat herd.
How To Keep Your Goats Clean
Even though goats are messy animals, their coat stays fairly clean, and they do not require frequent baths.
You do not have to bathe your goats unless you plan to sell them or enter them in a livestock show.
If your goat has lice, you will need to bathe them with a goat or livestock shampoo to get rid of the parasites.
A goat will tolerate a bath in cold water, but it is better to use warm water so the experience is more comfortable for the animal.
Related: What can you wash your goat with?
To maintain healthy skin and remove any debris from its coat, you will need to brush them every 6 to 8 weeks.
It is also recommended to trim your goat’s hooves every 4-6 weeks.
Without trimming, a goat’s hooves will become overgrown, and they will not be able to walk properly.
Trimming the hooves unevenly will also cause the goat to be unable to walk correctly, leading to lameness.
When the hooves are trimmed, it is also essential to inspect them for any signs of infection or lameness.
An infection like hoof rot is highly contagious, and it will quickly spread throughout the herd if left untreated.
Hoof rot is caused by inflammation in between the toes.
Hoof rot usually affects only one foot, causing the animal to limp or keep its hoof off the ground.
The tissues on the bottom of the hoof will be irritated, red, and swollen.
As hoof rot progresses, it will result in lameness, weight loss, decreased milk and wool production and decreased reproductive abilities.
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