Cleaning the pen or barn is essential for the health of your goats and if you want to go about it the right way, you’ll need to select the proper bedding materials to facilitate cleaning, choose the right litter method, and use the right cleaning techniques. While gadgets such as a Shark vacuum for animals can help make this task easier, there are many techniques that can make cleaning more enjoyable and efficient, and you can find them all in our informative article below.
Choosing the right bedding
The thing that you need to know about goats is that they like to pee and poop a lot, and by that we mean almost constantly. This means that their shelter is never clean for too long especially since they like to take one flake of hay and turn it into thousands of pieces scattered about the entire pen before they eat only a small fraction of it.
Goats are not the tidiest animals, but they are surely cute and as long as you develop a smart cleaning system, you will find that cleaning up after them is not as difficult as you may have first envisioned. Firstly, the most important aspect to consider is the type of bedding that you will use in the pen.
While the market is flooded with options that you can choose from, it actually comes down to choosing between pine or straw bedding since these are the best and the most popular options available.
Pine bedding is made of tiny pine tree pieces and it is very efficient at keeping the pen looking and smelling clean since it’s highly absorbent. The main disadvantage is that when it is dry, pine is very messy since it can get in your hair and stick to your clothes.
Straw bedding is cheaper and less messy when dry and it can be cleaned out with a pitchfork easily. With that said, for many owners, it feels way dirtier than pine. Instead of absorbing the waste as the pine bedding does, straw mostly makes it sink down to the floor of your pen.
There’s also the fact that goats like to eat straw and some animals may even get in the habit of eating the soiled straws which can be quite disgusting for the owner to witness. In the end, the decision lies entirely on what works best for the animal and the owner. It’s best to give both a try and see which one you find that suits your needs the best.
After you’ve decided on what type of bedding you prefer, remember to keep an extra quantity of it on hand since you can quickly burn through it without noticing and there’s nothing more frustrating than having to clean the pen without clean bedding available.
You’ll need a stall freshener
As we mentioned above, goats like to pee and poop a lot. This is because they need a lot of freshwater to stay healthy and as grazers, their digestive system is constantly moving which results in frequent stools. All this waste can make the pen smell very bad and while a quality bedding can remove some of the odors, it can’t remove all of it.
This is why stall fresheners are a must if you want to keep the environment and air inside the pen clean. These products come in many forms but the easiest ones to use are those that come in powdered form since you can simply sprinkle them all over the floor of the pen and add some more in the areas where your goats like to pee a lot.
Freshener is not needed only for you but also for the goats since they have delicate lungs and the ammoniac created from their urine is very toxic to them. While this may be less of an issue in open areas, enclosed pens don’t offer the same ventilation. Stall fresheners will absorb the ammonia and will provide your animals with a healthier living environment.
Furthermore, you can also use lime wash in your pen to help keep everything clean and remove dangerous bacteria. Whitewashing is an ancient technique used to paint surfaces with hydrated lime powder and it has antibacterial properties.
While there are special paints that do the same thing, whitewashing is cheaper and more environmentally friendly. It may require a bit more research on how to combine all the ingredients, but there are tons of useful tutorials online that make the entire process easier to grasp even by inexperienced animal lovers.
The deep litter method
There are two litter methods that you can use and they both come with some advantages and disadvantages. First, there’s the deep litter method which means providing your animals with a big compost floor. This method is perfect for winter to create more warmth in the pen.
You shouldn’t use it during the warmer months since it can get messy and flies can become a huge problem. To apply a deep litter you should start by cleaning the pen thoroughly by using a bleach solution (make sure to dilute it properly); then rinse the pen and allow it to dry completely.
Next, you should sprinkle a generous amount of stall freshener all over the floor of the pen and add a layer of pine shavings or straw bedding over it. With this method you don’t need to clean the pen, instead, you cover the floor with even more bedding once you notice that it’s becoming too dirty.
You should repeat this process throughout winter and with each layer that you add, the manure and urine will break down and your goats will have a natural heat source to keep them warm in the cold winter months.
Keep in mind that the pen or barn that you keep your goats in shouldn’t be insulated. This is because ammonia will need to be able to escape. An insulated enclosed living area may keep your goats warm, but it will also keep ammonia in. Furthermore, unless it is raining or snowing, you should still take your goats outside every day in the winter.
The non-deep litter method
If you don’t mind deep cleaning the pen weekly, then the non-deep litter method is what you should use, especially once the weather gets warmer. This method involves scooping all the bedding every 10-14 days and using a broom to get everything out of the pen.
Once you have scooped everything out, you should sprinkle stall fresheners all over the ground, but not as much as with the deep litter method seeing as you will have to clean it all up in 2 weeks. Then open a fresh bag of bedding and cover the floor of the living space evenly with it.
With this done, you can add everything back in the pen, including the goats since you are done. It’s that simple. It is certainly not a complicated method and if you keep all your cleaning supplies handy, it won’t take you more than half an hour every two weeks or so to clean the pen and add fresh bedding.
The area around the pen needs cleaning too
Now that we’ve covered the main living area, cleaning is not over since goats are not particular about where they pee or poo and you’ll soon find that the area around the pen will be covered in waste as well.
This won’t be as obvious as in the pen especially the pee that will quickly soak into the soil but after a few months, you’ll start to notice more and more of their berries on the ground. This needs cleaning too, but since you won’t have to clean it that often, it is not a time-consuming task.
Depending on how many goats you have, you should get your hands on a rake, shovel, and broom once you start to notice too much waste in the area around the pen. You’ll need to use the tools to scoop up any unwanted bedding that got out of the pen and sweep as many of the berry clusters as you can.
You can also use neat tricks such as a leaf blower to get all of the poop into one area for you to clean it all up easily. With that said, be aware that it is impossible to clean everything and leave the area around the pen spotless, so don’t stress too much about it.
At the end of the day, it is important to keep the living space of your goats as clean as you can, especially during the spring when things are very wet and warm.