The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Deep bedding and fodder crops for goats

Goat bedding

In Natural Goat Care, Pat Coleby says in no uncertain terms that deep bedding is a bad idea with goats. Unfortunately, she doesn't give any information on why deep bedding is such a terrible idea. So I went ahead and used my usual methods with our girls, and they haven't seemed to have any problems.

Cleaning out the boat barn

Goat helperHowever, a timely post on Throwback at Trapper Creek's blog suggests that the issue could have to do with bacteria affecting newborn kids. So I figured I might as well clean out all the deep bedding in preparation for Mark separating the coop into two stalls for kidding season. That way, we can keep the kidding stall manure-free just to be on the safe side.

The girls had different reactions to me invading their home for the afternoon. Abigail promptly settled in to eat more hay, refusing to move her feet when the time came to scoop beneath her. Artemesia, on the other hand, asked if she could help me out. Maybe standing in the doorway would help? How about if she jumped up in the wheelbarrow? "You lifted me out? Oh, great, I can jump back in --- that's the fun part!"

Tossing bedding over the fence

I'm tossing all of the used bedding over the fence into the tree alley in hopes it will build the soil and maybe kill back some of the weeds. I'll lay down some cardboard on top, if necessary, to turn this into a zone to plant fodder crops for next fall. On the menu are field corn (with the grain being earmarked for the chickens and the stalks for the goats), sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, mangels, and carrots. The last two on the list will probably go in the main garden, though, since this rough kill mulch won't make soil good enough for carrot-like least not for this year.

I'd be curious to hear from other goat keepers. What do you grow for your goats? Have you had any trouble keeping your herd on deep bedding?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I remember a children's book we had, about a pny who ;ended up with leprechaun-shoes-like hooves, all bent up, because he'd been kept in a stall with thick bedding that had never been cleaned out!
Comment by adrianne Sun Feb 1 08:05:54 2015

The kidding anticipation is building! Cant wait to see new babies! Fodder crops make so much sense. I am planning some garden space this year on a small scale, just for the chickens. Hoping to do more Eventually, especially after we get our goats. Will be interesting to see what percentage of their nutrition can realistically be grown.... looking forward to reading how it goes for you

Comment by deb Sun Feb 1 16:43:59 2015

Hi Anna and Mark,

I don't know much about goats, but the pictures of pigs in deep bedding

on the website are VERY thought provoking.

No smell, happy animals young and old. I assume you have checked that site out?

If not I would start there and copy what they are doing :).

Pretty cold in NH still.

Lots of fun.

Comment by John Mon Feb 2 09:36:08 2015
I raised goats for four years with deep bedding,, everyone had their kids in the bedding with absolutely no problems. My goats were so wasteful there was a new layer of hay across the floor everyday ! So it always seemed clean lol
Comment by angie Wed Feb 4 16:39:29 2015
Well, this was a timely post for me since we're just getting a start on our forest garden hedgerow (tree alley). Excellent idea for what to do with my goat barn cleanings! My problem with deep litter for goats is keeping the correct carbon:nitrogen ratio. Goats pee so much that it's hard to keep enough carbonaceous material to keep the ammonia smell down. I confess I resort to barn lime a lot. With chickens it's so much neater, LOL. Still, I like the heat produced with the deep litter method, so it's worth a go when the winter temps plunge. The Matron of Husbandry's idea of potential bacteria being a problem in birthing stalls makes a lot of sense. Like you, I keep my kidding stall clean, ready, and waiting.
Comment by Leigh Wed Feb 11 06:46:49 2015

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