Basically, we've bought properties that already had some sort of barn structure on them, and then we've made adjustments and additions to those structures over time (usually in reaction to some need, e.g., baby goat found a way to fit through the gap between the gate and fencepost). We are not wealthy people. And, I was raised by a WWII hero who grew up during the depression. So, I re-purpose and recycle like nuts. I am very fortunate to have a husband who thinks along the same lines as I do. And, it is also good <chuckle> that we have different hobbies, as I will get on his case a bit about how many motors and tools he has all over the place, and he will get on my case about all the livestock equipment I've left all over the lawn and garage...so, we keep each other from becoming pack-rats.
But, before we start looking at the structures, here is something to think about: Choose a location for your barn (or buy a property that is so setup) that allows you to maximize your enjoyment (and your watchfulness) of your livestock. I am very blessed in that I can watch my goats throughout the day from my kitchen window. Yes, even though I am Editor Melinda and a homeschool teacher, I am also a housewife. So, I am in and out of the kitchen all day. In fact, I spend soooo much time in my kitchen, that my husband and I worked like dogs remodeling it ourselves. I just snapped these two photos of my happy view:
Let's start with the doe barn. It appears the former owner mounted an old mobile home on stilts that he made out of smaller cut trees. I am guessing that he kept his hay stored up there. We don't because it's not weather-proof enough to prevent mold (which leads to Listeriosis). Most all of the area beneath the mobile home was filled to the rafters with cut wood for the wood stove. The footprint of the entire building is around 50 x 35 feet.
The former owner did have a small area for some livestock. We have re-purposed that area for the does. It is about 20 x 30 feet inside. The space gets larger as we use more firewood!
Now, let's take a look at the doe yard. It is around 18 x 36 feet. We certainly would have made it larger if we had time to plan things out. When we moved in (and it was a military move = 45 days to sell house in Oregon and be settled in new house in Washington), my husband just slammed up some old wire fencing as fast as he could do in one day as he had to start a new job the next day. There was no pen fencing of any kind when we moved in. Later, as money allowed, he made the fencing look nicer by creating the wood picket around the existing old wire fence.
And, there is one of our bucks, Thundrstorm, who asks, "May I please come in to the doe yard with you?" Ah, no. But, I will show the people your housing now.
You can see the black mineral feeder (maybe?) on the wall above Mac. The gate is an old hog panel that my husband mounted. I use an old cinder block as a doorstop. You can see one of their sleeping decks behind Mac. It is mounted on cinder blocks to keep it from being covered in hay that they drag out of their manger.
In the next picture, you can see their bad weather retreat area. It does not usually look like this. Thundrstorm (yes, Mr. Personality) has taken to climbing the wood pile and knocking parts of it down. Under all that hay that they pull out of their manger is a lovely sleeping deck that I was so excited to install...that they hardly ever use. It's got to be pretty darned blustery before they sleep in there. They prefer their sleeping cubby near the doe's barn. You may notice that we had to install pieces of hog panel in the back of this sleeping area to keep them from getting into the hay storage and the doe yard on the other side. We did not want to put solid wood up because you really want all the ventilation you can get. Someone recently asked on one of the groups, "What is the difference between ventilation and drafts?" I would say that air movement up high, which allows the ammonia fumes to rise and leave the building, is ventilation. Drafts are air movement down low where the animals are sleeping. That's just my take on it.
Here is Mac where he likes to spend his days, on the picnic table between the house and the doe yard. It is often wet here. But, when the grass does dry out for a while, the boys really love to lie on their sides on the grass near the doe yard fence.
Now, we go to the nursery:
In the second picture, you see the gate my husband installed so I can leave the big slider door open for ventilation most of the time. It only gets shut when the wind really blows. But, we need that gate closed during the day when the bucks are out so they don't eat all the food out of the rabbit feeders. After I put the bucks away in the evening, I open this up so our LGD can sleep in there. He loves to be near the bunnies and his baby goats.
Oh, notice the pet carrier beneath the rabbit cages? I like to store one near the baby goats in case of an emergency when I've got to quickly evacuate animals. In fact, I have carriers all around the place for this reason. I don't know if you can see it or not, but there is a high shelf above the kid nursery where I store rabbit carriers for that reason. My family's house was flooded in 1972, and we had to quickly evacuate. I remember my dad paddling his canoe into the house to grab my sister and I who were perched on top of the back of the couch. So, I guess that stuck with me.
The second picture shows our LGD's house. A big doghouse for a very big dog! This building was here when we bought the property. My husband has re-purposed it for him and his dog. Yes, our dog really does have a carpet for a bed. Dog beds are just not big enough for him. It is nice that Kenai's doghouse is next to the nursery/rabbitry barn.
Ah, I forgot something. Let's go back to the other barn.
In the second picture, you can see into a space where we keep some of the feed. I have three galvanized cans of grain for the chickens and goats. And, you can't see it in this picture, but there is a pallet where my husband brings two bales of hay a week from the other barn. This saves me a bit of labor and walking around (often in the rain). Notice the wood frame around the grain cans. That is so a goat won't knock them over, thus spilling their contents. Even though goats are not allowed in this area unsupervised, never say never when it comes to finding goats in places where they are not supposed to be. Plan for everything!
Oh, and behind that green wall is the chicken coop. Let's take a look:
The nesting boxes are old cabinets that we found on the property, turned on their side. They have a wooden ladder up to their roosts on the other side of the coop. In the back of the right-hand picture, you can see the chick nursery. It is essentially a box with a screened lid that swings up. I keep the chicks in our basement on top of the dryer in a plastic tote for the first few weeks, and then I move them out to the nursery.
In the second picture, you see our orchard. It is nice in fall because the goats get to eat the fallen apples. Right now, it is March. So, there is very little foliage on anything yet. We have a very short growing season in the Pacific Northwest.
It's now time for the details. I used to work for a landscape architect. We always had a "detail sheet" that accompanied the blueprints. So, here is my version of that for the goat housing.
Oh and leave it to a goat to be a goat for the picture when I'm not paying attention. That would be Dusty "perfuming" himself before he goes over to the doe fence for his daily lolling and grunting exercise.
On the right is the gate to the doe pen. Notice the little piece of metal sheeting in the lower right? That is to remind you that little baby goats can fit through amazingly small spaces. Just as a parent gets down on their hands and knees when child-proofing their home before their first child, you also need to keep a keen eye out for places where baby goats can get out of their safe area or stuck somewhere. We have bald eagles that would be very happy for a little Nigerian to get out to the pasture on its own. But, that won't happen on my watch!
In the second picture is the little sun shelter that we put in the doe yard during the rainy season for another feeding station. it is built out of materials we found on the property in a junk pile. There is a mineral feeder screwed to one of the cross-bars (hard to see because there is a black pot behind it). I also have a hay feeder that hangs on the cross-bars. The large nursery pots are for the baby goats to lounge and play on. We had those wonderful big wooden spools at our farm in Oregon, but we couldn't fit everything in the moving truck.
On the right is a very important piece of housing equipment: a comfortable camp chair! Hey, don't you raise goats or sheep in order to enjoy them? This is a nice spot for me to escape to with my laptop to get some copyediting done, and being on the other side of the fence from the babies prevents them from helping me type. The cup holder is a wonderful feature for holding an extra bottle of milk for the babies. You notice that PayDay expects that there should always be a bottle of milk there waiting for him?
We are almost done with our details. Let's go back to the doe barn.
On the right is one of our barn intercoms. I bought these from Radio Shack 11 years ago and they finally started dying on me about a year ago. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they still sell them. When the package arrived, I was also pleased to be able to keep the protective wrapper over top of it to keep it from fouling with dust. We just zip-tied it to one of the rafters. It is always in the "call lock" position, so it operates like a baby monitor. I hear everything that happens in the barn when I am inside the house. As you get to know your animals, you will learn to discern an ordinary "I'm bored" or "I'm hungry" holler from a "I need help" one...and your feet will grow wings to rush out to the barn. Heck, I don't even take the time to put on my shoes.
Now, the manger on the right cost nothing. We recycled an old hog panel, bent it, and hooked it on the lattice wall. Bingo, manger. Works just as well as the spendy one.
On the right we have the watering corner. I place my buckets far away from the sleeping areas. Otherwise, I would be cleaning poop out of the buckets every day. I have pallet walkways to the buckets so they don't get their hooves wet (which can contribute to hoof rot and other problems). Goats hate getting their feet wet anyhow. I secure the buckets to the fence with caribiners so they don't get knocked over during horse play, er, goat play. I use caribiners all over the place. They are much safer than bungee cords that can puncture eyes and such.
The second picture is a mineral feeder for loose mineral salt. You need one of these in each housing area. Goats/sheep cannot get enough salt from licking blocks like cows can. Mount it high enough so someone doesn't back up against it and poop in it. Also, use long screws when mounting because the kids will jump up on it their like it's a ledge designed for their play. You see, goats are convinced that everything in their environment is there for their play. As long as you plan for that, you won't get frustrated and irritated with them.
Well, I hope you enjoyed your tour of our goat housing. Keep in mind that simple and frugal is fine. I'd rather invest in quality stock than a fancy barn.
This has turned out to be a very long post, and it's 2 am. But, I would like to show you some pictures of how we had things set up at our old farm in Oregon.