African pygmy goat fall preparation for winter weather PDF Print E-mail

African pygmy goat fall preparation for winter weather

The weather outside isn’t frightful (yet!), but winter will be here before you know it! Early fall is the ideal time to start preparing your African pygmy goats for winter because cold weather oftentimes comes sooner than expected, and you don’t want your goats to be caught unprepared.

Your area’s climate will, of course, dictate what your goats will need for winter. Look to your area’s typical winter temperatures for the type of winterizing you will need. However, keep in mind that you may encounter an unseasonably warm or cold winter, so be flexible with your winterizing. Adjustments may need to be made as winter gets into full swing.

Whether you are gearing up for a bitter or mild winter, it makes good sense to give your goat’s living quarters a thorough cleaning in the fall. This entails cleaning the entire enclosure, inside and out. Dust or sweep every inch, and scrub any particularly soiled or high-trafficked areas including the feeder and waterer. Swap out all old bedding with fresh bedding. Consider stocking up and providing extra bedding for warmth this winter. Plan to clean your goats’ home more often in the winter if they will be spending more time indoors. Goats have an easier time staying warm and healthy in clean, dry environments. Examine the enclosure’s roof and outside walls for any areas that may need to be patched before winter arrives. For obvious reasons, fall is a much better time to be making repairs than the winter!

While pygmy goats are generally hardy, healthy animals, drafts are not their friends. Ensure their enclosure is draft-free well before harsh weather is expected, and consider providing a windbreak in their outdoor area so your goats can get outside and play throughout the winter. That being said, do not completely seal up your goats’ home. Good ventilation is essential for keeping your goats healthy. If you live in a particularly cold climate that routinely experiences temperatures below freezing, adding insulation to your goats’ enclosure should be considered. Heat lamps can also be used sparingly and cautiously. Ideally your barn/shed should be very dry for your goats, which makes it easy for fires to start, so use heat lamps for healthy, adult pygmy goats as a last resort. Remember to start at a low heat to prevent your goats from overheating.

Providing your goats with fresh water is essential at all times. However, this requires a bit more attention in the winter months. Goats do not like extremely cold or frozen water, so you will need to check on their water more frequently to make sure it isn’t frozen. A heated waterer can help to keep water from freezing, which can reduce your work load. But remember to still check on the water supply often – you don’t want to find a malfunctioning heater and dehydrated goats too late! Winter feed also requires a bit more attention depending on your area’s climate. If there will be a lack of vegetation in your goats’ outdoor space during the winter, increase their feed so they do not lose weight.

Healthy adult pygmy goats typically do an excellent job of regulating their body temperatures. However, if a goat is shivering or has lips that are tinted blue or grey (much like a person who is too cold), it needs some help warming up. Consider purchasing specially made goat blankets this fall so that when winter comes around you have an easy fix for any goat that may be having some trouble keeping warm.

While these general winterizing tips are certainly a good place to start, you may want more specific recommendations for your area, especially if this is your first winter raising pygmy goats.  Reach out to a local 4H club, seasoned goat owners in the area, or livestock associations to get a better understanding of what is typically done in your area. As always, Amber Waves provides Lifetime Support with the purchase of every African pygmy goat, so feel free to contact us with any winterizing questions you may have.