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  #1  
Old 02/27/07, 06:15 AM
 
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The manure pack

I've long read about how some choose to clean the barns fairly regularly in the winter, and others like to let the manure pack build up to provide "warmth" in the barn.

My first year, we had such long intense cold periods that the manure pack seemed to me to be frozen. And it was a heck of a job to clean out in the Spring.

So this winter, we cleaned every one to two weeks. Kept it raked in the intervals. After this last storm, we could not get the barn door open. After a day or so we liberated the smaller girls and the bucks from their confinement up on the hill. But the lower barn was snowed shut with three feet of snow and we had to climb over the door to get in and care for them. After a week, the place began to smell. So we did the only thing we could do, which was to spread 2 bags of feed grade lime and a bale of pine chips over the floor. It worked well on the smell!

But the other day, I was taking out a large round plastic tub we use to feed the Nigies their hay. They like to sleep in it if their is hay left at bedtime, and I always feel and look to see if they have peed or pooped in there before tossing that hay. And it was as warm as a heating pad at the bottom of the tub. I put my hand on the pack under the tub (remember, they cover everything with hay so there is little or no poop or pee on top) and it was so warm it made me nervous!!! It felt like a heating pad! Right there where the weight of the tub with girls in it had pressed on the hay, there was a lot of moisture too, but no wetness from kneeling elsewhere in the barn.

So, now I don't know what to think about this!

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Old 02/27/07, 08:02 AM
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My smaller pens (6' X 6') are cleaned monthly, but my "big" pen, which is 24 X 20, will be cleaned in June. The original floor is packed clay. It's layered with grass hay. Initially, I spread 2 bales on the floor, after that, I let the waste from the feeders comprise the rest of the bedding, tossing in a bale or two every week or so, for the girls to spread themselves. Here it is Feb, the average temps hover around 25-35, the bedding is about a foot thick and compressed, warm as toast, and doesn't smell at all. The pen is totally enclosed on three sides, with a high barn ceiling, but the fourth side, with totally southern exposure, has the sliding door open all winter, and a fence installed across the opening. Provides lots of ventilation (winds from the north and west don't penetrate), and natural light. The girls have access to an acre of brushy ground outside, but spend a majority of their time lounging in the pen.

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Old 02/27/07, 09:14 AM
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Grampa did this with his calves, and they were always plenty toasty. Spring cleaning was definitely a skid loader job.

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Old 02/27/07, 10:08 AM
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Seriously, last year - I advertised on Craigslist that I had free organic compost - and people came out and cleaned my barn for me, hauled it away in pick up loads. One guy took all the rabbit dropping too. A couple of people wanted to PAY me for it, lol.

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Old 02/27/07, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DocM
Seriously, last year - I advertised on Craigslist that I had free organic compost - and people came out and cleaned my barn for me, hauled it away in pick up loads. One guy took all the rabbit dropping too. A couple of people wanted to PAY me for it, lol.
Great advise, Thanks.
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  #6  
Old 02/27/07, 10:49 AM
 
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It seems like it could be a good idea and I tried it my first winter, 3 years ago, and it worked, but having to shovel out a 1 foot deep and PACKED solid area of hay that's 12x18, my back won't take it. So, I just use pine shavings and clean every 7-10 days. However in my calf huts, we just keep adding new shavings and they stay nice and toasty in there, the pack is about 10 inches deep so far. Then in spring, we can just take the hutches off and use the loader tractor. Much easier!

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  #7  
Old 02/27/07, 11:27 AM
 
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We let it pile/pack too. The smell is not a problem and they do stay toasty. However, with more goats in the barn this year we've got quite a build up, I'm not looking forward to cleaning it.

I'm wondering if it'd be a good job to hire out to a neighbor kid?

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Old 02/27/07, 12:35 PM
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Gee, thanks for reminding me.

That's my mission for March Break - cleaning out the pens. Chicken pen will be the worst. :baby04:

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  #9  
Old 02/27/07, 01:23 PM
 
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Last year we hired a big, strong guy to help my son clean it out. They wanted to use a skill saw to cut it up!

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  #10  
Old 02/27/07, 01:57 PM
 
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I clean my barn once, in spring. I don't keep my goats penned in there and I encourage them to spend all their time outside that they can by feeding them hay outside.



I don't want them in the barn unless it is raining or snowing real bad and they have to get in to avoid getting wet. They are MUCH healthier since I started sheltering them less.

If you have a riding mower/garden tractor, you can buy at Lowes, TSC, etc. a rear blade or rear rake for it that makes it a lot easier to drag the muck to the front and then you can either load it into a wheelbarrow or a truck by hand.

I use my trusty 1965 Cub Cadet with a weighted rear blade.

Removeable pen walls make it a lot easier.

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Old 02/27/07, 02:34 PM
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Hahahaha! It's way to cold to clean my barn this March break! I usely only clean it 10 times a year, the most being the summer. This year has been the worst with 12 goats, and no sheep to clean up the waste .I have about 2 or 3 feet of hay and poop to move! The first spring cleaning takes me about 4 hours!By hand I have to take 2 or 3 showers to smell clean agian! Last year I forgot to clean 1 month:and that was the month we had alot of rain,and wow the stuff was black and took for ever to get moved as well as the SMELL.I left for about half an hour because I couldn't stand it! But the smell if pine shaving's are so nice after a 4 hour job!

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Old 02/28/07, 08:48 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jillis
Last year we hired a big, strong guy to help my son clean it out. They wanted to use a skill saw to cut it up!
That's funny, sounds like something my guys would try. If for no other reason than to see if they could.
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  #13  
Old 02/28/07, 09:43 AM
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Several goat people around here have said "leave it and it will help warm the barn". Well they have trouble with a lot of different illnesses. They have lost goats to whatever and have not explanation to why. Well we clean our barn once a week in the winter (if they are locked in because of the snow storms and blowing snow). We have NEVER lost a goat and I have never had a goat with anything other then cocci. I have only given one goat any antibiotics, that was because of a really hard delivery this year and I had to go in and move the baby and try to get it in the right position to be pulled. I have never had a goat with a respatory problem or pneumonia.
My daughter use to fight me on cleaning the barn. She said well everyone else leaves it for the winter. I had her get on her hands and knees (the level of the goats) and stay there for 10 min. She was sick from the smell and the ammonia smell. Now she does the cleaning once a week on her own. When we clean all the straw out, we put the Sweet PDZ down and more straw.
Now I am not saying that is what everyone should do, it just seems to work best for us.

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  #14  
Old 02/28/07, 10:05 AM
 
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Lori, that's exactly why my goats stay outside 90% of the time, and even sleep overnight in the pasture.

I agree with you, there are three bad things in the barn: 1.) ammonia is a respiratory irritant (and I think cleaning the barn lessens but does not remove it, cuz the pee is in the dirt); 2.) the goats are crowded together where communicable disease can spread; 3.) there are lots of rough surfaces and dark spots where disease organisms can survive long-term.

I've got 'em trained now to where they come in the barn to get their nightly supplemental feeding, and they come in if it snows or rains. Otherwise, they are outside, even though they have free access to the barn. In watching them bed down in the pasture, I have found they naturally sleep as a group, but most of them leave maybe 3-4 feet of space around each individual. Pretty smart!

There is no doubt the herd is vastly healthier and more robust by me "treating them badly" than it was when I encouraged them to spend more time in the barn.

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  #15  
Old 02/28/07, 10:51 AM
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YEP, Jim. My goats stay outside most the time also. the only reason I have them come in and I lock them in, is where I live, the wind blows 30-80 MPH and the darn snow blows right into the barn. I have had to dig out 15' x 15' drifts 5 times. The barn would be barried, plus I have cashmere and the moisture ruins the fiber. They really prefeer to be outside I believe.

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  #16  
Old 02/28/07, 11:01 AM
 
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Lori, I had a very hard time making that management switch at the time, because it seemed so counter-intuitive. But they "harden off" real well when out in the weather, I now have zero lice trouble, no one ever coughs, etc. It has been one of the best of the "You don't know what you are doing!!!" management changes I have made so far, as far as the returns.

The wind can get 30-50 mph here, too, and carries a lot of Gulf moisture with it, so if it is say 30 degrees out, that is a chilly wet wind! They always have open barn doors to come into, and if it gets too bad they do come in. But they don't seem to mind it much, once they grow that thick luxurious overcoat!

The other thing I did was to make my barn less a shelter by opening it up so wind can pass through it. It is still a windbreak shelter, but there is no dead air in there and the barn is about the same temp as outside. I have no ammonia smell til it gets over 50 degrees and calm that way.

Under edit: BTW, love Colorado! Used to go to Drake and Estes Park every year for like 10 years or so to trout fish and camp. Peeked at your site...gorgeous pix!

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Last edited by Jim S.; 02/28/07 at 11:05 AM.
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  #17  
Old 02/28/07, 01:17 PM
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This is my first winter with goats, and the manure pack really surprised me with it's warmth and dryness as long as I toss a few flakes of hay around once every couple of weeks.

My goats are so funny . . . when the sun comes out, they run outside the barn, but at the slightest hint of precip they run back in. When they see the hose coming out to top off the water they run, too, and I've never deliberately squirted them. My cat likes water better than they do.

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Old 02/28/07, 01:19 PM
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Yep, I have to agree, with everything you said.
We love Estes Park also. They have a HUGE wools show in June. We make it a family vacation that weekend. It is always over Fathers day weekend. Have you ever gone thorugh the Stanley Hotel where the movie "the shinning" was filmed? it is breath taking.
Thank you for the kind works about the website.

Jim where in Tenn do you live? I LOVE Tenn. My grandparents lived in Elizabethton.

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