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Goat (and chicken!) barn plans: thoughts?

7637 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  motdaugrnds
I am posting my rough plans for our brand new goat (and chicken, housed separately) barn, to be built before we move up to the new homestead in a year. I would very much like to hear your feedback, since we are newbies to the raising goats and chickens thing.

To start, we plan on only having 3 or 4 goats and 6 chickens, but we expect to increase that to up to 8-10 goats and a dozen chickens within a year or so. The barn plan is for 20' x 30', with a loft that extends over half the barn (to store hay). We want a concrete floor with a drainage slope towards the back, to easily hose out and clean the barn.

I want a big laundry-type sink (cold water only from same deep well that supplies our home) in the milking room (washing hands, rinsing equipment, etc.), as you see, so my husband will plumb for that (which will allow a hose to be attached to spray out the barn when needed.) I'm thinking the chick nursery can go inside the chicken portion of the barn with a heat lamp. Is there a problem keeping chicks in a separate area in the chicken coop?

I've seen plans where there is a straight-thru opening for a tractor drive-thru, and that appeals to both my husband and I in case we need to haul stuff in or out of the barn.

:) All comments appreciated! As you know, it's much easier to make mods now and incorporate them in the plan than wait until later. I know you all have ideas about the best way to do this. I would love to hear them.



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During the day, all goats will be in our small field (1 acre), and chickens will either be in the chicken run shown or in a separate chicken tractor that we will move around in our orchard area. At night, livestock will be in the barn for safety, since coyotes, hawks, etc. are in our neighborhood. We're thinking about getting guinea hens (to sound the alert for snakes) and a couple of guard dogs (coyotes). At least, that's the plan. We'll be in southern Alabama, near a swampy area.
At some point you're going to have to vaccinate, weigh, trim feet, and deworm. You'll need a small area to confine them in, run one at a time into a head catch/work table, and then separate the finished ones.
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Where abouts in southern Bama? I'm near Dothan.
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We will be west of Dothan, about an hour or so.

Howdy neighbor! Small world.
I used to have my chickens in the barn in a little room like yours, and I found it is really gross to have to walk around in their mess (even if you clean it frequently) to give them fresh water or whatnot. We had to have special separate "chicken shoes" for everyone. It is a huge pain to have a room that has to be shoveled out to clean it. Also, chickens do really well with goats, cleaning up any parasite eggs and worm, and they have fun playing together. So with all that in mind, I would have a separate coop up on legs (with a pull out tray for changing the bedding) and keep it in one corner of the goat yard. Or have a wire bottom (large enough spaces for poop to fall through, but tough enough to keep out nighttime predators) and just move the coop around every few days. If we lived in a warmer area, we would put wheels on our coop and do that. But we need the bottom for warmth.
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Also, if you can get one or two breeds that will go broody, then the hens can do all the work for you to raise new chicks. We have a rooster now, but in the past we bought fertilized eggs from our neighbor when a hen goes broody. That way we don't need a separate chick nursery. Mama hen does all the work to keep them warm, fed, and safe.
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Awesome idea, Melinda! I was wondering about using a chicken tractor vs. giving them a space in the barn. That might be the way to go, and let them share space in the "goat yard."

Thank you for comment!
I would make sure to have room for human access to the chicken run, incase of stray eggs in the run. I agree to get broody breeds and a rooster to do the work for you. We have a rotational run for our chickens- a main on that comes off the coop and a couple that branch out from it. It also butts up around our garden area so that weeds that are pulled can be thrown in for them during when we are growing. We also have a 'chicken door' in our fence to let the chickens in and out of the garden when we want them to eat weeds. We haven't been doing that lately because we have a hawk that watches them in the garden, like, well a hawk. Their run is in the middle of our property and was a wooded area at one time, and there are still a good number of deciduous trees, so this time of year they have plenty of shade, and during the winter they get light. And the trees help deter the hawks then.

We have our 'juvenile' chicken run adjacent. When get a broody, we move her nest and all. It's a 'annex' on our main coop with an open window into the coop separated with hardware cloth. Baby chicks can still get thru chicken wire. They can see each other but none of the other hens can add to the nest or mess with it. The roof lifts up and there is a pop-door that we open during the day so mama can move around if she wants to. We have it totally covered with chicken wire, as the younger birds tend to be 'flightier'. And it's 'skirted' with hardware cloth. Our regular chicken run fencing is 6 ft. and they do still find their way over it sometimes, though. But I agree about being able to keep your chickens with your goats, it will help with the parasites. Hindsight is 20/20. We've had chickens for years and our barn we didn't build to last year.

We have meat rabbits in 1 section of our barn. Also the same size as yours, 20 x 30. We did a cement floor, thinking it would be easier to clean. One of our projects currently is "Where are we going to move the rabbits because animal poop and cement was a terrible idea." We hose, sweep, and shopvac the rabbits weekly. It's disgusting. We also have rubbermaid totes set up under their hutches, with shower curtains hanging off the bottom of their cages to 'funnel' the poop and pee into the tote. It's still a gross mess.

I like your goat layout. It's similar to my friends, but all she has is goats in her barn and her barn is much bigger and it works great. Our barn is divided into 3 sections- the 'bunny barn', the middle, we call the 'barn' where we have our feed, hay and other animal supplies, extra feeders waterers etc. The 3rd section, the 'goat barn' the fence runs the length of the barn in the middle of their section. We have 3 goats. They have plenty of room to walk around, sleep stay dry etc. On the people side of the goat fence in the barn, we have our kidding stall and milking stand right there. This worked great for us because all the goats were still together during kidding, and were able to get used to the kids and we had no 'introduction' problems, no goats alone. Having the milk stand in the goat area worked great because if we'd had the milking area in the main part, she'd go running for the hay. We also use the milk stand for our bucks to administer shots or supplements when needed and to trim hooves. One thing to mention though, is our younger bucks horns will no longer fit thru the top of the milk stand, so that's something to consider.
We don't have a sink in the barn. Our milking routine is like this. Get pot with a cup of warm water and couple of clean 'goat rags' in the house. We go out to the barn, get the goat on the stand, hobble her legs, and we keep a pump-dispenser of very diluted hand soap under the stand. Couple of pumps on our hands before we start milking, wipe them on one rag. Dip another rag in the water from the house, wipe off teats. Milk into the pail. Cover, and go sit it on the freezer in the main part that has feed in it. Go put the goat back in with the others. Take the milk into the house, where sometimes someone else will strain it and put it in the fridge and sometimes not, then we go do the other critter chores.
So that works for us. What doesn't work again is the cement floor. We have rotational runs for the chickens. We have the same with the goats. We also have a solar powered electric fence on the goat and have never had a problem. What would I chan ge about our current set up? My barn would be BIGGER. It's not big enough. We to did the door big enough to drive a tractor in, for when we get a tractor. After we got the feed freezers in there, and a chicken brooder that we only use now for sick or injured birds, and hay.... no room for a tractor. I'd have a barn cat or 2 for the mice and snakes that now love our barn. (We have dogs. That eat cats. My advice is get a cat before dogs).

So that's my 2 cents.
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Sounds like you are on your way to having it figured out. Lots of good advice. I'm building a barn as well and still not quite sure of it all. First off unless you're building something the size of a costco warehouse it will never be big enough. I will say to build it as big as budget will allow cause in a year you will wish it were bigger. Pulling lean to's off the sides might be big addition for little cost. I think if you can go with a larger door perhaps 10ft minimum would be more ideal when moving a tractor and farm equipment in and out. No need to risk hitting barn. Also make sure door is tall enough (min 10ft) for any future farm equipment.
We have a pretty small operation compared to what you are planning. 3 big wethers, used as packgoats, and 6 or so hens. A few things to consider:
1. We want to be able to leave home for a week or two sometimes. That means having somebody else come over and take care of the critters, so it has to be very easy. The feed room is adjacent to the goat room, with an opening in the wall where the goats can stick their heads thru and eat their hay from a feeder. That way nobody has to carry hay into the goat pen, and get mugged, to feed them.
2. The goats have their room and the chickens have theirs, but they share a pen. We have made the chicken room goat proof, and 99% predator proof by fencing it off from ground to roof, with a small opening a couple of feet off the ground for the chickens to pass thru. They climb wooden ramps inside and outside to access the door. That keeps skunks out of the chicken room. the only other predator that could get in would be a raccoon or a bear. Not much you can do about either of those. The egg laying boxes are in the chicken room as well as a feeder. We don't use the feeder very much, just toss some feed thru the fence onto the ground, and they spend the rest of the day pecking around and eating all of it. The feeder is mostly so that we can leave feed for the chickens if we want to go somewhere for a few days. But having the feeder in the chicken room keeps the goats out of the chicken feed.
3. The water for the goats is a bucket hung on the fence inside the pen, 2 feet off the ground. Below that is a low rubber tub for the chicken water. A hose with a leaky faucet hangs thru the fence, into the goat bucket. It overflows and drips down to the chicken water tub. This keeps the goat water clean and fresh (very important). I wrapped a piece of old fence wire around the top of the goat bucket to keep the chickens from flying up on the edge of the bucket and crapping in the goat water.
4. The floors of both the goat room and the chicken room are dirt, covered with several inches of wood chips. We buy the wood chips from the feed store, and they come compressed in a plastic bag. They absorb moisture from the chicken and goat poop and pee, and can be easily shoveled into a wheel barrow and taken to the compost pile when they need to be replaced, which isn't very often. They also make a nice warm place for the goats to sleep. There is never a smelly, gooey mess in either room.
5. The pen for the chickens and goats is made of livestock panels (5 ft high, 20 ft long, 4" squares top to bottom) bent into a big semicircle out from the south side of the barn. They are attached to T posts driven into the ground every 6 feet or so. The bottom 3 feet of the livestock panels has chicken wire with 1" openings attached all around using hog rings. This keeps little chickens in, and skunks out. Predators (coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, bears, foxes, and dogs) are a major concern here, so I've added another 4 feet of fence wire above the 5 foot livestock panels. We've never lost a critter to a predator, as long as it was inside the pen. But when we get soft hearted and start letting the chickens out to free range it's not long before the coyotes or a bobcat figure it out, and we start losing them. The goats are never out of the pen unless I'm with them. That's for their protection, and also because I don't trust them. They will be across the road eating up the neighbor's little pine trees the minute they see I'm not paying attention. We've found that putting the pen on the south side of the barn makes it dry out faster in wet, cold weather. Also the pen is warm and sunny in the winter, and the barn gives the critters a lot of protection from north wind. A couple of shade trees on the west side makes for happy critters in the summer. The trees are outside the pen, to keep the goats from killing them. We learned not to use the cheaper and more plentiful livestock panels with the small openings at the bottom, and big openings at the top. Goats with horns can get their stupid heads caught in the fence if the openings are too big. But livestock panels make a very strong, secure pen, and they are easy to work with. The goats can stand on the fence with their front hooves and it won't damage the panels at all.
6. We have a wonderful guard dog. She's a 40 lb blue heeler, and she is very alert and watchful. Any coyote or even a bear that comes around gets barked at ferociously. But the UPS lady is welcomed. I would never have a dog around that is dangerous. I just want the dog to let me know something is going on, then I'll deal with it.
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Thanks for your comments! We're reconsidering the size, and it sounds like we should add 4' to the width for ease of access by the tractor. We'll be in a warm climate (only a few miles north of Florida), remember, so we don't expect the animals to be in the barn except at night, most days, so we don't think we'll need much more barn space as only up to a dozen chickens and goats will occupy the barn. Most of the year, the chickens will be in a separate chicken tractor that is moved around our orchard area. If they're only in the barn for a few months a year, hopefully we'll be able to keep that area clean. If they do get along well with the goats, I agree we can move them in with goats a couple of days per week while we clean out their area.

We've thought that if we pour a concrete slab that drains toward the center tractor path down the middle and out the back of the barn, that we would be able to keep it cleaner and more hygienic since I plan to milk the goats in the separate milk room and possibly sell resulting cheeses from the goats at a local farmer's market (I welcome comments or direction to a thread re. requirements for this?)

Many thoughtful comments and suggestions. Thanks again.
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I'm following, still new to the process, so what flooring would be recommended versus cement? My chickens currently have dirt floor and (just in a couple months of being in the pen) have fluffed and pooped that dirt up into a cloud... great for the garden next year, not so much to walk through.
I saw a barn with concrete cap ends on the floor with dirt between the concrete caps that allowed some drainage. Perhaps that is a compromise to an all concrete floor.
I'd consider post holes with about 6 inches of gravel at the bottom then the wood piers on the gravel then concrete the sides. No concrete on bottom (drainage) and if you use properly treated posts they should last a good long while. You can then decide later if/when you want which rooms poured with a pad. Probably the milking area is the only one I'd be super concerned about.
I will show you my barn. I constructed it next to the garden so as to use the bedding more easily. I started with only 3 does; yet goat herds grow rapidly when the first ones are great milkers and the herd buck has a background of great milking dams. So each year I have to cull my herd, which gives a great tasting red meat.

Since goats love to sleep together and even help each other care for their young, my barn is rather open. I do have it partitioned so that, if needed (goat-bonding with kids or goat being doctored for whatever) there is a way to close off areas in such a way all can still see each other but just cannot get to each other.

I definately did not want a concrete floor. Instead I put 3-4" of "agricultural lime" all over the floor of this entire barn. This lime not only helps keep the ground nice and hard, keeps down smells (though I've never had an odor problem) but let me know how far down to go when I'm cleaning one year's bedding out.

My milking area has one door (made of two doors: top/bottom) going into the barn itself and another door (regular) going out of the barn. (I have a wooden floor over 3/4ths of this milking area for baled hay. (Have a "half wall" in milking area I can throw hay over to land in the large feeder bin.)

The loft has great ventilation and I've not lost one bale of hay all these years. It is open on one side as well as one end. It has hardware cloth under the rafters for ventilation too. And all baled hay is set on top of 2x4s.

As for chickens, I constructed their housing next to the garden as well. I left the floor dirt and created the housing and pen together with doors in each. I placed one roost inside the house and one outside the house (under the extended eaves) so chickens can roost as well as guineas. (Guineas prefer to roost up high.) Never had to have special shoes for cleaning because most of the poop was under the roosting areas. (I let all my fowl free-range during the day; and for the last couple of years or so I've even let them free-range 24/7 without significant problems.)

Hope this helps give you some ideas. It is fun planning construction for a homestead. Enjoy!
Oh just remembered what turned out to be one of the best ideas about this barn. I placed material over a portion of the roofing that let the sun shine in during winter months. Also put a window for same purpose. And the large windows on back side of this barn open for summer breezes, close for winter and keep goats inside with wire panels.

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