What to Use for Goat Bedding

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Goats will sleep on almost any horizontal surface available. They do not require bedding, unless it is to protect them from the cold or from wet flooring, but they are more comfortable and happier if it is provided.

Hay or Straw

Hay is a necessary part of a goat's diet, so if you have goats, you should have hay on hand. Goats are notorious hay wasters. They will not eat hay that has been soiled. As a result, any hay that lands on the floor automatically becomes bedding. While hay provides a soft surface and is readily available and absorb liquids moderately well, it is also expensive. Straw is similar to hay and costs less per bale, making it a good alternative to hay.

In general, hay and straw bedding should be removed frequently to prevent odors and flies from becoming problems. In areas where winters are extremely cold, goats can benefit from the warmth provided by composting hay bedding. During the winter months, soiled hay bedding can be left in place and covered with fresh hay periodically to keep the goats clean and comfortable. Bedding can get up to a foot deep without issue. Add more hay, straw or shavings to prevent an ammonia odor from developing.

Pelleted Shavings

Pelleted shavings are typically used as horse bedding, the use for which they are labelled. Pellets are absorbent and smell like fresh-cut pine, so your goat shed should stay smelling good longer than it would with hay or straw. They produce less dust than shavings or chips and will not cause or exacerbate respiratory problems. Pelleted shavings are comparatively inexpensive. Goats accustomed to eating pelleted feed may consume small amounts of these pellets.

Coarse Sand

Coarse sand conforms to the goat's body, providing a comfortable surface to lie on. Fine sand may be more comfortable for your goat to lie on, but it may stick to a dairy doe's udder. Sand or any other debris stuck to an udder can cause mastitis, an infection that interferes with milk production. Sand also provides excellent drainage under other bedding, as it it not absorbent.

Wood Shavings

Four inches or more of wood shavings provide drainage under a second, softer form of bedding. However, wood shavings become damp quickly and require frequent replacement. Some kinds of wood, such as cherry, may be toxic and some woods may stain the coats of show goats. Do not use wood chips instead of wood shavings, as they provide an environment that may contribute to mastitis.

Wooden Platforms

Sleeping platforms may provide a good alternative to bedding for some goats. Slatted wood platforms or wooden platforms with a drainage hole drilled in them can help keep goats clean and dry, especially in damp environments. Treating platforms with nontoxic wood sealant will prevent them from becoming damp and rotting.

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