Second Attempt at Building a Goat Shelter

The Aspiring Farmer Blog

Our goats are out in the pastures every day and every night. At least that’s the plan. It’s been tough to figure out a solution for portable shelter in case a storm rolls through, or to provide shade during the hot summer heat. Since we have large fields and we use managed rotational grazing we can’t always be sure that there are trees and/or bushes in each new paddock. Because of this, we need to provide them a shade shack and sheltered area.

The first attempt was a total disaster. The goats pretended to respect the structure for a few hours and then later in the day decided to get a little rambunctious and flattened it like a pancake. For a full recount of the hilarious episode, see our post Goat Shelter and Shade Shack Attempt #1.

We knew going into this that the goats were likely to destroy whatever we built. That’s why we’re sticking to a <$100 budget for each version of what we’re making. We want to come up with a good idea that we can make on a small-scale and test out with the goats. If it works we can go bigger.

So on Saturday we set out determined to make a shelter that would at least withstand a beating. We thought about different ideas all week and didn’t come up with anything that met all of our criteria: Light enough for a person to pull, shade enough for 10+ goats (preferably more), and affordable enough for us to build (not in the multiple hundreds of dollars, although we may need to go there). This round we ended up with affordable and enough shade for our current herd of 9 goats (6 kids, a yearling and two does). The truck can pull it and we could pull it with an ATV if we had one, but it's too heavy for us to pull over long distances by ourselves.

What we did this time around was a combination of an A-frame and a lean-to. First we made a 2x4x8 base and sawed skids on the ends. Then we attached 4’ beams in two corners to provide support for the roof and serve as the entrance. For the roof we attached 2x4x8’s along the hypotenuse of the base and the beams. We then added cross-beams along the width (4 beams) and along the height (2 beams). On top we attached galvanized roofing, and that was it. A lot of the wood we salvaged from a neighbor who is a contractor, some of it we bought, and the roofing came in around $35, which was the most expensive part.

So far it’s been with the goats for a couple days and we’ve witnessed them playing “king of the mountain” for long periods of time with no collapse. One precaution we took was to make sure the sharp edges were bent down and anywhere we thought they might get poked we added a couple layers of duct tape. So far so good, but we’re holding our breath.

Longer term this isn’t a great answer for us. This year we only have 9 goats. In the future, once the creamery is built, we’ll have upwards of 75 or 100, and that’s not including their kids. At that point our best answer will likely be to incorporate the woods into most of our grazing paddocks and only graze non-wooded areas on cool and dry days. We’re trying to think of other options as well, however, so let us know if you have genius ideas.

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Tags: Goats, Second Attempt, Shade Shack, Shelter

Comment by Okie on April 30, 2012 at 9:36pm

Great idea.  I am going to have 5 lambs and a kid this summer and have been wondering what I could do for shade when they are in the open fields.  Thanks for the post.  I will be building one much like this soon. 

Comment by Little Seed Farm on May 2, 2012 at 4:49pm

Sounds good, should be a good size for them. If we make a similar one again I'll probably use a different style of roofing. The metal roof is inexpensive, but I worry about the sharp edges and corners. we did our best fold the corners over, tape them off and pad them, but you never know what could happen. 

Comment by Brenda Montanye on May 10, 2012 at 9:08pm

We're moving our sheep (3 ewes, 4 newborn lambs, 2 yearlings ready to butcher) up to our other property.  We have no shelters for them there.  We may keep them there just for the "nice" weather and move them back to our home (on just an acre) for the winter.  We need to build something like this pronto.  Young sheep are very playful, like goats I guess.  I would be worried about them trying to climb and certainly about the sharp edges.  We use metal roofing for most of our roofs so I know why it concerns you! 

I am thinking about doing something similar but taller, like the back being up 2-3 feet.  I might even make it 3 sided or side the back and part of the sides.  Heaviness is an issue of course, and cost.....

Comment by Little Seed Farm on May 10, 2012 at 10:37pm

Hi Brenda,

Sounds like you're going through a lot of the same steps we went through. I'd really like to get two sides on there, but we haven't tried that yet. It would prevent some of the climbing if you could make a 90 degree side and have the roof high enough so they couldn't jump up. Lowes has some kind of composite material for roofing that I might try, I forget what it's called, but it's a bit more expensive. If you look at the first attempt we made on our website you can see a structure that some people have added t-posts to and found success. We haven't yet tried that approach. Good luck and keep us posted if you come up with something ingenious!

Comment by SusanLea2 on May 11, 2012 at 2:26pm

Check Nature's Harmony Farm blog.  They use old cotton wagons for shade shacks if I remember correctly.  I don't remember the details, but they built a sort of awning going out from it that provides extra shade.  You can move it with a tractor or truck.

Maybe you could get a flat-bed trailer of whatever size you want and build a 2x4 structure on it, then move it with your truck.  Except around noon, the sun should cast shade on one side or another; around noon the animals could just walk up the ramp under the shade.  Of course, you couldn't do that for $100 unless someone gave you the trailer!  :)  We thought of something like this, but ended up using larger paddocks that all have some shade.  AND we've planted some inexpensive, fast-growing trees where there weren't enough.

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