When it comes to livestock, goats can be pretty messy to the point where they don’t distinguish between their bed and a toilet. So, to keep the cleaning to a minimum, what’s the best flooring you can use in a goat house?
The best type of flooring for a goat pen is either concrete or dirt. With concrete flooring, you can use rubber mats as bedding for quicker cleaning. With dirt, you can layer straw in a method called “deep litter” and only clean it out in the spring and late fall.
Either kind of flooring comes down to how you’d like to run your goat operation. I personally like the deep litter method to reduce the amount of cleaning, but if you like to clean entire surfaces once a week, then using concrete flooring with rubber mats might be for you. Let’s take a further look into these two options and even get into a few alternatives.
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Should a Goat House Have a Floor?
Goats could benefit from having a goat house with a floor, but it’s not always necessary. Some goats prefer sleeping in the dirt or on hard surfaces. However, there are some reasons for a goat house to have a floor.
Goats should have a floor in their goat house because the floor can protect them against cold and wet conditions. Proper flooring can insulate them from the cold, while proper cleaning and a dry living space can reduce the risk of worms and parasites.
If you live in a climate with a lot of rain or snow and have generally wet-weather, goat hooves can become infected from being wet for too long. Hoof rot is a real thing and it can cause quite painful for the goats.
Sometimes, the type of flooring you have can become wetter than others. Dirt and wood floors can retain much more water than a concrete or straw surface.
While dirt can initially absorb moisture and urine, it can become compact over time. Because of this, if you plan on using dirt as your flooring, it’s best to layer some straw on top to keep the goats dry. This will help reduce the risk of bacteria, parasites, and overall infections.
The downside is that straw can sometimes be harder to clean and dry than concrete. This is why it’s important to refine your process so you get a low-maintenance floor that’s also effective at protecting goats.
To see more about keeping goat bedding dry, check out the guide I put together about how to keep goat pens dry.
The Best Floors for a Goat House
|Flooring||Cost per sq. ft.|
|Straw (on Dirt)||$0.09 (recurring cost)|
There are pros and cons with every type of flooring, and in the end, it comes down to your preference. However, some methods clearly work better than others.
Concrete flooring is one of the best options out there for goats. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy to clean, and provides enough comfort (with some mats). Other flooring options such as wood or gravel can work for some homesteaders, but they often have their disadvantages.
Compared to concrete, wood can stay soaked for much longer periods and even harbor rodent’s nests. Gravel is another option, but it can be harder to clean and become messy, with small rocks getting everywhere.
If you combine concrete flooring with rubber mats, you get a really solid option for your goat house. The floor and mats can easily be washed and cleaned and dried quickly (as long as you turn the mats over). There’s less chance of infection or disease to spread, and it can make your job a bit easier.
Normally, you’ll have to clean out the goat pen at least once a week to keep up with the cleanliness that goats require.
However, even with concrete floors, your goats can get into trouble. The rubber mats can stay soaked, and if your goats are particularly adventurous, they might climb and jump off objects in the barn and break a leg on the concrete. This is more common in kids. It can also be harder for concrete to warm up in the winter, compared to dirt.
Deep Litter (Dirt and Straw)
Aside from using concrete flooring and rubber mats, you can use deep litter for your goats.
Deep litter is when you apply layers of straw bedding once per week and let the old layers compost underneath. Cleaning is done in the spring and early fall. This method is a popular and effective way of flooring goat houses due to the ease and extra compost.
You can achieve deep litter by letting the straw and manure build up over the seasons and then clearing it out in the spring and late fall. While this might seem unsanitary, mixing the old straw weekly and applying fresh layers of straw, the manure, urine, and everything else will compost on the bottom. The composting will also provide a heat source and warm the ground in the winter.
The problem with only using dirt floors without straw is that the dirt floor will become compact over time and will absorb less urine and waste. By adding straw onto the dirt, the goat droppings and urine will sift down to the bottom, along with any other waste.
It’s important to turn and mix the bedding once a week to prevent any build-up from occurring. After mixing, you can simply apply a new layer of straw (and lime powder if you need to reduce the smell or prevent any buildup of worms).
While goats are normally susceptible to getting worms (with or without deep litter), other bugs that are beneficial in the compost mix will keep the worm population down. Most homesteaders don’t employ any additional deworming efforts when they use a deep litter method for their goats, but it’s always good to regularly check your goats.
If you’d like, you can also let your chickens in the goat barn and have them peck through the straw bedding. They’ll help mix it up, keep it clean, and reduce fly populations.
The height of bedding to aim for when using the deep litter method is about 6 inches. This is important to allow for proper drainage and sifting of the waste.
When you do clear out the area in the spring and early fall, you can move it to the compost pile. After, apply diatomaceous earth or lime powder to help with the smell and bacteria on the dirt floor. If you don’t have lime or diatomaceous earth, you can use wood ashes to absorb and neutralize the smell. It can also help to have a vent in the barn or shed.
If the goat’s bedding gets too wet, you may need to clean the bedding area more than twice a year.
Whichever flooring you choose, goat urine smells strongly of ammonia, to the point where it can give the goats’ lungs some issues. Keeping their pen clean and the urine smell out is the goal and lime powder is key (or another non-toxic powdered cleaner). This will help neutralize the smell, prevent worms, and clean the area.
While some goat owners use some bleach to clean their flooring, it’s not a good idea since the smell can linger and easily affect the goat’s sensitive lungs.
Choosing a goat floor can be a tough decision on your homestead, but it doesn’t have to be. First, see how much work you’d like to put into cleaning the goat house and if you and your family would be okay using the deep litter method. If not, then you may want to take a look at the prices of other flooring and choose from there.
While wood flooring can be a nice option, it can stay wet longer and house mice or rats. If you’d like a regularly cleaned space, concrete flooring with rubber mats might be your best option. Personally, I will be trying out the deep litter method sometime in the future as it seems simple and effective (plus it’s a good excuse for more compost!).