Whether you have a cement, wood, dirt, pavers or crushed stone floor in your goats’ housing, keeping their ‘bedding/living’ area clean can be a chore. Our barn has a cement floor and while it is easy to clean, we need to fill the stalls with a good deep layer of straw to help cushion the goats’ legs when they are playing and jumping up and down off of their benches. Also a deep layer of straw (or wood shavings) helps to keep them warm in the winter since cement can be cold to lie on.
When I clean the stalls (which is a weekly chore April-November) I take all the old, dirty straw out in a trailer to the compost pile, or I use it as a mulch to keep weeds down by putting a thick layer between the rows of vegetables.
I next use a hoe or sidewalk scraper on the cement floor to dislodge bits of dried on manure and debris. I sweep this up and later put it on the compost pile. Cement floors that have a trench down the middle, or down the side of them, are easily power-washed and the water swept into the trench to drain away. However, if your cement floor does not have good drainage, (which ours does not) I find the best thing to use is cheap, plain, unscented cat litter (NOT the clumping kind) to absorb the water and moisture, and help dry the floor. (This is the same thing your hubby might use to absorb oil spills in the garage) You can get it fairly inexpensive in the ‘bulk’ aisle of your grocery store. The store we frequent sells it in 50 pound bags.
I power-wash (or hose down) the stalls 2 times a year, scrubbing with a long handled brush and using a mild bleach solution to disinfect. The rest of the year, after removing the soiled straw each week, I put a layer of cat litter down which absorbs any urine and odor. I allow the litter to work for a few hours, sweep it up and this goes out in the sandy low spots of the garden. The barn floor is now dry, clean, odor-free and ready for a fresh layer of straw.
My advice when cleaning a cement floor is to NEVER do it on a humid day. Cement draws moisture from the air, and once you remove that layer of straw, you will find the cement under it that was once dry start to get wet as it extracts the moisture from the humid air. Instead of just sprinkling the litter on the urine soaked areas, you will now have to use more cat litter to dry the entire floor if you allow it to get moist. Trust me, the cement will not dry on a humid day, and you don’t want to put clean straw over a damp cement floor.
Now, I don’t believe in making my job any harder than it already is. Although the cat litter will eventually dry the cement, it will take much less litter, and time for the litter to dry a cement floor on a less humid day. I usually check the weather to see what percent the humidity is going to be by mid afternoon.
If it is over 50% I wait for a drier day to clean the barn. I also use a fan, or two, to get a good breeze going through the barn to facilitate drying on those calm, windless days.
Cleaning the barn in winter is much harder for those of us who live in cold ‘artic air’ regions. (we are in Michigan) Usually there is deep snowfall, and drifts that make it difficult (if not impossible) to get to the garden to dump the soiled straw. Therefore, the stalls won’t get cleaned as often. I generally try to clean once a month. I find that if I put a good layer of fresh straw over the old straw about once a week, I can get by without cleaning for a full month. Now many people believe that the decomposing manure, urine and straw creates warmth, so they do not clean their barns all winter. Well, while it may be true that all of the decomposing bacteria does indeed, generate heat, I am not so sure I want to be one of those poor babies sleeping at ground level smelling it. (In fact, I usually let my nose be my guide when to clean by getting down near the barn floor and smelling!)
Once a month in winter, I shovel a path (large enough for a wheelbarrow) through the snow just far enough away from the barn to dump the soiled straw, and when spring arrives, I can transfer this heap to the compost pile or the garden. Sometimes I will burn the pile of straw if it is getting too big. If you do this, just be aware burning straw, especially damp straw, creates a LOT of smoke, and you want to be sure the wind is blowing in a direction away from the barn, otherwise you will end up with a barn full of smoke.
As far as water bowls and feeders, we use plastic individual feeders, which are easily brushed clean in soapy water and rinsed clean. During the winter we use the insulated, heated water bowls or buckets, also easily cleaned using a brush, soapy water and rinsed in clear water. We also have assorted sized rubber bowls. These are flexible and will not break or crack even in winter, but are also cleaned easily.
Types of bedding you can use in the goats stalls
Wood products – (shavings, sawdust, chips) – softwood products preferred; hardwood products (EXCEPT black walnut if you have horses)
Pine shavings are desired because they are absorptive. Shavings and sawdust burn much slower than straw in the case of a barn fire and help keep odor down. Dust may be a problem. Wood –based pellets swell when moistened.
Straw – preferred in kiddling stalls because it usually does not have a lot of dust that will irritate the goats’ airways and eyes and larger particle sizes less likely to contaminate reproductive tract; very comfortable and absorbent; requires a lot of labor for cleaning stalls; may be difficult to dispose of; highly combustible; can contain forage mites. (we have chickens who go in the stalls and literally dig through and eat any insects/mites)
Dried corn stalks – cheap, may be chopped in a flail chopper; goats may eat.
Ground corncobs – absorbent, cheap (cobs may be free but grinding will cost money.); goats may also eat.
Chopped hay – goats will eat; forage mites.
Peat moss – very absorbent, expensive, very dusty unless sprayed VERY LIGHTLY to just dampen and keep dust down
Shredded Newspaper –common in dairy operations; no pollen, little dust – usually from fine paper particles. (If stalls are picked daily, the left over bedding just needs to be fluffed.) Weekly cleaning of the stall may not be needed; absorbent; soft.
Processed heat dry bedding – dusty, oily.
Equidry Bedding (http://www.equidry.com) - made of red clay, looks like cat box filler; durable and absorbent; long term; dust free (any dust is from the barn, goat, etc.); fireproof, comfortable; cool in summer, warm in winter; non-toxic. May cost about $750 to do a 12 x 12 stall but last much longer than a year (or indefinitely according to the manufacturer)
After the first of the year, I might look into the Equidry Bedding and will keep you posted if we do use it.
I know many of you may have a floor other than cement…. so…please post your type of flooring, method of cleaning, and any other helpful cleaning tips for the rest of us. Also your experience in using any types of bedding listed, or not listed! I am interested in hearing your ideas since I may in the future have another barn built and perhaps decide on a different type of floor
I am so glad we can help lol! Welcome to this group Theresa, and I hope one day (soon) you and 'farm boy' see your dreams come to fruition. You will hopefully learn all you need to know here (with help from the members who have, and have had goats) Pose any questions you have and we will all try to answer them so you will be able to 'prove' to hubby you are "goat knowledgable".
So, I've been busy cleaning the barn for Christmas. The babies have a nice clean barn, with decorations and I even managed to get a Christmas tree up on top of the barn for them. Our daughter will be home in 4 weeks before she gets deployed overseas. So, I'm driving everyone here on the farm crazy getting ready for Christmas with Ami home. The babies all have yellow bows to wear on their collars when she arrives. I have every inch of the farm decorated. The older goats are getting used to my Christmas Spirit. The babies are fasinated by the lights. They stand out in the yard at night and just watch them.
The post about the army using goats for research has just made me sick. Last night Rosie needed extra love and I had her in the kitchen rocking her in the chair and all I could think about was how could anyone hurt one of these little babies.
Well, theres a little goat who needs a hug so I'll get back to work. I did want to welcome Theresa to the group. Michele
This is a mix I use. You can omit the baking soda and salt if you want. The salt in the runoff (that you sweep or squeegee out after washing the floor) MAY kill a little of the grass/weeds it comes in contact with that is growing outside your barn door.
Mix: 1 gallon hot water
4 tsp vegetable oil-based soap/detergent (like Murphy's Oil Soap)
6 tsp borax (like Borateem laundry detergent)
6 Tbs vinegar
Dissolve and add ½ c baking soda
Dissolve and add ½ c salt
1 c hydrogen peroxide
2 Tbs of Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a potent but completely safe anti-microbial, antibiotic, anti-fungal, anti-protozoan, anti-viral and antiseptic disinfectant that is used to clean surfaces in hospitals. It is an all natural product, made from grapefruit seeds (called Citricidal which is the extracted volatile oils, pulp, seed, and inner rind of grapefruit) It is safe even consumed by humans and animals. (I drink 10-15 drops in my juice every day) It has been used to disinfect drinking water. “”GSE has been proven in laboratory tests to be 10 to 100 times more effective as a disinfectant than chlorine, colloidal silver, and iodine. The United States Department of Agriculture tested GSE and found it effective against four animal viruses: Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine fever, Swine Vesicular Disease, and Avian influenza.””
I use a few drops in the goats and chickens water.
More info on the properties of GSE
You can buy it at health food stores (just ask for it…”grapefruit seed extract” NOT grape seed extract, grape seed extract does not contain Citricidal) or buy it online. You want the liquid form, not capsules.
Mix all ingredients in the gallon of water. (If you need more than a gallon of cleaning solution, adjust quantities)
Pour over floor and scrub with a long-handled stiff bristled brush (like the kind for cleaning cement floors)
For extra disinfecting, let the solution sit on the floor for 15 or more extra minutes
Rinse with clean water (hose)
You may want to use a squeegee to push the water to a drain or out of the barn.
Our barn has cement floors. Once I wash them, and squeegee, I let them air dry for a couple of hours ( I only clean on DRY breezy days because cement grabs moisture from humid air and will retain it and the floors won’t dry if it is too humid), I then scatter a layer of plain clay cat litter (NOT the clumping kind!!) Let it absorb any residual moisture, I usually let it set for 2 hours) sweep it up and throw on the sandy parts of our property. You can use clay on wood I suppose, just do not throw it on standing pools of water because the clay gets gummy and it can cause a mess. It should work OK on slightly damp floors.
PS. You can also use a mild bleach solution to clean floors (1/4c bleach to gallon water) However, note that bleach is corrosive to metal so you would only want to use it maybe 1-2 times a year when doing heavy-duty cleaning. I used to use bleach but have since switched to this natural recipe. I prefer the natural cleaning solution over bleach because chlorine bleach is reactive and can form ‘fatal’ toxic gases when mixed with other cleaning products. These are some safety precautions for bleach
WEAR SAFETY GLASSES. WEAR GLOVES.AVOID EYE/SKIN CONTACT & INHALATION OF VAPOR/MIST.
There are no ‘precautions’ when using Grapefruit Seed Extract when it is diluted. It may cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes at full strength, but the is rarely an instance when you need to use it undiluted.LIME
Lime leaves your stalls smelling clean and sweet, and will discourage flies from breeding in the bedding. Use garden lime, sometimes called agricultural lime, barn lime or dolomite. Do not use hydrated lime, also called slake lime, builder's lime, mason's lime and sometimes burnt lime on your barn floor. Hydrated lime is very caustic. The visual difference is that dolomite, or garden lime, is light gray, while hydrated lime is white.
You can sprinkle garden lime in your stalls anytime. After you clean out the stalls, or you can sprinkle it right over the bedding (straw or whatever you use) Walking around in the bedding, and with the goats milling about, lets the lime settle down to the floor.
Dolomite, or garden lime, is also used as a feed additive that has multiple uses such as an antidote for copper poisoning (one teaspoonful given orally), an essential supply of calcium and magnesium for healthy bones and teeth, and as a preventative of mastitis as well as numerous other mineral deficiency based conditions.Precaution: As with any mineral or feed additive, you should consult your veterinarian or local agricultural extension agent to discuss the need for increased levels of magnesium and calcium in your area. While dolomite is a very good product that can help to increase milk production as well as quality in dairy herds, too much can be as detrimental as too little.
Saron, you are my "how to goat book" I always know you can give me the answers to help me care for my little ones. Thanks so much.