For those who have goats or are thinking of getting them but don’t have the proper goat equipment, here are some ideas that will help you build what you need to keep your herd safe and healthy. Before kidding season, when my herd often doubles in size, I start making choices of which goats to keep and which ones to sell. In this calm before the storm, goat equipment is foremost on my checklist. There are three pieces of equipment that make keeping goats easier: a shelter, no-waste manger, and stanchion to hold your goat still while milking, grooming, etc. You can purchase these items from supply companies (see Resource page) or you can make them yourself.
A goat shelter is important to keep goats out of the wind and rain/snow. The shelter must be constructed so it has ventilation, otherwise the goats will not get enough fresh air and develop lung problems - if you can smell urine when you open up the shelter, then there is not enough ventilation. You can construct this easy shelter without a front door to use as a loafing shed in the summer, and then attach the front panel as a door for winter protection. The size of this shelter will accommodate four adult goats and their kids.
Five 4x8’ sheets of ½” or thicker plywood
Thirteen 2x4”x8’ studs
Two 2x4”x12’ used as skids
Eight 2 ½ “ screws, a box of 1 ½ “ screws, and four 50 pound sandbags
Four heavy-duty hinges
One clasp latch
Drill with screw bits
1/8” drill bit
Estimated Time: 8 hours
Cut three of the plywood sheets and the 2x4”x8’ studs as shown in the diagram.
Lay skids on the ground and put two marks on each at two and 10 feet from one end. Lay bottom horizontal 2x4”x4’ across skids just inside these marks. Pre-drill holes with 1/8 “ bit and use two large screws to attach all four corners. Screw plywood sheet ends to the outside of these horizontals. Screw back lets inside the back of the ends. Affix back sheet to both back legs and the rear skid. Screw top horizontals to the inside tops of the ends. Screw one top stud to the inside top of the back. Attach top sheet securely to all six top 2x4”, leaving a 1 inch overhang in the front and back. Screw studs inside the top front. Leave the top 5 inches exposed for ventilation (you can add wire screen if concerned about predatory animals. Attach the two front sheets as doors with hinges. Place sand bags on the outside rails to hold down the shelter (note – shelter can easily be moved to other locations as needed).
Goat 8-Foot Manger
Three 4x8’ sheets of ½ “ or thicker plywood
Three 8’ 2x4”s
Two 2x4” studs
Painted tin sheet, 7 ½ x 2’
Small box of 1 1/2” exterior screws
(Note – avoid particle board, OSB, treated wood, aluminum and galvanized metal because goats will chew on these materials which could harm their health.)
Drill with screw-driving bits
½” drill bit for holes
Method: Measure and cut the studs and one 8’ 2x4 exactly in half. Measure and cut one sheet of plywood in half to make two 4x4’ pieces.
Start with the ends. Attach two stud halves ( C ) to one end ( A ) to form a “V”. Drive screws through the plywood into each 2x4, every six inches. Assemble the other end also. Standing one end up, attach plywood sides ( B ) to the underside of the V. Attach the sides to the other end.
First, decide how many keyholes you want. You need at least one hole for each adult goat and one hole for every two kids. (The 8-foot manger can have up to 10 well-space holes.) Make a paper or cardboard keyhole pattern as in the diagram. Make the top of your pattern square and a little taller if you need to accommodate horns.
Measure your adult goats from the ground to the bottom of their chests and get an average. Taking the measurements, mark lines on both sides of the wood straight up from the ground to show the bottom of each keyhole.
Roll the manger onto one side. Trace four keyhole patterns above the line, two feet apart on center and one foot from each end. Drill a 1/2 “ hole in each and use the jigsaw to cut out the keyholes. Attach 8’ push board ( D ) with three screws below the holes on the outside. Roll the manger onto the other side. Mark and cut out keyholes and attach the push board. Attach feet pieces ( E ) to the inside bottom of the ends for stability.
Place tin ( F ) inside the manger. Center and curve it so it sits one-inch below the keyholes on both sides. Drive screws every six inches through tin and sides into push boards. Bring the manger upright. Mark and cut a keyhole in each end if needed.
Fill the manger with flakes of hay along the tin bottom or loose hay only up to the bottom of the big circle in the keyholes. Make sure kids don’t climb in the holes as you add hay; they may foul up the hay so badly the other goats won’t eat it. Goats are, after all, picky little critters.
One 4x4’ sheet of ¾” plywood
Two 2x4 studs
Three 8’ 1x4s
One 4” long 3/8 “ carriage bolt
One pound box 1 ½” screws
Drill with screw bits and 3/32” and 3/8” bits for holes
Cut the plywood and lumber into pieces as shown in the diagram.
Because 1x4 stock splits easily, pre-drill all screw holes with 3/32” drill bit. Use the framing square to attach pieces together at true 90 degree angles; it will make the stanchion stronger and more attractive.
Build the frame first. Set platform ( A ) across two sawhorses as a whole work table to assemble the frame. Attach platform frame ends ( C ) onto sides ( B ) using two screws per joint. Strand two rear legs ( D ) up outside the frame and screw in place from the inside. Screw one end brace ( E ) onto the outside of the legs. Attach two triangle leg braces ( F ) to the sides of the frame and legs.
Roll frame on side and lay one front leg ( G ) next to the outside front and 17 inches below frame top (matching rear legs). Screw from inside with two screws to hold in place. Carefully flip over and put on other leg. Stand frame up on its feet and put end brace ( E ) on outside the front legs, level with top of frame to form a slot. Put front leg braces ( F ) on sides.
Place this framework on the ground. Attach platform top ( A ) with six screws per side, making sure they go into the frame. Put two lateral pieces ( I ) across top front legs to form the upper slot.
The locking mechanism it a bit tricky. One lock board ( H ) is fixed in place in the slots with four screws at both the top and bottom. The other board pivots on the carriage bolt at the bottom and locks with a drop key at the top when pushed toward the center.
Mark a centered, 4 inch space on the platform and on the top laterals to locate the gap between the two lock boards. If you later find the space is not right for your goats, unscrew and move the fixed board in or out as needed, keeping the two boards parallel when locked.
Slide one lock board ( H ) into both slots so that the top is flush and that the board lines up with the pencil marks. Wedge it in place with scrap material (like cardboard). Drive four screws through the lateral and scrap material (cardboard) on the top and four more through the plywood and scrap material (cardboard) at the bottom to secure the fixed side.
Slide the other lock board into the slots on the other side of the 4 inch square and wedge in-place with scrap material (cardboard). Using the 3/8 “ drill bit, drill a hole through plywood front brace ( E ), lock board ( H ), and platform fame piece ( C ). Slide the 3/8 “ bolt through this hole and remove the wedges. Rock the upper part of the pivoting lock board from side to side in the slot. It should move freely because the scrap material (cardboard) on the fixed lock board spreads apart the slots.
Make drop key teeth with 1x4 or scrap plywood pieces. Wedge the pivoting lock board at the pencil line. Center drop key ( N ) across the top of the stanchion and flush with the front. Mark the three opening and cut teeth from scraps to match these marks. Put two screws through each tooth to fix it in-place on the drop.
To customize, measure your adult goat from the ground to the middle of their bodies and get an average. Measuring upward from the top of the platform, mark the measurements on the stanchion outside of each front leg of the shelf. Attach shelf brace ( K ) to outside of stanchion front legs so top of brace is at your mark. If you have short goats (like Nigerians!) you may need to trim off the pointed bottoms of the braces.
Screw two shelf sides ( O ) to shelf ends ( L ) to make a square frame. Screw shelf ( M ) to the bottom of this frame with three screws per side to make a grain tray. Slide this between the shelf braces and secure it flush with the top and ¼ inch from the legs. You are now ready to give your new stanchion a try!