What are the best floors for a house with goats?
Published by The Goats of Tyler Zitonin
Two goat kids laying on the floor on a hay bed
Goats can be pretty sloppy when it comes to animals, to the point that they do not differentiate between their bed and a toilet. So, to reduce the washing, what’s the best flooring that you can use in a goat house?
For a goat pen, the best form of flooring is either concrete or dirt. With concrete flooring, for faster washing, you can use rubber mats as bedding. You can layer straw with dirt in a process called “deep litter” and clean it out only in the spring and late fall.
Either kind of flooring depends on how you’d like your goat operation to be handled. Personally, I like the deep litter method of minimising the amount of cleaning, but if you want to clean whole surfaces once a week, it may be for you to use concrete flooring with rubber mats. Let’s explore these two choices further and even dig into a few alternatives.
Will a house of goats have a floor?
Goats might profit from having a goat house with a floor, but it’s not always necessary. In the soil or on rough surfaces, some goats tend to sleep. There are some explanations, however, for a goat house to have a floor.
In their goat shelter, goats should have a floor because the floor will safeguard them against cold and wet conditions. They can be protected from the cold by proper flooring, whereas proper cleaning and a dry living space can minimise the risk of worms and parasites.
If you live in an atmosphere with a lot of rain or snow and have usually rainy weather, goat hooves can get contaminated for too long because they are wet. Hoof rot is a real occurrence, and for goats it can be very painful.
The type of flooring that you have will often become wetter than others. Dirt and wood floors are able to hold much more water than a surface of asphalt or straw.
While dirt can absorb moisture and urine initially, over time, it can become compact. Because of this, it’s best to pile some straw on top to keep the goats dry if you intend on using dirt as your flooring. This would help to decrease the risk of bacteria, parasites and infections in general.
The downside is that straw can often be tougher than concrete to clean and dry. This is why it is important to optimise your system so that you get a low-maintenance floor that is also effective in protecting goats.
Check out the guide I put together on how to keep goat pens dry to see more about keeping goat bedding dry.
A Goat House’s Finest Floors
Flooring Cost per sq. Just ft.
Straw (Dirt) $0.09 $0.09 (recurring cost)
Concrete for 3-5 dollars
$15 Rubber Mats
3-5 dollars from Cedar Planks
For any form of flooring, there are pros and cons, and it ultimately comes down to your choice. Some strategies, however, obviously perform better than others.
One of the best choices out there for goats is concrete flooring. It is relatively cheap, easy to clean, and provides ample comfort (with some mats). Other flooring options can work for some homesteaders, such as wood or gravel, but they also have their drawbacks.
Wood will remain soaked for much longer periods, compared to concrete, and even the nests of harbour rodents. Another alternative is gravel, but it can be harder to clean and get dirty, with tiny rocks everywhere.
If you combine concrete flooring with rubber mats, your goat house is a very solid choice. You can easily wash and clean the floor and mats and quickly dry them (as long as you turn the mats over). There’s a smaller risk of spreading an infection or sickness, and that can make the work a little easier.
Normally, to keep up with the cleanliness that goats need, you would have to clean out the goat pen at least once a week.
However, your goats can get into trouble, even with concrete floors. The rubber mats will remain wet, and they can climb and leap off items in the barn and break a leg on the concrete if your goats are especially adventurous. In infants, this is more normal. Compared with dirt, it can also be harder for concrete to warm up in the winter.
The Litter Deep (Dirt and Straw)
You can use deep litter for your goats, in addition to using concrete flooring and rubber mats.
Deep litter is when once a week you add straw bedding layers and let the old layers compost underneath. In the spring and early fall, washing is finished. Due to the ease and additional compost, this technique is a common and successful way of flooring goat houses.
By letting the straw and manure build up through the seasons and then cleaning it out in the spring and late fall, you will achieve deep litter. Although this may sound unsanitary, the waste, urine, and everything else can be composted on the bottom by mixing the old straw weekly and adding fresh layers of straw. Composting can also provide a source of heat that will warm the soil in the winter.
The drawback with just using straw-free dirt floors is that over time, the dirt floor will become dense and absorb less urine and waste. The goat droppings and urine will sift down to the floor, along with any other waste, by adding straw to the soil.
To avoid any build-up from occurring, it is important to turn and blend the bedding once a week. You may easily add a new layer of straw after blending (and lime powder if you need to reduce the smell or prevent any buildup of worms).
While goats are usually vulnerable to worms (with or without deep litter), the worm population will be held down by other bugs that are useful in the compost mix. When they use a deep litter system for their goats, most homesteaders do not employ any additional deworming efforts, but it is still good to check your goats regularly.
You can also leave your chickens in the goat barn if you’d like and make them peck through the straw bedding. They’re going to help change things up, keep it safe, and will the population of flies.
When using the deep litter process, the height of bedding to be targeted is around 6 inches. This is required to allow the waste to be properly drained and sifted.
You should switch it to the compost pile when you clear up the field in the spring and early fall. Then, to deal with the scent and bacteria on the dirt surface, add diatomaceous earth or lime powder. You may use wood ash to absorb and neutralise the scent if you do not have lime or diatomaceous earth. Getting a vent in the barn or shed can also help.
You can need to clean the bedding area more than twice a year if the goat’s bedding gets too wet.
Goat urine smells strongly of ammonia, to the point that it can give the goats’ lungs some problems, regardless of the flooring you pick. The purpose is to keep their pen clean and smell the urine out, and lime powder is the key (or another non-toxic powdered cleaner). This will help to neutralise the odour, stop worms and clean the area.
While some goat owners use some bleach to clean their flooring, because the scent can linger and easily damage the sensitive lungs of the goat, it is not a good idea.
Choosing a goat floor on your homestead may be a challenging decision, but it doesn’t have to be. Next, see how much effort you’d like to put into the goat house cleaning and whether the deep litter technique will be okay for you and your family. If not, then you may want to look at other flooring prices and pick from there.