The Scoop on Poop

Episode 120
For the Love of Goats

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Some of the most common questions I receive from new goat owners are on the topic of manure management. Many new goat owners think they need to clean out the barn weekly or even daily, so in this episode I’m talking about how our barn cleaning practices have evolved through the years.

I am also joined by some of our Goats 365 Premium members so they can ask questions. We cover everything from the basics of mucking out stalls to deep bedding, stall mats, straw versus shavings, and different types of barn flooring.

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Introduction 0:03
For the love of goats! We are talking about everything goat. Whether you’re a goat owner, a breeder, or just a fan of these wonderful creatures, we’ve got you covered. And now, here is Deborah Niemann.

Deborah Niemann 0:18
Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s episode. I’m really excited today, and I know y’all think, yeah, you’re excited every episode, but I really am extra excited today because I’m joined by a few of my Goats365 members. I’m talking about the scoop on poop. These are some of the most common questions that I get from people. And so I’m going to talk about bedding and cleaning out your barn and the benefits of deep bedding and all that kind of stuff. And then I’m going to open it up to questions from my members who are here, because I’m sure that they are going to think of things that I didn’t think about because we’ve been cleaning out our barn for 21 years, and a lot of it is just easy for us. We just do it without thinking. And I remember my big complaint when I got started was that all the books I was reading were written by people who had been doing this their whole life. And so they really didn’t explain things as thoroughly as they should have, because they just made a lot of assumptions in terms of what the reader already knew. And so I kind of felt like when I was writing my books that I had an advantage and that I had come to this as a completely new person to farm life and to goats. And so I had all the questions in the beginning. So now I’m going to count on all my Goats365 members to help me remember a lot of those questions about manure management and keeping your barn clean and stuff like that, that people have when they’re new.

Deborah Niemann 1:46
So the first thing I want to just talk about is bedding. And the choice of bedding is very frequently dictated by where you live, because if you are like me, you’re in Illinois or someplace where they grow a lot of wheat, then straw is going to be the cheapest kind of bedding for you. And it actually works out great because straw is a lot warmer. It’s more insulating- insulates the goats from the ground more than shavings do. So that actually works out really well. In the beginning, we were buying those bags of pine shavings from the feed store. And that worked fine from what I could tell. But then a local farmer a year or two later told me that he had straw from his wheat. And so we started buying the straw and we discovered that that was a lot cheaper because for a 10 by 15 stall, it was taking us three bags of pine shavings to bed. And so that added up to $15, which was really expensive because we were cleaning the stall- and we only had one stall because we only had three goats the first year. But we were cleaning that stall every single week. So every week it was costing us $15 to put fresh bedding in there. And then the farmer was selling us the straw for $3 a bale and one bale of straw would bed that whole thing. So we saved a ton of money right there. We went from $15 a week to $3 a week to bed one stall.

Deborah Niemann 3:20
Now I also- I teach online for UMass, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a course in raising goats. And so I have students from all over the U.S. And my students that are down in the southeastern United States, like the Carolinas, and Virginia, and Georgia and stuff- there’s a lot of sawmills down there. So their cheapest bedding option is pine shavings because they can get them directly from the sawmill. So they can have a whole truckload of pine shavings delivered. And I also want to make sure that everyone understands that pine shavings used as bedding is not the same thing as wood chips. Because I get that question a lot too about bedding. A lot of people ask if they can use wood chips because if you’ve got a wood chipper and you’ve got trees on your property and those trees fall down or branches fall off, you’re like, whoa, I’ve got free bedding here. And you really don’t because- so the shavings are very fine and like you can run your hands through them barehanded and it’s just soft and fluffy and fine. Wood chips that come out of a chipper are full of like little sticks and splinters and stuff. And there is no way I would run my hands barehanded through wood chips. When I use wood chips for mulch, I am always wearing very thick leather gloves because they are very splintery. And so if you use that for bedding and your goats are walking over all the time, you could wind up with a lot of hoof injuries or even an udder injury. You know, if a goat lays down in the wrong place and there’s like a really kind of a big stick, you know, it could cause an udder injury, which I’ve worked with a few people who’ve had udder injuries in their goats. If you have an udder injury that punctures the udder, that is usually the end of the line for that doe. It’s incredibly hard to try to fix. Since I’m paused anyway, does anybody have a question on bedding?

Deborah Blum 5:17
Yeah. Hi, everyone. It’s really interesting. We live in Northern California, so it gets cold, but it doesn’t get really cold. We used wheat straw and rice straw for years. We switched to rice straw because we compost all of our own waste and we have about 80 sheep and goat. The rice straw breaks down really quick, but then I visited an animal sanctuary in New York in Woodstock and they use shavings for everyone, pigs, horses, goat, sheep. And I was like, okay, I’d never really thought to use shavings. I mean, I know a lot of people use shavings for horses, but I tried it with the goats and the sheep and I find it to be a lot more absorbent. So cleaning up is way easier versus a straw. I mean, all the urine just goes down and pools on the mat. The shavings actually act like kitty litter and absorb. So I really like them. But my question is like, we’re spending about $12,000 a year in shavings. Does anybody know of any way to buy them in bulk?

Deborah Niemann 6:13
Some of my students in the Carolinas and Virginia, they buy it directly from the sawmill. So you contact a sawmill and they sell it to you.

Deborah Blum 6:21
Okay, cool. Great. Yeah and then for anybody that has goats like in higher elevation, I do recommend wheat straw in the winter because it’s just more insulating. So yeah. All right. Thank you.

Deborah Niemann 6:32
One more thing I want to add about bedding is that even if you use shavings, most of the time, it is much better to use straw when kidding because shavings are very small and lightweight and baby goats are very gooey. And so they can wind up with shavings getting stuck all over their body, which is just messy. But then if it gets in their mouth, they could choke on it. And it is not fun trying to scoop shavings out of a newborn baby goat’s mouth. So you’re in there trying to scoop it out without pushing it down into their throat and making the situation worse. So it really is better if you can have straw for kidding, even if you do use shavings the rest of the year. But otherwise, if you’re in a cold climate, we learned that the straw is much warmer in the winter, basically when we were during kidding season. Because when we switched from the shavings to the straw, we found that when we were sitting on the ground in the middle of winter with our goats that were in labor, that our bottoms were much warmer sitting on the straw than they had been sitting on the shavings. So that also means your goats are going to be warmer. And ultimately, that is why we wound up using deep bedding, which I’ll talk about a little more later.

Deborah Niemann 7:57
Now I’m going to move into how often to clean out your barn, because I get this question a lot. And a lot of times when people are new to goats, I have had people tell me that they are cleaning their barn every single day, because they’re comparing it to keeping a house clean, you know, and so they want to keep poop away and all that kind of stuff. So that’s- Number one, that’s why the bedding is important is that you don’t want to just put your goats in a barn on dirt or wood or concrete. You want the goats to be in there on bedding, because the bedding is going to absorb the urine and keep it away from the goats so that they don’t wind up laying in urine, which they will if it’s there and there’s no bedding, which I’ve found- And this is why you have to make sure to use enough bedding, so you can’t save money by saying, “oh, I’m not going to use as much bedding” because then if the goats wind up kicking all the bedding off of an area- especially if it’s concrete. If they kick all of the bedding off of an area, and then you’ve got concrete that’s just there, and they pee, it has no place to go. So it’s just going to sit there on the concrete. And then if a goat goes and lays down in it, she winds up with urine on her. And that’s really gross, especially when you have milk goats, and I have had a goat walk into the milking parlor with a big yellow wet urine stain on her hind leg and the side of her udder, which is really gross when you’re milking a goat, like it’s just not what you want to see. So you want to make sure that there’s enough bedding in there that they’re not going to kick it to the side. So we started out cleaning out our stalls completely every single week, because that’s what my mentor did. She’d been raising goats for 20 years, and she used shavings, and she would go in there every day and rake the shavings to make all of the poop pebbles fall down into the shavings. And then once a week, she would clean it out completely. So that was what I started out with. And then through the years, we have tried a wide variety of other schedules. And what we finally settled on was something that’s pretty much completely the opposite of something like that. And that is that we clean out our barn twice a year. And this is like the big stalls where we’ve got, like where all the milkers go at night. They are not in there during the day. During the day, they all go outside 12 months a year, unless it’s snowing or pouring rain, in which case they stay in the barn. But that means they’re outside almost every single day. And you don’t want to leave them in the barn, because this won’t work.

Deborah Niemann 10:46
And I know this because there was one year about 10 years ago when I was laid up with one illness after another and a smashed knee. And my husband was very new to helping us with the goats, because until our daughters left for college, he didn’t help at all. And so he was a big softie. So it was really interesting, it was about 10 years ago- I wound up living with like a totally new goat owner, because he was doing all the things that new goat owners do. And so he was a big softie, and he was refusing to make the goats go outside during the day. And he kept adding straw to cover up the poop. And by the end of two or three months, the level of the straw and poop in there was so high that the goats could jump out of the stalls. And so they have to go outside during the day and leave- So they’re leaving, you know, about 50% of their poop outside. Otherwise, then you’re gonna have to clean it out more often, depending on how many goats you have, of course. But we’re in Illinois. And so this is part of it is that we don’t want to be pushing a wheelbarrow through the snow in the middle of winter. So that cleaning it out every week got old really fast for us, because during the winter, who wants to do that? So that’s when we started doing and then I understood deep bedding. So I first heard about deep bedding. And as a clueless city slicker, I was so grossed out and repulsed, because it just sounds horrible. What do you mean you don’t clean it out? You just leave it there with like the urine and the poop and everything? And the answer is yes, you just leave it there. But you’re putting fresh bedding on top of it so that the goats are not laying in a poop pile. Because I mean, that’s what would happen if you didn’t keep adding fresh bedding.

Deborah Niemann 12:39
And actually for our kidding pens, the kidding pens are cleaned out completely in between does so that- our kidding pens are either 5ft x 10ft or 4ft x 10ft. And it is completely cleaned out before a doe goes in there. And she’s got totally clean straw. And we are adding fresh straw every day that she’s in there so that her kids are not exposed to too many fecal pellets. Because baby goats, like human babies and toddlers, put everything in their mouth. That’s how they learn about the world. They don’t know that poop’s not edible. And they pick it up in their mouth and then they’re like, ew, and they spit it out. But it’s too late. If you don’t like there’s coccidiosis in there and stuff. If it’s warm enough, there could be worm larva. So you don’t want to have a ton of fecal pellets everywhere that the baby goats can be picking up. So don’t freak out too much about this. But just once a day, go in there and either rake the bedding to make all of the pebbles fall down under the bedding or put some fresh bedding on top so that the baby goats are not exposed to that.

Deborah Niemann 13:57
And so once we had the deep bedding, then we switched to just twice a year. So we typically clean the whole barn out in the fall. And we like to do that early enough so that it has so that we’re building it up some before winter comes so that it’ll be warmer for them. And then we also clean it out in the spring. And a lot of times the spring clean out is either dictated by the weather or we have to wait for it to be warm enough to clean it out. Or if the goats have spent too much time inside, it may be dictated by when they’re able to start jumping out of the stall because their ground level is now higher than it should be. So I think that pretty much covers the basics of cleaning out stalls.

Deborah Niemann 14:43
So I see that we’ve got some questions that people have put in the chat. Oh, thank you so much. Shawn mentioned that they use a fine layer of “ag lime” agricultural lime, also called barn lime, when you first clean out your barn and then you add the bedding on top of that. And then you said you put pine shavings and then straw, which I have heard of people doing- and that you clean out every two weeks in the summer, spring and fall and then deep bed in the winter. And that your barns have a cement floor. And I have heard of some people who do that and and that works. The main reason that we completely switched from pine shavings is because if you have because shavings, first of all, they do absorb better, but they also tend to matte. But shavings require a shovel for mucking out, whereas straw requires a pitch fork for mucking out. So it’s more challenging if you have both of them in there. But ultimately, I mean, everybody does what they what works for them. The one of the main reasons I’m doing this is because some people have been driving themselves crazy by cleaning so often that they’ve got a system that’s unsustainable. And they’re like, “I don’t have time for goats” because they think that they have to be cleaning things out so often. So doing whichever kind of bedding is least expensive in your area is is good for you financially. You know, like I said earlier, we saved 80 percent on our bedding bill by switching from the shavings to the straw being in Illinois. Oh, and I’ll add shavings are up to five dollars a bale now, so it’s not as cheap as it used to be. You know, 20 years ago, it was three dollars a bale. So you should do something that’s financially sustainable for your area and also personally sustainable for you so that you’re not you know, you haven’t created a schedule for yourself that you can’t really keep up with. And then I also forgot to mention about adding lime. Most people do put something on the ground that helps with neutralizing the ammonia. So barn lime is the cheapest. And then there are also products that like PDZ is one. And Stanley also has one that uses the same thing that is in PDZ. It’s called Horse Fresh. And you can also use that. And it’s the it’s the exact same thing that’s in PDZ.

Deborah Niemann 17:25
All right, Amanda, could you go ahead and turn on your microphone and talk about your situation and also where you’re from, what state you’re in?

Amanda Briggs 17:34
So I’m in Central California, so like this last winter was kind of freakish where we actually got a little bit of snow, but typically we don’t where I’m at. I’m in the foothills. So like right now, we’re in December, but I’m still in the 70s. We’re still getting tomatoes and peppers on our plants. And so it’s not- it’s pretty even keel kind of weather wise. So we put up like a canvas tent carport for winter protection, like from rain, wind, that kind of a thing. We have a couple of like pallet houses that we built, but that definitely is not for the whole herd. There’s too many of them. So they definitely like to go in the tent when it’s raining. They totally go there. But for kidding, we make individual stalls like out of hog panels and we use straw, but like their base layer is dirt. So that’s why I’m trying to figure out like I don’t you’re talking like deep litter method basically, right? Kind of a thing. So for me, that probably wouldn’t work. I’m assuming like we’re out there cleaning it daily, not weekly in the winter just because the ammonia is too strong. But I’m also wondering, we’ve never used like lime or sweet PDZ. Would that be beneficial? But it would also be on soil or dirt. Or does that kind of counteract that? I don’t know how that works.

Deborah Niemann 19:00
Yeah, the fact that you’re on dirt actually is good because the- Yeah, because the urine goes down. That’s the bad thing about concrete. And it’s why I don’t recommend stall mats unless I mean, if you want to put mats on dirt, OK, but don’t ever put mats on concrete for goats like that’s a horse thing because it’s very- concrete’s really bad for horses joints, especially if they’re in there a lot. But you want the urine to have somewhere to go. So dirt is actually a really good floor for a barn. And we got a horse barn. Just that’s what we got when we bought this place. And weirdly enough, most of the stalls are concrete. A couple of them are dirt, which is how I wound up with experience with both. And I really prefer the dirt stalls and that’s how I know putting stall mats on concrete is horrible. We wound up with urine in our milking parlor because we did that, because we also inherited stall mats, because the people were race horse breeders. And so when you put stall mats on concrete, the urine has no place to go other than out- like it tries to go out. And so it’s not a bad thing to have dirt, not bad at all. And you can still do deep bedding on it that doesn’t preclude you from using deep bedding. And the other thing, too, I want to talk a little bit about your housing situation, because a lot of people think, “oh, thrifty homesteader, you must love pallets”. And I’m like, no, I kind of hate pallets because I’ve seen people do some things with them that are really bad. Somebody sent me a message one time and said, you know, “it’s only 40 degrees and my goats are shivering”. And I’m like, “send me a picture”. And they basically- these goats were basically in a pallet house that was just like a few pallets put together with a tarp over the top. And it was pouring rain and the goats were wet. And I’m like, well, no wonder your goats are shivering like it’s raining, they’re wet and they have no windbreak. So if you use pallets, they’re like just a frame. That’s it. Like you’ve got to put something over them.

Amanda Briggs 21:20
We have OSB. Yeah, no, the pallets were the frame. And then we put OSB around the exterior and then we put like the shingles for the roofing. Yeah, I guess I should have specified that. That was the frame, and then there’s like an overlap of OSB for the top. So to act as like so when it does rain, it’s long. The OSB is wider than the top of the framed exterior OSB walls.

Deborah Niemann 21:46
Oh, yeah. I know you’re doing it right. It’s just that I don’t want somebody listening to this going, oh, I can just put together a few pallets and call it home.

Amanda Briggs 21:53
Right, no, and then inside in the winter and the summer, we do not because of flies. But in the wintertime, we do put in straw. They like the shavings better. Funny. We’ve done shavings, but they’re a little bit trickier to get out of them then because we cut out an opening. We didn’t just leave one whole side open. We actually walled it off with another pallet with an OSB and then we cut out an opening. We kind of measured one of our pregnant does. And that’s who we used as our model for the door opening. And so they get straw in the wintertime, but in summer we leave them dry.

Deborah Niemann 22:32
Yeah. I knew you had to have something that was really not- it didn’t have wind blowing through it because you said that the ammonia starts to build up. And so that’s why I knew I’m like, you definitely don’t have something that’s not adequate housing. I just wanted to clarify that for for listeners. In fact, I’m wondering if like- because the ammonia should not be a problem unless you’re closing it. Are you completely closing it up?

Amanda Briggs 23:03
So the the pallet houses, they still have their little opening, the little- that’s completely open. But the carport, we actually bury to try and keep it as warm as possible in the rain so it doesn’t flood. Ha ha ha. We actually bury the bottoms of it and sandbag it. Especially this last winter, we got some crazy like rain and flooding, which was weird. And it’s supposed to be another El Nino. So we trench around it and then kind of make it its own island around it. And so we actually bury the base layer. And so we only leave one door of one side unzipped halfway. So it’s a flap because we don’t want the wind- so they can go in and out at will. That’s where their hay feeder is. We leave half of it open without stalls with hog panels until they start kidding. And then we panel it off or stall it, if that makes sense. So that’s why the ammonia, I guess- is because we are reinforcing to make it more enclosed as possible. Less drafty, I guess.

Deborah Niemann 24:09
OK, yeah. So everything that you ever see written about housing for chickens, goats, all the livestock, says that it should be well ventilated, but not drafty. And I know when I was new that drove me crazy. I’m like, what does that mean? That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s really not because well ventilated means that in the winter we never close the door of our barn. Like our barn door is open 12 months a year. Unless we’re in the middle of a snowstorm, in which case we close it because we don’t have to shovel out the barn. But we also have a ridge vent. You know, our barn is 100 feet long and there’s a ridge vent up there so ammonia can escape. So it sounds like you just need more ventilation. Like add a window or leave a door open or something like that. And that would allow the ammonia to escape.

Amanda Briggs 24:57
OK, very good. Thank you.

Deborah Niemann 25:00
You’re welcome. So Marjorie asked about using pine straw, which some people do down south where that is abundant. And since I’m not down south, I’ve never used it personally, but I do know a lot of people use it. And the question is about sap. And I’m sure this is one of those questions- the answer is it depends. But I’m not sure what it depends on, because it sounds like maybe at some point it’s going to release more sap than others. But I know a lot of people use it and say that it’s OK. So I would probably ask the people who use it and love it. I would ask them about the sap and see what their secret is, because I know I would not want to have sticky sap on my goats and especially not on the udders. That would that would be awful.

Deborah Niemann 25:51
Amanda asks, “what do you do with bedding?” Once you clean out the barn, basically you now have this fantastic black gold that will help feed your family. So basically we bring it out of the barn in a wheelbarrow and pile it up and you want to pile it up at least three feet high so that it will hot compost. If it’s shorter, if the pile is less than three feet, it will still compost, but it’s cold compost. And I have a whole course on composting as part of Goats365. All of you guys have access to it and it goes into this in detail. And so composting is really super important.

Deborah Niemann 26:40
The other thing, too, is that when it comes to composting, I frequently have people ask me questions about the safety of that, like, you know, E. coli, salmonella. There’s a lot of nasty little microscopic bugs that can hide in poop of a healthy animal. And so that’s another reason to hot compost. So when you build up your compost pile and it’s over three feet tall and three feet wide in every direction, it will heat up to 145-150 degrees and that will kill the weed seeds. It’ll kill all of the other microscopic bugs that could make you sick, which is why it’s fine to put compost- like properly aged compost is fine to use in your garden.

Deborah Niemann 27:22
And then in terms of how long to leave it there. Well the beauty of this is we’re always several years ahead of ourselves with compost. So usually what we’re putting on our garden this year is a couple of years old. If it’s been at one hundred and fifty degrees for a couple of weeks, you can technically use it at that point because everything is dead, but it’s going to still look like manure and straw. And you also during that time, you would want to be turning your compost pile that whole two weeks because otherwise the stuff that’s on the outside is not going to be composted because it’s not going to heat up to one hundred and fifty degrees. It’s going to be whatever your ambient temperature is, you know, 70-80 degrees. But the stuff inside is the stuff that gets up to one hundred and fifty degrees. Which by the way, my nerdy electrical engineering husband created a giant thermometer to test this because he wants to test everything. So that was pretty fun. So it was like this giant thermometer he stuck into our compost pile and it’s like, yep, it’s heating up. So I’ve seen other people say if you’re questioning whether it’s heating up, just stick your arm into the middle of it, which I think you would jerk your arm out really fast if it was heating up. So I think that you would know because that would be really hot. But if you if you once you get ahead, you know, with the compost, like you do it, you know, whatever you you had in piles this year, you just wait. You just use it in your garden next year so that it’s, you know, six months to 12 months old when you use it in your garden.

Deborah Niemann 28:59
I just saw a question in the chat about is it safe to do deep bedding on a wood floor? And I don’t recommend wood floors for goats in general because it’s going to rot. It’s not if, it’s when. It’s like how long is it going to take to rot? Again, learned this one the hard way. Our first chicken coop had a wood floor and chickens don’t even produce urine like goats do. Chickens, their urine and their poop are combined, which is why it looks like they always have diarrhea. So they are not even dumping copious amounts of liquid on the floor all the time. And that floor rotted out within about four years. And so if you had goats on a wood floor peeing all the time, it’s going to rot out even faster. And also it would depend on the kind of wood you have. So this is a question I get a lot of times when people are building a barn. The only thing that is not going to rot really fast would be two by fours, which is going to get really expensive, and I just don’t think it’s worth it. Like a dirt floor is completely fine. If I was building a barn from scratch, it would have a dirt floor. And I totally understand Amanda’s comments about flooding because we actually used to have problems with our barns flooding. And so in the future, when I, whenever we build something, we make sure that we’re not building a shelter in an area that’s going to flood. If you buy a place that unfortunately floods already, there may be things you need to do like the gutters on our barn needed to be replaced. Leaky gutters are basically not any better than no gutters at all. And so we replaced our gutters.

Deborah Niemann 30:46
And then the other thing that we discovered is that the reason that the flooding in our north barn had gotten so bad, like worse and worse and worse every year is because after, you know, 10-15 years of goats being in the pasture to the north of the north barn, they had actually raised the soil level several inches, so that the soil level- and I put soil in air quotes there because, you know, they didn’t raise the soil level. It’s like after 10 or 15 years of goats pooping in there- now, the level of that pasture was above the level of the concrete in the barn inside. So we actually had to rent a skid steer to just move a bunch of that away so that the soil level was now below the level of the concrete in that barn. So I hope that helps. But I would not- So first of all, I wouldn’t have a wood floor, but if you’ve already got a wood floor, I would not want to do deep bedding in there because I’d want to try and keep it as dry as possible. I also would not put stall mats in there because that’s just going to trap the liquid between the mat and the wood, because sometimes people ask me about that. And I’m like, that’s just going to make it worse. If you have a wood floor, you really would need to clean it out as often as possible to try and keep it as dry as possible.

Deborah Niemann 32:07
Any other questions? Amanda asked if sand would be better than dirt for the flooring, and it it would definitely drain faster than dirt would. So if it’s in a place where if it’s in a place where it can drain. Yes, that’s great. If it’s not going to drain, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s sand or wood. It’s still just going to sit there.

Deborah Niemann 32:26
All right. I think I got all the questions. Did I miss anybody’s question? All right. Well, thank you, everyone, for joining us today. This has been a lot of fun and I hope we get to do it again sometime.

Deborah Niemann 32:38
And that’s it for today’s show. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to hit the “subscribe” button so that you don’t miss any episodes. To see show notes, you can always visit, and you can follow us on Facebook at See you again next time. Bye for now!

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4 thoughts on “The Scoop on Poop”

  1. I know it depends, but I’m still a little shaky on some particulars. How often do you fluff the hay to help pellets sift to the bottom and redistribute hay from matted areas? Also, when do you decide to add a new layer – when fluffing only seems to yield hay that is a little moist? My druthers would be to play it by ear on the fluffing, and add a new, deep layer less often. I’d rather just throw in a whole bale once in while than a flake or two frequently (my hay storage is not the driest and far from my shed).

    • Hi Caroline
      You want to be careful that you are not moving wet bedding to the top. If there is plenty of loose free moving and dry bedding on the top surface, then you can shuffle it around to help poop fall through. But if it is moist or packed, then you just top that off. How often will depend on how many animals are on it and how long they spend on it 🙂
      My girls sleep in stalls at night, and are on pasture all day. So bedding is freshened each morning as needed. Some are messier than others for sure!! If they have kids with them, those stalls are topped off daily to keep the bedding very clean and tidy.

  2. I use pallets as fencing around my buck pen that works really well. I also do exactly what you say is terrible in that I use pallets with cattle panels arched between them and multiple tarps covering it, with rubber mats inside, lol! I understand totally what your objections are but in my case, it’s the easiest method for me. I can clean the rubber mats far easier than trying to separate the bedding from the earth. My shelter is on slightly sloped earth, just enough to let the urine run off and I have them bedded in deep straw and have never seen them shiver and they are always dry. The tarps hang down far enough to block any wind but one end of the arch is wide open, so there’s no buildup of fumes. Shavings here are ten dollars a bag(bale) and straw is pricey too, but unless I need straw (for kidding or to keep the bucks warm) I use shavings because I’m afraid dumping it onto my compost pile will kill my garden on the good chance the straw was sprayed with herbicides.

    • It sounds like you have come up with a great system to meet your needs 🙂 It can be a huge frustration with lots of learning curves, but eventually we all figure out what works for us.


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