Raising animals can be an exciting process. You welcome them in as members of your family, knowing they will be providing you and your loved ones sustenance and joy. Of course, you will be providing for them as well. The healthier and happier your animals are the more benefit your family will receive. Creating the perfect place for your new animals to live is one of the best ways to do that.
Goats can be an excellent choice for first-time farm animal owners. They are relatively low-maintenance animals and are considered to be very self-sufficient. Their ability to survive off trees, bushes, and shrubs as well as grasses and hay (when trained) allows them to endure when many other animals may have a difficult time. Goats produce milk that is usually digested easier than cow’s milk and can be raised for meat if necessary.
Although they as a species do come from the wild, they also have a natural instinct to seek shelter from cold or inclement weather. Also, the longer they remain with your family, the more domesticated they become. Because of these reasons, providing a shelter is extremely important for anyone considering raising goats. You want to protect them from the weather and the rain as well as keep predators away from them.
As with anything, the pen and shelter you provide your goats can be as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be.
- First, you must decide on the type of fencing material you plan to use. Almost any type of fencing material can be used, from various forms of wire and metal, to wood. With goats, you have to keep in mind that they love to chew and can be considered great escape artists (both low and high), so you must plan accordingly.
- Second, decide on the size of the enclosure. One of the most generally accepted rules is 200 square feet of space for every goat.
- Next, bury your corner posts. Although concrete is not always necessary, keep in mind the size and sturdiness you want your pen and shelter to have. If you pen will be larger than fifty feet across, you may want to add an H brace to each corner post.
- Fence your pen by wrapping your choice of enclosure around the corner posts. Again, the choice is yours (wood, wire, mesh, or metal); just plan for protection and durability.
- Consider also the gate enclosure you will need to use. You will want a sturdy gate with a solid latch that is anchored well.
- Finally, begin construction of your goat shelter. Keep in mind that they do not need a large space, but it should be comfortable, clean, and dry.
- Dig four corner posts, reinforcing with concrete if necessary.
- Attach side walls to three of the four sides using at least sturdy two-by-fours. Again, you have a variety of choices for the side walls. Just ensure your goats will remain dry.
- Build and attach a roof from thick plywood covered in shingles, canvas, or tin.
- Offer extra protection from the elements with dry bedding on the ground. Be prepared to change the bedding often to keep the area, and your animals, dry.
Reynolds Ranch blogspot provides excellent guidelines on do-it-yourself goat pens.
Chickens can be another excellent choice for those who are just beginning to raise farm animals. They have the ability to produce eggs year round (provided you always keep a couple dozen hens). Feeding chickens is also relatively simple in comparison to other farm animals. Provide them with a few handfuls of grain and feed with a high protein content twice a day and maybe some scraps you have. Other than that, your chickens will eat grass, earwigs, and other bugs. Of course, they will produce more and higher quality eggs with more protein in their diet.
If you plan to allow your chickens the ability to move around their enclosure, you will need to have the area protected with secured chicken wire. Many chicken owners will ensure their chicken run area is attached to the hen house so they can move about on their own. As with your other animals, you want to make sure your chickens are protected and sheltered inside their enclosure and that predators cannot get inside. Of course, you will also need to plan easy access for you to be able to gather any eggs and clean out the house.
Creating the chicken coop can be a simple process as long as you follow some general guidelines.
- First, decide on the space you plan to allot for your chicken run and coop. A general rule is to allow up to fifteen feet for the run and three to five square feet of nesting space for each hen. The run space is more flexible within than guideline than the nesting space is.
- Second, ensure your design has ventilation in it. The hen’s waste can build toxic gas if not able to ventilate. This can eventually kill your chickens.
- Next, begin construction of the chicken coop. Keep in mind that treated wood can often cause problems and even be toxic for your chickens, so plain wood is often a better choice.
- Once you have completed the walls of the coop, attach the roof, making sure it slopes so water does not fall over the door. Again, you want to keep your animals safe and dry.
- Cover any windows with Plexiglas, chicken wire, or even regular glass and install a secure latch to the door.
- Install the nesting area next, attaching them along the walls. Leave plenty of room and make sure your perches are at least three feet off the ground.
- Finally, focus on your chicken run area, enclosing it with chicken wire or any other type of fencing that is buried at least twelve inches into the ground and is at least four feet high.
- The run should be fully enclosed (including the roof) so that flying predators do not have the opportunity to snatch one of your chickens away.
- Attach and hand any feeders and watering areas along the sides and off the ground.
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