It’s raining today which reminded me that lots of people have asked me what type of shelter is necessary for cashmere goats. Since cashmere goats grow cashmere, they don’t need shelter for warmth. However, they tend to seek shelter from the rain and wind.
As a beginning farmer, I was surprised to learn that a lot of farmers nowadays don’t keep their animals in barns. Crowding a bunch of animals in a barn leads to respiratory infections, a condition that goats and sheep are particularly susceptible to. Another benefit of not keeping animals in the barn is that there are no stalls to clean. We use our barn for storage (hay, camper, building materials, tools, etc.) and for temporary animal housing, such as when we need to quarantine an animal because it is sick or new to the farm.
In our goat pastures, we’ve built sturdy, inexpensive and portable goat tunnels. It is extremely important to build these tunnels with sides that are nearly vertical so the goats cannot climb on them. Also, place the tunnel where goats can access both ends so that none of your “bullies” can block the entrance and hog the whole shelter for themselves.
While one person can build a goat tunnel, it requires at least 2 people to set it up. The following instructions are for building a 13’ x 4½’ tunnel. We purchased all materials at the local farm store except the tarp, which we bought at Wal-Mart, and the lumber, metal strapping, and screws. The total cost was about $140. It took us a few hours to build one tunnel. This is how we built ours and they work well for us. Please consider your unique situation before building this stucture.
NOTE: These instructions say to use cattle panels, which we did for the first 2 shelters we built. However, if you have horned goats, I strongly recommend that you use goat panels. They are more expensive but they have 4″x4″ openings which are too small for the goats to get their heads stuck in. The total length of your tunnel will be 12″ shorter because the goat panels are 48″ tall rather than 52″ like the cattle panels.
3 cattle panels (52” x 16’)
4 – 5’ T-posts
2 – 16’ 2x4s
Metal strapping with holes (about 1/2″ wide; it comes in a roll from the hardware store)
1” or 1½” outdoor screws
1. Using bolt cutters, shorten 3 cattle panels to 10’6” to 12’ (we did 12’, but if I had to do it again, I’d do 10’6”). Make the cuts so there is a closed rectangle on the good piece.
2. Cut the 2x4s down to 14’.
3. Cut the metal strapping into 2” pieces with tin snips.
4. Lay the cattle panels side by side and attach them to a 2×4 using the metal strapping and screws (there should be about 6” of 2×4 sticking out at each end).
5. Attach the other 2×4 to the opposite end of the panels.
6. Using fence wire, attach the panels together in 3 or 4 places along each seam.
7. Set 2 of the T-posts 12’6” apart to form the supports for one side of the tunnel.
8. Set the cattle panels on the ground with one of the 2x4s next to the T-posts. The 2x4s should be under the cattle panels so they end up on the inside of the tunnel. Carefully (you don’t want the bent panels to spring back and hit you) push the other 2×4 toward the T-posts and bend the middle of the cattle panels upwards to form the tunnel. The sides of the tunnel should be nearly vertical.
9. While one person holds the tunnel in place, the second person should install the remaining 2 T-posts to form the supports for the 2nd side. (Alternatively, you can install all the T-posts first and lift one side of the tunnel over one row of T-posts to carefully bend it to fit inside them.)
10. Connect the panels to the T-posts using T-post wires. If all has worked out correctly, the T-posts should be positioned just outside the tarp area.
11. Using twine, tie the tarp to the cattle panels.
Viola! You have a goat shelter. Now, give yourself a pat on the back, get a cold drink and sit back to admire your work for a while.