The Ultimate Goat Structure
We may have come up with the ultimate 3-in-1 structure for the boys. Basically, it's just a big triangle that they can climb on, use as a run-in shelter from the weather, and horned goat feeder.
We actually made two of these things and both work well. Our first one was based on a 60-degree triangle with a 2-foot wide roof. The sides are 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide. (That's 6 feet of wall, not vertical height) We learned a lot from that first structure. Mainly, it needs to be really stable, strapping beams on all interior ribs and plywood endcaps. The 2x4s on the outside are steps for the goats to access the top.
After making this contraption we had three of our five goats that loved to run up and down it, making us nervous that they'd fall, but aside from a few rough landings, they loved it. We would much rather they learn how to climb and take a fall in our yard than on the trail! But, two of the guys just wouldn't climb it. They did jockey for a spot inside it when it rained or if they wanted shade though.
So, we decided to up our game and make version 2.0. This one was going to be big! Instead of the 60-degree corners, we wanted to go with a 45 and have a wider top deck. After oiling the rust on our math, we determined that we wanted to keep things as dimensional as possible. 8 feet long, 8 feet wide, with a 4-foot wide roof.
So, the fellas had to hang out in the back pasture while we assembled this monstrosity. Like before, everything had to be bomb-proof level tough. We also wanted to make this as inexpensive as possible, and we had a bunch of scraps from other projects that we wanted to use up. That's why you may see some upcycled materials sprinkled in this project. The end caps were 2 feet tall and we reinforced the lower, 45-degree corners as well. Also, strapping boards hold the interior ribs together for more support. Our goats are not Nigerian Dwarfs, these guys are big, and getting bigger. King of the mountain causes a lot of stress on our homemade goat mountain. Once everything was assembled we let the boys have at it. They loved it! We changed up the steps going to the top to make it a bit more uneven, it's fun, but it's also good training for the backcountry.
Looking at all the floor space, Kathleen had an idea to add a feeder to the interior. Goat hierarchy is all about personal space, as in, "I want that space, and you can't stop me." The best way for goats to share is to break the space up. As long as no one has an opening to cheap shot someone who's not looking, for the most part, they'll share.
The feeder design we made was based on one we'd seen before that really does reduce hay waste. And goats love to waste hay. With this design they keep their heads in the feeder, the roof keeps the hay dry and there's still plenty of space for multiple goats to hang out in the shade. Any waste now becomes dry bedding.
The feeder is a rectangle with a peaked floor to funnel the chaff down while keeping the hay off the ground. We got a permit for juniper post from our local Bureau of Land Management office for 1 dollar each. These posts also help hold up the roof and act as framing for the feeder. This feeder is smaller than our free-standing one, but two goats will eat out of it at once, which is better than someone getting chased off.
So there it is our Swiss army knife of a structure. Between the barn and other run-ins, everyone has a place to hang out, play and eat. You'll have to get used to the sound of thunder rumbling on cloudless nights as the goaties have their late-night romps to their favorite stargazing decks.