When we brought our first goats home, we lived on a 1.5 acre lot in a subdivision. We had a fenced back yard that was maybe 1/4 acre and that was further divided into yards for goats, chickens, and dogs.
Eventually we opened up the entire fenced area as a communal living area where our 4 dogs, 5 goats, and 25+ chickens lived together happily. So you can see that the space requirements for goats aren’t all that great.
The basic requirements for goats are actually pretty small. They need shelter from wind, rain, and other extreme weather. They need access to fresh forage, hay, and fresh water daily. They need enough room to get exercise.
Most important of all, they need a friend. Do not get just one goat. Ever. They will be sad, depressed, and unhealthy and probably quite loud as they call out for some company. So remember when you are planning your pastures and barns, that you need to have room for at least 2 goats. But I always recommend planning for more than you think you might ever possibly need.
So how much space do you really need for your goats?
Space Requirements for Goats
Related Reading: How to Raise Goats on a Small Lot
Housing and Shelter Requirements for Goats:
It is often said that a goat needs a bare minimum of about 20 sq. ft. of indoor space. That is a good general estimate, especially if you have a lot of rain or snow that would keep the goats under roof for long periods of time. If you have a nice sized outdoor area for your goats and weather allows them to be out and roaming a lot, then you can probably get by with a smaller shelter.
We have a couple 10x10 shelters in one pasture, for about 10 goats. They never split up- they all pile into one shelter- when it rains, to sleep, to keep warm. And actually they tend to pile in the smaller shelter. But they do have the option of more space if they choose to take it.
Also remember that some of the space in your barn will be taken up with other things. Things like:
- Hay feeders
- Kidding Stalls
- Storage (though, unless it’s in a secure area, I don’t recommend keeping feed and such here)
If you are new to goats, I recommend reading up as much as you can before you purchase. You can find a lot of articles here on The Free Range Life that will teach you about goat care and be sure to check out The Busy Homesteader’s Goat Management Binder– it’s full of to-do lists, checklists, record keeping sheets, and resource pages that will get your new goat herd off to a great start!
Pasture Requirements for Goats:
There is a lot of gray area when it comes to outdoor space requirements for goats. They can survive on a small run, living mostly on hay and grain, but it’s not the best quality of life for them. A bare minimum for a goat would be about 200 sq. ft (so remember you need to at least double that for 2 goats!)
If you are keeping your goats in a small yard, then you need to provide hay 24/7.
Back in our urban farm, the goats kept the grass trimmed. We provided hay daily. We also had leashes that we tied them out on when we were outside, so they ate down weeds around our property that wasn’t fenced, getting more forage and nutrition that way. You might want to consider training your goats to lead so that they can get the exercise they need outside their small run. Feed costs will also be lower if you give them more forage and are less dependent on hay.
The bottom line: The more space you can give them to roam, the more happy and healthy they will be.
© 2016 – 2018, Sarah R Toney. All rights reserved.