Anyone who has livestock of any sort knows that you have to protect them. That means protecting them from the weather as well. While animals all have a coat of fur (or plumage in the case of birds), that fur can only do so much, especially when it’s raining and the wind is blowing. Just like us, animals can suffer hypothermia, especially during adverse weather situations. In the wild, these animals know how to seek out shelter from inclement weather. But they can’t very well do that when we’ve got them penned up. Thus, when we own these animals, it becomes our responsibility to provide some sort of shelter for them.
When designing shelter for any animal, size is important, but probably not for the reasons that immediately come to mind. Barns, sheds and other animal shelters are normally unheated. So the only heat in them comes from the animals themselves. If too large a space is used, the animals’ body heat won’t heat it effectively and they could suffer.
This may make such a structure inconvenient for the human owners of those animals, but the larger concern is the animals themselves. Considering that heat rises, building a barn or shed for goats that is tall enough for the human owners, means that the roof will be so high, that the goats will be cold all the time. That’s not good design.
Design Considerations for a Goat Shed
Fortunately, animals are not picky about the construction of their abodes, nor about its décor. That makes it easy for us to build a shelter for animals on the cheap, keeping things simple and inexpensive. When possible, it only makes sense to use whatever materials we have at hand.
For a goat shed, normal shipping pallets are a great place to start. Stood on edge, they already resemble a framed wall, which is the right height for a goat shed. Additional boards can be added in between the existing ones on the top side, making the wall solid, or the whole thing can be covered with a sheet of plywood. Three pallets, attached tougher, easily make the back and sides of a shed. Pallets will provide a shed which is roughly four foot square, which is enough room for about three goats to sleep in. Additional sheds or additional “rooms” can be added for more goats.
The back of the shed should always be pointed into the prevailing wind to provide the best protection for the animals. If layout considerations make it so that you have to have one of the sides pointing into the wind, you’ll need to partially cover the door opening with a wind block to help keep the animals from getting cold.
One thing you want to take into consideration is a sloped roof. Rain and snow are an issue and you don’t want them building up on top of the shed. So you either need to use different sized pallets to allow the roof to slope or you need to cut the pallets off to provide for a slope.
It is a good idea to provide a covered “porch” for the shed as well, either in front of the door or beside the main part of the structure. This would be a roofed over area, with a dirt floor and no walls. The goats could use the area as someplace to get out of the sun, while still having a breeze to help keep them cool on those hot summer days.
Building the Goat Shed
To build a goat shed of this type, start with three wood pallets. Typically, this is done with the pallets laying on their side, with the boards from the top of the pallet running vertically on the outside of the shed. You’ll want a larger pallet for the uphill side of the roof, and a shorter one for the downhill side. Nail or screw them together to form a “C” when seen from above. The construction of the pellets makes it very easy to connect them together, as the bottom board on one end can be attached to the adjacent pallet.
The opening of the shed frame will need to have pieces of wood attached across it at the top and the bottom to help maintain the shed’s overall shape and structural integrity. It is not a problem for the goats to step over a 2”x 4” laying on the ground. You may want to use pressure-treated wood for this, to keep it from decomposing.
Cover the outside of the pallets with ½” plywood or attach boards between those that make up the top of the pallet, so as to provide a solid wall. The plywood actually works better, as it doesn’t leave any cracks for the wind to get through. If you use pressure treated plywood, there is less risk of the shed becoming destroyed by the elements. As you are doing this, you may need to add some fill material above the pallets, to account for the slope of the roof.
Select where you want to add the porch, and then frame that in with 2”x 4”s, just providing corner posts and something to hold the roof. To avoid having to set these posts into the ground, attach them to the pallets, by making a frame along the bottom and the top. You don’t want to overdo the framing here, as the idea is to have an open area which will allow a breeze to cool the goats.
Build a simple wood frame for the roof, providing the slope. This needs to be nothing more than the outline frame for the roof, with a couple of crossbars to attach the roofing material to.
For the roof, I recommend using corrugated roofing material, either galvanized steel or fiberglass. It needs to be laid longways to the direction of the slope, with the seams overlapping at least one full corrugation. This is screwed to the roof frame’s crossbars with washer head screws. Only insert these screws in the apex of the corrugation, not the valley.
Finally, another pallet can be set as a windbreak, partially blocking the doorway. It is best to attach this to the corner of the wall with hinges, which will allow you to move it, as needed, to help block the wind. At the same time, it will keep your goat shed accessible, if you need to get inside.