One of the greatest challenges of raising animals in pens and coops is that you’ll probably have to clean the animal poop or dung yourself. Farmers of old started using beddings in pens and coops to reduce the immediate effect of dung in pens and also insulate the coops.
If you are raising goats, what are the best materials to use as bedding in your goat pen? This article discusses several out suitable bedding materials for goats, how to dispose of spent bedding, and some ways to amend your goat pen bedding.
What are the best bedding options for your goat?
Here are some great bedding options for your goat:
1. Pine Shavings
Pine shavings are the best kind material to use for your goat pen bedding. Pine shaving is not only very absorbent, it is cheap and easy to remove when it is soiled.
Depending upon your region and the season, you can use pine shavings for a few days to a week.
Just like pine shavings, straw is also a great bedding material for your goat pen. One slight issue with straw is that goats sometimes eat straw and you don’t want that to happen (especially if they have pooped on it).
Don’t worry, not all goats will eat straw from the ground (in fact, most goats will not eat any feed off the ground), so you can use straw if it works for you and your goats.
3. Pelleted Bedding
Pelleted bedding (made of compressed wood) is mostly used in horse pens but it can also be used in goat pens. This bedding material is cheap, absorbent, easy to manage, and unattractive for goats to eat.
Pelleted beddings come in bags of different sizes and can be bought from various websites or shops near you.
Sawdust is probably the most popular bedding material for most animals. Sawdust is light, easy to spread, absorbent, prevents smell, and provides many other benefits.
Sawdust is very advantageous to use as spent bedding material (will be discussed later).
5. Wood Chips/Landscaping Chips
Wood chips, just like other bedding materials, are effective in insulating the goat pen and also prevent moisture from building up in the ground. Another advantage of chips is that they can be stored outside, so they are easier to handle.
6. Cedar Chips/Shavings
Cedar chips or shavings are good for your goats as a goat pen bedding, but it is not as cost-effective as some other options. While cedar chips are as effective as other bedding options, you should stop using it if you find your goats eating it because cedar can make goats sick if they eat too much of it.
Sand or sandy soil is great for drainage. It is best to use sand as a bedding amendment (will be discussed later) rather than just the actual bedding.
With sand, you do not have to change your bedding often, but you still have to scoop out poop daily.
You should use the material that works best for you and your goats. Once you’ve decided what bedding to use, what should you do with it after cleaning your goats’ pen out?
What Can You Do With Spent Bedding?
If your bedding is spent (i.e. you have used it in the pen and it is time to dispose of it), can it be reused? What can you do with it?
If you use spent bedding materials as mulch for your plants, they will serve as both mulch and a source of nutrients (due to the amount of manure present).
If you want to use spent bedding as mulch, you should spread the material under the sun and wait for a week (at least) for the material to become dry and well-rotted.
When spreading the bedding material as mulch, spread it evenly over the soil nearest to the base of your plants.
A soil amendment is any product or material that can be worked into the soil to improve the quality of the soil. Some soil qualities that soil amendment can improve are:
- Soil pH
- Soil aeration
- Nutrient availability
- Soil water drainage ability
According to the material used, most spent beddings can improve one or more soil qualities. The most common quality that soil amendment can improve is the availability of nutrients.
Since spent bedding materials are full of manure, you can use them to amend the soil.
When amending the soil, work the spent bedding into the soil and then wait for two to three weeks before you plant in the soil (you need time for the material to decompose before you can use the soil for planting).
Most people bury spent bedding in the soil before winter and then plant in the soil in spring.
As you may have already known, compost is any material that is made by decomposing biodegradable waste materials such as food waste, hay, straw, etc. Compost is used to amend the soil.
Spent bedding materials are really great for compost because people use one part nitrogen (fresh or green materials) with four part carbon (dry or brown materials).
Spent bedding is full of carbon materials (i.e. the bedding material itself) and some manure.
To make great compost, mix some unused bedding material (or any dry material such as dry leaves) with your spent bedding material and then keep the mixture in your compost bin.
Remember to mix, turn, and water your compost regularly to aerate it and maintain moisture.
Now you know what you can do with spent bedding materials. What are some great ways to amend your goat pen bedding to keep the pen clean?
4 Best Bedding Amendments to Keep Your Goat Pen Clean
Bedding amendments are materials to add to (not replace) your goat pen bedding to improve one or more qualities.
Some bedding amendments that I recommend for you are:
1. Lime to Reduce the Effects Ammonia
Lime is a great material that quickly absorbs ammonia. With lime below (or mixed with) your bedding material, you will not quickly smell the ammonia from your goats’ urine.
Lime does not just reduce the smell of ammonia, it also reduces the negative health effects of ammonia if left for long. (Source)
If you have many goats, a small pen, and you change your bedding material often, you can use lime.
2. Gravel for Easy Drainage of Water
Gravel and other stones permit easy water drainage. To use gravels, place them below the bedding material. If you like, you can bury them (or mix them) with the soil below the goat pen.
Since gravel is hard and large, it aerates the soil, therefore allowing water to drain more easily.
3. Dry Stall for Various Functions
Just like lime, dry stall (diatomaceous earth) attracts ammonia and reduces its effects. Dry stall also keeps your goat pen dry and free from some diseases. You can easily get dry stall from gardening shops nearby.
Note that diatomaceous earth is completely safe for use by humans and animals.
4. Sand for Easy Drainage of Water
Just like gravels, sand (i.e. sandy soil) helps to reduce drainage of water and other liquids.
If you remember, sand was listed as a bedding material. You can use sand as your bedding material, or you can place sand just below other preferred bedding materials.
You should select the amendment that works best for you and your goats.
As you already know, bedding helps your goat pen by insulating it and reducing smell and harmful fumes. Some of the best materials to use as bedding are wood chips, sawdust, pine shavings, etc.
You can also amend your bedding with any material listed in this article. If you like, you can reuse your spent bedding by using it as mulch in your garden, compost, soil amendment, etc.
What bedding material do you prefer to use for your goats?