Meat goats require minimum shelter compared to dairy goats. Nevertheless, goats seem to be less tolerant of wet and cold conditions than sheep and cattle and will naturally seek shelter when it is available. During warm weather, rain may cause no discomfort or only mild discomfort, but in colder temperatures, goats in general should not remain cold and wet for long periods.
The ability of goats to withstand adverse weather conditions is strongly related to body condition. Goats in good condition — that is, goats that have developed a fat layer under the skin — can withstand rain and cold weather without much problem if they have access to good quality forage. Conversely, thin and/or young goats are particularly vulnerable to respiratory infection and to hypothermia if they do not have access to shelter during rainy and cold weather. And it is not uncommon for a combination of cold wind and rain, along with occasional snow and sleet, to cause losses of young animals. Thus, the necessity for sheltering meat goats probably relates to the expected weather pattern in the area, the nutritional level and body condition of the herd, the physiological stage of the animals (newborn kids, dry does or does in early pregnancy, does in late pregnancy or lactating does) and the class of animals.
A sturdy shed, dry and open to the south side, can usually provide adequate protection. Rear eave heights of 4 feet to 6 feet and front eave heights of 6 feet to 8 feet are adequate. Eight to 10 square feet per goat is desirable for open housing. Other references suggest 5.5 square feet per goat. Goats also like to be in or near a shed during the night hours, especially if they were raised in sheds. If the facility is part of the farmstead, so much the better because nearness to human activity plays a role in predator control. For feeding hay, grain or concentrate, 16 linear inches per goat of feeder space is sufficient, or 8 to 12 linear inches of feeder space if hay is self fed. For young stock, recommendations are 12 linear inches of feeder space per animal, or 2 to 4 linear inches if hay or grain is self-fed. Troughs need to be easy to clean, should prevent goats from urinating or defecating on the feed, and be accessible from both sides.
In warmer and wetter climates, the type of goat shelter commonly found is one with an elevated, slatted floor. This design protects goats from rain, keeps hooves dry, allows air movement and reduces accumulation of urine and feces, which in turn, favors sanitation.
Luginbuhl, J-M. 2006. Pastures for Meat Goats. In: Meat Goat Production Handbook, ed. T.A. Gipson, R.C. Merkel, K. Williams, and T. Sahlu, Langston University, ISBN 1-880667-04-5.