An enormous amount of rain this year has resulted in muddy areas around shelters. Goats, being adapted to dry, hard surfaces underfoot, dislike the mud and can suffer from foot rot. Wet discarded hay gets scratched up by chickens and then turns to mud. I’ve noticed the goats tend to urinate and defaecate on the hay rather than on platforms, and this adds to the composting effect of the damp bedding. I’ve needed to sweep up old hay and droppings a lot more frequently.
Recent research shows that goats prefer a hard, warm surface to rest up on. In the test they preferred rubber mats and plastic slats to metal grid or wood shavings. As these are firm, dry, warm surfaces, I expect wooden shelves are just as good (as has been found for shorn sheep). I find my goats like to rest up on wooden shelves made from palettes with the gaps filled with wooden boards. The mats and slats also had the benefit that less bacteria got onto the udders. The goats in the trials also preferred to urinate and defaecate in the wood shavings, an absorbent litter. I find my goats normally do these functions in their straw, just outside their bed, normally in a designated location.
The study concludes that goats need several different areas with different flooring types to fulfill different needs. I find they appreciate raised wooden shelving and absorbent litter in different places. Dryness is of utmost importance, then choice of alternatives to meet different needs. Cool areas are required in the heat, whereas surfaces which conduct less heat are preferred when cold. Hard dry surfaces are preferred for rest and play, whereas absorbent material is the toilet of choice.
Some great ideas for housing elements can be found at IGN.