Can Goats Sleep Outside Without a Shelter

Goats are rather durable mammals that live a simple life. As a goat owner though, you want to provide the best living conditions for your goat, and questions can arise. One of many will be whether your goat or goats can sleep without a shelter or if it is best to provide a sleeping area for them.

Goats can sleep outside without a shelter. They do not need a lot of shelter in general but can be susceptible to dangerous outside factors without one. Weather, predators, and temperature are good factors to consider. A three-sided shelter can be helpful for the comfort of your goat.

When deciding to get a shelter or not it depends on the conditions in your area. The following article will help you decide whether your goat will need that shelter or not.

Sleep Schedule

As a goat owner, one of the first things when it comes to answering this question for your animal friend is what is its sleeping schedule, to begin with? If you have owned goats in the past or have had your most recent goat for some time you may struggle to find it sleeping. Let me tell you why.

Goats sleep on average about 5 hours a night and won’t need too much more than this. It will take occasional naps during the day, but it will depend on how much sleep they are running on. Goats are lively and energetic animals which, with the right amount of sleep, will be very playful. If they are jumping around and don’t seem tired then they are probably getting enough sleep.

But don’t be alarmed if you see a goat taking a nap, despite the difficulty in catching them with their eyes closed. Goats are very light sleepers and will wake up to any slight disturbance in sound. This is natural due to their strong prey instincts. They sleep aware of sounds to make a quick getaway if possible.

But they do sleep laying down more often than not. They will do so huddled together if there are multiple goats in the same area. They prefer the company and once again this is a prey instinct. Safety in numbers isn’t just a human saying. They do sleep in a way that they can get up quickly though, often with their heads and bodies on top of their feet.


Now that the secrets of a goat’s sleep schedule have been discovered we can talk about outside factors that can be dangerous for a goat to be out in. The first to discuss is temperature. This topic may broach the second topic of weather, but a little repetition didn’t hurt anybody. It is good to be well versed in how to care for your goats.

Goats are resilient and will withstand more than they may let on. Goats may seem jovial in nature and perhaps a little dumb when set with a task, but that doesn’t stop them from being able to live in cold temperatures. They can stand temperatures below freezing and even below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is due to the thick fur coats that they grow in colder temperatures. They will actually grow 2 layers of fur in the winter providing more protection from the cold. The outer layer is a thick and rough fur that is long and keeps out the freezing temperature. But underneath the thick outer layer, they have a coat of soft fur that keeps their body heat of the skin within the coat itself.

It is important to note, however, that a wet fur coat is not good to keep the heat in and may prove harmful to the goat. The wet fur may freeze causing ice to be constantly in a cold and hot cycle that can penetrate to the skin and be dangerous to the animal. It is best to keep the goats dry.

Also, another factor that can bring them close to the danger of freezing to death is their diet. The diet of a goat usually consists of plant-based materials, including plants themselves. But a diet of hay will help keep the body warm. This is due to ‘roughage’ broken down in the rumen of the goat. The rumen is the stomach of the goat and is sensitive to certain minerals and plants. Roughage is created with any high fiber plant that is digested. Because of its inability to break down quickly, it creates heat for the goat.

Last but not least, goats tend to prefer warmer water when in colder temperatures to drink. This will work out well for you as the owner as you won’t want that water freezing anyway. Plus this will help keep your goats warm as it won’t take as much to warm colder water up once drunk.


As stated above this is similar to the living conditions of the goats with temperature, but will focus more on the actual physical conditions. Regardless it won’t be as long.

Goats simply need to stay out of windy environments when it is cold outside. This is because of the durability of their lungs. Goats do not have strong lungs and can easily contract lung-based diseases such as pneumonia. A cold wind can be dangerous and could compromise their lungs.

Also, it is a good idea to keep the goats out of rain and snow. Precipitation, in general, is best to be avoided and a shelter can be a great place for this to occur. Shelters keep out the rain and water, thus giving your goat a good place to stay healthy in the cold weather.

If it seems that the weather is too cold for your goat, it could also be a good idea to get them a coat to wear. Many goats won’t need a handmade coat, but some goat’s fur doesn’t grow as good as others.


The final factor to be considered is the predators that may want to get to the goats. Goats are rather small, standing, on average, about 16 to 20 inches tall. This leaves them vulnerable to predators that may be bigger and perhaps some that are smaller. Goats do have their own defenses, one of which being the horns atop their heads, but can still be susceptible to attack and even death.

Many predators can actually come from the dog family, including domesticated pet dogs, foxes, and coyotes. If these are in your area, then it would be smart to keep your goat inside while they are asleep. A shelter can go a long way to keeping these predators out.

Also, larger cat predators such as bobcats or cougars can be dangerous to your goats and will be easy targets. Not to mention large predatorial birds. They can swoop down and snatch a goat and kill it with its talons. All of these animals will go to the effort of having a goat meal. But if they are sleeping in a shelter then there shouldn’t be a problem.


A shelter is a great place for the protection of your goats as discussed up above. It can protect from unwanted predators. It can give warm places to sleep and keeps out the wet from precipitation. But it is important to note that goats can be put in health danger from their shelter as well.

“Since goat’s lungs are very sensitive, the ammonia along with dust particles, will irritate them, it is best to have a covered, yet open area for them to find shelter.”

But despite this danger, as long as the shelter is being cleaned regularly there shouldn’t be a problem when it comes to their health. Clearing out feces and replacing straw for bedding regularly will keep the goats healthy.

A typical goat shelter should actually only have three sides as it allows airflow into the structure and will help keep the levels of dangerous particles lower. This will protect the goats the best and will give them the healthy living space they need.

If you find that you need more protection at times it could be an idea to provide a fourth wall to the shelter that can act as a door and can be opened wide for the goats, and only closed when necessary for more protection. But whether there is a fourth wall door or not, it is a good idea to put the main three walls away from the average way the wind and blows in the area that you live.


Shelters act as a housing unit for goats when in danger or otherwise uncomfortable. They do a great job of protecting the goats and helping them live to a good age. If treated correctly a goat can live as old as 18 years and perhaps older. Many factors can play into this, but regardless goats are resilient. It is up to the owner’s discretion whether their goats sleep outside or not, and hopefully, this article helps clarify reasons to keep them out or let them in.

Overall it is important to remember the comfort of your goats and how they are treated. Keep them healthy and no matter what the goat’s purpose is, it will fulfill it.

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