Our new doe barn has a dirt floor. Since it was summer, we hosed down the dirt and let the goats compact it with their hooves. That didn’t work. The fans created a dust storm and when they shoved each their hooves dug up my hard packed floor. We debated the cost of decomposed granite, looked into the honeycomb forms with sand used for muddy horse areas, and priced stall mats. In the mean time rats discovered our new barn and dug holes, muddied water buckets, and left the soft dirt covered with little flower-shaped foot prints of all sizes every morning. Big river rats that dig holes the size of ground hogs!
We decided to try an experiment just to see if it would work. We bought big roles of hardware cloth to line the bottom. That involved rototilling, digging out about 6″ of soil and laying several rows of mesh. We used “J clips” to secure the pieces together so that the rats wouldn’t dig up and through. That worked- the rats furiously dug holes each night all around the outside perimeter but couldn’t get in. The goats enjoyed their clean water and I slept better not having to worry about listeria.
After leveling the soft silt, the next plan was to get barn lime from Tractor Supply. For $3.39/50lbs it’s a steal and the crushed limestone is safe for sensitive udders. We started with about 12 bags, mixing it into the top layer of the dirt floor. We wet that, tamped it and added another 6 bags to dry out the surface. The goats continued to sleep on sheets of plywood and up on chairs.
It didn’t take long to dry and harden and now I would say it is almost identical to decomposed granite. Absorbing urine and providing a hard surface, it’s easy to clean with a soft broom. I sprinkle lime on the wet spots each morning, which helps with odor and dries the area. Temporary kidding stalls will be bedded with straw but the main doe area will be lime dirt floor. Eventually we plan to build sleeping shelves, but we do not plan to use stall mats or straw on the main floor. There’s minimal dust and so far it’s working out great!