By Jolly Gwari
Housing contributes significantly to ensuring a farmer gets the best out of their investment in dairy goat farming. Goats need protection from the cold and rain, with wind blocks to escape from chilling drafts. Provision of a simple shed with low-cost housing materials in dry areas may be enough for goats to produce efficiently especially milk. Therefore, to keep your goats safe,
there is a need for you to provide them with that perfect shelter.
To cut costs, consider using locally available materials that include wood planks for the sides and the floor and corrugated iron sheets for the roof. The wood can be planed especially on the inside to remove grooves that can easily become hiding places for pests like ticks, lice, and fleas or hurt the animal. The farmer should regularly spray the shed, at least twice a week to get rid of the pests and parasites. Though some people may opt to construct the shelter themselves, the services of a professional carpenter are preferable.
Goats naturally prefer open spaces where they can browse freely. This, however, is not practical for many farmers due to scarcity of land. A good shelter should be spacious enough to allow them a comfortable movement. It is recommended for an adult animal that at least 20sq.ft per goat is appropriate and for goats that are less than 30kg, 9sq.ft per goat is enough. It is important to note that the actual size required for each goat is dependent on the size of the animal as well as the physiological status.
Congestion causes stress and can also result in injuries especially of the weak ones. The shelter should also allow the farmer or caretaker ease of access when cleaning, inspecting or feeding the animals. It is recommended that the structure be raised 2 to 3ft off the ground. This is important
to keep the shelter dry during the wet seasons.
Stone-built pillars provide good permanent support for the structure. The floor should be slatted
(made of narrow pieces of wood) with spaces in between (at a gap of an index finger apart). The gaps allow for the goat droppings and urine to fall on the ground where they can be collected and used as manure. The gaps need to be small to avoid the hooves of the goats getting trapped.
Regardless of the type of flooring, you need to use some sort of bedding for warmth and comfort. If you have to use a concrete floor, make sure to put down three to four inches of sawdust to insulate the goats with enough warmth while they sleep. Goats can be deep littered, with the bedding being topped up regularly then being mucked out completely every month.
Since goats kept in such a structure will have restricted movement, the housing needs to be well-
ventilated. This can be achieved by using wire mesh on the windows. This has a dual advantage in that it lets in the fresh air as well as enough light. It is advisable to have wooden shutters that can be closed at night or when it is raining. Have the windows, entrance and other ventilation should face away from the direction of the wind. Strong drafts are not good, especially for young goats.
Fencing is a key to the safety and health of your goats, your other animals, and the integrity of your possessions! Fencing for goats needs to be secure, not just to keep them in, but to keep predators, foxes, bears, dogs, coyotes, and more out. You will need perimeter fencing around the entire goat area or your property boundary, and then cross fencing within the goat area to keep goats separated from each other (this can be temporary or permanent).
If you plan to breed your own goats, you will need kidding enclosures and the number of cages
you will need depends on how many goats are kidding at a time. The kids may be left with their
mother for the first three days but afterward isolated into a special cage where they are bound to
receive special attention.