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Goat Production System: Building Your Goat Pen

Goats, whether raised for meat or milk, need basic protection from the elements: snow, wind, rain, heat. They also are notorious for getting out of enclosures, so you'll need some seriously tight fencing for them.

That said, goat shelter doesn't need to be elaborate. A hoop house can provide enough shelter for goats. And during the grazing season, trees or windbreaks, a three-sided shed, or a pole barn with just a roof may be enough for your goats. Just keeping them out of drafts is enough.

Do you know that confining goats during the wet season brings more profit than letting them loose in the pasture throughout the year?

This article gives design recommendations from experts and farmers on constructing a good pen and fence.

It hopes to guide the farmer to the importance of housing and the practice of confinement at least during the wet season.

The video below shows the quality of a good pen.

1. Constructing a Pen

Importance of a Pen

  • When establishing a goat enterprise, it is important to have a pen
  • A pen protects goats against inclement weather conditions, diseases, parasites, traumatic injuries, thieves, and predators
  • Confining goats also facilitates health monitoring and protects newly kidded does and kids from herd pressure
  • Pens also prevent social conflict in the community, as confined goats cannot destroy farms and gardens of neighbors
  • Since goats refuse to eat wet herbage, feeding them in the pen is thus practical in the rainy season

Pen Design Considerations

In designing a pen, give prime consideration to the following:
  • the production system followed (i.e, FG, RRG, PC, or CC)
  • the convenience of the animals
  • your convenience as a raiser and
  • your resources as the investor in the enterprise
Give attention to the following design elements. These have been tried, validated and redesigned by farmers.

a. Pen location. Construct the pen in a well-drained, elevated, safe area, which is away from falling coconuts.Avoid putting up your goat pen in a waterlogged area such as this, as it will bring you problems later.

If you choose to employ RRG, it is best to construct the pen at the center of the paddocks, accessible by individual gates.
As the goats are able to avoid passing through the same path where feces containing worm eggs have been excreted, build up of parasites can be avoided

b. Pen orientation. As much as possible, construct the pen facing either the morning or afternoon sunlight. This east-west orientation will naturally disinfect the pen with the heat of the sun.
Consider though the direction of strong winds and ensure that a wall or proper coverings are installed to protect the goats.

c. Pen design
c.1. Goat rooms and partitions.
The design of the pen depends to a large degree on the production system you chose.

For FG and RRG, a one-room pen for females and growers is enough, although a separate room for the buck is needed.

For PC and CC, you will need about four "goat rooms" or pens to serve as kidding and rearing pen, dry does and doeling pen, grower pen and buck pen.

Always separate the buck to avoid untimely breeding of the females and breeding of relatives. Locate its pen beside the dry doe and doeling room to enhance the occurrence of heat.

c.2. Floor space.
Floor dimension or the area allotted per animal is dependent on:

  • the production system chosen; and
  • the growth stage of the animal
The following table lists the space requirements per stage of growth of the goat vis-a-vis the production system followed.

c.3. Pen elevation.
By nature, goats prefer to stay on elevated places like benches, steps of houses, and piled lumber. Hence, constructing an elevated pen is beneficial.

In elevating the pen, consider your convenience in cleaning the area underneath and your ease in putting feed to the feeding trough.

Elevate the pen at least 1m from the ground to facilitate air circulation and waste management.

When the pen cannot be elevated adequately, install manure-catching implements to ease waste collection. Such implements include:
  • a catching net
  • an inclined sheet

c.4. Roof height. 
Construct the roof of the pen not lower than 2m from the floor.

To protect the animals from draft and the splatter of rain, extend the eaves of the roof 1m from the wall.

c.5. Floor structure.
To allow feces and urine to pass through, use slatted floors. However, carefully calculate the space interval between slats to avoid leg accidents from slips in the slats.

To facilitate manure collection from underneath the pen, compact the soil or cement the ground floor. Slated bamboo can also be used to ease pen cleaning.

d.  Housing materials.
In building pens, use any available materials like bamboo, cogon, and coco lumber. If aiming for durability and less maintenance, you can use galvanized iron sheets for the roof.

For posts, frames, walls, and floors, use bamboo, coco lumber, or timber.

Old pigpens and utility vehicles may be used as goat pen provided they are equipped with an elevated wood flooring and the necessary fixtures, and cleaned everyday.

Unused poultry houses can also be turned into goat pens.

e. Housing Fixtures
e.1.  Feed and water troughs.
  • Attach the concentrate box and the feed trough to the side of the pen so that feeding can be done from the outside.
  • Put feed troughs not lower than the floor, so goats will not have to kneel to get the forages.
  • Neither should you put it too high, as to require a stool for you to get to it.
  • The water trough can be placed inside the pen.
e.2.  Salt container.
  • A 1½ - 2ft long bamboo tube about 2 inches in diameter can serve as salt lick tube.
  • One end should be open and the other, perforated at the bottom with a shoe nail to allow salt moistened with a little water to seep through and be licked by the goats.
e.3.  Brooder box.
  • Exposure to draft and cold temperature, especially at dawn causes high mortality among kids.
  • To prevent this, place a wooden box inside the kidding area where the young can keep warm .
  • Otherwise, provide bedding materials and wall coverings/curtains at night.

 Farmers' Recommendations

After years of testing and redesigning, goat raisers assessed that the most advantageous pen is one with:
  • several goat rooms

  • elevated (with the bleacher type, as the most popular) 

  • without any loafing area.

This is applicable to all production systems.

2. Putting up a fence

Constructing a fence especially for FG and its variants, RRG and PC, is a must as goats are one of the animals hardest to confine.

For CC goats, a fence around the pen is sufficient. For FG and PC, a durable perimeter fence is necessary.  For RRG, aside from this perimeter fence, construct divisional fences to set apart the 10 paddocks.

Some advantages of having fences are:
  1. Prevents loss of or damage to crops and other properties
  2. Allows forage garden to grow to sustain year round supply of feeds
  3. Keeps off predatory animals; and
  4. Prevents goats from straying off
Erect a fence 1.2-1.5 m high to prevent the goats, particularly the breeder males, from jumping over

Use any available functional materials but plant leguminous fodder trees as fence posts. Their leaves provide supplemental feeds to the goats and act as shade during hot summer months.

Aside from Kakawate (Gliricidia sepium), Ipil-ipil (Leucaena leucocephala), and Caliandra (Calliandra calothyrsus) , the following are also good fodder species for fencelines:
  1. Malunggay (Moringa oleifera);
  2. Kamachile (Pitchecelobium dulce)
  3. Dapdap (Erythrina orientalis) and
  4. Kapok (Caiba pentandra)
Approximately, a hectare of pasture lot 100m on its four sides or about 400m perimeter length can be effectively fenced with:
  • 10 rolls of 4-ft high hog wire
  • 10 rolls of 30-kg barbed wire
  • 80 pieces of concrete or wooden posts, and
  • 240-320 pieces of 'kakawate' post as fence reinforcements

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