Goat Grazing Options

Considering the grazing options we can design the goat shed accordingly. There are three types of grazing systems. The farmer allows goats depending on the number of animals, available space, and labor requirements. Every Goat farmer should have practical knowledge of grazing options available on how to increase the productivity of their Goats.

1. Continuous Grazing or Open Grazing

Open Grazing or Continuous grazing is the type of grazing where the goats are allowed in the open field for a long time to graze. Open grazing is usually done in open fields, not in the cultivated fields. Goats get to eat an abundance of different plants and forage.

Advantages of Open Grazing:

  1. Low startup costs. No investment required.
  2. Most cost-effective method of grazing.
  3. It requires less management and resources.
  4. An abundance of forage and grass in the rainy season.

Disadvantages of Open Grazing:

  1. Results of Overgrazing.
  2. Encourages straying of animals, since the fields are big and fenceless
  3. Wild animal encounters may be possible.
  4. Encourages buildup of parasites in Goats. It can be affected by a lot of diseases.

2. Semi-Intensive Grazing

In Semi-Intensive grazing, practice Goats are allowed outside for grazing and exposure to the sun during the day time in a fenced field. Sometime the fenced land will have Goat shed in it. Forage is cut and fed here or Forage can be grown in the fenced land. It all depends on the available fenced area. It consists of the provision of stall feeding, shelter at night under shed and 3 to 5-hour daily grazing and browsing on pasture and range.

Semi-Intensive Grazing, Goat Grazing Options

Advantages of Semi-Intensive Grazing:

  1. Highly productive.
  2. It allows the monitoring and controlling of diseases.
  3. Exposure to the sun will reduce a lot of disease attacks.
  4. Reduces the missing Goats.
  5. Controlled feeding according to their diet, can be monitored.
  6. Meeting the nutrient requirement both from grazing and stall feeding.
  7. Managing medium to a large flock of 50 to 350 heads and above.

Disadvantages of Semi-Intensive Grazing:

  1. Labors are required – for cutting forage and transport.
  2. Management and knowledge of forage storage are necessary.
  3. The initial investment is high.

3. Zero Grazing

In the Zero grazing practice, the Goats are not allowed to go out in the pasture to graze. Instead, the forage is cut and brought to the shed. Knowledge of harvesting time is most important here. Forage should be cut at the right time, else it can be too young to cause diarrhea or too old for palatability. Intensive operation of a medium-sized herd of 50 to 250 heads or more oriented towards commercial milk production goes well with this system, particularly of dairy goats.

elevated goat shed, Goat Grazing Options
goat shelter_learn natural farming

Advantages of Zero Grazing:

  1. Reduces the theft of agriculture produce.
  2. Complete control and monitoring of diseases.
  3. No fencing is required here, Goats are never let outside of their shed.
  4. Highly productive
  5. It requires very little space.
  6. In the Zero grazing method, the dung is collected in one place and used as a good fertilizer.

Disadvantages of Zero Grazing:

  1. More Labors are required for Forage harvesting and transport.
  2. more time spent on harvesting the forage.
  3. Knowledge of the time to harvest and proper management of forage storage is required.

Goat House plans based on grazing options

Based on the grazing practices, we should design the Goat house.

For the Open Grazing practice, the Goat house is used only as a night shelter or during rainy days. Most of the day the Goats will be in the open field. So the Goat house plan can be kept simple and should cost you less. Some of the designs for an inexpensive simple Goat house.

  • In this method, once in a year, 1-2 inches of mud surface should be removed.
  • The application of lime powder once in a month will reduce the disease occurrence in the shed.
  • The shed should be constructed in an elevated area to prevent water stagnation.

Used pallets: Build a simple three-sided shelter made from wood pallets covered with plywood. You can get free pallets from factories, building sites, large farms, and farm stores. You need to purchase two-by-fours, plywood, and roofing materials. The shelter shown here has a wood floor and a roof made from leftover metal roofing. Two to four medium-sized goats can sleep comfortably in this shelter out of the rain or sun. This is recommended for small farmers who are going to start with five goats.

pallet goat shed, pallet goat house
Open_grazing_shelter – Learn Natural Farming
  • Its initial investment is high.
  • In the wooden floor sheds, at a distance of 3m from the floor, the animals are reared.
  • This requires less labor and more irrigation land for fodder production.
  • The elevated sheds will be clean and urine and dung will be collected in the floor and periodical removing is required once in six months

Concrete Room :

The room should be built based on the size of the herd. The walls can be constructed using concrete to prevent them from cold and rain.

The roof may be made gabled. The roofing material may be either plain or corrugated galvanized steel sheets or asbestos cement sheets and where the rainfall is not heavy, it may be of thatch.

Each shed may be provided with one or more gates either on the long or broadsides of the sheds depending upon the dimensions of the shed.

The dimensions of each gate may be 0.8 m broad and one meter high. The gate leaf and frame may be made of wooden battens. It shall fit the entrance closely.

Disadvantages of Non-Elevated floor housing :

The above two housing plans are not practical for Stall Feeding. They only work for the Open grazing method only. If you are planning for  Semi-intensive or Intensive farming, go for elevated floor housing. If the goats are kept on the floor in the housing, there are a lot of disadvantages. Below are few of them

  1. Needs 3 times more Labor requirement compared to elevated level methods.
  2. Goats need to stand over its dung and Urine causing Hygiene problems and may cause Disease spread if not maintained properly.
  3. Needs Daily twice cleaning of flooring.
  4. Causes Ticks, Flies and Mosquito problems if not Maintained with high care.
  5. Scientific management cannot be executed.
  6. Footrot problems and Skin problems in goats can occur.
  7. Needs High Labor dependability.

Stall-Fed Method – “Elevated floor shed”

Goats are not allowed to graze the outside. They are kept in a Shed (Ground level or Elevated Slotted level) separately depending upon the sex, Breed, Age, and Weight. For semi-intensive grazing and Zero Grazing, the best suitable design is Stall Feeding. In the Stall-fed method, the best to suit any profitable goat farming business is “Elevated floor housing”.

elevated goat shed
  • Bucks (male goats) and Does (female goats) are kept in separate rooms and allowed to mate at the desired time with desired Bucks.
  • Quantity and Quality of Feed can be differentiated according to the Stage and Nutritional Requirement of different age groups of goats.
  • Wastage of energy during grazing is avoided.
  • Disease transmission is prevented from outside animals and outside plants.
  • Its initial investment is high.
  • In the wooden floor sheds, at a distance of 3m from the floor, the animals are reared.
  • This requires less labor and more irrigation land for fodder production.
  • The elevated sheds will be clean and urine and dung will be collected in the floor and periodical removing is required once in six months

Why Elevated floor housing is preferable for Stall feeding?

  • Low maintenance, easily washable.
  • Better hygiene, avoids fungal skin problems in Goats in Rainy season, unlike wooden floors.
  • Cleaning the Dung and waste can be done once in 3 months only and does not need Daily cleaning.
  • Disease outbreaks and parasitic infestations are very less.
  • Wastage of energy during grazing is avoided.
  • Less labor time and dependency- labor is needed only for feeding and maintaining goats. With two times feeding per day, labor on time is 3 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.

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