Goats – environment

Housing requirements for goats.

Fences, gateways, gates and all facilities used to secure goats must be constructed and maintained to reduce the risk of injury and attack by predators.

Goats may be housed or kept in intensive conditions provided the following conditions are met:

  • Each pen must be designed to hold no more than four goats and must provide an area of at least 3 square metres per goat
  • The diet composition and quantities of feed must be recorded
  • Slatted floors are preferable but if flooring is concrete it must be covered by an appropriate depth of bedding material to avoid feet and leg problems
  • Feed bins must be off the floor and cleaned regularly
  • Faeces and urine accumulations must be removed daily if floors are not slatted
  • Normal diurnal pattern of lighting must be provided
  • Opportunities for appropriate exercise must be provided
  • Air must be of acceptable quality with respect to dust, chemicals and smells
  • All goats must be observed standing and moving during daily inspections.

Goats are browsing animals that require exercise, light and fresh air for optimum health. It is preferable that goats are kept in paddocks, however for short periods of time it is acceptable that they are kept in smaller yards, pens and at times indoors. This more intensive housing may be for feeding of a particular ration, during showing and show preparation, for security reasons or for convalescence.

Image: Goats enjoy environmental enrichment when kept in intensive conditions

They perform well on pasture with plenty of available food, water as well as shelter from the sun, wind and rain. In contrast to sheep that eat down, goats tend to eat up, meaning that they have a browsing habit and tend to eat trees, shrubs and hedges.

Goat paddocks and pens need very secure fencing. They should be 1.2 metres high and well maintained as goats are very prone to climbing and going under or through fences. Escape attempts are particularly common during times of stress for example during weaning.

Fences need to be constructed in a way that limits the chance of goats catching or cutting their legs. Electric fencing is a practical alternative to help keep goats in and protect them from predators, particularly at kidding time.

Goats do not like the cold and wet. They are very easily cold stressed as they have less body fat than sheep or cattle. Newborn kids and freshly shorn goats are particularly susceptible to cold.

Shelter is essential to protect goats from the wind, wet, cold and sun. Goats will seek out shelter from purpose built sheds, wind breaks, bushes, undulations/rocks and trees. As they will often kid in an open space, they may need to be confined to a shelter, to ensure protection for the doe and kid.

Tethering is not acceptable as a routine husbandry practice. Where animals are tied to restrain them at shows, they must be accustomed to the practice and be given adequate exercise each day.


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