Sheep and goat housing

June 4, 2023 9 By kenyaagr

Goat and sheep housing requirements can vary depending on factors such as the climate, breed, and management practices. There are many considerations farmers must keep in mind when it comes to providing suitable housing for goats and sheep. prior to housing their ewes. Sufficient space, ventilation, bedding, and feed are all essential requirements for farmers to take into account before bringing their ewes into the shed. The good housing through the management of ewes can improve the health and the body condition score (BCS) of the ewes

Goat farming involves the raising and breeding of domestic goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) as a branch of animal husbandry. People farm goat- sheep are raised principally for their meat, milk, fiber wool and also yield parchment. skins. However, there are some general considerations Here are some important points to consider:

  1. Shelter: Goats and sheep require a sturdy and well-constructed shelter to protect them from extreme weather conditions, such as heat, Temperature Humidity Index (THI), cold, wind, and rain. The shelter should be properly ventilated to prevent the buildup of moisture and provide good air circulation.
  2. Space: Sufficient space is necessary to accommodate the animals comfortably. As a general guideline, provide a minimum of 15-20 square feet per adult goat or sheep. Adequate space allows for proper movement and reduces the risk of injuries.
  3. Fencing: Strong and secure fencing is essential to keep goats and sheep within the designated area and protect them from predators. Fences should be at least 4 feet high for goats and 4-5 feet high for sheep. Use appropriate fencing materials, such as woven wire or electric fencing, to prevent escape.
  4. Flooring: The flooring of the shelter should be easy to clean and provide good drainage. Concrete, dirt, or packed gravel floors are commonly used. Avoid using materials like wire mesh or slated floors that can cause foot injuries.
  5. Feeding and watering areas: Separate areas should be designated for feeding and watering to keep the living space clean and prevent contamination. Provide sturdy feeders and water troughs that are easily accessible for the animals.
  6. Bedding: Bedding materials, such as straw or wood shavings, should be provided to keep the animals comfortable and to absorb moisture. Regularly clean and replace bedding to maintain cleanliness and prevent the buildup of ammonia.
  7. Separation options: Having separate areas or pens within the housing can be useful for segregating animals based on age, health conditions, or other management needs. This allows for better control and reduces the risk of disease transmission.
  8. Natural light and ventilation: Incorporate windows or vents in the shelter to allow natural light and fresh air to enter. Adequate ventilation helps prevent respiratory problems and keeps the animals healthy.
  9. Security: Ensure the housing is secure and protected from predators. Regularly inspect fences, gates, and locks to maintain the security of the premises.

Remember, it’s important to adapt these guidelines to the specific needs of your goats and sheep, taking into account their breed, age, and health conditions. Providing a clean, comfortable, and secure environment is crucial for their well-being and productivity.

Shed & Housing

Sheep or goat shed or housing plays a major role in any successful commercial sheep farming. Based on the number of sheep, one should plan for sheep housing. If you want to start with low numbers and want to invest less initially, there is an option for going to construct a simple sheep house.

Try to house batches separately where possible and ensure adequate ventilation in the shed. If the ewes are in straw bedded sheds and there is inadequate ventilation in the shed, the lack of air circulating will make it harder to keep straw dry, and it will also cause harmful pathogens to build up in the shed. When straw is wet, it will spoil quicker and need to be replaced, but if the floor is also limed and the shed well ventilated, the straw will keep for longer. It is also best to avoid housing lame ewes until treated and cleared up and where the lame ewes have to be housed, pen them separately to avoid spreading infections such as foot rot to other sheep.

For commercial sheep farming, one must know how to build a sheepshead. This shed is required for security to protect sheep from unwanted predators (such as wild dogs, wolves and snakes), wild weather conditions and to provide shelter in night times. After planning on the number of sheep to be reared, you can get an idea on shed size which can have both covered area and open area. Cost of shed construction depends on many factors like number of animals, space allocated for feed storage, and type of rearing like stall-fed (zero grazing) or open field grazing (where they required only night shelters.

Sheep and Goat Housing

  • Select the land for shed construction which is not impacted by wild winds, predators and floods. The space should be dry and cool.
  • For good cross-ventilation and good air flow, East-West orientation of sheep shed is preferred.
  • Go for a simple shed with low coat material especially when you are in trail method of farming.
  • Always clean and keep the sheep shed dry.
  • Make sure the shed is well ventilated and has good air flow
  • Always make sure to have separate sections for sheep based on their age and health conditions.
  • Gable roofing is preferred in shed construction. However, in the case of small sheep housing, lean type roofing is preferred.
  • Sheep should have a feeding area and partition for kids.
  • If you are planning for intensive sheep farming, the pen and run system of housing is preferred.
  • Clean the shed and feed area and provide clean and fresh water.
  • Any sick animal from shed should be isolated, and in case of death, make sure to bury or burn the animal far away from shed.
  • Make sure to have separate feeders for concentrate feeds, green fodders and water. Clean these feeders regularly to avoid any contamination.
  • Construct the shed in an elevated area to prevent water stagnation.
  • Sheep manure should be removed from the shed on a regular basis to avoid any diseases.
  • If you are growing any green fodder, make the outlet from the shed, so after cleaning the shed, water can flow freely to nearby fields.
  • Make sure to construct a feed room as part of shed, so that the feed is protected and will be handy.
  • In front of the shed, the open area should be secured by a fence. This area can be used on and off (especially when cleaning the house).
  • There is no restriction on the length of sheep shed. However, it is better to have the width of the house be between 24 feet to 30 feet.
  • You can have one or more gates depending on the shed dimensions. The gate can be made with iron or wooden battens. When it comes to gate dimensions, 1 meter x 1 meter is preferred.

Type of shed construction for Sheep goat housing

Sheep Shed Construction Over the Ground: Usually, this type of sheep shed is made over the ground and this type is most common in Indian sheep farmers. The shed floor can be built with brick or soil or cement. However, it is better to spread some dry straw material on the floor. Make sure to keep the floor always clean and dry in goat and sheep housing.

Sheep Shed Construction Over the Poles

These sheep sheds are built on poles, usually the height of the floor is going to be about 1.5 meters 2 meters from the ground level. The best part of this type of shed is it can keep sheep free from Damp /humid/moist/wet conditions. This type of shed is also useful in areas where occasional floods are possible. This type of shed floor and pole are made from wood or bamboo. As this sheep is built above ground level, one can maintain (especially cleaning) very easily and expect less diseases. Apart from this, any predators like wild dogs or snakes can be prevented from entering into the shed.

If the ewes have access to feed barriers, farmers should ensure silage is pushed close to the barrier as sheep are known to push it away while eating. Water troughs must be checked regularly and cleaned, with the health of the ewe being a consequence of their daily feed intake.

Sheep Shed with Concrete:

Concrete is being used to build these kinds of sheep sheds. Compared to the other two types, this has more advantages due to easiness of cleaning and management. This type of housing is a little bit expensive when compared to others.

Space Requirement Based on Age and Condition:
Sheep age groupsCovered space (sq. meter)Open space (sq. meter)
Initial 3 months0.2-0.250.4-0.5
3 – 6 months 0.5-0.751-1.5
6 – 12 months0.75-11.5-2
Adult Sheeps1.53
Male, Pregnant or lactating ewes/does1.5-23-4

Ventilate stables (goat/sheep/pig)

Air in the barn, without any ventilation, will accumulate gases (ammonia, carbon dioxide/monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and methane), moisture, heat and contaminants like dust and airborne pathogens.  If you can detect the smell of ammonia with your nose, the air quality is poor and ventilation is insufficient.  Gases come from the animals’ respiration and aerobic and anaerobic fermentation of urine and feces in the bedding.  Moisture accumulates because each goat secretes out up to 2-3 quarts (2-3 liters or ~7 lbs) of water each day in the form of breath and body vapor along with urine and feces. 

Heat sources are the goats themselves, radiant head on roof and through open side walls, lights, fans and the manure pack fermenting/composting at around 130 °F.

In the summer, 150-200 cubic feet of air per minute per animal or one room volume air exchange every 2 minutes (30 per hour) is recommended. But in the winter, recommendations of 20 cubic feet per minute per animal or 4-15 room volume air exchanges per hour are given. In order to create an ideal stable climate all year round, ventilation is required. This is achieved by combining natural ventilation and fans.

Ventilating a goat stable is the best and most common ventilation technique. In order to get air flows under control in practice, you can place adjustable sails in front of your stable opening. These adjustable sails can be connected to a climate computer.

Ventilate goat stable – advantages at a glance

Reduced risk of heat stress

Ventilating a goat stable has a direct positive influence on the welfare of the animals. In summer, goats can already experience heat stress from 23°C. Sufficient air circulation helps to address this problem and contributes to optimal milk production.

Ventilate all year round

Ventilating a goat stable will be different in winter than in summer. When it’s warm, the adjustable system is fully open to ensure maximum air intake. This ventilation is automatically boosted by fans from 23°C, or when there is no wind.

At winter temperatures, the sails are almost completely open. At the top, the air inlet is maintained, without direct draught on the goats. The fans are then turned off. 

Dry air means lower risk of infection

In order to prevent the spread of disease, the pursuit of an optimal stable climate is of great importance. Moreover, the number of goats per stable has strongly increased in recent years, which is accompanied by increased disease pressure.

Ventilation makes the drier stable and makes it more difficult for germs to survive. Rearing goats also ensures optimal air renewal. 

Ventilation without draught

It is important to have fresh air, without draughts caused by excessive air currents. Both the natural ventilation by means of tarpaulins, as well as the fans, are very important to this. 

With natural ventilation of sheep goat housing, the air enters the stable as high as possible through the top, in order to achieve a nice flow in the stable without draughts. In this way natural cross ventilation is created: the fresh air enters via open sails on one side, and is discharged via the opposite side.

It is only from 23°C onwards that the fans will increase the natural ventilation and provide additional cooling. The animals therefore never experience draughts.

Cross or length ventilation 

Depending on the type of construction of sheep or goat housing the situation, the fans can reinforce the natural cross ventilation, or they are chosen to be placed in function of length ventilation.

One system for each type of goat

When ventilating a goat stable, the needs of the different animals must be taken into account. Rearing goats need less ventilation compared to milk production goats. The sails of the adjustable systems in rearing goats are composed differently than milk production goats.

At the place in the stable where reared goats are housed, the sails of the adjustable system will have a different density than in adult goats. The climate computer is then set differently per age group. 

Fans are also placed and set according to the needs of the respective age category. 

Moreover, in the case of milk production goats, it is very important to keep birds out of the way in order to prevent the spread of disease among themselves. Here you can work with a bird-resistant mesh that also protects the rotating parts, which makes the system much safer. 

Automatically controllable – climate computer

A climate computer ensures that a goat stable is ventilated naturally and automatically. The sails are controlled with it.
The climate computer takes into account: 

  • Wind speed
  • Wind direction
  • Temperature in the stable 
  • Temperature outside the stable
  • Air humidity
  • Rain
  • Light level

Benefits of a climate computer at a glance: 

  • Respond immediately to weather changes
  • Never chasing after the facts
  • 24h/24h regulated
  • All sails are arranged, so they do not work against each other
  • Adaptable if required
  • Fans are controlled in relation to inside temperature
  • Fogging can be controlled in extreme heat
  • Nozzles in the stable can be controlled in extreme heat
  • Heating in e.g., robot rooms can be controlled in case of extreme cold
  • Lighting can be controlled