Adapting Yards for Goats

Adapting Yards for GoatsMost farmers will start off their goat farming operation by adapting their sheep or cattle yards and their woolshed. This is satisfactory, but not ideal.

Those who are starting from scratch have the advantage of designing yards specifically for goats, and some suggestions are put forward for consideration.

To adapt sheep yards and the woolshed it is necessary to raise the height of rails to 1.4 metres at any point where the goats are likely to come under pressure (e.g. the perimeter and crush area).

As a further precaution against goats getting out of a crush pen or the like, the inner face may be lined with ply to stop goats getting a foothold on rails, or seeing an apparent escape route.

When working with goats inside the woolshed, it is necessary to put a physical barrier over windows. This is to stop goats going through, but it is preferable if light is reduced as little as possible. Shearing, sorting or inspecting fleeces is difficult enough without cutting down on available light.

If the gaps in the slatted floor of the woolshed are too wide, young goats may get their hooves caught, in which case it may be necessary to lay down ply to prevent this and eliminate cracks and gaps where contaminant fiber can lodge.

An animal behaviourist with considerable experience with goats, has suggested that races for drenching sheep are too long and too wide for goats: “Drenching kids in sheep races is the best method of suffocating them in large numbers”.

She adds that sharp corners should be avoided, and that entrances to races, crushes and suchlike, should be clearly visible to the goats, and points out that it is difficult to get goats to enter a straight race where they can see a closed gate at the other end.

Those building yards specifically for goats might note that the key dimensions are a length of 2.5m and width of 30-35cm. Goats move better through a short race and the width should ensure that they cannot turn round.

Bucks with a wide spread of horns manage to negotiate such races by tilting their heads to one side. A separate race for drenching is desirable; 3m x 70cm is ideal, but a satisfactory alternative is a square pen, say 2m x 2m.