In India in village condition goat does not need any special shelter and are usually kept in katcha house with thatched roof. Goats, however, need to be protected from the drastic weather during pick summer, rainy and winter. Goats are susceptible to cold hence should be kept in warm places.
Houses should be well ventilated with free access to sunlight, particularly during winter. Proper ventilation and good drainage are another important criteria for the housing of goats. The purpose of ventilation is to provide the desired amount of fresh air, without drafts, to all parts of the shelter; to maintain temperatures within desired limits, and to maintain ammonia levels below specified levels.
Ventilation is of utmost importance to maintain a desirable interior temperature of 28 to 30°C. If the animals cannot get rid of heat because the surrounding temperature is too high (above 30°C), they eat less and therefore produce less. It is, therefore, necessary to make the shed sufficiently high and make sure, there are openings for ventilation in the roof or walls. Hence height of roof of the goat shed should be 3 m at the periphery and 3.5 m at the center for proper ventilation.
The orientation of the shed is another important factor depending on the climate. In dry arid region, one can prevent the entry of sunlight inside the shed for preventing heating up of stall too much by placing the longitudinal axis of the goat shed east – west. On the contrary in humid and high rainfall area, if one wants to keep the floor of the shed dry and disease free, he would construct goat shed with the long axis in the north – south direction for allowing of sunlight to enter inside the shed sufficiently to keep the house warm and dry.
The roof provides protection from sun and rain and can be of a shed, gable or modified gable style. The slope is important in removing rain and thatched roofs need a greater slope than iron sheeting. A greater slope is also beneficial in areas with high rainfall. The roof should be light, waterproof with sufficient overhang to prevent rain from blowing in. A high roof encourages air movement but is more likely to be damaged by strong winds. A roof vent can assist in proper ventilation. Roofs can be constructed by GI sheet, asbestos, tiles, grass/bushes, wood depending on production system, material availability and climate.
The floor could either be packed earth, concrete or slatted. Packed earth or concrete floors should have a slope of about 5 % for good drainage. Raised platforms where goats can lie above the floor and away from manure and urine are beneficial. Slatted floors should be raised about 1-1.5 meters above ground level to facilitate easy cleaning and collecting of dung and urine. The gap between the slats should be 1.4 to 1.6 cm to allow easy passage of fecal material and guarantee safe footinfor the animals. Newborn and young should not be put on slatted floors. A raised, slatted floor in tropical and subtropical areas has the following advantages:
- No need of bedding
- Allows manure, urine and debris to drop through the slatted floor, thus removing a major source of disease and parasite infestation
- Requires less labor to clean and maintain
- Remains relatively dry and clean
- Reduced space requirements
- Manure is easily collected for fertilizer use or for sale
- Allows air to pass through the slats increasing ventilation and comfort in hot weather.
The main disadvantage of raised, slatted floors is the high expense of construction. Other concerns with slatted floors are leg and foot problems from too wide a gap or poor maintenance of existing slatted floors.
Regular disposal of dung and urine is very essential to keep animal house hygienic. Preference of floor type and material was studied due to the reason, it determines the conductive heat loss from the animal which is very important factor to keep animal warm during winter season, simultaneously it would help to disseminate heat load during summer. So idea on floor type and floor material is of immense helpful during construction of goat shed in different agro climatic condition as well as in different seasons. The study revealed that Sirohi goat would prefer most slatted wooden floor followed by slatted plastic floor (Das, 2003).
Goats like to see each other, even if penned separately, so provision needs to be made for this in the type of partitions / gates used. Pen and door heights vary according to breed and 1 to 1.25 m. height is recommended for most of the breeds of goats. The buck should be housed separately. A single stall measuring 2•5 m x 2•0 m with the usual fittings for food and water would be suitable for the bucks. Two bucks should not be kept together, particularly during the breeding season, because they might fight.
Pregnant goats should be maintained individually to avoid fighting among themselves, as it may lead to abortion. So, a pen of 2.5 x 2 m is sufficient to house apregnant doe.
Kids should be kept in warm houses, especially in chilly and wet weather. There should have proper drainage facility. Generally goats are allowed for grazing during daytime and stall fed during night. Adequate space should be given to each goat if maintained individually or group of two or three in pen for proper growth and production. Floor space requirement for breeding buck / pregnant doe, breeding doe, adult buck / doe, finisher and grower is 5 m 2 / head, 4 m 2 / head, 3 m 2 / head, 2 m 2 / head and 1 m 2 / head respectively. Overcrowding should be avoided for proper growth and production. If the goats are housed in a group in the same area a minimum of 2 m 2 / goat needs to be provided. Although more than this minimum is recommended if fighting is to be avoided.
Das et al (1999) reported a floor space requirement of 2.14 m 2 / head was most suitable for optimum growth and feed conversion efficiency for a grower to finisher Black Bengal goats on deep litter system of management. In the tropics because of high temperature, heavy rainfall and the susceptibility of goats to parasitism, the most practical goat houses are those which are raised above the ground level, are well ventilated, and have long eaves to prevent heavy rain showers to splash in from the sides. The floor must be strong (wooden strips with should provide effective insulation from the solar radiation. The roofing material would be made of bamboo or tree leaves or earthen tiles which are cheap and practical. Provision must be made for the collection of dung and urine periodically.
In a study of Das et al (2006) it was reported that while Black Bengal goats were housed on deep litter for a period of two years under humid tropics with Para grass and concentrate feed block, the growth and feed efficiency was optimum. Different physiological responses and disease occurrences were studied. No apparent adverse effect on the health of the goats was noticed. Hematological observations were within normal limit. Goats reproduced throughout the year indicating an unaltered reproductive pattern in confinement on deep litter.
An enclosure measuring 20 m x 10 m is adequate as a paddock for stall fed goats of 100 numbers for roaming and exercise. Such an enclosure or exercise paddock should be well fenced with strong woven wires. The exercise paddocks should be made bigger than the enclosures and should have some shade trees if the stock is to be maintained constantly in confinement. Barbed wire should not be used so as to avoid injury to the udder and teats.
In housing, bedding must be available to animals at all times. Bedding must be clean, dry, mold-free and replenished as needed.It must not cause discomfort or harm to the animals. Bedding with straw or sawdust preferred. There must be enough bedding to ensure the comfort of all animals. In cold temperatures, heat must be provided as necessary to keep animals comfortable.
- Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute, Ela, Old Goa, Goa