Location is one of the challenges that can be faced by farmers, well from our Botswana way of locating is easy because where ever your forefathers kept their small stock you will follow suit. This should not be the case because most locations you find there are a lot of hindering factors like low quality vegetation, lack of water, adverse weather conditions and even the system of keeping the livestock, so it is very critical to strategically locate smalls tock farms. In this article we will try to cover the utilities that are needed for a sheep and goat production.
Site Selection for a Sheep and Goat Farm
The following points should be considered in site selection for sheep and goats:
- Drainage: The area should be slightly sloped for effective drainage. Water should be able to flow in times of heavy rain and not stay for a long time because the muddy soils may cause diseases like footrot.
- Wind direction: Animal houses should be partially or totally protected from the direction of strong winds. The traditional kraals that are designed should be able to stand for strong winds and also be wind breakers to protect the animals.
- Climatic factors: Such as temperature and rainfall should be looked into so that each season is prepared for in advance. Activities like vaccinations which are season specific also need the farmer`s knowledge on the climatic factors. This will mean good decision making of the farmer.
- Vegetation: the farmer needs to know the types of grasses or forage that will be readily available to graze the animals. This means the farmer needs to know the palatable trees that will be fed to the small stock, which forage to plant to increase the forage available and also the periods when there is plenty of forage and when there is none. Feed that is bought also needs to be assed so that it supplements the available feeds.
- Water points: availability of water for the goats is a critical factor because water is responsible for some of the metabolic system in the small stock, it is also a way of cooling during the hottest days. Water should not be accessed from very far from the moraka (cattle post) to be effective in production and so that they do not lose a lot of water having to travel. The water should be clean treated water to avoid the spread of waterborne diseases and to also have good quality meat from the small stock.
Sheep and Goat Facilities
Essential sheep and goat facilities differ according to the system of management and climatic conditions. In commercial production systems, where large flocks of sheep or goats are raised and managed, facilities to handle sheep and goats are essential for efficient management. Some of these facilities are: Fences, Handling pens, Housing (house/barn – different kinds of buildings), Dipping vats/spraying area, Isolation ward for sick animals, Manure disposal pit (away from the house) and Equipment (feeding and watering troughs, etc.)
Fences are important not only to protect animals against predators or theft but also to isolate them from other animals. Fences could be constructed from locally available materials with considerations for cost and durability. Materials resistant against termites are most durable. Alternatively, wooden posts of treated eucalyptus could be used. Barbed wire is commonly used but can damage the skin when animals try to squeeze through an opening. Fences require regular supervision and maintenance. In some instances trees or brush may be grown and fashioned into a live fence.
Sheep and goats need to be handled, either in groups or individually, for vaccination, treatment, mating,weighing, etc. Handling pens are useful in reducing injury and stress on animals and workers. An ideal layout for a handling pen includes a receiving pen, forcing pen, crush, sorting gate, foot bath, dip or spray race (long and narrow passage wide enough for only one sheep or goat), draining pens and a holding pen. In particular, the receiving pen should match the number of animals expected to be handled at one time.
The type of housing varies with the production system, the objective of raising sheep and goats and perhaps tradition. Housing can range from very simple structures made of a roof and partial walls to complex structures fitted with automatic feeders and waterers. Animals may be kept either in an area within the family home or in a separate animal shed. The animal shed could be located outside the homestead or it could be adjacent or attached to the family home. Despite variation in types, the common purposes of housing are to: Protect animals from climatic stress (extreme heat, cold, rain, wind, etc.), thus creating an environment suitable for the animals’ physiological state, Provide protection against losses by predators and theft, and make management easier and save labor.
Mobile dip vats have replaced the conventional dip vats made of concrete. Mobile dip vats made of plastic are meant to overcome the shortcomings of conventional, permanently placed dip vats. The size of plastic, mobile dip vats could vary according to flock sizes.Feed troughs for concentrate and hay racks for forage feeding are required where these practices are conducted. The size of racks and troughs is determined by the body size of sheep and goats and by animal numbers. Approximately 30 to 40 cm per animal space is the minimum. Fodder should not be put on the ground for sheep and goats. A feeding rack can be made from wood or other locally available material. In general, troughs placed directly on the ground are not desirable because mud or soil can get into the trough, and sheep and goats are tempted to put their feet in. When only a limited amount of supplementary feed is given, it is essential that the trough is long enough to allow all animals to eat at once. .
The need for watering troughs depends on the size of the flock. For small flocks, water tight tins, buckets or bowls can be adequate. Any type of watering trough used should be easy to clean.