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Barn and paddock layout for dairy goats

matt hogan


Joined: Feb 08, 2013
Posts: 50
Location: PA Zone 6
    
    2
Hi, gang.

I'm starting to design my place with my new found love of permaculture. Most of the emphasis on animals is on meat animals, and it is pretty straightforward. However, when it comes to dairy animals, i'm not so sure. With dairy animals, you need them to come back to a centralized location for milking twice a day. So how have you guys handled this?

Here's some thoughts we've had:
1. A central barn with wagon-wheeled paddocks surrounding it.
2. A barn nearer the house and a lane the goats can walk down to access which ever paddock we have open. (my least favorite as that path would be a muddy cesspool)
3. Walk the goats from the barn to the paddock after the morning milking and back before the evening milking.

We're looking at starting with 2 dairy goats, probably of the dwarf variety. This will be on our 2+ acres.
Alice Kaspar


Joined: Jan 19, 2011
Posts: 70
Two acres.... maybe only three paddocks. Plan your spiderweb or interlocking pastures. Mine understand where to go when that gate is open.

Can you sketch out a picture of your land and barn here?
matt hogan


Joined: Feb 08, 2013
Posts: 50
Location: PA Zone 6
    
    2
Here is a picture of my yard. The red lines are approx. boundaries. The barn is not built yet. There are two places marked where we had thought of putting it. The grey arrows are showing slope.


[yard.jpg]

Taylor Stewart


Joined: Feb 15, 2012
Posts: 45
    
    2
I lack dairy experience as well, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt...I have worked with fairly large numbers of goats and sheep before.

I would start with a good boundary fence. I like high tensile, 5 wire has worked well for goats, but 6 is better. Sometimes it works best to alternate hot and ground with the lower wires (especially if you're in a low moisture area). This can function as a good predator barrier for dogs and coyotes as well.

I would suggest waiting on permanent cross fencing. Buy some temporary fencing equipment and experiment with different layouts. If you do decide to install permanent fences you will know what works....the temp equipment is still very usable to subdivide.

Goats will follow you if they are trained too. When I have to take them somewhere, I put a few cups of grain in a bucket....I shake it and call them. They will follow me anywhere. If you have good boundary fencing, don't worry about lanes. I have lead goats over a mile before with a bucket. Much easier than driving them. I've used oats, corn, even high quality alfalfa hay. I think any treat would work. I would rather use pure alfalfa cubes than corn, but they are hard to find without DDG's.
matt hogan


Joined: Feb 08, 2013
Posts: 50
Location: PA Zone 6
    
    2
"I would suggest waiting on permanent cross fencing. Buy some temporary fencing equipment and experiment with different layouts."

That's a great idea. Thanks.
Alice Kaspar


Joined: Jan 19, 2011
Posts: 70
Put the barn in the Option One spot. Closer to the house, sheltered by the trees, farther from the river.
Renate Howard
pollinator

Joined: Jan 10, 2013
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
    
    9
Have you considered a portable milk stand and milking the goats in the field??

Another option I see people use is to keep them in a dry lot and bring them fodder.

For my pigs I'm making 4 paddocks in a rectangle. The middle two are offset and in that area is the food/shelter/water. I'll open and close off panels to let them go from there to the different paddocks.

One thing to keep in mind with goats, tho, is that they have a lot of parasites, so moving them in small increments daily or weekly will really help keep the load down, especially if you have a LOT of lag time before they graze the same area again. They should never graze the bottom 6" of grass because that's where they can pick up barberpole worms. If you'll have small goats, you may want to just use 4-6 cattle panels and move them daily with those. If they can climb through use some zip ties to attach some chicken wire or something else goat-proof. The panels are very stiff and they won't be able to bend them like the softer fencing. I use T posts with mine, and investing in a T Post puller would be a good investment if you do that.
Alice Kaspar


Joined: Jan 19, 2011
Posts: 70
I have tried a variety of fencing options with my goats, and my favorite for movable fence is electric net fencing.

I *highly* recommend that you do not dry lot and bring fodder to the goats. If you have the land to do it successfully, they are SO much healthier browsing. Worm eggs are ingested from short grass or eating dropped food (fodder) on a dry lot.

http://www.premier1supplies.com/goats/species.php
Taylor Stewart


Joined: Feb 15, 2012
Posts: 45
    
    2
Panels for pigs are a good idea in the right situation, however hogs can be contained very easily with electric fencing as well.

The benefits of electric fencing are many when it comes to goats: much easier to move, no climbing issues, and it can be much cheaper.
I like poly reels, step in plastic posts and t-posts for corners. I use 2 wires to hold goats and sheep. One about 10 inches and one about 24. I started with 3 wires to train them first tho. I've used electronets, and they are more work than they are worth. You can start cheaply with low tensile wire, re-bar posts and slide on insulators from the farm store.

I would strongly advise against dry lotting the animals year round. Some time in the winter is OK, because the parasite eggs are dormant. In my experience all animals, and goats especially, are much healthier when allowed to graze. Mites, lice, foot issues and intestinal parasites are all made worse in dry lots.

Plus its way more work and is not sustainable in the long run. First you cut and haul the food, feed it, and then you have to haul the manure. You lose the value of the urine as well...and dry lots can stink. I much prefer installing temporary fencing to shoveling manure.
Alice Kaspar


Joined: Jan 19, 2011
Posts: 70
My dairy goats would not stay in strands of electric wire. I understand other folks have more success.

I love the electric netting. It takes a bit of learning (read the instructions!!) to fold it correctly for moving it, but after you've done it twice, you've got it!

I've used it for five years, maybe six. I forget.
Taylor Stewart


Joined: Feb 15, 2012
Posts: 45
    
    2
If we kept the wires over 4000v and well grounded, it wasn't bad. However we had to move them a bit faster, if they ran out of food they would move themselves. Move when you think you have a day of grazing left.
Alice Kaspar


Joined: Jan 19, 2011
Posts: 70
Do you know what joules rating the charger was?
matt hogan


Joined: Feb 08, 2013
Posts: 50
Location: PA Zone 6
    
    2
Thanks for the advice, gang.

I have no intention of keeping the goats in a dry lot. Not as healthy for them, and too much work for me. I'm totally in with Paul's idea of being lazy.

My concern with the option 1 spot for the barn is that it is also close to the neighbor's house. They're pretty tolerant of me so they probably wouldn't grouse much, but i am cognizant of being a good neighbor and i worry about the noise during birth and such.

I'm thinking at least putting up permanent fence on the outside is the way to go. Moving the entire fence every time sounds like too much work, and if they get out of the electric fence, then my wife won't have to leave the kids immediately to put them back as they will still be confined.
Alice Kaspar


Joined: Jan 19, 2011
Posts: 70
Births aren't noisy.
 
 
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