If there is one thing that holds true in livestock operations across the country, it is that there are significant regional differences in how we raise livestock. Those on the East coast tend to focus on pasture raised animals, while the landscape to the West is dominated by range flocks. Here in the Corn Belt, we tend to see a prevalence of dry-lot animals when winter arrives. Digging animals out of snow banks is not anyone’s idea of a good time. Nice livestock facilities are a dream that every single operation has, yet we know that those nice facilities are accompanied by a hefty price tag. This leads me to the question of this article: what are the space requirements of your sheep and goats and are you using your facilities to their maximum potential? Something we logically know, if we stop to think about it, is that while competition for feed and water can keep animals interested in eating, too much competition often leaves the bottom end (the shy and/or less healthy animals) falling even further behind their pen mates. Are we overstocking or understocking our pens in floor space or feed/water space? The appropriate stocking density will differ for each farm. Some producers prefer to run large groups, and others prefer to separate animals out into smaller groups. These methods are determined by each location’s on-farm goals.
When determining the appropriate facility needs for your operation, it is important to remember the following items as well:
• 6 inches of clean, dry bedding at a minimum
• Water depth of less than 12inch to prevent drowning of young lambs and kids
These charts can be a great reference for small ruminant space requirements.