Housing for sheep and goats won’t break the bank of the small-stock farmer

There are times when a small-stock farmer needs to confine or contain animals even when they are veld ranging like many of Africa’s goats. Shelters for small-stock need not be expensive to be effective.

Extensively run meat goats are very difficult to keep inside a fenced camp and will find a way out, but dairy goats need more care. Although they are tough, sheep and goats need protection in cold, wet and windy weather. Lambs and newly shorn animals are especially vulnerable.

Shelters often have one side open, which would be the side away from the prevailing wind.
On the weather side, it’s a good idea to have a solid wall, often of local stone. For the two sides adjoining this wall, cheaper materials will do.

I’ve anchored two layers of chicken mesh, about 30cm apart, onto posts, and stuffed hay into the space between, to protect young animals from bad weather. If the hay is eaten, it’s easy enough to replace.

When temperatures are high, animals must have shade. If your camp has no natural shade, put a tin roof onto four wooden posts. Just angle the roof for maximum shade.

This fence is inexpensive but very effective. The farmer has used an old gate and a piece of corrugated iron as a barrier to keep the breeding pair in, and others out, during the critical mating period.


Pole or frame-type building works well, as long as it’s clean, dry and well ventilated. It is important for air to circulate so that ammonia doesn’t build up inside because this can lead to lung problems.

Goats don’t need concrete floors. Although they are easier to clean, they can be cold and uncomfortable. If the floor is concrete lay straw down for bedding, and replace it daily to keep bacteria to a minimum.

Earth floors absorb more urine so less bedding is needed. They are also warmer. If the north facing wall is open, the animals will get more sun and warmth in the colder months and more shade in summer.

Goats are browsers, and they will chisel away at wooden structures, which is why some farmers prefer to use concrete walls.

A planted hedge will work as a barrier if you erect a double fence to protect the hedge from being eaten. Use vertical slats to stop the goats from standing on the fence to get at the hedge.

Stick to the basic needs with small-stock housing, but keep structures durable.

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