Pasture Question

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by Kelsiekoos, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. Kelsiekoos

    Kelsiekoos Guest

    May 24, 2009
    Hello All! I am currently in the research faze of goat raising. We are looking to get Kiko goats because we live in the hot and humid southeast. I have done tons of reading and believe I want to pasture raise our goats as much as possible...partly because they will be our plant crowd control :leap: . I have two questions...1st - Our land is so thick with vines, saplings, weeds, just general brush I guess you could call it, that you can't even walk across the property. So based on the scales I keep reading about is this considered excellent pasture for goats...meaning we can stock about 10 goats to an acre? 2nd- We will be fencing in 40 acres. We will divide this into 4 pastures to rotate them 4 times a year to kill off parasites. So I guess that means they will be moved every 3 months. So do I base my stocking rate for our farm on just the 10 acre pastures or on the entire 40 since they will be rotated so often? BTW, I do understand they will still need supplement feed. If this has already been asked and answered could someone please direct me where to go - Thanks! Stephanie
  2. Kelsikoos -

    The goats will L O V E your weedy & brushy areas! They will eat it right up! 10 goats to the acre is a little high if they're bigger goats. I have 11 Nigerian Dwarves & Pygmies and that is about all I want on our 1.5 acres. For me, its enough room that I dont need to supplement with extra feed... the forage is enough. I think if you stock 10 meat goats (Boers, Kikos) on an acre, they will eventually eat it all up i.e. they will eat it faster than it can regrow. You would need hay or grain to fill them up so they dont completely eat down & kill the pasture.

    40 acres is A LOT of room. If you fence it right, that can hold a large number of goats indefinitely. My understanding of the move schedule is that you want to move every week to ten days and not return for a month, longer if it is wet. On day 1, the goats will be shedding feces w/ parasite eggs. By the time the larvae are hatching and climbing, you're ready to move on. This should lessen their internal parasite load.

    MiG is hard with goats b/c they require so much more fencing that a cow. I initially thought I could control my herd with 3 wires of electric & step-in posts and then move the fence & goats every week. It didnt work b/c my goats would just walk right through the fence! I needed to space the posts much closer and use 7 wires (though I could probably get away with 6 or even 5). Rolling & unrolling 5 wires every week is a lot of work so I just made several larger, permanent pastures and rotate them through. They STILL get through the fence... actually, under it. Even with the wire pulled tight and a hot HOT H-O-T fence they will still take a shock to get at fresh multiflora rose! Its a work in progress!

    I would see how long 1 acre will hold 10 goats, see how quickly it regrows when they're taken off, then use that information to determine the stocking rate in your area.

  3. Kelsiekoos

    Kelsiekoos Guest

    May 24, 2009
    AlecBGreen- Thanks so much for the reply. I didn't realize they would need moved so often. That should be fine though because we will be putting up permanent barrier fence around the whole 40 with maybe something a little less expensive to divide since if they get through that it won't be a big deal...I'll just move them back to the side they should be on :)

    I guess what I still don't understand though is this...when we look at how many goats we can stock on our property do we look at one 10 acre pasture ie. say 7 goats per acre rotated between 4 pastures every week or so would be 70 goats on the whole property or since we have 4 - 10 acre pastures, again 7 goats per acre, would it be 280 goats rotated every week or so on the whole property?

    Thanks again!
  4. With any type of livestock system, you basically have two options:

    1) Set-stock the paddock. This is where you have a certain number of animals in a pasture and they stay put. This is also called continuous grazing. Set-stocking might be for a single growing season or it might be permanent.

    2) Rotational grazing. It sounds like this is what you want to do. You have a large paddock divided into smaller cells and rotate the animals through the smaller cells based on forage availability or by the calendar. Typically an area will have a greater stocking rate (more animals per unit area) with rotational grazing.

    Lets say you have two farms, both are 10 acres. Farm A has a single perimeter fence around the 10 acres and set-stocks this large paddock with 50 goats. The stocking rate is 5 goats per acre. Farm B has a 10 acre field divided into 10 1-acre cells. Total stocking rate is the same (50 goats/10 acres = 5 goats/acre) but the temporary stock density is MUCH higher b/c all 50 goats are crammed into 1 acre at a time. Assuming they take a week to eat all the forage, they would be moved weekly through the cells and would return to the 1st cell by the 11th week, assuming it has regrown sufficiently.

    The vast majority of people set-stock their livestock for several reasons. Its "easier" its "cheaper" and it takes "less time." (I would argue all three points). Also, "everyone else does it." Ranchers tend to have a herd mentality (go figure!)

    Lets look at your farm. You have 40 acres and you want to know the best way to stock it. You will have a perimeter fence around all 40 acres. This is a VERY large pasture to subdivide temporarily. Lets say you break this large pasture down into 4 permanent, 10-acre paddocks. Each one of these 10 acre paddocks could be further subdivided temporarily for rotational grazing. To determine the carrying capacity of your whole 40-acre pasture, determine the length of time it takes for a certain number of animals to eat the forage in a given area. Divide the TOTAL ACREAGE of your farm by the acreage of the TEST PADDOCK and multiply by the length of time. This will tell you how long all 40 acres will last (assuming no regrowth) with that number of animals.

    Example: Divide one of the 10-acre paddocks into 1 acre cells. Put 5 goats in one cell & see how long the forage lasts (lets say 2 weeks for only 5 goats). Move them to the next 1-acre cell & repeat. Lets say it lasts another 2 weeks. So our 10 acre paddock is averaging 1 acre/2 weeks (=0.5 acres/week) with 5 goats. That means the entire farm should be able to feed 5 goats for 80 weeks assuming no regrowth. (40 acres / 1 acre x 2 weeks = 80 weeks).

    Its really just trial and error. Some paddocks will have more food and some less, even if they're the same size, just because of the plant diversity, terrain, soil, type, etc. You also have to factor in weather and the size of your goats. I think you just need to try it out and see how long the food lasts. I initially made my grazing cells WAY too small and they were cleaned out inside a week. Im looking for them to last 2-3 weeks so I tripled the size. They're lasting much longer now, plus I dont have to spend so much time fencing.

    What type of goats do you have/will you have? Will you be doing the fencing or hiring someone? If you DIY, it makes making changes based on your learning curve MUCH easier :)

    Hope all this rambling helps :wink:
  5. StaceyRosado

    StaceyRosado Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2007
    if you arent expecting to let them free forage for all their food then you can certainly put more goats on 10-40 acres.

    See I have 1 acre on that we have a house, large garden, dog pen, backyard, front yard chicken pen and goat pen. The goat pen is 50x30 aprox and it houses 7 goats plus kids at a time. it is a dry lot so I have to let them forage outside at my own time or I have to feed them hay and grain (which is what I do).

    This works for me and for many people.

    So yes I do believe you can put more then 10 goats on 40 acres :)