For ruminant animals raised for fattening purposes, how many animals is recommended for a housing unit? This largely depends on the dimension of your housing unit.
However, I will not advice keeping too many animals in a housing unit because this will increase competition for feeds and space and also increase the rate of injuries done to one another.
For cattle, I will like to recommend between 4 and 6 while for sheep and goat, keeping ten in a housing unit may not be bad. Before deciding on the actual number to keep, it is better your consultant is carried along right from the time of construction.
Livestock / Ruminant Animals Housing
Most farm animals need some kind of shelter to escape the elements. Most people think winter is the most important time to provide shelter but an animal’s natural coat can allow them to tolerate much colder temperatures than people can.
Summer heat can by far, be harder on animals than winter if shade is not available to them either by trees or structures if they are out on pasture, or lack of ventilation in a barn or building.
Many livestock animals like pigs and rabbits, do not sweat, so heat stroke can quickly set in. A simple, three-sided shelter with an open front will meet the needs of many farm animals on pasture and is often the building of choice to raise healthy livestock.
When designing a three-sided animal shelter, make sure the open side faces south, away from prevailing winds. Locate the structure on an elevated, well-drained site and keep winter access in mind for feeding and water handling.
Factors to Consider when Planning Adequate Livestock / Ruminant Animals Housing
There are several factors to consider when planning adequate livestock shelter in cold weather:
• Air quality: Animal shelters should be open, providing natural ventilation, or enclosed, using fans and proper air inlets around the ceiling perimeter to provide good air circulation.
Tight buildings result in a buildup of respiration gases, and animal odors, which can irritate the animal’s lungs and cause pneumonia. Dangerous ammonia levels can also build up and lead to suffocation death of animals and their caretakers.
• Drafts: Animals can stand cold temperatures, but you should protect them from drafts. Constructing panels in front of an open building can reduce drafts. Consider drafts at animal height, not person height.
When animals are allowed to run loose in a pen instead of being hitched, they will search for the most comfortable spots as needed.
• Dry bedding area: Animals will be far more comfortable in the cold if they have clean, dry bedding. A thick, dry bed provides insulation from the cold ground and decreases the amount of energy the animal has to expend to keep warm. Shelter from the snow and rain allows an animal’s coat to remain dry, which provides maximum insulating value.
• Fresh water2: All animals need water to survive. Under cold conditions, provide fresh water often or use freeze-proof watering devices. Animals will drink more when water is 50°F.
• Adequate food: Animals can endure severe cold temperatures if they eat enough food (energy) to maintain their energy reserves (body fat). Animals need energy for growth and maintenance.
Extra energy is expended to keep warm. Therefore, they will require additional amounts of good quality feed during cold weather. For herbivores, free choice hay in hay racks should be supplied in addition to a purchased feed.
Meanwhile, the main purpose of livestock production is to convert the energy in feed into products that can be utilized by human beings, such as milk, eggs, meat, wool, hair, hides and skins, draught power and manure (fertilizer).
Traditional, extensive livestock production involving indigenous breeds and low-cost feeding will usually have low performance and can therefore only justify minimal, if any, expenditure for housing.
However, where improved breeds, management and feeding are available it will usually be economically beneficial to increase the production intensity.
Selection of Site for Farm Building
Proper housing which is conducive to good health, comfort and protection from inclement weather and which would enable the animals to utilize their genetic ability and feed for optimal production.
For construction of farm buildings selection of site is most important. Before selecting a site the following points are to be considered,
Soil must be suitable for strong foundation.
Marcy, clay, sandy, rock soils are not suitable.
Loamy and gravely soils are best suited for building construction.
2. Availability of land
There should be vast area to construct all building and should give way to future expansion of farm.
Atleast 2-3 acre land is required for 200 cows accommodation.
For 2 cows 1-acre land is essential for fodder production.
3. Drainage system
Proper drainage of rain and subsoil water should be provided to keep healthy environment and to protect the building from dampness.
4. Availability of water
Plenty of water is needed for farm operations like washing, fodder cultivation, processing of milk and byproducts and for drinking.
Hence a water source which provides water constantly is essential.
It should be available at the site.
It is needed for operating various machines used in the farm and is the light source to the animals.
6. Protection from wind and solar radiation
If the farm building in open or exposed area, the wind breaks in the farm of tall quick growing trees should be grown near the building.
This will reduce the wind velocity and solar radiation.
7. Protection from noise and other disturbance
The farm site should be away from noise producing factory/chemical industry, sewage disposing area.
The industrial effluents in the form of gaseous or liquid may pollute surrounding resources.
Noise is also found to affect the animal production. Hence the farm should be away from city.
8. Availability of market facility
The farm should be away from the city but at the same time it should be nearer to city thereby the products produced from the farm could be marketed easily.
9. Transport facility
The farm buildings should be provided with good road and also have the accessibility to reach the market.
This will reduce the transport cost and avoid spoilage of products.
Other facilities like availability of telephone, nearby school for children of farm workers, post office, shopping center and entertainment facilities should be provided.
Read Also: Stocking Management for Ruminant Animals
Factors to be Considered while Designing a Livestock Farm
Different types of enterprises such as dairy, piggery, sheep and goat units need different building design. So the design should be prepared to meet the need of a particular enterprise.
Each enterprise may adapt different systems of production and management. The design may be influenced by enterprise also. The following factors may be considered while designing a livestock farm,
1. Designing for unit
It is desirable to design the accommodation for a workable unit.
It will give opportunity to study the need of smaller group with regard to floor space, feeding space required for different kinds of animals.
2. Structural form
Shape and design of building should meet the needs of all classes of livestock.
Uniformity in the appearance should be maintained. We have to decide the number of animals to be housed in the building and number of buildings to be constructed.
3. Designing for flexibility
Animal building has to be designed to meet the requirement of changing enterprises.
This will increase the utility of buildings. Spacious building without pillars can be easily being adopted for different enterprises with little modifications in the building.
For example large intensive dairy buildings can be used for rearing pig or sheep and goat with little modification.
4. Shape of the roof
It is designed to suit the local climatic conditions. Gable with roof ventilator is necessary for hot condition.
Monitor roof is suitable for building with smaller width.
5. Standard width of buildings
Single row cow shed should have length of 3. 80 to 4.25 metres and
Double row cow shed should have 7. 90 to 8.70 metres length.
6. Standard height of the building
The standard height of the building may differ according to the roofing material and agro climatic condition.
7. Length of building
The standard length of building may be of any. It may vary depends upon the number of animals housed.
Length can be determined based on the total stock to be housed within the building.
Example: In case of dairy 15-20 animals in single row system and 20-50 animals in double row system and above 50 animals a separate shed should be provided.
Designing the Animal Building for Production and Product Control
1. Environmental controlled house
Recent trend in animal house is to control the bad effect of environmental factors to provide comfort condition to the animals.
In tropical building, choice of building material and method should be employed to prevent heat radiation from sun in to the building through roof, wall and surrounding ground.
Non- conducting material with sufficient insulation will prevent various kinds of heat radiation.
Comfortable air velocity, optimum humidity should be maintained in the building.
These entire factors will have effect on production, fertility, fecundity and prolificacy.
2. Quality of products
High quality milk and egg can be produced only in certain type of houses, which are specially designed for it.
For example certified high quality eggs are produced only in cages with roll away floor arrangement or in slatted floor arrangement.
Certified high quality milk with low bacterial counts can be produced only in the parlour system of milking.
3. Labour control
One of the major expenses in a farm is the cost of labour.
Labour cost can be reduced and designing the animal house properly and labour efficiency can be improved by double row arrangement of animals and animal building facilitates circular travel and two-way job.
Construction of alleys/passages like feed alley, milk alleys, egg collection alleys animal weighment yard are designed to reduce the labour cost.
4. Disease control
Animal house should be designed properly to effect disease control.
Provision of washable and easily drained floor, washable walls will control spread of diseases.
Designing of suitable drainage system for quick and hygienic disposal of wastes is required for preventing disease.
External loose box accommodation is necessary for isolation of sick animal.
Dampness resistant surface will reduce the high humidity, which is the predisposing cause for respiratory disease in young animals.
5. Standard height of the building
The height of the building may differ according to the roofing material and agro-climatic condition.
6. Length of the building
The building may be of any length. In case of dairy 15-20 animals in single row system and 20 – 50 animals in double row system and above 50 animals a separate shed should be provided.
The length can be determined based on the total stock to be housed with the building.
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