Finding the optimum balance between the size of your goat herd and the available forage is critical for successful grazing management, regardless of whether your farm is on a continuous or a rotational grazing system. Here we explain how many goats per acre is acceptable.
As much as you don’t want to underutilize the farm’s capacity, it is always better to reduce the number of goats when the space is limited because you might end up straining both your resources and the poor livestock.
Making this decision would be much easier if you had a way to determine the capacity of your farm to accommodate healthy goats. Knowing the recommended number of goats per acre is a good place to start. This article is dedicated to helping you arrive at this figure based on the specific conditions on your farm.
How Many Goats Per Acre?
When determining what is the ideal number of goats per acre, consider the average farm can support approximately six to eight goats per acre of land. This is if the said acre of land has sufficient quality forage to sustain the goats. The capacity to sustain goats can reduce drastically if the quality of forage is wanting.
Other variables besides the quality of forage affect the number of goats per acre your land can sustain. If you wish to expand your herd, some adjustments must be made to ensure the space is sufficient for their grazing and browsing needs. Keep reading to get more insights about your land’s optimal goat rearing capacity.
How Big Is an Acre of Land?
An acre of land occupies 43,560 square feet, approximately 208 feet by 208 feet if you visualize it as a square. If this technical illustration still doesn’t make sense, we’ll compare it with an American football field. A standard football field is 57,600 square feet, which makes an acre of land three quarters the size of the field.
This mental picture is important as it will anchor how you interpret the rest of this article.
What to Consider When Determining the Optimal Number of Goats Per Acre
Breed or Size of the Goats on the Farm
The smaller the size of the goats on the farm, the less food they need and the smaller the space required to host them. Size is a consequence of the herd’s average age and the species of goats in consideration.
Some goat breeds like the Nigerian dwarf goats are remarkably small even when fully grown (the male will only grow up to 23.5 inches tall). Like the Boer breed, others will give a small cow a run for its weight. A Boer goat farmer should limit his herd to six per acre, while you can rear up to eight Nigerian Dwarfs or Pygmy goats per acre.
Use your discretion for the rest of the goat breeds whose sizes fall in the middle, in conjunction with the other considerations mentioned in this article.
Purpose for Raising
Another consideration is if you are raising goats to clear brush. If you are solely raising goats for brush management, you can raise more per acre than if you are raising meat goats.
The climate will affect the goats’ grazing and browsing habits significantly. No forage production will keep the goats fed throughout the year. Some plants grow aggressively during summer, while others, a rare group, thrive in winter.
The warm summertime temperatures have grass and forage production, allowing you to increase the number of goats per yard on your goat farm as there’s plenty of food to go around. During winter, the grass becomes dormant, and you might have to resort to expensive hays and supplements if you let the herd grow too big in summer.
General Availability of Feed on the Land
You can raise more goats if the piece of land has sufficient levels of grains, grass, and other fodder that your goat breed can feed on than if it is an arid or bare tract. Goats will thrive where there are overgrown pastures, in wooded areas with low-hanging leaves and thickets. It is even better when the climate supports quick growth for replacement.
The bare tracts of land can be improved by planting fodder supplements or adopting rotational grazing systems to allow them time to replenish. There is more on rotational farming below.
Factors that Determine Goat Stocking Ratios
These are considerations that cut across all farms, regardless of the richness of their resources, that need to be considered when goat farming.
Eating Habits of the Goat
What do goats eat? Goats prefer browsing to grazing. They enjoy the roughage on the goat farm, and you will find them mostly eating at chin level whenever possible. They will strip leaves from trees and devour shrubs before turning to fresh grass as the last option. Their quality of life is significantly improved if your land can provide their type of forage.
This ability to survive on a wider variety of vegetation enables you to feed more goats per acre than similar livestock like sheep, who are exclusive grazers. Sheep don’t require a lot of separation, though, so more of them can be accommodated per acre than goats in many instances.
We have a similar article on the number of sheep per acre that you can refer to for comparison if you are contemplating between raring sheep or goats. Learn about the difference between sheep and goats.
Susceptibility to Internal Parasites
Sheep and goats have to maintain a distance between them to mitigate the spread of intestinal parasites. Goats need even more space to roam and graze than sheep. Experts recommend that each goat on your goat farm gets their own 10 square feet indoors and 200 square feet outdoors for a healthy existence.
Parasites grow and reproduce in certain environments where goats live, exposing them to possible infestations. Some worms, flukes, and other intestinal parasites grow and reproduce in snails found in stagnant water, while others lay their eggs on wet vegetation.
Others like coccidia thrive in confined spaces and are the most common causes of diarrhea in young goats who are yet to fully develop their own immunity.
The provision of ample browsing areas also decreases the instances of ingestion of parasitic eggs from grazing forages.
How Many Goats Per Acre of Rotational Grazing?
As a goat farmer raising goats for profit, you might opt for the rotational grazing system instead of increasing the number of goats if you own a couple or more acres of land. This system involves dividing your pasture into paddocks and erecting barriers between the paddocks so that the goats can only graze in one of the paddocks at a time.
Rotational grazing allows the grass and the rest of the foliage to regenerate in the resting paddocks so that pasture is available throughout the year. The animal manure is also spread evenly across the land, and the goats get more exercise while enjoying a wider variety of forage and other natural resources. The pastures get a chance to be clean and devoid of parasites when goats haven’t grazed on them for six to twelve months.
The ideal maximum number of goats per acre for rotational grazing remains six to eight or whatever capacity you determined your farm can host. The advantage of this approach is the risk of overgrazing the pasture is minimized as you will just move the herd to the next paddock when they seem to have depleted their current pasture. Learn what to feed goats to gain weight, especially when raising meat goats.
The recommended stocking ratio of goats per acre when goat farming is between six to eight if you want them to stay healthy and grow. You can tweak this number when raising goats depending on the size of your goats and your farm’s available resources.
Learn more about adding goats to your homestead or small farm. Whether you want to raise meat goats such as kiko goats or dairy goats such as nubian goats or toggenburg goats, or a breed such an alpine goat which is good for both milk and meat, there is a breed for you and the acreage you own.
Keep reading to learn more about raising goats as livestock: