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Choosing Livestock Containment

Choosing livestock containment depends on your species of stock. It is important to have enough room for your animals to grow and develop. For grazing and foraging animals, you must provide sufficient space for them to access the food they need. Most livestock require indoor space, where they can be protected from the elements, as well as outdoor space.

How much space you need for cattle care depends on the type and size of your cows, as well as the size of your herd. If penned, each cow should have enough room in his pen to turn around while standing, and to lie on his sternum (allowing sufficient space to get up and down easily from this position).

Ideally, when choosing livestock containment for goats and sheep, each animal should have a minimum of around 15 to 20 square feet of space. Goats usually like to sleep on small elevated platforms, and young goats often play on the floor below these sleeping niches during the day.

Swine should be afforded a minimum of eight to ten square feet per animal of indoor space for sleeping. This may need to be adjusted for very large hogs, and can be reduced somewhat for young or very small pigs.

Poultry are generally kept in a coop. If they are kept almost exclusively indoors, plan to have a total of at least ten square feet per bird, to allow them sufficient room and prevent the birds from pecking one another due to over crowding. This space allotment includes both feeding and sleeping space, but is a good overall per-bird figure. If your chickens have sufficient space to roam freely outdoors, their coop need only include around three square feet per bird to provide sufficient sleeping area.

Barns should have sufficient airflow to allow the livestock to receive fresh air, and a solid roof to keep them dry in inclement weather. Protection from drafts is important for most animals as well. The type of floor and ground covering needed varies by animal. Straw or sawdust make appropriate ground covering for the cattle, and should be cleaned and replaced regularly. For goats and sheep, a packed clay floor is usually better than concrete, which retains cold in the winter, or wood, which absorbs urine and waste and can rot. Straw or hay makes good bedding for swine, but be sure to replace it often, both to prevent them from eating the dirty materials and to keep their sleeping areas clean.

The amount of outdoor space needed when choosing livestock containment also varies by species. For pasture animals, it is important to ensure sufficient space for the land to provide forage and grazing for all of the animals. Livestock containment for swine should always include a mud hole or small pool or pond for cooling during warm weather.

When choosing livestock containment, always be sure outdoor areas are securely fenced. Livestock such as poultry and any young offspring also need to be well-protected from predators. Fences around chicken coops should be sunk several feet below ground to protect against predators digging under them. Choosing livestock containment that is appropriate in type and size for your animals is important to their overall well-being.

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