Housing your livestock

Smallholder Feeds
Smallholder Beef, Sheep and Goat
Housing your livestock - ForFarmers UK


Some breeds of cattle are happy to be out in the winter as long as they have access to a well drained lying area. However, it is usually good practice to house the cattle for the worst of the winter months.

Housing makes it easier to feed them and it also protects the pastures from poaching, ensuring that grass is available for them in the spring. Housing for cattle doesn’t have to be elaborate as long as it is big enough to keep the cattle clean, comfortable and away from draughts.

The feeding area should allow enough space for all the cattle to feed, if feed is not provided on an ad lib basis.

Housing Requirements

The accommodation should allow them to interact with each other and for the weaker animals to avoid the more dominant animals.

  • Calves - 0-6 months 18 hours labour/animal (bucket system)
  • Ad-Lib Beef 9 hours labour/animal
  • Trough Space/Bull 150mm for ad-lib feeding
  • One water bowl per 10 bulls
  • Floor Area/Calf 0-8 weeks 1.1 square metres
  • Floor Area/Calf 8-12 weeks 1.5 square metres
  • Floor Area/Calf 3-6 months 1.5-2.0 square metres
  • Floor Area/Calf 6-12 months 1.9-3.5 square metres
  • Sloped area 1:20 of bedded area
  • 20 cattle in group (70 square metres)
  • Straw usage for bedding 2kg/head/day


Sheep are happy to be kept outside for most of the year, but winter housing as they approach lambing time can improve welfare and make life easier on the stock person throughout the lambing period

Young lambs also appreciate adequate shelter from the worst of the weather.

Housed sheep do not need a temperature higher than that outside but do need adequate ventilation and to be free from high humidity, condensation and draughts to avoid respiratory diseases.

Sheep Pens

Allow 1.1m2 (12sq ft) per ewe for medium sized ewes.

Internal surfaces of pens should be able to be easily cleaned and disinfected.

Floors should be well drained and able to provide a comfortable lying area.

Clean water should be freely available.


Goats need dry, draught free and well ventilated shelter away from the elements, providing sufficient headroom for the goats to stand upright, on its hind legs with its neck outstretched.

The lying area should be dry, preferably a straw / hay covered floor.

You should house your goats in either a penned or communal area. Deciding at an early stage what system you want to use.

Housing Goats

The penning system is where the house is divided into individual pens and communal housing is where all the goats are together in one large area. (This is generally used in larger enterprises with smaller enterprises favouring the penned system).

Housed goats should have access to a yard or pasture with the space allowance for penned goats being calculated in relation to size and age - usually allow a minimum of 2sq m / goat. If the goats are penned, make sure they can see each other, as it is important for their well being. They are gregarious characters and can get distressed if left on their own.

Purposely constructed goat houses can be made of wood, stone or concrete. Do not use metal as this can be cold in winter and too hot during the summer.

Ensure adequate drainage, so that the floors can be washed down easily, floor space with a slight slope is ideal.

Main requirements in your goat's housing will need to be:

  • Mains for electric lighting
  • Fixtures and fittings for hayracks, food & water buckets
  • Mineral or salt licks
  • Well ventilated, but not draughty
  • Small bench for kid goats to lie under and jump on

Get in touch with our Farmgate specialists

Contact our team for advice or find your local stockist.

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