Skip to Content

How Many Goats Per Acre?

How Many Goats Per Acre: Optimizing Goat Stocking Rates for Health and Productivity

Properly managing goat stocking rates and figuring out how many goats per acres is a pivotal aspect of successful goat farming, with a focus on controlling internal parasites and preventing over-crowding. Striking the right balance ensures the well-being of your herd and promotes a healthy and productive environment. Let’s delve into the key considerations for determining goat stocking rates per acre.

For goats, because of how fast they digest their food and what they eat and need to eat, the answer to this isn’t as straight forward as it is for a cow operation. 

Don't overstock--find out how many goats per acre!

*We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here for more info about cookies collected and our privacy policy.

1. Controlling Internal Parasites: The Parasitic Challenge

Goats are particularly susceptible to internal parasites such as worms, which can thrive in environments with high stocking rates. Overcrowded conditions increase the risk of parasite transmission, leading to compromised health and reduced productivity in the herd.

2. The Role of Stocking Rates in Parasite Management

a. Rotational Grazing:

  • Implementing rotational grazing is a strategic approach to control internal parasites.
  • By rotating pastures, goats have access to fresh forage while allowing contaminated areas to rest and break the parasite life cycle.
  • Goats instinctively know that they should eat from the top down to not only get the most nutritious form of food but they also avoid worms this way by not eating close to the ground. If the forage is overgrazed, and they are grazing a pasture of grass, they will go to the base of the plant to get the most tender, new growth available but in the process, they will pick up more worms. 
  • The more land you have for them to roam allows more room for them to be apart from each other and from their feces.

b. Targeted Deworming:

  • Proper stocking rates enable more effective targeted deworming practices.
  • Overcrowded conditions make it challenging to identify and treat individual goats, leading to a higher risk of widespread parasite infestations.
  • You must do regular fecals and then you must check to see if the dewormer actually worked by doing another fecal ten days after worming. 
  • If the dewormer didn’t work then you need to change what you used. You can follow the protocol and dosing information in My Parasite Control Plan Binder linked below. 


3. Avoiding Over-Crowding: The Pitfalls of High Stocking Rates

a. Health Implications:

  • Over-crowding compromises the overall health of goats.
  • Stress, competition for resources, and increased exposure to pathogens contribute to a weakened immune system.
  • If a goat is forced to graze in a pasture that has too many goats, and that is also full of grasses that are too stemmy with a high lignin count, they will eat close to the ground, getting the most tender shoots from the grass growing at the base of the plant and then they will pick up stomach worms and meningeal worms, which can devastate a herd. 

b. Nutrition Challenges:

  • In over-crowded conditions, competition for forage and nutrition intensifies.
  • Goats may experience nutritional deficiencies, hindering growth rates and reproductive performance.
  • Goats are very picky eaters. They will not eat some of the items that a cow or horse or even a sheep would. They also will eat a different variety of food based on the time of day, eating different things in the morning than they would in the evening if given the choice. 
  • This pickiness is not meant to gall you. It’s actually an instinct built into their survival instincts. Goats have the fastest metabolism out of all the ruminants. They digest their food in as little as 11-14 hours as compared to a cow’s digestion of 2-3 days.  Because of this, they need highly digestible food. This means that grasses and forage with a high lignin of above 40, can’t be digest properly by a goat to get the nutrients they need to thrive. 

4. Determining Ideal Stocking Rates

a. Soil and Forage Assessment:

  • Conduct a thorough assessment of soil quality and forage availability.
  • Understanding the carrying capacity of your land helps determine suitable stocking rates. Just remember, capacity for a goat is not based on how much grass is grown but by how well they can be maintained without a high worm load.

b. Rotational Grazing Plans:

  • Develop a rotational grazing plan to maximize forage utilization.
  • Adequate rest periods for pastures are essential to prevent overgrazing and maintain forage quality.
  • Goats do live best in dryer climates but with a rotational system of at least three pastures that give at least three weeks rest in between will help break the cycle of the stomach worm which has a life-cycle of three weeks. 
  • Keep pastures well drained and in wet seasons be prepared to supplement with hay to keep them off the wet, worm infested pasture.
  • Moving a cow through a pasture behind the goats can also help. The cow will eat the vegetation with the parasites, not be affected by them but also remove them from the plants. 

c. Monitoring Body Condition:

  • Regularly monitor the body condition of your goats.
  • Adjust stocking rates based on observed changes in body condition, ensuring optimal health and productivity.
  • Cull goats that can’t handle a worm load.

5. Tailoring Stocking Rates to Goat Types

a. Consideration for Age and Size:

  • Different age groups and sizes of goats have varying forage and space requirements.
  • Adjust stocking rates accordingly, especially when incorporating kids or larger breeds.

b. Adapting to Seasonal Changes:

  • Stocking rates may need adjustment during different seasons.
  • Factors like forage availability, weather conditions, and kidding seasons impact the ideal stocking rate.

6. Consultation and Continuous Evaluation

a. Veterinary Input:

  • Seek advice from a veterinarian to tailor stocking rates to your specific herd and land conditions.
  • Regular health checks and fecal testing contribute to effective parasite management.

b. Continuous Assessment:

  • Regularly reassess stocking rates based on environmental changes and herd dynamics.
  • Flexibility in adjusting rates ensures adaptability to evolving conditions.
  • Continually and regularly do fecals on your goats to ensure that they are not overrun with worms and that you can keep them in check before they take out your goats. 
  • Be wise in how many goats you are raising on the property you own so that there doesn’t become a problem with too many goats with many health issues because of overcrowding and worm infestations. 

Conclusion: Striking a Balance for Healthy Herds

Goat stocking rates must align with a dual focus on internal parasite control and avoiding over-crowding. By carefully managing these factors, goat farmers can foster a healthy and productive environment, ensuring the well-being of their herds and maximizing the benefits of sustainable land use. Regular monitoring, thoughtful planning, and adaptation to changing conditions are key elements in maintaining optimal stocking rates for thriving goat populations.

There’s a lot more to learn about goats: Raising Goats Resource Page

I accept the Privacy Policy