Proper Goat Pen
The Goat Pen
The project requires that each family build a pen that sits above the ground, with a slotted floor, lamina roof and attached trough for food and water (see Cartilla Técnica for Modulo Pecuario Caprino). Each family is provided with the lamina and nails, and expects the family to contribute the wood and any other materials needed to complete the pen.
This manner of keeping the goat has a number of advantages over the traditional pastoral method:
Allows the family to collect the manure that falls through the slotted floor for use as organic fertilizer;
- Prevents the goat from eating poisonous fruit trees or trash (which is a growing problem in the Guatemalan countryside);
- Is beneficial for the health of the animal in avoiding parasites; and
- Allows the family to monitor and control the impregnation of the goat.
Families are provided with three pieces of lamina, costing approximately Q83 (about $11) each. Pen construction requires at least 8 boards, which as of July 2008 cost approximately Q20 each, for a cost of Q160-200 ($21 - $27). There is also the opportunity cost of the time spent building the pen.
Specifications for building the pens are found in the Cartilla Técnica. In each community the GA builds the first pen at his home with the help of the male heads of households that will receive goats. In this way the heads of household learn the specifications of how the pen should be built, with the goal of replicating the specifications in their own pens.
While great variation was observed among the resulting goat pens, most met a minimum standard for safety and health. The most common problem observed with goat pens were floors with inadequate, or a complete absence of, openings through which the manure should fall. Poorly constructed floors causes the build up of feces, which is detrimental to the goat’s health. In one community families were concerned because the lamina for the pens had not arrived before the goats and so there was no way of protecting them from the rain.
The Cartilla Técnica specifies that the feeding trough be attached externally to the pen, and that the water source (usually a plastic dish) be kept in one end of the trough. While almost all pens visited had a feeding trough, a significant percentage of goats visited had no water source at the time of visit, or the water dish was kept inside the pen. The former is contrary to the best practice advising that goats should have water available at all times, and the latter is unacceptable because the water becomes dirty with manure. The Cartilla Tecnica also specifies that each pen have a small wooden box nailed inside the pen for holding salt and minerals needed by the goat.