Development of an animal-friendly feeding system for horned goats

Project

 (c) Thünen-Institut/ J. Felix, H. Georg

Development of an animal-friendly feeding system for horned goats

Goats are gregarious and social animals with a dominance hierarchy. Individual out of parlour feeding of concentrates can be a useful technology but may increase agonistic behaviour and restlessness of the herd.

Background and Objective

Goats are very social animals with a strongly pronounced herd structure. The herd is very important for goats, all goats of a herd want to eat at the same time, if possible. This is why it is so important to provide a more than sufficient number of feeding places (1:1 goat/feeding place or better less than one goat per feeding place) when delivering roughage for goats, otherwise agonistic behavior and displacement around the feeding area will increase. Out of parlour feeding of concentrates for goats is economically and nutritionally sound, but may cause behavioural problems with a feeding place ratio of about 45:1. Agonistic interaction may increase, regardless to the horn status of the goat herd. In unfavourable conditions, these agonistic behavior may lead to injuries.

In order to avoid these disadvantages of an optimised, individual concentrate feeding, a concentrate feeder for goats developed in an animal-friendly way should minimize bottlenecks and dead ends, offer protection for feeding animals and enable “goat traffic” to separate waiting and other animals. Similar to the milking robot routines for dairy cows. For the adaptation of a concentrate feed station, the goat behaviour and special abilities of the goats could be used. This includes, for example, the ability to climb.

Objective: Development and testing of an animal-friendly out of parlour concentrate feeding station for horned (and hornless) goats to ensure good animal welfare and efficient feeding of dairy goats.

Target Group

Milchziegenhalter in Deutschland

Approach

Work flow of the optimization of concentrate feeding stations for horned dairy goats based on the state of the art:

Year 1:

  • Selection of suitable stations as development platforms and first tests on two dairy goat farms
  • Status quo of goat behavior without feeding station
  • Assessment of welfare and health status

Year 2

  • Practical testing of the feeding technology, feedback and correction by the end of 2nd year
  • Status quo of goat behavior with feeding station
  • Assessment of welfare, performance and health status

Year 3

  • Testing of the optimized technology
  • Status quo of goat behavior with feeding station
  • Assessment of welfare, performance and health status
  • economic evaluation

 

 

Methods

Holistic assessment of the impact of individual concentrate feeding on the animal:

  • Animal-based indicators (e. g. lesions, wounds, feeding behaviour, social behaviour)
  • Performance data (feed intake, milk yield, body condition and number of horned dairy goats per station)
  • Activity data of goats with the help of 3D accelerometers
  • optional: interaction of concentrated feed with basic feed quality and basic feed intake

Preliminary Results

Thünen-Contact


Involved Thünen-Partners


Involved external Thünen-Partners


Funding Body

  • Bundesland Baden-Württemberg
    (national, öffentlich)

Duration

1.2018 - 12.2020

More Information

Projekt type:
Funding program: EU - European Innovation Partnerships (EIP)
Project status: ongoing


Publications

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