Indigenous techniques for fabrication of thermo-insulated kid-hutch for improving performance of winter born goat kids

Dilip Kumar Mandal*, Ajoy Das, Asish Debberma and M Karunakaran

ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Eastern Regional Station, Kalyani, Nadia, West Bengal 741235


Neonatal survivability of winter born kids is a challenging issue. Exposure to cold stress in fist few weeks of birth has serious impact on kids’ health in terms of thermoregulations, morbidity, poor growth and even mortality due to diversion of energy to maintain homeostasis. Cold stress leads to hypoxia, hypoglycemia, metabolic acidosis, and changes in the metabolism of water and electrolytes. Herding together of goats along with kids during winter also cause death of kids due to smashing. Fabrication of goat-hutch with thermo-insulation properties can be one of the options to reduce the losses. Here in this manuscript we have described how a low cost thermo-insulated kid-hutch can be fabricated with locally available materials. Use of this hutch improve growth performance in winter born kids, reduce disease incidences and can enhance kid survivability. It is very easy to fabricate, economic, durable and cost-effective.

New born goat-kids are very susceptible to extraneous factors viz. cold, heat, rain, overcrowding, predators etc. Sizable proportions of kids die (4-30%) in India before weaning age of kids under different management systems. Maximum kid mortality occurs in winter as compared to other seasons. Goats are very vulnerable to cold and moist conditions of the floor. Among several diseases that cause death of kids, pneumonia is the major cause followed by coccidiosis and others. Winter season has serious impact on kids’ health in terms of morbidity, poor growth and even mortality. In kids hypothermia may occur due to chilled air and cold floor of the animal house. This cold stress leads to hypoxia, hypoglycemia, metabolic acidosis, and changes in the metabolism of water and electrolytes. New born kids need higher energy to maintain homeothermy and to execute other metabolic processes vital for early life. Decrease in energy balance due to more diversions of energy towards thermo-regulation, it causes decrease in body growth and a rise in mortality, particularly when the respiratory distress syndrome develops. Low air temperatures, combined with wind and rain seriously affect animals’ physical and behavioral thermoregulation mechanisms. Therefore, proper protection is necessary to avoid reduction in body growth, performance and loss due to mortality. Poor growth and kid mortality are major barriers to increase goat productivity and production efficiency in all types of goat production enterprises.

During winter season, to maintain homeostasis, goats aggregate together in warmer place of the animal shed. Young neonate due to mother kid bonding, hunger, safety, protections etc. remain closely attached to its mother; but simultaneously overcrowdings with flock mates owing to cold cause death of young kids by suffocation and smashing. This incidence could be avoided by warming the whole shed (costly affairs), creating more space arrangement (partially works because they search warmer places) and by making separate kid warming places, boxes or barrels. In the natural behaviour of goats, it is observed that after post-parturient nursing for few hours, mother goats (doe) left kids at birth place and go for grazing / feeding at nearby areas. Kid seek for hiding place to hide himself (that’s why goats are known as ‘hider’ animals) and waits for its mother to return back the place for suckling and nursing. This basic behaioural principal has to be utilized while fabrication of a kid-hutch. The present kid-hutch has been fabricated to provide warmth to kids, place for hiding or isolation while remaining within the shed and come out voluntarily to suckle the mother when feel hungry. Kids up to 2 months age can exit and enter into the fabricated kid-hutch, while others cannot.

Details of fabricated kid-hutch:

It is very simple to design and anybody can fabricate it with a little skill and knowledge. It can be prepared by locally available materials. Materials needed are wooden plates (takhta in hindi), iron nets, bamboo strips, paddy straw, polythene sheet, iron nails and nylon rope.

The fabricated kid-hutch looks like half-cut of a cylinder (Fig 1, A-E). The actual dimensions of present kid-hutch (Fig 1, A-E) were 100 cm length X 65 cm width and 65 cm central height. The suggested dimensions are length 4 feet (ft), wide 2 feet and central height 2 feet for measurement and fabrication easiness.

Floor of the kid-hutch:

The base or floor of the hutch should be prepared by wooden plates (4ft Length x 6 inches Width x ¾ inches Thickness), placing 4 plates side by side, keeping ½ inches gaps between plates (to pass urine) and fixing them by iron nails at the bottom supports. Around the floor base, four side supports of 2 inches wide wooden plates will help in the fixing of iron net dome and kids’ gate. Thus, the prepared floor becomes a tray type wooden floor with longitudinal slots. This prepared tray-floor can be filled with suitable bedding materials (chopped paddy straw, wheat bhusa, leaves etc.) during extreme cold weather conditions, if needed.

Insulated dome roof:

One iron net (4 ft X 6 ½ ft) should be fixed over the base floor, in a dome shape, keeping around 2 ft central height (Fig 1 A). Spread a polythene sheet over the iron net dome shaped roof. Then prepare a layer of paddy straw of 3-4 inches thick, keep a polythene sheet over the straw, then tie with nylon rope and bamboo sticks by compressing the straw. Polythene sheet prevent falling of darts inside the hutch and protect insulating thatch layer. Over the polythene sheet, one additional iron net can also be fixed. It gives more strength to the structures. Kids and sometimes goats playfully ride over the kid-hutch and additional iron net can enhance durability to the hutch. The sides of the half-circles can be protected by placing and fixing old tyres of wheels of a bi-cycle.

Kids’ gate:

The barricades of kids’ gate (as shown in Fig 1, A-E) have to be fixed with woods both at front and back side half-circles of the kid-hutch. The height of kids passages to be decided according to the breed size (here, we kept 20 cm height x 15 cm breath for Black Bengal goats kid), so that only kids of 1-2 months old can enter inside to kid-hutch. The kids’ gate can be opened and closed by fitting of hinges at one side; it allows easy cleaning when necessary. In extreme winter conditions, the back side of kid-hutch can be closed by a plastic or hard board temporarily, keeping only the front side open.

The wooden and iron items can be painted by suitable enamel paints for increasing durability of the structure. At the bottom of the hutch, wheels can be fixed with stoppers for easy movement while cleaning the goat shed and relocating the kid-hutch at another place of the shed.

Fig 1.  Steps for fabrication of thermo-insulated kid-hutch

Advantages of kid-hutch:

Fabricated kid box was much warmer than the surrounding areas. It protects kids from cold air, coming in contact to cold flooring surface, overcrowding and smashing by others animals during winner season. We observed that kids born during winter, since day-1 of their birth had accessed into the kid-hutch during night time by their basic natural behavioural instinct. More than 80% of night time, kids spent within the hutch. During suckling time, they came out from the hutch, suckle their mothers, spend few minutes with does and again returned back into the hutch. During day time, kids spend more time with their mothers and access to the hutch infrequently/occasionally. As age advances, time spend by kids within the kid-hutch during night gradually decreases. In this hutch (8 sq ft) 6-8 kids of 1-2 months age can be easily accommodated.

The spaces between wooden plates of the floor allow easy passage of urine and prevent the floor/bedding materials getting wet. The inside of kid-hutch remains warmer due to insulation by thatch roofing. Front and rear side opening allow some ventilation, prevent accumulation of foul air inside and at the same time, keep the barrel warmer as compared to surroundings. Wooden floor of the kid-hutch prevent kids exposure to cold floor surface, thereby, help kids in better thermoregulation. Therefore, on overall basis, adoption of kid-hutch in winter results into higher growth rate of kids, less diseases incidence and enhance kid survivability. In our experiments, we observed that winter born kids having provisions to kid-hutch for 2 months showed higher growth rates and at 4 months of age each kid had 0.8-1.0 kg more body weight as compared to the kids kept on concrete floor without any provisions of kid-hutch.

Cost benefit analysis

It is given in the Table 1. The estimated cost for fabrication of this hutch was Rs 1500/- (year 2021 price). The advantage of higher growth rate of kid-crop (approx, 1 kg more/kid i.e. 6 kg more kid-crop weight) compensate the expenditure incurred to fabricate the kid-hutch. Therefore, in one season, the farmer can cover up the expenditure incurred in fabrication of this kid-hutch. Besides, if properly maintained, the durability of the kid-hutch is about 10 years. If advantage of kid survivability is considered, the benefit will be much higher than the present estimates.

Table: Estimated expenditure and net gain from kid-hutch

Sl NoParticularsCost (Rs)
 Estimated expenditure 
1Wooden plates (4 ft x 6 inches x ¾ inches thickness)- 6 nos600.00
2.Iron net (1-2 inch x 1-2 inch; 3mm wire diameter)- 6.5 ft x 4ft600.00
3.Polythene, bamboo split, iron nails, straw, labour charges etc.300.00
4.Total expenditure1500.00
 Estimated income or benefits 
1.More kid-crop weight. Minimum @ 800 g more body weight per kid at 4 months age. 6 kids x 0.8 kg = 4.8 kg more body weight Live weight price @ Rs 350 /kg  live weight (minimum) Therefore, financial gain is 4.8 kg X Rs 350/= Rs 1680.001680.00
2.Benefit (Net income) in first winter season.   Durability of this hutch is >5 years. Next year onwards there is no cost on kid-hutch, but gain of Rs 1600/- due to more meat (body weight) biomass production. If mortality/survivability of kids is considered the expected benefits are much higher than present estimates.180.00


Use of insulated kid-hutch in wither seasons can increase welfare of kids. It can prevent cold exposure, enhance growth rate, reduce disease incidences and enhance survivability of kids. The kid-hutch is very easy to fabricate; can be made with locally available materials. Depending upon flock size, one can prepare more numbers of kid-hutch or little higher sized kid-hutches to accommodate the kids. The expenditure incurred for fabrication of kid-hutch can be compensated by the benefits obtained from one season of kid rearing. Expected durability of this kid warmer barrel is not less than 10 years. Therefore, once fabricated, goat farmers can continue to have its benefit for several years.