March 24, 2014

Goat Fencing

I've been asked many times what kind of fencing works best for goats. An old saying goes that if a fence can't hold water, it won't hold goats. While that isn't quite true, you do need excellent fences to prevent your goats from escaping.

Maybe this post should be subtitled "Mistakes I've Made Trying to Keep Goats in Fences". Maybe my best advice is "don't have horses on the other side of the fence." I'm going to spill the beans and tell you what has and what hasn't worked for us.

First of all, a lone goat is more prone to escape. Goats are herd animals, and an only goat is a lonely goat. She'll get bored easily, get out, and be constantly in your front yard eating your roses, sleeping on your porch and jumping on your car. So, take my word for it, you need at least two goats. But the kind of fencing you use will make a difference too. Two goats can get out as easily as one - there was the summer that my yearlings were escaping daily, for instance - so you still need GOOD fences.

(By the way, when you see photos of my black goats and white goats and spotted goats, like the yearlings below, they were in my first herd. Nowadays I have brown goats, plus Ziva who is black-brown and is in the first photo above.)

The escaped-again yearlings

I admit that the goat's personality makes a difference as well. Some goats are happy to stay put, while others are born wanting to explore. If your doe is happy staying in the pen, her kids are more likely to grow up knowing that they are supposed to stay there too.

Barbed wire fencing is a no-no. Don't even think that this will keep goats in. It's an easy matter to climb between the strands, and your goat will tear her ears and her udder on the way out. My neighbor up the road tried to keep his goats in with a 12-strand barbed wire fence - and didn't succeed.

Welded wire fencing

Our first goat fence was welded wire (above). We also used it between the front yard and the road, and it still looks nice there, but it didn't work well in the goat pen. Goats like to stand on their fences, with their front hooves six inches or so off the ground. The welds broke very quickly under that abuse, and the fencing was shredded in no time.

Pallet fences work quite well if you have a source for lots of pallets. Drive posts into the ground and set the pallets over them so the posts are inside the pallet, and drive screws through the pallet into the post, and from pallet to pallet. This is a very old and small photo of the pallet fence we put up around our dogs' yard.

Pallet fences worked quite well to keep my horses' heads on the right side of the fence too. Actually, my horses are a big part of my fencing problem. They want the goats' hay, or the green grass that the goats tend to leave in favor of the weeds and brush. The horses have stretched their necks over, leaned and pushed against all of our fences, and have messed up a lot of it. They've even bent our t-posts in several places.

Hook-over feeders are very easy to hang on a pallet fence.

We've also used 16-foot-long wire cattle panels, pictured below. They are easy to install, using t-posts every eight feet. The panels come in different gauges; the ones I bought were too lightweight. My horses really tear them up. They stand on the bottom wires and bend the panels badly as well as putting their heads and necks over the top and bending the tops of the panels too. I love this type of fencing for goats, but I no longer use it on fences that have horses on the other side. A single strand of barbed wire on top would help with the horse issue, but the t-posts aren't tall enough to add that.

This was a really bad place to put the goats' hay feeder. I moved it after taking this picture.

While the cattle panels don't work well with horses, they do work very well to keep goats in, although young kids can sometimes get through the holes. There are transportation issues because of their length though: getting a 16-foot-long panel home can be difficult. The other disadvantage is that horned goats can stick their heads through the holes but not get back out again.

Sheep and goat fencing

Harder to put up, but very nice-looking when it's done correctly, is sheep and goat fencing with each intersection of the wire "woven" or tied. The brand we bought has 2"x4" holes; others have 4"x4" holes. Both will prevent goats from putting their heads through the fence and getting stuck.

This kind of fencing needs to be stretched correctly when it's installed so there is a learning curve, but it's very effective.

Pictured here is a stretch of sheep and goat fencing that wasn't stretched tightly enough. A neighbor's cows came to visit and "helped" us mow the front yard by leaning over the fence, stretching and bending it, and now our dog Cracker uses that spot to jump out of the yard and go chase coyotes.

I've not used electric netting, electric fence, or chain link, so I can't comment on how well they do or don't work.

In our experience, cattle panels (also called utility panels and stockade panels) and properly-stretched woven wire fencing work best for us. Pallet fences also work well but we don't have a source for the number of pallets we would need. I'm still searching for the perfect fence that my horses can't ruin, will keep my goats in, and that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. If you've had success keeping goats in, please leave a comment to let us know what you use.

Related Posts:
Five Must-Have Consumable Items for Goatkeepers

6 Must-Have Items to Milk a Goat

Why You Should Have Goats on Your Homestead

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Best thing I found for horses was one strand hot wire on a stand off insulator that pits the hit wire about 2-3 inches inside the fence you want to protect. They also come longer...Michelle

  2. We use four foot field fence with a strand of barbed wire on the ground and a few inches above the fence. We have never had a goat go over it. The barbed wire is mostly for dogs and coyotes - to keep them from digging under or coming over to visit the goats. We have had a few dogs get in the pasture, but not very often, and they don't come back.

    We don't have horses, but the neighbor has cows next door and so far they haven't tried to lean over the fence and push it down. There is not much they can reach from their side to eat, though, except briars.


  3. Michelle, Hubby has never been keen on electric fence for some reason, but I do think it's probably very effective.

  4. Fern, it's good to hear that field fence is working for you. Ours gets pulled down and sags and that is the problem. That strand of barbed wire on top would really help, I think.

  5. Anonymous4:43 PM

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  6. Live and learn...
    I like the idea of a pallet fence. What a great way to reuse that resource.
    Thanks for sharing your outdoor post on The Maple Hill Hop today!

  7. We have a couple of different types that I have found effective for our goat. I have a round pen made of livestock panel with a single strand of electric wire around the top. The round pen is housed inside the "sacrifice" pen by the barn (this is the area they are confined to when they need to stay off the pasture) and I have found 4 strands of electric fence starting about 6 inches off the ground and ending at just under 5 feet tall works for the horse, miniature pony and goat when they are all in together. I don't think I'd do this for smaller goats but it works fine for my adult Alpine. The pasture is just 3 strands of electric fence and this works fine because it is about an acre and they are less interested in getting out than they would be in a smaller area. They also get picketed out in the evenings when the grass greens up so that keeps them happy with their confined time. The trick to hauling the livestock paneling is to have a pickup with a tailgate and bend the panels up in the middle in an arch. :)

  8. April, I've been told that's how to transport the panels, bent into an arch like that in the back of the truck. I haven't tried it though. When I bought many of them the store delivered them for free. :-)

  9. Your babies are adorable!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

  10. Thank you, Laura. I'm glad you stopped by. :-)

  11. This post came in very handy for us as we are looking for our first goats. We have 10 acres and want the goats to be able to be moved often around the back 8 to help clean the property up. Fencing and predators have been my biggest worry. I love learning from others.

    Thank You and Hugs,

    Cottage Making Mommy

  12. Valerie, I'm glad it was helpful. Predators are always a problem, so your fences need to not only keep your goats in but also keep predators out. It's probably the biggest expense you will have in your new place, and the most important.

  13. Thanks for sharing. Goats are on my Critters-I'd-Like-To-Have list. The only reason we haven't gotten them yet is because we don't have fencing at our house. This was great info for when we do decide to put in fencing.

  14. You're welcome, Jennifer. We've probably spent more money on redoing our fencing than if we'd done it right the first time!

  15. Goats and Fencing :)
    We have electric fence and 99 percent of the time that works, but we have had a few goats that didn't respect it. They were escape artist and could get out of about anything.
    Great post :)

  16. I saw your blog, and thought I need to read it. VERY GOOD INFORMATION! We just purchased a house with some acreage and with it, comes a Llama AND A Goat! Right now the owner has her locked in a paddock run, with fruit trees. Although she is getting fed, she is still eating the bark off the trees. I have resigned myself to the fact that she is killing them, but nothing I can do till June. I want to incorporate her into my herd of One horse and Two donkeys, and have them all graze together. I will follow your blog. Love it!

  17. Unfortunately goats LOVE the bark on fruit trees and yes, she will probably kill the trees in her run. Horses, donkeys, llamas and goats usually get along pretty well so hopefully your mixed herd will do fine. Watch the horse and donkeys with the goat at first though, some like to chase the goat and I've heard of some tragic endings. I hope you will enjoy being a goat owner.

  18. Have stud fencing in barnyard and page wire around perimeter of property. All protected with 3 strands of electrobraid fencing. My cross fences are 3 strands of electrobraid. We did this to stop my fence wrecking horse from destroying any more fences. We then got 4 goat kids. Did some rock work around the bottom of the fences where they did not contact the ground, used heavy duty chicken wire across the two creeks, with rebar supports holding it firmly in place. So far the kids seem to be happy to stay where they are supposed to. My german shepherd encourages them to keep their heads inside the page wire by walking towards them menacingly. He feels that it is his job to keep all animals, mine and the neighbours off the fence lines so this is a big help. I do not encourage people to use their dogs this way unless they can be completely trusted as a friendly dog can quickly become a very deadly predator. When I first got the kids they all got zapped a few times with the electric fencing. They know which wire is the ground wire and will sometimes test the fence with their whiskers as my horses do. I am getting a buck next spring and I think I will use some heavy duty fence panels (metal) that I got from a fence rental company. They were rusty and a little bent so I got them for nothing. They are 10 feet long by 8 feet high so I am hoping this will be sufficient to keep him and a wether segregated from my does. If not I will add some electric. Cheers Sheila

  19. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead3:47 PM

    Sheila, you'd have to have a VERY determined buck to get through that fence! I doubt you'll have any problems.


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