The Best Fencing for Goats

Black and white-spotted Nubian dairy goat with a pink collar,behind a woven wire fence.

I've been asked many times what kind of goat fence works best. Goats can be accomplished escape artists, and it takes excellent fencing to keep goats in their pen.

What is the most effective goat fencing? I'm going to spill the beans and tell you what kinds of fencing have worked for us and what hasn't worked in our many years of keeping dairy goats.

Best goat fencing

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, jump or climb out of her pen, and be constantly in your front yard eating your roses, sleeping on your porch and jumping on your car. 

Take my word for it, you need at least two goats to keep each other company and prevent boredom.

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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.

Four yearling dairy goats on the wrong side of the fence after jumping out of their pen.
The summer that my yearling goats were escaping their pen almost daily, and sometimes more than once a day. I suppose they just wanted their moms, but it was frustrating having to move them back to their own pen over and over again.

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.

After all these dire warnings, you might be wondering why someone would want to have goats in the first place? You can find out the many uses and reasons for having goats here: Why You Need Goats on Your Homestead.

I hope these goat fence ideas will save you money and time - because buying fencing that has to be replaced in two or three years will cost you more money and time in the long run.

Barbed wire fencing

Barbed wire fencing is an absolute no-no for your goat enclosure. Barbed wire (sometimes known as barb wire) was first used in the Old West to keep cattle in their pasture. It's still used today for cattle and sometimes horses. 

This type of fencing is made from two or more steel wires twisted together, with short pieces of sharp-pointed wires woven into the fencing at regular intervals. 

There are thousands of different styles of barbed wire fencing, according to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Okahoma City. You can see a photo of a common type of barbed wire here.

But don't even think that barbed wire fencing will keep goats in their pen. If a goat can get her head between the wires she'll keep going, tearing up 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 - that's twelve parallel wires about three inches apart. Basically it was a wall of barb wire. My neighbor did not succeed.

Welded wire fencing

Welded wire fencing has 2"x4" holes. The joints are spot-welded together. This type of fence is not recommended for goats.

Welded wire fencing

Our first goat fence was welded wire fencing (above). Notice that the intersections of the wires are simply spot welded together.

We also used it between the front yard and the road, and it still looks good there - however, the only animals in our front yard are the dogs and cats. With little to no stress on the fencing, it held its shape, but welded wire didn't work as 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 in our fencing broke very quickly under that abuse, and our fencing was shredded in less than a year.

That bent and broken fencing had to be replaced, which means we had to buy fencing twice in a year.

Pallet fences

A fence made by attaching upright wooden pallets together in a row.

This is a very old, small photo of the pallet fence we put up around our dogs' yard. Our goats were let into this pen regularly to eat down the grass and clover.

Pallet fences work quite well if you have a source for a lot of similar-sized pallets. Drive posts into the ground and set the pallets over them so the posts are inside the pallet, then drive screws through the pallet into the next pallet to hold them together.

Ten years later our pallet fence is still standing strong. I recommend painting when you install it to help prevent the wood from weathering.

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 goat 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.

A red plastic goat feeder hanging on a wooden pallet fence.
Plastic mineral feeders hang nicely on the horizontal boards of a pallet fence. 

Cattle panels (utility panels)

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 are rigid, so one person can install a fence pretty easily. There is no need to "stretch" the fencing tightly from post to post like some other types of fencing.

The panels come in different gauges. The ones I bought were actually too lightweight - fine for goats but not for horses. My horses stand on the bottom wires, stretching their heads and necks over the top of the panels and bending them completely out of shape.

Black and white paint horse with his head over the wire fence, eating hay from a brown goat's manger.
My horses are stronger than these lightweight cattle panels. If you can find the heavier panels, they are worth the extra expense. Cattle panels are one of the most effective goat fencing products available.

But I do love this type of fencing for goats. It keeps the goats in, and it's very easy to install. I just don't use it where there are horses on the other side of the fence.

The panels do work very well to keep goats in - and, as you can see, they keep in our livestock guardian dog as well. Yes, our Great Pyrenees/Anatolian is bigger than my full-size Nubian goats.

Nubian goat and livestock guardian dog behind a cattle panel fence.
Cattle panel fences keep in my goats and my LGD. They do have some disadvantages though.

The disadvantages of using cattle panel fencing

There are a couple of downsides to cattle panels though. First, baby goats and young kids - especially mini goat breeds - can sometimes get through the holes.

Cattle panels also have transportation issues because of their length. Getting a 16-foot-long panel home can be difficult unless you have a long trailer or can arrange for delivery. 

I've read that you can bend a panel in an upside-down U-shape in the back of a pickup truck, securing the ends of the panel with strong wire, bungie cords or rope. 

We did this when we bought a single panel to use as a garden trellis, but the Chief worried that the panel might "spring back to life" while we were driving home. 

I've also been told that once you've bent the panel, it's hard to get it perfectly straight again. This wasn't a problem with our trellis since we wanted that U-shape anyway.

The other disadvantage to these cattle panels is that horned goats can stick their heads through the holes and become stuck.

I once had two goats - both without horns - stick their heads through the same hole at the same time. They were well and truly stuck! We had to use a bolt cutter on the fence panel to get them loose. 

The moral of that story is that goats will get into trouble, and to always keep an eye on your goats.

Chain link fence for goats

The only chain link fencing I've used is that in dog kennels or dog runs. I've used these spaces as kidding pens, as quarantine pens, and as pens for kids when they are being weaned.

Does chain link fencing work for goats? Well, sort of. It will keep them in, especially if it's a 6-or-8-foot high dog run. 

But my goats loved to rub against the chain link fabric - it was the best back scratcher ever! They'd lean hard into that fence and walk along it, scratching their sides on the chain link panels and leaving little tufts of goat hair behind.

Eventually the chain link fabric bowed out at goat height, because it does stretch and bend no matter how tightly it's connected to the upright poles. 

Maybe I needed goats on the other side of the fence to push it back the other direction, too?

If you use chain link, you'll need to have poles along the bottom that the fabric is wired to - like it's wired to the top pole or rail. 

If it isn't attached at the bottom and just runs along the ground, after awhile the fencing will be bent all out of shape and goat babies can crawl right under it... and so can adventurous adult goats too!

Sheep and goat fencing

Harder to put up, but very nice-looking and effective when it's done correctly, is "sheep and goat fencing." This type of fencing has each intersection of the wire "woven" or twisted together. 

A woven wire fence attached to red t-posts with woods in the background.

Also known as woven wire fencing, this type looks similar to the welded wire fencing above, but compare the intersections of the wires and you'll see the difference.

In my opinion this sheep and goat fencing is the best fencing to keep goats in their pen.

The brand we bought has 2"x4" holes which prevents goats from putting their heads through the fence and getting stuck. (My goats don't have horns, but they can still stick their heads through some fencing options.)

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It can be hard to find the right kind of woven fencing though. Some brands are manufactured so that the fencing will collapse under pressure and then "spring back to shape" when the pressure is released. 

I hate this kind of fencing! In my experience this "no climb" fencing can be pulled down and walked right over. I've never seen it spring back to the original shape and height.

Sometimes sheep and goat fencing is called "fixed knot" fencing, or "woven wire" fencing. Regardless of what a manufacturer might call it, each intersection is tied with a knot as in the photo below, it won't collapse and is the best goat fencing on the market as far as I'm concerned. 

How do you know if that roll of fencing at the store is the right kind? See if you can fold the top down. If it bends easily, or "folds" over on itself like a hinged door, don't buy it.

Inspect the joints where the wires meet; you want a good knot at each intersection. 

In the photo below, you'll notice that the knots are above and below the joint; this is good. 

Woven wire fencing has a wire "knot" at each intersection of the 2:x4" holes in the wire mesh. The knots are above and below the joint. There is a brown goat with a blue collar in the background.

Compare the knots in the joints in the photo above with the knot in the photo below, which is a joint in "no-climb fencing." 

The "good kind" above has vertical knots; the "worst kind" of fencing below has horizontal knots.

A picture of no-climb wire fencing. The intersections  of the 2"x4" wires have a horizontal knot.

The fencing in the second photo above will simply fold over on itself like a hinged door, and your goats or other livestock can simply walk over it. This is NOT the kind of fencing I recommend.

(Sometimes it's easier to show you what NOT to use!)

Woven wire sheep and goat fencing needs to be stretched correctly when it's installed so there is a bit of a learning curve and it can be more work to install it well, but it's very effective. It's also more expensive than most other options, but it's worth paying for..

Tractor Supply Co. carries at least two brands of this "fixed knot" type of fencing, although you might have to order it. One brand is "Solidlock High Tensile Fixed Knot Fence," the other is "Red Brand."

If you are in Oklahoma, you might be able to find discounted fencing at the factory. We bought "factory seconds" many years ago from the factory at Oklahoma Steel and Wire in Madill, OK.  

Each roll of this discounted fencing had a defect of some kind, but we simply cut out that section of fencing and wired the two good sections back together. The savings were significant.

If you can't find 2"x4" woven wire fencing

Many readers have told me they cannot find the 2"x4" fencing. My suggestion is to use the 4"x4" fencing if you cannot locate the 2"x4".

NOTE: The 4"x4" holes might be large enough for newborn miniature goat kids (Nigerian Dwarf, Pygmy and other mini goat breeds) to crawl through, so use this with caution if you raise mini goats.

The best goat fencing

In our experience, the cattle panels (also called utility panels or stock/stockade panels) and properly-stretched woven wire fencing work best to keep goats in their pen. 

Pallet fences also work well if you have a source for the number of pallets you need. Your pallet fence will also last longer if you paint the pallets with a good exterior paint.

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

Good fencing is expensive (unless you can find pallets in quantity). But let's face it, replacing the wrong fencing that was cheap to buy isn't cost-effective either

Are you looking for more information about goats? Here's what you need to know about homestead dairy goats.

My goat record pack will help you keep tabs on all the information you need to keep on your herd, whether you have two goats or thirty-five or even more. 

The set includes 23+ printable forms plus undated monthly calendar pages to hold all the data and information you need. You'll find the goat record pack in my shop.

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As a goat lover and a homestead gardener, I'm excited to also share my gardening tips with you - from planting seeds to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! You can find my gardening advice and insights right here, so let's dig in and cultivate some fresh, delicious produce together.

A black and white Nubian dairy goat behind a wire fence.