Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Do you know where your Goat is NOW?
Finally, Part Two of Goat Keeping 101. Life on the farm, of course, is never dull. But we are at the end of kidding season and now are just waiting on two more does to give birth. At this point I am convinced that both of them are faking their pregnancy and just want to remain in the luxurious birthing pen.
The Basics of Fencing for Goats
Along with good quality hay and feed, I consider fencing one of the most important factors to consider on your farm, to keep your goats healthy, to keep them safe and keep them where they belong. Fencing is also one of the most costly up-front investments you have to make for your livestock (not just goats), and it is not wise to scrimp a few dollars. Cheap fence will fail after a couple of years; expensive fence will last you at least 10 years if not many more. Over 10 years you will have had to repair or replace a cheap fence at least twice. A cheap fence will fail and will cost you livestock which may prove to be more expensive in the long run when you have to replace animals. I am not even talking about the sadness when you lose an animal where it could have been prevented.
Goats will climb on a fence, goats will try to stick their head through a fence, goats will rub along a fence, and goats will try to run through a fence. A fence is the one barrier between your goats getting into trouble or a predator getting in. A fence will prevent your goats from escaping and eating that one poisonous plant on your property which you thought they’d never reach.
The expenses don’t end with the fence. Along with a good quality fence, you need to buy a good quality, sturdy gate. Also buy strong good quality fence posts, bracing wire, fence staples, and definitely a fence stretcher.
Build solid braces on either side of gates, at each side of a corner, and stretch your fence tight. A saggy, good quality fence will not do its job. Use plenty of staples, one will surely pop. Don’t scrimp on money by putting fence post further apart than the instructions tell you, it will compromise the sturdiness of your fence.
There are a lot of great videos and instructions on how to build good fences. Use them. USDA under its NRCS-EQIP (National Resource Conservation Service - Environmental Quality Incentive Program) Grant Program has great instructions on how to build a good fence. And if you are applying for an EQUIP Grant from USDA to construct your interior fencing, you will have to follow them anyway. Contact your local office for copies.
We have opted for Bekaert Non Climb Goat and Horse wire fence. It is a heavier, sturdier fence than the typical Redbrand fence, and yes, it is more expensive. It is also a bit more difficult to work with as it is not as flexible. But that is a good thing. We don’t want flexible or saggy. We only want to build a fence once, not every two years. We have had our fence now up now for five years and it has withstood full body goat rubbing without bulging and no signs of wear or tear in sight.
This particular fence also has the smaller 2x4 openings, so a goat cannot stick its head through and get stuck, horns or no horns. The height of the fence is five feet, which gives the goat the illusion that they cannot jump it. Even our tallest bucks, tempted by the pretty girl on the other side of the alley, have not attempted to jump it.
Use the single strand bracing wire technology. That is where we made a mistake. We used the methodology where two strands are twisted together and we have had one fatality and two close calls where a goat has stuck its head in between the wires and got stuck. We bought the single wire braces, but have not had time to replace them all.
Electric Fencing: Yes or No?
We have not found that electric fencing will keep in a goat, especially if there is green grass or browse on the other side. We’ve tried three strand and four strand temporary electric fencing with the result that we’ve had to collect the fence from all four corners of the property. It seems one goat is selected who will then tightly shut its eyes and charge through the fence entangling as many wires and posts as possible on one try and then run. Of course all the other goats quickly follow. Seriously though, I have also heard from other farmers who have actually lost baby goats to woven electric fence as they got wrapped up in it and couldn’t get out. Examples may exit where electric fence works, but not with our dairy goats who weigh in at about 175 to 250 pounds.
Split Rail Fence: Yes or No?
Consider that even a 225 pound goat can make itself as flat as a pancake if she wants to reach the tree on the other side of the fence. I hope this answers your question.
Barbed-Wire Fence: Yes or No?
Given a goat’s affinity for getting into trouble and getting hurt on a piece of tissue paper in a 10 acre pasture, the answer for us is no on all of the interior fencing. However, we buried a strand of barbed wire underneath the fence just below the surface and ran a top strand just above the fence on all exterior fencing to minimize uninvited guests from coming in from the outside.
Buy the best fence and materials you can afford one pasture at a time. Your goat will thank you. As will your neighbors.