There are two things a goat rental professional must have, to contain the goats on a work site: fencing and a working energizer. Remember, goats need to be trained to the fence prior to taking them out on the road or you will have problems, so set it up at home first and practice setting up and letting the goats graze in a mock situation.
What type of fencing do you use? Most goat rental businesses use electro-netting from Premier1Supplies.com, which is a low-impedance fence that requires low-impedance charger, or the fencing will melt. This fencing is perfect for setting up in any situation.
With my business, I use the 164-foot long ElectroStop 10/42/12 single spike. The number 10 represents the number of strands in the fence, nine hot strands and one dead bottom strand, 42 represents the height of the fencing, and the 12 is the length of fence between the single spike posts. I use single spike, because the ground in Kansas can be hard and a double spike would be a nightmare to pull out of the ground. You want to be careful putting the post in the ground and use a rubber mallet to pound the posts. The fences have pigtails on each end to clip one fence to the other.
What kind of energizers and ground posts do you use for the fences? Energizers are also called chargers, or in some cases that “darn shocking box!” Remember they must be low-impedance chargers! There are two types of chargers that include two Parmak Magnum Solar-Pak 12 12-volt chargers that are rated at 1-3joules that can handle five fences and an Intellishock 120 that is rated as a 1.2 joule charger. The Intellishock 120 can handle about 8 fences easily. You need ground rods for either type of charger. Many use copper ground rods but you can also get aluminum, either work well if you use them properly.
I use both copper and aluminum, using the aluminum on my Intellishock and the copper I use on the Parmaks. You also need a voltmeter, so you can check voltage, I recommend Premier1Supplies Digital Voltmeter. It is simple to use, push the short rod in the ground then clip the snap onto the fence and you get a reading.
How do you set up fences? Depending on the terrain, setting up fences can be a challenge. Thick brush will require you spend time cutting a path that will prevent the fence from shorting out, so you may need to set up an initial smaller area for the goats to work while you work on a larger area.
I keep a machete and a gas-powered weed-eater on my truck for path cutting. In areas that are more open, I cut an 18-inch swath to prevent shorting out. Sometimes the customer has a privacy fence or a chain-link fence that the goats will honor, that means you just run the fence from the back of the trailer and let them into the fence. Do not ever expect your goats will stay in any fence, they will find a way out if you aren’t supervising.
Read Part 2 to help answer the question How much fence do you need when renting out your goat herd for weed control?
Mary Powell is a goat rental business owner and agricultural educator with 30 years’ experience working on ranches, farms and feedyards. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Kansas State University with an emphasis in Livestock Production Management. Follow Mary and her many misadventures with the goats on Facebook at Barnyard Weed Warriors and Ash Grove Goat Ranch or on her BarnyardWeedWarriors.com website. If you have questions for her about her goats or Border Collies, email Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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