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Tips for Training Goats to Electric Net Fences

| 3/10/2016 9:32:00 AM


Portable electric net fences make rotational grazing easier, offering many benefits to small-scale herds. Regular herd movement helps break parasite cycles, provides fresher sources of balanced forage, and helps the land recover once animals are removed from an area. Rotational grazing mimics the natural movement of wild animals, which do not restrict themselves to the same patch of ground year-round, though homesteaders generally prefer not to expose their domestic animals to the same predator threats as their wild cousins.

Electric net fences are a modern boon to this style of management, allowing easy and secure paddocks to be set up and moved regularly without fussing over permanent fences. These systems also come with quirks and hazards, however, which should be understood and respected for best results.

How Electric Net Fences Work

Each fence consists of a net woven from a combination of insulating plastic strands and conductive metal strands, supported by insulated posts. When connected to a proper power source, the nets carry pulses of electricity that will produce an uncomfortable shock to any animal that touches the fence while standing on the ground. This produces a deterrent effect, whether to predators nosing against the fence from the outside, or domestic animals testing the boundary from the inside.

All fences must be connected to a dedicated energizer, which is a unit that converts regular household power into the proper electric pulse for the fence. (Solar chargers are available, as well, but they rely on batteries that don’t last forever. We prefer plug-in units.) We’ve used a variety of nets from Premier1 of Iowa for our goats, chickens, pigs, and crops; their website hosts a thorough discussion of net fence basics.

Teaching goats About Electric Net Fences

Portable nets are the easiest way to keep goats moving about the landscape, but it’s very important to train all animals to these fences. Since they’re not as secure as permanent wire-mesh fences, their value and safety relies on the animal understanding and respecting the barrier. An animal which becomes entangled in a net runs the risk of injury or death through a combination of strangulation and shock stress.

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