We are coming up on year five of homesteading. One of the first things we did on our homestead was also one of the biggest (and most costly) mistakes we’ve made. We got goats. What’s more we sorely underestimated our goat fencing. In today’s post we are going to show you what’s turned into our most expensive mistake ever and how after several years of upgrades and patches we are now doing what we should have done on day one, and that is to install proper, quality livestock fencing.
Five years ago we built our goats a goat house and a huge pen. We used large wooden posts for the fencing and we bought welded wire fencing which we stapled into the wood posts and we’ve had nothing but problems ever since. Being homesteaders who are also YouTubers, we have a ton of footage of our successes and this failure. If we scanned all of that footage we would hear one phrase over and over again, I’d say the words have been spoken on our homestead well over a thousand time: “The goats are OUT AGAIN!”
A farmer once said the best way to test your goat fencing to ensure it will secure your goats is to grab a 5 gallon bucket of water, fill it to the rim and splash the entire bucket through your goat fencing, if a single drop of water makes it through, your goats will surely escape!.
Our first fence looked great but it was rife with issues. At 5 feet high, it seemed tall enough, wrong. Minutes after locking them in our young goat simply jumped over the top of it. Thankfully as they fattened up they couldn’t jump that high anymore. After a while they started tearing up the welded wire fence with their horns. This and they also used the fencing to scratch their worst itches! The bottom of the fencing bowed out. And then they’d horn the bottom of it and escape underneath it.
A few years in we bought heavy duty chain link fencing. It was thicker gauge fencing that we thought would hold them in for sure. We were wrong, amazingly they’ve managed to tear this thick fencing up and get under it- they’ve even made holes right through it. We’ve run heavy stakes into the ground to prevent them from going under, we’ve patched the holes, we’ve run pressure treated boards along the bottom to hold them back, we’ve stapled, patched even stitched but the goats are still getting out and the fencing looks horrible.
Broken goat fence
We finally decided to upgrade to a proper option, but one that we should’ve done from day one. Had we done this years ago when we first started, it would have saved us so much time, effort, voices, and money.
This isn’t a sales pitch for fencing, rather a cautionary tale for would-be homesteaders to never underestimate fencing when it comes to goats! Goats require quality, heavy duty fencing. After a lot of research we found a company that sells steel, continuous livestock fencing. We were lucky enough to speak to the owner of the company Doug. His company is family owned and everything they make is made in the USA, in his hometown of Nebraska.
Some of the other things we liked about the company is that we spoke directly to Doug and he assured us the goats would not escape his fencing and he provided several reasons why (mainly because it's made of heavy 14 gauge steel and (unlike chain link fencing or welded fencing) the bottom rail will not be bent up so the goats could get under it, this continuous fencing is too strong for that. After delivery and installation and a few weeks later our goats haven’t even come close to escaping.
We went with continuous fencing which comes in 20-foot lengths and connects together. The fencing is made from 14-gauge steel which is much thicker versus most fences. We did some research here because we bought a fence gate from a farm supply store and it rusted through in short order. We found out that the steel tube gates you can buy from your local farm supply store are usually only 18-gauge. The welds on these fences are impressive as well- each weld fully encircles the cross member. Their website says each weld is two or more inches around.
Here is a video of our new fence install. After several weeks of usage, we couldn’t be more happy with the fencing, and when we account for all of the headaches, troubles, patches and our lost garden, we really wish we invested more in our fencing from the beginning.
Kerry W. Mann, Jr. moved to a 20-acre homestead in 2015, where he and his family use modern technology, including YouTube and Instructables.com, to learn new skills and teach homestead projects. Connect with Kerry on his Homestead How YouTube page, Instructables, Pinterest, and Facebook. Read all of Kerry’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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