So one of the number one questions that prospective goat producers ask before getting into the business is related to fencing for goats and how to keep them enclosed.
If you think that goats are not escape masters, take a look at this fence jumping goat right here – they can and will get out of your fence – so make sure you select the correct goat fencing material that you can afford.
There are a few different types of fences that can be used to enclose goats:
- Welded field fencing
There are basically two types of field fences – a physical barrier and a mental barrier (electrical or psychological type barrier). Most of the physical rigid field fences will hold their weight up really well next to the post and stand up. As goats love to climb up on things that is one element of a field fence that needs to be considered. When you initially install a field fence for the goats, it will look and stand up great, but over time the fence will start to be pushed down. So look for a field fence that will maintain its rigidity and keep the goats in the allotted pasture.
The welded type fence has smaller square openings – the reason that these fences have smaller openings is that goats have horns and you want to keep those animals sage when they attempt to escape from a fenced area. The welded wire fences for goats will have smaller openings than cattle fences so make sure that you opt for the fence panel specifically for goats. If you use the cattle fencing, you may have issues with your goats getting their heads caught. Once that happens, the only exit is to cut the welded part to let the head out. Goats are masters are getting their heads stuck in fencing, but it’s quite difficult to get their heads out for some unknown reason.
- Electrical fences
Some people may opt for electric fencing, but the main problem people have with electric fencing is that people do not maintain a strong current going and weeds interfere with the electrical current. Most goats also withstand shock a lot better than other animals. It usually takes around 6000V to keep a goat in, whereas with a cow it is usually around 2500V. Electric fencing also needs to be grounded correctly, and the energizers themselves need more than 1 ground rod, whilst most people simply just purchase the 1 ground rod. So when you get dry conditions like drought the electricity does not flow as effectively through the wire and you can get goats escaping the electrical fences. On electric fencing, the wire comes in different sizes and a lot of time you need to ensure that you get the correct gauge. The reason you want a thicker wire is that with the thicker wire the flow of electricity through that wire has less resistance and when the animal comes into contact with that wire it will get a bigger shock. Flow of electricity through the wire is critical.
One of the things that you need to be wary of when utilising an electrical fence is lightning, specifically the protection of your energizer as these are not usually cheap and can be damaged by lightning fairly easily. You have to make sure that the energizer is protected from any and all lightning strikes by purchasing and installing a conductor that will dissipate any lightning strikes.
Most energizers have a different joule output rating, and you want to buy based on that joule and not based solely on price. A 6 Joule unit will do about 5 to 6 miles of fence – so you want to multiply the number of joules rated on the energizer by 5 or 6 and that will give you the length of electrical current available across any fence.
When comparing welded versus electric, the main aspect to consider is obviously the cost. Also, increasing the amount of fence is not as easy to do if you have already started down the road of welded fencing. Choosing the fence type for goats will ultimately come down to cost – the decision must be based on your budget. Most farmers that feel comfortable with electric fencing will become accustomed to it and will then start switching over to this type of fencing.
Obviously if you are just starting out, utilise what you already have on the farm and progress from there.