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Electric fencing for goats

Finding an effective system lets you take advantage of the convenience and flexibility of electric fencing.

Flexibility of fencing

Using electric fencing to confine goats can be a convenient way to pasture the animals where they can keep grass and weeds clipped in hard-to-mow places. Electric fencing also affords the flexibility of rotating grazing areas so that goats are moved frequently to clean ground and fresh grass. But there's no one-size-fits-all way of finding the system best suited to your needs. Success with electric fence comes from mixing trial and error with borrowed ideas from others.

At Rumbleway Farm near Conowingo, Maryland, Mark and Robin Way have had mixed success with electric fencing, occasionally finding their small flock of Boer goats outside the fence and nibbling the flowers in the yard. But for them, the benefits of electric fencing outweigh the risk of the goats getting out.

"Our farm has stonewalls and hedgerows, and we have been using the goats to work the hedgerows back," says Mark. "Our grazing paddocks are the size of a stone-fence hedgerow. The goats graze young saplings and weeds, and we supplement with a small amount of sweet feed. Rotating the goats every two to three weeks keeps the worm load at a controllable level. We use a semi-permanent electric fence of four to five strands of smooth wire. This gives us the flexibility to move the fence closer to the over-grown hedgerow as the goats keep clearing the fence row."

Solar or plug-in
Fiberglass posts spaced every 20 feet support the wires, which are attached to the posts with metal clips. The Ways have used both solar-powered and plug-in chargers to electrify the wires. "Solar fencers gives us flexibility, and the plug-in models give us a more consistent source of electricity," says Mark.

When goats get out of the fence, the root of the problem stems from the fact that an electric fence is "a psychological barrier and not a physical barrier," Mark says. That means that when goats get excited or frightened, they can run through an electric fence. Because goats are ready learners, running through the fence can easily become a habit.

Move the shelter too
To reduce the chance of fear causing goats to run through the wires, the Ways provide the animals with a moveable shelter. "The moveable goat shelter moves with the goats from paddock to paddock, and this gives them security," says Mark. "They know that their house is where they are supposed to be." A two-horse trailer presently provides shelter, but it is too small for a flock of five does and 10 kids. A four-horse trailer would be more ideal, says Mark.

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