Fencing for goats
Radio interview source: Linda Spahr, livestock educator, Penn State University
We have a couple of goats who think they have the run of the place. They've managed to escape from every pen we put them in, whether it's a board fence or woven wire.
Ask anyone who owns them and you'll hear differing opinions as to what is the "best" type of fencing for goats. Some choose to use several fence types in different situations.
Penn State Livestock Educator Linda Spahr says she recommends electric fence because it not only keeps the goats in, but predators out.
"My husband and I -- and most of the folks I know that have goats -- use the five-strand fence," Spahr says. "We have the bottom two strands electrified to keep dogs and coyotes out, and then we have the second strand down from the top electrified, and we don't have any trouble at all. We've never had a goat get out. And we have alpacas and donkeys in there too, so we've never had anything challenge the fence."
The most important detail of electric fencing is the height. If it's too high, they'll sneak under it. If it's too low, they'll step over it. After the first zap or two, most goats will respect it with no problem. But every now and then you'll find a goat that doesn't have a clue, like the one Spahr had a couple years ago.
"He just got his thrills out of biting the electric fence," she says. "And he'd bite, and he'd squeal, and he'd cry and we'd yank him off the fence and then he'd go right back to it."
Goats like this one might be better off inside a chain-link fence, but that can get expensive. Livestock panels will work too, unless your animals are pole-vaulters. Goats are notorious climbers, so they'll jump against the fence, use it as a catapult and off they go. Spahr suggests running an electric wire parallel to anything a goat sees as a challenge to jump over.
"Place it about 9 or 10 inches off the ground, and about 12 inches away from the fence, so that the goats will bump against that, they get shocked and they'll stay away from the other fence and they don't bother it," she says.
No matter what method you choose, be sure to not scrimp on quality, equipment or planning. If there is a flaw in your fence, your goats will find it!
Good fences make good neighbors: Fencing laws can be complicated. Here's a primer on who's responsible for what.
General overview of meat goat production: Here are the basics on raising goats, including information on housing and fencing.
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