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The Fence Post

Goat Fencing

September 30, 2019 | by Joe Morrell

goat next to fence on sunny day

Stubborn--yes, but also strong and smart

Barnyard or backyard, goats may be a source of comic relief or the creators of mayhem. So much depends on the enclosure you provide for your herd. Goats interact with fencing and will test its limits. Your herd of goats will find a fence's vulnerability and capitalize on it for their own exploring and ravenous ends. 

To begin with, a 4 foot high tensile woven wire fence with 4" x 4" openings is the rule. Goats are strong and smart and your fence has to be as well. Tough and flexible woven 12.5 gauge wire with strong stiff stay knots is imperative. This combination of factors will stand up to the roughhousing that goats bring to the party.

About those terms--

  • Woven Wire--A woven wire fence's linked yet loose structure allows for a large amount of bend, twist, and pull without breaking--a perfect design if you have livestock to contain
  • Woven Wire--also makes for secure mesh, strong enough to hold together well when impacted by a demanding goat; plus, it adapts to variable terrain                                                                                        
  • 12.5 Gauge--a thickness of wire with a minimum of 1,350 pounds breaking strength, plenty strong for your goats                                                                                                                                           
  • High Tensile--means higher carbon steel wire, roughly twice the strength of low carbon wire yet lighter due to the higher grade of steel, the payoff being easier handling. Safer than barbed wire for your goats and can be electrified 
  • Standard Class 3 galvanizing--protects the wire and extends its life; with proper maintenance, it can last up to 40 years    
  • 4" x 4" Openings--goats can't get their heads and horns through, avoiding injury; it's smooth wire--again, reducing injuries                                                                                        
  • S knot--(also known as Square Deal) this knot is used insquare deal fence knot making non-climb 4" x 4" mesh sheep and goat fence; the S knot prevents the fence from buckling or sagging; it also provides extra vertical strength and rigidity while at the same time allowing flexibility; these knots add to the fence's adaptability to hilly terrain; one-piece vertical stay wires, attached to line wires--with a crimp, prevent slippage

sheep and goat fence drawing: S knot

Don't Underestimate Your Goat

Add an extra strand of electric fence wire at the top of the fence to ensure safety, especially for more ambitious goats. Yet, no matter what system is in place when keeping goats: vigilance is required. Be assured, a break or defect in a fence and your goats will take advantage of it--down the street before you know it. Hello, neighbors. Straying goats will munch a rose bush over a clump of grass.

When goats are limited to a grassy enclosure, the incidence of worms and parasites goes up. They are known as browsers in their style of feeding--leafy fodder above the ground is of particular interest and they will use a fence to find ways to get at bushy shrubs and the lower growth of trees--or happily climb trees. If you've got a goat that makes a practice of finding new and creative ways of escaping, it may be time to enhance your enclosure for Ms. or Mr. Gruff, upgrading your existing fence. A rebellious goat will readily tutor other goats in your herd with its pillaging tactics.

The Ingenuity of a Goat!  Wait for it...


Check with the Town

If you're desiring a backyard goat, remember that cities and towns may have size and number limits of your herd. And consider your neighbors as they can be noisy as well as hungry. You must have space--you cannot "share" your yard with a goat: your yard won't exist after a goat has its way with it. As omnivorous as they seem, they will not eat what they've peed on so their fodder must be kept off the ground in a raised feeder. 

a black and a white goat in gated entry

Spring Shedding

Seems to be that shedding is going to be one of the stressors on your fence. Shedding? Yes, this is why a woven wire fence comes in handy; it flexes with the strains of a goat, using it to rub off its warm winter undercoat that comes off each spring. You might give your goats a good brushing to help the process along and prevent some wear and tear on your fence. 

Consider Predators

Your goat may be wily, but it is also vulnerable to attack. “Coyotes are very good at killing sheep and goats. They will eat anything from newborns to adult animals. They are a threat year-round,” says Reid Redden, Texas A&M extension sheep and goats expert. Other trouble makers are:

  • dogs
  • bobcats
  • eagles
  • vultures
  • mountain lions

He confirms there are various trapping methods--but for success, there's nothing like a good fence.

A Few Facts:

  • First and foremost--goats are social animals and being isolated is stressful for them
  • They walk immediately after being born and are weaned around 3 months
  • Birth occurs in spring, after 5-6 months gestation, producing 1 or 2 kids
  • A male goat is known as a billy or a buck; if castrated, they are called wethers
  • Females are does or nannies; they are generally ready to breed once they have reached 80 lbs.
  • The lifespan of a domesticated goat is generally 12-18 years, varying with the breed

Goat Fence

Topics: goat, woven wire, high tensile wire, 12.5 gauge

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