Protecting Your Herd
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 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.
Let's break down some of 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.This makes for secure mesh, strong enough to hold together well when impacted by a demanding goat. This also adapts to variable terrain.
- 12.5 Gauge--a thickness of wire with a minimum of 1,350 pounds breaking strength, which you'll find 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 in 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.
A Goat's Ways
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. A break or defect in the fence and your goat will take advantage of it, resulting in runaway goats. 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.
If you're desiring a backyard goat, remember that cities and towns may have size and number limits. Consider your neighbors as they can be noisy. You must have space--you cannot share your yard with a goat as your yard won't exist after a goat has its way. 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.
Shedding and Fence Stress
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 in spring. You might give your goats a good brushing to prevent wear and tear on your fence.
- 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.
- Lifespan of domesticated goat: generally 12-18 years and varies with the breed.