If you've recently made the decision to expand your family by purchasing or adopting some goats, you're likely excited at the prospect of adding these pets to your home. Goats can provide a number of benefits for homeowners, from producing nutritious milk to removing weeds or tall grasses from hillsides too steep to mow, and are also a great source of entertainment. However, keeping these smart and stubborn animals contained can be a full-time job, and you may find yourself mulling over your fencing options as soon as your goats have made their first escape. Read on to learn more about some of the best fencing options for your new goats.
What should you keep in mind when choosing a fence for your goats?
For those whose primary experience with animal fencing has involved dogs or large livestock, goats can present a challenge. These animals are curious, intelligent, and have the ability to quickly scale vertical surfaces with just a few tiny footholds, making them natural escape artists. It's important to choose a fence that will not only keep your goats contained, but keep them safe from injury or potential predators.
When designing a fence for your goats, you'll want to avoid fencing materials or styles that will leave gaps large enough for one of your goats to push his or her head through, like a stockade fence. Often, goats can easily stick their head into an opening but may have trouble getting out—and a bleating goat whose head is stuck in a fence can be a prime target for wild dogs, coyotes, and other potential predators.
You'll also want to avoid ladder-style fences that can give your goat an easy path to freedom. If you or your child can easily scale a fence, so can your goat -- so unless you're implementing additional safety and security measures at the top of the fence (like installing barbed wire or an electrified line), you'll need to make some changes to ensure your goats aren't able to escape.
Finally, you'll want to determine your goat's potential predators and how to best keep them at bay. For example, the type of fencing that works best for south Florida (where your goat may be most at risk of attack by alligators or large constrictor snakes), may not be the best fencing for a goat in Minnesota, where black bears or mountain lions could be a more credible threat.
What are the best fencing materials to keep your goats contained?
There are a few fencing options that should be effective at keeping your goats contained and safe, regardless of where you live.
The first is a regular residential chain link fence. Because these fences have smaller openings than most livestock fences, there's no risk that your goats will hurt themselves or become predator bait by sticking their heads through the gaps. Although your goats may be able to fit their hooves into the chain links to climb the fence, placing an electrified wire or a strand of barbed wire at the top of your fence should quickly discourage this practice. Chain link fences are also effective at keeping predators at bay.
A final factor in favor of a chain link fence is its strength. When properly anchored into place, these fences can support a great deal of weight—often necessary if your goats (like most) enjoy scratching themselves by leaning their full weight into the fence.
You may also want to consider a livestock fence with four-inch square openings, rather than the more standard six-inch square openings. These openings are too small to accommodate a goat's head but will allow fresh air to flow through the pasture. Four-inch squares can also make this fence difficult for a goat to climb, and should deter any predators that aren't able to squeeze themselves through a four-inch by four-inch opening.
For more information about fencing options, contact companies like F & W Fence Company, Inc.