There are many different types of fences that work well for goats and not really “one” fence that you could say is the best goat fence for any circumstance. The ones we use are described and pictured here. We also show some that have worked well for other meat goat producers in our area.
It is more expensive to fence goats than it is to fence cattle. Many cattle producers would like to use meat goats to control sprouts and weeds in their cattle pastures. They can supplement their income while doing so. Cattle and goats prefer to eat different forages. One can usually add several goats per acre to a cattle pasture without decreasing the number of cows per acre, but most cattle ranchers don’t have adequate fences for goats.
Goat Fencing (built with ten strands of barb wire.) Some of our friends are successful holding goats with ten strands of barb wire. For this type of fence to work, the fence has to be straight, high tensile barb wire has to be stretched very tight, and the corners have to be well anchored and braced. This is difficult to do in rough terrain with shallow soil. The posts should be about ten feet apart with two, twist-on, fence stays between each post.
Cattle fences can easily be made goat proof by adding more strands of barb wire, but only if the original fence is straight, well built, and in good condition. This won’t however keep out any sort of predators.
Forty-seven-inch high field wire with openings twelve inches wide and six inches high will work on cattle fences that aren’t straight or in good condition. One may want to raise some of the original barb wire so there are two or three barb wires above the field wire. This is the type of fence we use. It is pictured at right, below.
Check out this comparison chart below to get a quick overview of each fence type
Predator Proof Goat Fencing
The fences, mentioned so far, will not hold small kids, but small kids will not go far from their mothers. These fences will also not keep out predators.
We use an area with predator-proof fences to keep the goats in at night and during kidding season. Three acres works well for up to 30 head of goats. Years ago, before we had guardian animals to protect our herd, we would close the gate on the predator-proof pen overnight letting the goats out in the mornings. Sometimes we didn’t get home until late at night to close the gate.
On several such occasions, after we had gotten guardian dogs, we noticed that one of our dogs would always be positioned in the gate. So we no longer close the gate at night.
We have two gates between our small predator-proof pasture and our larger main pasture. One is a small, walk-through gate, about three feet wide, which is easy to guard. It is left open all the time (except during kidding season.) The other is an eleven-foot, drive-through gate which we open only when we take a vehicle into the back pasture.
For predator-proof fencing, we use forty-eight-inch high, sheep and goat web wire with four-inch by four-inch mesh. Above this we put three strands of barb wire spaced three to four inches apart.
This type of fencing is very expensive. For gates, we use five-foot-high, utility, corral panels with four-inch by four-inch mesh. We fasten them with harness snaps on each end. We also use this type of fencing for pastures for weaning kids and pastures for bucks that are not being used for breeding.
Don’t keep grown bucks on both sides of a fence. They will fight through the fence and destroy it. It is OK to keep several grown bucks together in the same pasture. When first put together they will fight for a short time to determine a pecking order. Then they will get along fine. Does, that haven’t been together before, will do the same when first put together.
Avoid using web wire with a six-inch by six-inch mesh for goats with horns. They will get their heads caught in this type of fence and get strangled or eaten by predators. A six by twelve-inch mesh works fine for goats with horns. They can put their heads through this type of fenced and pull them back out again.
Different Types of Goat Fencing
When making your choice as to which fencing will be the best fit for your goat it is wise to familiarize yourself with many of the main options available. Here are some of the things you should consider before making a choice on the type of goat fence.
- What is your budget?
- Do you have predators in the area that could cause harm to your goats?
- What type of ground material will you be building your fence on?
- What are your seasonal weather conditions like, and how will that affect both your goats and fencing type?
- Will you have a need to expand on your fencing perimeter in the future?
- Is your fencing going to be permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary?
- Does your fence need to have privacy?
Once you have answered these questions it is time to start learning about the different types of fencing. Once you have read the following paragraphs you will have a better understanding on which direction you would like to go with your goat fencing. The best advice that we can give you would be to eliminate each option one by one until you have a perfect fit.
Some other things to consider before making your fencing choice:
- Area of space to work with
- How tall of a fence do you need
- Fencing holes and goat safety
- Natural obstacles in your way
Barbed wire fence
DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT! At first thought, a barbed wire fence is a viable option. I am going to shut you down right now before you even think this any further. I can guarantee you will end up with more problems, vet bills, and even dead goats if you go with this option. I am serious and you will fail. Not only will it not keep them contained, but it will also cause harm to the stubborn goats that just want to get through and don’t care how much damage they cause to the fence or themselves.
Welded metal wire fencing
The pros and cons of Metal wire fencing
Metal wire fencing is a great option when looking to build your goat fence. The metal panels are sold in many tractor supply stores and I have even seen them at Walmart. You won’t need to worry that you will run out of supply when making your choice here. As far as cost, these panels are relatively inexpensive but don’t expect this option to be the cheapest either! I would like to mention a few things that will make your decision to not use metal wire fencing very easy.
- The squares that are created with these panels are sometimes a perfect size for your goats to squeeze their heads through. If your goats have their horns then most of the time you wont have a problem.
- Goats love to support themselves on the fencing that encloses them. I have had problems with them trampling the surrounding fence and breaking the welds that make up the metal wire fencing. One way to combat this would be to install a wire mesh about 12″ to 18″ tall around the bottom of the fencing. This is also particularly good to detour small critters such as mice, snakes and gofers from entering your property or enclosure. If you plan to install a metal wire fence then I definitely recommend adding this additional layer of protection and support for your fencing.
Recommended Products To Get You Started
Here are some standard sizes you may find:
- Cattle Metal Panels are 4-5 feet high by 16 feet long.
- Pig Panels are just under 3 feet high by 16 feet long.
- Goat or Sheep Panels are 4 feet high by 16 feet long.
- Panels from Tractor Supply: 2 feet high by 25 feet long.
- Panels from Home Depot: 2 feet high by 100 feet long.
- Most fence panels made with 16 gauge wire.
Pallet wood fence
Nowadays I know everyone is on a budget. We get it! One of the most common budget-friendly fences that you can make is going to be a pallet fence. With that being said if you have access to an unlimited supply of old or new pallets you’re going to be in good shape with this option. I have built many things out of pallets. You can literally find plans or ideas for making 100’s if not 1000’s of items from pallets.
There are even quite a few ways to build a pallet wood fence. Some use 4×4 posts and I have even used metal stakes to secure them. If you plan to go with a 4×4 wood post then the best way to secure the pallet to them will be to slide the pallet over the post and screw the pallet into it. As long as your post is secured with concrete then you won’t run into issues in the future. If your budget allows then make sure to paint your pallets with exterior paint to prevent the wood from rotting or weathering. It will give it a much cleaner look and last a ton longer.
Now if you are planning to rely on pallets as a fence option for your goats then you need to consider a few things first.
The pros and cons of Pallet wood fenced
If you have a source for either cheap or free pallets that are in good shape then your ahead of the game. When I built my first pallet fence I was paying $3 a pallet just because I did not have a good source for them. But even at $3 it was still well below the budget that I was shooting for.
One of the most frustrating problems that you will run into with a pallet wood fence is that not all pallets are the same size. Some will be taller than others or even wider. Some with more slats than others. Another issue you will run into is if they are older pallets then you will have problems with rusty nails, pallets that are losing nails, slats that are coming loose, or even an entire pallet that is going to need a little work to be sturdy.
Our Choice: Sheep and goat fence the Cattle panel fence
Similar to the welded metal wire fencing expect these panels are much short and a lot thicker. These panels are usually around 4 gauge thick compared to the metal wire panels that are 16 gauge thick. If your budget is much larger and you can afford to purchase these panels you will have a lot of options with these. I have seen some really nice-looking fences built on some high-end homes with these panels. One very luxurious design that I have built for a garden area was to build a 2×4 frame (you can also use a 2×3 to save a little bit on the wood). Then inlay the cattle panel inside the wood frame and secure it with 1″. You can then use 4×4 posts in between each panel.
Here is a photo of a fence that I built.
The pros and cons of Cattle panel fence
Cattle panel fences are a great option if your budget is large enough to handle the cost of the cattle panels. These panels are a 4 gauge wire which will outlast most any type of beating from most animals and even the harshest weather conditions. In the photo above I decided to use my leftover 2×4 and held the wire in with triangles cut out. This design lasted for 5 years before I started to see some of the triangles chipping and deteriorating away. I ended up replacing the few that failed and all is well with this fence. It worked great as a dog run and garden area and I received a ton of compliments from friends on the final design.
The obvious downside to this type of fence is the cost and amount of time to make. There are a lot of solutions that will allow you to string wire across metal poles to hold the wire. There is minimal time and cost involved in the comparison. So if you don’t have the time or money to invest in this style I would look for another option.
Woven wire fencing
One of the most economical fence solutions that also look great if built correctly. But don’t take that as an opportunity to choose the woven wire fencing as your next fence project. There is still a bit of a learning curve to get this one right. The sheep and goat fence made from a woven wire fence panel will take some time to learn how to create the perfect woven wire fence but in the end we hope you agree it’s the best option.
Woven wire fencing has many different options. First and foremost we suggest that your wire panels be small enough so that your sheep or goats cannot squeeze their little heads through. There is a common 2″ by 4″ rectangle size that works great and prevents them from getting their head stuck. There are many different names for this type of fencing, depending on the manufacturer they might be called a woven knot, woven wire, etc. No matter the name the basic concept is completely the same. Each wire intersection is tied or “woven” and these won’t collapse underweight.
The pros and cons of Woven wire fence
The most frustrating part about this type of fence is going to be finding the proper material that will withstand your animal’s abuse. There are many companies that make a woven wire fence material but a lot of them will not withstand the weight and stress from your goats. Sometimes this can be a trial and error may testing out a certain brand or doing your own testing at the store (if possible). Many woven wire fence material comes in a shrink wrap roll so if the store has them un-wrapped so you can test it then that would be the best time to test out the material. You can also ask the store employees if it is possible to unwrap the material to give it a test as well.
How to test the durability of the woven wire
Once you have the wire roll unwrapped then it’s time to test out the durability. Stand up the panel and push the top of the panel down towards the floor trying to fold it over. If you are met with a lot of resistance then you have probably found a good candidate for your woven fence. But if the material bends over and folds easily, you will need to keep looking for another brand.
Below is a great video that shows exactly how to properly build a woven wire fence. He quickly shows you step by step.
High tensile wire fence
Although we have not personally built a high tensile wire fence I am going to give you some advice from my personal observation that I have experienced with friends that have used this type of fence before. The biggest problem with a high tensile wire fence is the large open gaps between each wire run. The way these fencing works is you would run a long string of wire down the perimeter of the fencing usually with a 10 to 18-inch gap. The smaller the gap the more runs you need to have which increases the overall cost. You will almost always electrify this type of fence which means power usage and making sure that power is always available. This reason alone will eliminate some of you from choosing this type of fence.
The pros and cons of a High tensile wire fence
This fencing is very quick to get up and working in a short amount of time and with a small amount of cost. You can also build a high tensile wire fence over a large amount of space very quickly too. The problem arises when you are limited by not having a power source available or maybe your power is unreliable. For this choice, you need to out way the pros and cons of this type of fence and make your decision accordingly.
Below is a video that shows you how to properly install a tensile wire fence
Electric Fencing for Goats
We know many meat goat producers who are successfully using electric fences for retaining goats. We have very little experience with electric fences and currently have no need to use them. Most of our fences were built many years ago when conventional fencing was much less expensive than it is today and electric fencing was less reliable than it is today. Today electric fences are less expensive and easier to install than regular fences.
Some of these systems have posts with removable steel spikes that can be left off the posts that are located on rocks. An unattached post can then be placed into the ground and attached to the fence, a short distance up or down the fence from the rock.
The following two articles give helpful information on important things to avoid and important things to do when installing electric fences:
17 Mistakes To Avoid With Electric Fencing: https://www.ibiblio.org/farming-connection/grazing/features/fencemis.htm
Make A Well-Grounded Fence: https://www.ibiblio.org/farming-connection/grazing/features/ground.htm
Three strands of electric poly-wire will hold most goats except young kids that are nursing, but they will not go far from their mothers. Cattle fences can easily be made goat proof by adding one or two strands of electric poly-wire. Four strands of electric poly-wire will hold goats well. Note how the electric wire is attached to the fiberglass step-in post and to end posts.
A single strand of poly-wire is attached to the web wire fencing along the road with fiberglass insulators that hold the wire 8 to 12 inches from the web wire. This keeps the goats from rubbing against the web wire.
Fencing Tips and Tidbits
Over the years we have learned quite a few tips and tricks for having a much smoother build with your new goat fencing solution here is our list. Take it for what it’s worth but we hope that you find these useful in your journey.
Tip #1: Wood post and wire fencing – For some this may be common sense practices but as a way to keep your fence from detaching from the fence posts it is always a good idea to secure your fence on the inner side of the posts. Once your goats become more curious they will tend to put your craftsmanship to the test. If you secure your fencing to the inner side of the posts it will be much harder for them to detach your perimeter fence as they will be pushing the post hardware into the posts rather than out of the post.
Tip #2: Preventative measures – Be sure to make it a regular schedule to walk the perimeter of your fence. Just how we talked about post hardware in our last tip you will find that curious goats love to find weak points and it’s much better to prevent a breach in your fence and deal with loose goats than to spend a few minutes a week making sure everything is still secure.
Tip #3: Not all goats are created equal. With that said, you can almost guarantee there will be a few goats in your group that are complete A$$ holes and will try and fight you to be free from a fenced area. Trust us we have dealt with it ourselves. You will also have some pretty awesome goats that are perfectly fine and won’t cause an issue and could potentially roam free around your property. Just remember that each goat has its own personality and it will be up to you to determine how you would like to confine them.
Tip #4: The taller the better. When it comes to fencing never go the route of “good enough”. Always strive for more height. Trust me it will save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Tip #5: Use our comparison table to help quickly make a decision on which fencing type will work best for you!
Fence installation failure
I wanted to show you guys this video because even if you think you’re hiring a professional company to install a fence for you, doesn’t mean they know what they are doing. If you’re going to hire someone always make sure you do your proper due diligence first. Start with a license number and make sure you check it! Don’t just make sure they have a number and be ok with that. You can check any license number with the state and it will show you if they are in good standing.