I still remember the day I realized just how stubborn goats can be— and how important good goat fencing is. Our 5 month old Saanen does were in their yard and the kids and I were playing out back. The 2 does were feeling frisky and running and jumping all around. Bella, who we quickly learned would test any and all fences, got a good running start and jumped right over our 4ft tall chain link fence.
It was the only time she tested the chain link- but the welded wire that separated the goats from the dogs was pushed down soon after. Moral of the story- build good goat fences from the very beginning!
Goats are notorious for testing fences, so when you plan your pastures make sure that your fencing is strong!
- Make your goat fences tall. Some goats love to jump. 4 ft is the minimum height you should have.
- Choose wire that can withstand climbing and leaning (ie. woven wire NOT welded wire)
- Choose wire that your goats can’t get their heads stuck through- especially those with horns.
- You may need a combination of wire and electric to keep some goats contained.
On our farm we use a combination of 4-strand electric wire and woven goat fencing. It works well for us and we only occasionally have escapees. Here are some of the pros and cons of those two options.
The Best Options for Goat Fencing
4-5 Strand Electric:
We currently have a large pasture using 5 strands of electric fencing. It works well for the does and babies and even the boys when it’s not breeding season.
Pro: It is Simple and inexpensive to construct. We have a mountainous and wooded pasture where putting up woven wire would be a nightmare. T-posts and electric was a breeze!
Pro: Most goats won’t pass this psychological barrier- but they can sense when it is down!
Con: In the summer, weed trimming must be done often so that it won’t ground out. You need to walk the fence row often to check for fallen limbs and such.
Con: It won’t always work for bucks in rut- you need a physical barrier to keep them where you want them to be.
If you are new to goats, I recommend reading up as much as you can before you purchase. You can find a lot of articles here on The Free Range Life that will teach you about goat care and be sure to check out The Busy Homesteader’s Goat Management Binder– it’s full of to-do lists, checklists, record keeping sheets, and resource pages that will get your new goat herd off to a great start!
Goat Wire (4-inch squares):
We currently use woven goat fencing with 4 inch opening in our buck yard and large open pasture.
Pro: It is strong enough for goats to lean on without pushing it down- provided that you pulled it tight when putting the fence up.
Pro: Adult goats cannot put their heads through the openings.
Con: Young kids- especially those with horns- can fit their heads through and will get stuck. This is usually short lived as kids grow fairly quickly.
Con: The standard 4 ft height might not be tall enough for jumpers like Nigerian Dwarf or large breeds (like my Saanen). This can be remedied by adding one additional strand of electric wire above the wire goat fencing.
Other Fencing for Goats
The following options are okay for goats, but not as good as the goat wire and electric I talked about above.
Woven Field Fence
This is still woven wire, so it is still durable, but it is a thinner fencing that might not be as strong when it comes to goats standing or leaning on it.
The holes are also larger, so goats- especially those with horns- can get their heads stuck.
Field fence is less expensive than goat fencing, so if cost is an issue, it is a good alternative.
Cattle panels are very strong fence panels. They come in 16-ft sections and are very durable.
It would be very expensive to fence a large pasture with these panels, but they are good for small yards, dividing pastures, making corrals, etc.
True cattle panels also have larger openings, so goats can get stuck, and we’ve even had babies escape through them. They do make goat panels which have the smaller 4x4 sized openings.
The following are goat fencing options that I do not recommend:
Any welded wire fencing. It is just not strong enough to withstand everything a goat will put it through. The welded connections tend to break much more easily and it can get pushed down by goats when they lean or stand on it.
Fencing for goats can be an overwhelming job, if you are still confused as to what to build, check out my article on Fencing Options on the Farm. While it is not goat-specific, it does give you a good run down of all the available options. For a comprehensive guide to raising goats check out my Quick Start Guide to Raising Goats.