Small scale farming on both commercial and residential properties is big business these days, and many people will extol the various benefits of owning a herd of goats, whether its for their meat, their milk or simply to use as a hairy lawnmower. However, goats are intelligent and tenacious creatures, and keeping your goats from wandering off and demolishing your neighbour's prized flowerbeds requires a sturdy system of fences and gates.
The type of fencing most suited to your goat enclosure will depend largely on the kinds of goats you keep. Kids and smaller goat species can squeeze through surprisingly small gaps in fence posts and mesh, while strong adult billy goats can barge their way through fragile fence panels. As such, you should choose a fencing type that can keep in every size and strength of goat as well as keep predators and food thieves firmly outside the enclosure. A number of fence types are suitable for these purposes:
Also known as livestock panels, these fence panels consist of interlinked wires made from tough galvanised steel, held in place with wooden or metal fence posts. These panels are strong, durable and relatively inexpensive, and will stand up to the abuse of adult goats ramming, climbing or leaning against them.
However, goats can jump remarkably high compared to other livestock, and short livestock panels may need to be supplemented to prevent jumpers from escaping. You should also make sure the mesh is tight enough to prevent smaller goats (especially kids) from squeezing through.
Split rail fencing
An inexpensive and environmentally friendly option, split-rail fences are simple structures made of horizontal wooden slats held in place with fence posts. Split-rail fences are quick and easy to erect, and, when made from properly treated wood, they can resist the wear and tear of weather and time for many years with minimal maintenance.
However, all goats, even heavy milk-producing varieties, are adept climbers, and a bare split-rail fence won't pose much of an obstacle to a determined goat. Supplement this kind of fencing with electric wires or anti-climb mesh panels to prevent escape attempts.
A popular option for goat owners who cannot attend to their flocks at all times, electric fence wires deliver a painful but harmless shock to any goat that comes into contact with them. The number of electrified wires you use depends largely on you needs -- a single electrified wire attached to the top of a short fence will prevent jumpers from escaping, while multiple strands discourage goats from squeezing through gaps.
Electric fencing can be surprisingly inexpensive to run, especially when powered by dedicated solar panels, but the initial cost of installation can be high, especially if you take the safe option and have it installed professionally. You should also make sure that your goats will actually pay attention to the wire, as particularly long-haired or thick-skinned breeds feel little or no pain from electric shocks and can potentially lead to your entire herd escaping if they barge a fence panel down.
For more information about the fencing types you should consider, contact a local company that specialises in fencing supplies.