This past spring I was on our local buy/sell site and saw an ad for two Nubian does. Without much forethought I replied to the ad, made an appointment to go and see them and came home the proud new owner of two goats. To say we were unprepared is an understatement, but the price was right and I’ve always wanted goats. Thankfully we live very close to my sister who graciously offered her barn to our new additions, until after the doe who was expecting had her kid.
Fast forward a few months and we had our goats home, we decided to use electric fence as a portable method of containing them. After much internet research I was a bit concerned how we would teach them to respect the fence, since most of what I read told of how electric fencing does NOT work for goats. Our plan is to use the goats as an organic weed control, so we needed a containment system that was portable, electric fence was the easiest and cheapest option. We decided to give it a try.
Note : We only put our goats out in the electric fence when we are home or close by. At night and when we are away for long periods they are in a 5 foot chain link permanent fence, safe from predators, dogs and escaping.
To begin we set up our fence, we used five wires around the perimeter, spacing the wire evenly. Then we checked the fence to make sure it was working, goats love to rub on fencing and they will test it.
Next we tried just putting the goats in the enclosure and as all the research told us, they went right through it. Once they had their heads through a gap in the fence and they felt the shock they immediately jumped forward, leaving the fence behind.
So we went back to using tie ropes, holding them we let them explore the pasture. We never forced them into the fence but when they got close we held the rope tight, so when they felt the shock they were not able to jump forward and instead had to back up. This worked surprisingly well for one goat, she got the idea very quickly and never goes close enough to the fence to touch it. Our other doe took a bit longer to figure it out, and she will still occasionally touch her nose to the fence.
It took about a week of daily trips out to the pasture on ropes before we were confident to try and leave them on their own.
Note : We never left the goats tied on ropes without us being present, this is dangerous as they can get tangled and/or choke themselves. Never leave a goat tied unsupervised.
Now we have a reliable portable fence that we can move around our property as the goats do their job of eating the weeds.
Do you have goats on your homestead? How do you keep them contained?