My own experience with goat fences has shown that goats always tend to go under or through a fence than over it and with one exception where I had buck that could and would jump over with ease, this has generally shown to be true.
It is for this reason that you must look at fencing as your single greatest priority before you introduce goats into the paddock. The first task I started immediately on purchasing my current property was to run an electric fence wire close to ground around the entire property and all paddock perimeters and gosh it hurts!
Even now with feed being short, once a few goats decide to push through to the next paddock, electric shock or no shock not they will all go through the fence like a tsunami. I will cover electric fencing separately, and there is a lot your need to know.
Many properties that have run sheep and cattle have multi wire systems, that are either barbed wire or are tensioned steel wires, and for those animals it works, but not always for goats. For goats you need to install the smallest mesh you can and usually a graded mesh where one side of the mesh has smaller squares than the other. This smaller mesh is placed at the lowest point at the ground.
I always install the mesh touching the ground, to minimize the temptation to goats to push under. You should tension the mesh against existing or in new fence lines as this makes it harder for goats to push first their heads and then follow through and push under, and I have seen this many times
On goat fences at mid span on meshed fence lines I have tent peg type rods made from reinforcing type steel rods. I curve it over at the top and then I hammer it in at mid span so the hook pulls down the mesh to ground level, so far it’s defeated my goats best efforts.
When running mesh against existing multi wire fences, ensure you properly fasten the mesh against the wires using tie wire.
Make sure that at end points that there are absolutely no gaps in the mesh, if there is a gap a goat will find a way out.
Make sure goats are well fitted, so that no gaps exist either at the sides where gates meet support posts or more importantly no gaps under the gate as I have seen smaller gates flatten themselves out and push under, it’s an amazing sight to watch.
For my goat fences I also install and electric fence wire so that my goats are well conditioned and stay away from the fence entirely.
One must look at goat fencing economics of installing mesh to existing fences. It’s a lot more costly than goat electric fencing however there are trade offs. If one lives in an area that is high on vermin such as I do, in particular foxes and wild dogs then meshing has much merit to protect the goats. Ideally if affordable chicken wire would be the best option to keep out all vermin but again it’s a matter of weighing up your potential losses if you do not.
Having lost more than 50 goat kids (and that’s what I know about) and probably more to foxes last kidding season the lost income of $2500 would have meshed a significant portion of my fences. I had many does drop triplets and sometimes quads and when they parked them and went off to browse the kids were easy targets in broad daylight. This year I am starting to mesh extensively as it’s ultimately economical.
The other economic issues to consider are that the goats go missing, usually on some other property, and sometimes forever, and also there is a liability when the stock is hit by vehicles on roads. For me the greatest issue is the valuable time wasted in searching and retrieving the goats.
Goat fencing is an essential part of
goat farming and whilst it has an initial high up front cost, knowing they are
all there is well worth it just for peace of mind that it brings. Goat Fencing has it challenges and they have to be solved. For more on goats and goat fences go back to the beginning