So how would you fence a goat?

We have around 3 acres of land now, most of it grass. I spend 5-6 hours a week mowing. We also have a barn with 4 stalls. Given these facts, Susan and I have been kicking around the idea of getting goats/sheep/alpaca that would help keep the grass trimmed, clear some of the land, and maybe produce hair for spinning and knitting. There’s also something of a principle at work here, which involves us working the land and trying to produce some of what we use locally ourselves. Mowing is a waste, but cleared land is an opportunity – for an acre of asparagus, or of sunflowers, or a bunch of goats, an acre of fruit or nut trees, or even just a field of wildflowers. We have several issues to deal with before we get there though, including getting water out to the barn (we’re thinking we’ll get a hand pump well drilled, since there’s a vernal pool nearby suggesting there’s ample groundwater close below) and how to contain the animals.

The well seems straightforward, but the fencing turns out to be complicated. There’s lots of ways to fence livestock. We could pay for or build permanent wooden, plastic or metal fencing. We could use horse panels, which are basically stiff steel wire fence panels with large rectangular holes, and move the animals around along with the fencing every couple of days. We could use corral panels, which are steel tube fencing panels which are sturdier than the horse panels but much more expensive. We could use movable plastic ribbon electric fence, which use plastic rods with foot pedals on them that you reposition periodically. Or we could do something we haven’t thought of yet. What would you do were you us? Permanent fencing doesn’t appeal much because of the cost and the lack of flexibility. Horse panels leave me nervous that I’m going to be chasing down escaped goats all the time. Corral panels seem pretty expensive (they run ~$8-10 a foot). The plastic ribbon fence is an eye sore and a lot of work to move around, plus even though they can use solar power, they do require the power. Basically, we’re not loving any of the options and debating what to do. Anyone else got an opinion they want to share, or other options?

8 comments on “So how would you fence a goat?

  1. dlh June 7, 2011 7:17 pm

    hahaha. That’s brilliant and funny. But probably not a good fit for us given the bear, bobcat and coyote situation. The deal with the alpaca is that it hangs around beating up any predators, but it does so behind the fence. Dunno how that would play out with a bunch of independently staked goats and an alpaca ‘hey bill, come help, this thing is eating me!’ etc etc. Still funny though!

  2. dadleehamilton June 8, 2011 9:13 am

    i had thought about steak-and-rope, which i saw here and there as a kid. sent you and e-mail with other stuff.

  3. dadleehamilton June 8, 2011 9:14 am

    meaning “stake-and-rope” the “steak” part comes later.

    • dlh June 14, 2011 11:46 am

      Hey Tui….thanks for the link. Sooooo much fencing work to build that is what leaves me stuck. That, and the maintenance.

  4. Nick S June 13, 2011 11:35 pm

    Is there fencing with caster wheels available that you could drag around with your mower? You could make it maybe. Was thinking the same about a mobile chicken coop.

    • dlh June 14, 2011 11:45 am

      I think wheels mean you need ground clearance, and from what I’ve read, ground clearance for goats = escaped goats ;-)

      We have a mobile chicken coop. It has its pluses and minuses. Major minus is we live in the NE, so it spends 3 months buried in snow frozen to the ground, something that somehow never occurred to us as a possibility when we planned our chickenacquisition.

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