The Truth about Goats (or Why We Downsized our Herd)

It happened purely by accident. But somehow, I have seemed to develop quite the reputation for being a “goat girl.”

I supposed the Goat 101 series is somewhat to blame, although I definitely don’t claim to be an expert. It’s been awesome to see how many people are interested in home dairying. And like I’ve said many times, goats are a great way to get started.

But I have a confession to make: we drastically downsized our goat herd this year. In fact, we are down to only 2 yearling does.

Shocking, huh? Allow me to explain…

First off, I’m still a goat advocate. I still recommend them to folks who are interested in their own source of fresh, raw milk. I still stand by what I said about goat’s milk being just as tasty as cow’s milk. And I still love how they eat waaay less than my big ol’ milk cow. (She can pack away the feed, let me tell ya…)

Our decision to sell most of our goats came down to one big issue: FENCE.

It’s a well-known fact that goats need a very secure fence. It’s one of the first things you’ll hear when you talk to an experienced goat person. And let me just say that it’s very, very true.

You see, we have all sorts of fence on our property but none of it is goat-proof. Even our big does could slip right through the log corrals, and barbed wire is nothin’. Our chicken wire pens worked for a while (they were part of an old pheasant farm on our property), but it didn’t take long for the goats to push on the wire and break big holes in it.

Notice the hole on the right…

So that left us with pretty much one option: keep the goats in the barn in the two wire panel pens we have…

The problem with that? I hate keeping animals locked up and feeding them hay year around– especially when I have 67 acres of grass that needs to be grazed.

Even though we have plans to build more pens outside within in the next year, it would still mean they’d be locked in a pen all the time. And eating hay all year.

Trust me, I didn’t give up easily…I tried tethering them to graze, but they tangle themselves up like crazy- plus it’s not very safe. Every once and a while I would (stupidly) try letting them out to graze while I was outside, but they never, ever stayed where they were supposed to.

An attempt to let the herd graze for a few moments in the pasture…

Which brings us to our second point…

Goats like trees. A lot.

And they will run past green bales of alfalfa, buckets of grain, and fresh spring grass just so they can demolish a tree.

Actually, hundreds of dollars worth of trees… Trees have a hard time surviving in Wyoming anyway, so it’s pretty devastating when you’ve worked so hard to keep them growing, only to have them mowed down in less than 60 seconds.

So we came to a crossroads. We could:

A. Spend some serious money re-fencing a large portion of our pasture with (expensive) goat-proof fence,

B. Invest in a portable electric fence set-up and commit to moving a portable pen around the property (i.e. more chores…)

C. Continue to leave them locked up year around and feed hay- even when there was loads of green grass outside.

D. Sell the goats.

Since we already had Oakley the milk cow at that point, we decided to take a break from goats for a while. Cattle were something that we wanted to do anyway, and our property was already completely fenced for them. Plus, I really didn’t feel like milking both the cow AND the goats– just for our little family.

As of right now, the two that are left are Prairie Baby’s “pets.” However, I don’t see us having a completely goat-less future, and I fully expect to have goat babies running around again at some point.

So would I still recommend goats?

You bet! They are the perfect starter dairy animal. They don’t eat much and will provide you with delicious and nutritious milk.

However, if you have visions of them being the perfect low-maintenance lawn mowers, that might not be completely accurate. Unless you have a properly fenced, very secure pasture, of course.

So there you have it. I guess I’ll still claim the title of being a “goat girl,” but we’ll stick to just having 2 goats, instead of 10, for the time being.

If you are interested in learning more about goat ownership, you won’t want to miss the posts in the Goat 101 series:


P.S. Like what you read? Join over 33,000 other homesteaders and get farm-fresh inspiration from The Prairie Homestead delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up Now! (it's quick and easy--plus you'll NEVER get spam from us!)


STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

Comments

  1. Good fence prevent a lot of frustration! Our goat fence is made from woven field wire with a strand of barbed wire on the top and on the bottom. We also made sure to reinforce our braces in the corners because like you said they jump and lean and push on everything and if it’s not reinforced it’ll be crushed down in no time

  2. I had my goat tethered once and she knocked down my 2.5 year old onto a piece of corrugated tin and needed stitches. I cried more than he did.
    Yes, tethered goats are dangerous…

  3. I have 4 goats, 3 Pygmy and one mix Pygmy. They are just pets and companions for our blind horse although they love all the horses we have had and get very upset when they leave. We foster horses. But now just going to keep the blind one, Bridgit. Anyway it took us months to get the fence where the goats did not get out. I did not mind them in the yard, but drivers would compalin they got in the road, funny how we never saw them near the road. Turned out after all the compaints from Animal control and we finally got problem fixed, it was a couple goats up the road that were the problem. I can sit and watch them for hours, they are so entertaining and a couple of them are very loveable. You’re correcty when you say they love trees and bushes over grass. Take care.

  4. We acquired two goats with our ranch. After about 2 months we realized why the previous owners were looking to get rid of them. They ate our (newly planted) fruit trees, siding of our house, etc. The final straw was when We drove up our driveway one day to see our goats (a pigmy cross and blonde) out in the coral covered in what we thought was blood. Thinking a predator got them, we quickly pulled into our driveway to see “blood” on the handles of both my volvo car and on the back latch of my 4runner. Upon closer examination, we concluded that no, it wasn’t blood, rather red paint that we used to paint our chicken coop. They broke into our shed, found the paint can and was able to get it open and proceeded to “paint” my vehicles. They were sold that weekend.

    • They just needed their own space and you failed to give it to them. I rescue a lot of goats. It’s usually a woman that calls crying that her husband is threatening to kill the goats because they got on his truck in the driveway. What on earth possessed them to allow goats in their driveway in the first place I’ll never understand. NEVER keep goats in your yard. YES they will eat your fruit trees – and many of your ornamentals around the house which are poisonous to them. DUH! They deserve their own field, barn and good fencing and then I wouldn’t have to rescue so many! (and there wouldn’t be a lot of domesticated pets going to other people’s dinner table. YUK!)

      • Jeanne:
        Thank you for your reply. I see that your rather passionate about goats, and think it’s wonderful that you have chosen to rescue goats. I’m sure they are very thankful for you.

        Just wanted to clarify a few things since you were so kind to reply with assumptions that were made on your part:
        1) as I mentioned, the goats came with our farm, in which yes, the previous owners allowed them (even had them on an electric fence) to run around the house; which as you stated was a wrong choice on their part. So as you could imagine, it was a rather a fun feat to keep them in their own space, which was a coral/field and barn.
        2) Not sure if you are aware, but many third world countries rely and survive off of eating goat meat. We are very blessed and fortunate to live in a country where ranch/farm animals are considered “domesticated pets” and kept in rescues while others around this world go starving and would like nothing more than to consume our “domesticated pets”. But I’ve digressed. But for the record we did not sell our goats for “YUK” meat, or drop them off at a rescue, rather to a young family who is looking to get their children started in 4H.

  5. We have the portable electric netting fence and use a solar panel electric fencer. You are correct it needs moved a lot (almost biweekly for us and we have 3 sections of that fencing with about 10 full sized goats) but it works well for us since we use the meat goats to eat the shrubs down in the cattle pasture.

  6. I have always wanted goats! One day when we get some sort of land, I want to prioritize getting a few goats! Thank you for sharing your tidbits on goat owning. I am learning little by little so hopefully I will be prepared with the time comes.

  7. We currently have 13 goats, both dairy and meat. They do a great job of keeping the weeds out of the pastures, but we couldn’t keep the goats in the fence. We finally purchased portable electric netting fence, and it’s done a great job of keeping them in. It is tough to move the fencing twice a week, but at least we can keep the goats where we want them! That type of fencing can’t be used in our type of winters so we change to cattle panels around their goat barn until spring comes again. We also have Jersey cows and I can honestly say I love cow’s milk a lot better than goat!

    • I’m really glad you got your goats to a good family. I shouldn’t have sounded so critical so sorry about that. Just gets frustrating that people don’t fence in properly. I am completely aware that people in third world countries eat goats and in Afghanistan they play polo with goat’s heads. I also know that goat owners around here sell them for food too. I became a vegetarian after moving to the rural area and watching the animals. Even the people around here that have pet goats never seem to keep them very long. Not many people seem to ever experience an entire goat’s life from birth til old age death and they are really missing out on what goat’s are really about. They just aren’t much different from our dogs that we treasure so much. They just eat vegetarian like me! I just have come to appreciate that animals make better companions than food. So maybe you can eat for a week, but that goat could have given companionship and weed control for 15 years. Doesn’t seem like a good trade to me. Rescue people, you may notice, are a little on the edge all the time. We have to make life and death decisions on who we can save and who we can’t, spend every dime we have taking care of someone else’s bad decisions and deal with the abuse that some people wreck on their animals. It’s our price for having bleeding hearts. I can’t change who I am but I know the planet needs people like me that are there as a safety net for those thrown out with the trash. Again, thanks for finding a good home for your goats.

  8. This is great do know for the future – i LOVE goats and hope to have them when we buy our farm.

    You can still keep your goat girl title :)
    Hahah!

    God bless!

    Our Front Porch View: The Story of a Young Family’s Pursuit to Fulfill a Simpler Life
    http://www.ourfrontporchview.blogspot.com

  9. Great post, Jill! I agree… a good fence is almost the most important item needed for raising goats. And being realistic about this is a very needed message! It has been my experience (please chime in, I’d like to hear your thoughts) that some breeds tend to be bigger “escape artists” than others. Or maybe it’s just that some of the smaller breeds, such as Nigerian Dwarfs, don’t require the same height of fencing? And sometimes it just depends on the particular goat! They do have personalities!! If I could have a cow, I’d certainly have one, but for smaller homesteads, goats are still a great option WITH the right fence! For other readers, I’d like to encourage them that JIll is right on with this message… there are seasons in life and sometimes there are seasons NOT to have a certain animal on the homestead. (It’s just hard to accept that sometimes when we love the critters so!)

  10. I know exactly how you feel! We just went through the same thing, but we sold them all. We have an electric fence, and they would do fine for months, but then they would start getting out every day. I lost several fruit trees (their favorite), and my lilac has never bloomed thanks to the goats. In truth, we should have sold them last year, but once you get attached to them it is hard to let them go. However, part of having a farm is deciding to eliminate areas that are not beneficial for us, or the animals. In the end the goats were sold to a wonderful, older couple that have other dairy goats and more time to work with ‘the girls’. I feel like you do, that goats are a wonderful option. However, for us, right now, they aren’t.
    Thanks for a great post. I adore your blog!

  11. I hear ya! I currently have 5 troublemaker goats in my yard-the one around the house-because they found every possible means of escape from the pastures. My older goats don’t do that. 4 of the 5 troublemakers are for sale, and the one we’re keeping can jump a fence like it’s a blade of grass!

    Regarding feed-pound per pound my goats eat more than my cow, but since the cow is 8 times heavier she does it more food!

  12. Good for you–posting about things that AREN’T working. I tell people all the time that the biggest thing we’ve learned is that occasionally you have to admit “defeat” and have an exit strategy if something’s not working. There’s no reason to continue doing something that causes you more frustration than pleasure — there’s already enough work involved in homesteading as it is. Find a better option for your family! (We’re selling our cow/calf herd and going to stocker calves to lighten the chore load right now.)

    You know what they say about goats–if you’re fence holds water it MIGHT hold your goat…but probably not!

  13. Interesting.
    So, we have planned on getting goats for years. 2 dairy goats that we’ll breed to a boar and breed meat goats. I’ve heard much about their abilities to push or escape fences. And yes, they love trees – but it seems you could fence in your trees easily enough vs fencing the goats in.The property we’re trying to buy has some woodland on it and a LOT of scotch broom and blackberry brambles. i think that would keep them busy, for a few years at least. we plan on electric goat fencing, moved every day or every 3 days for rotational grazing. it’s a lofty goal, but i’m self employed, so what better do i have to do, right? haha.

  14. I so enjoyed your article! I have 4 goats as pets and companions for my horses. I have had them for 7 years, but when I got the first 2 I didn’t know a thinkg about goats. I’ve learne quite a bit but still consider myself a novice. Whenever anyone asks me about raising goats or they state they would like to get some, the first thing I say is ” you need REALLY good fencing!” I have “no climb” field fence. Strong wire double twisted 2×2 inch squares. It was holding up really well until these FAT goats decided it was a great scratching post. So they walk at an angle and lean into it and bend the wire. Eventually it breaks. They don’t seem to like any scratching post I put out. Love them though…..they are my girls!!

  15. I used to have dairy goats for several years prior to getting married. The most I ever had at a time was 5 goats (including babies), though. I live in Maine, so tree destruction isn’t an issue here! I kept them in a small goat-proofed enclosure and every day took them for a walk in the field behind the house (or brought them an armload of forage if I couldn’t walk). Of course I had plenty of time then.

    I loved being a “goat girl” and would really enjoy having goats again someday (if we can get our pasture properly fenced). I agree with them being a nuisance to keep in bounds! I bet it is easier here in the NE where there are so many weeds, trees and brush that people are trying to find ways to clear it out!

  16. We had LaMancha and MiniMancha goats for a few years and I know what you mean about the fences! I felt like such a homesteading failure when I finally gave up and sold them. I still miss my “goatie girls” but since my family never really liked the taste of goat’s milk I doubt we’ll ever have goats again. I commend you for realizing when something isn’t working and having the strength to move on.

  17. HA! I just had to comment for the first time here. We have had the same troubles with our goats. Good thing they are so darn cute!!! We even tried the “evil yokes” which was also a joke! They were carrying around a corral on their necks in our desperation to keep them confined AND were still getting into our alfalfa fields! Our nerves were shot, hay depleted so we had to bite the bullet and fence in a small area on our farm($$$). We are ¾ of the way through and will be done today hopefully. We also have to keep our herd small for this reason. When you have the acreage the last thing you want to do is feed them year round! We have 4 right now and that is plenty for us! Oh, forgot to mention they also ate all our trees we had tried to plant on our prairie lands too! Potential shade, what a tear jerker but still, GOATS ARE GOOD TO HAVE :) Well, off to do the milking!

  18. Just chiming in…I grew up around goats (my grandparents ran over 1,000 head when I was in high school) and I raised them for show and meat and had a small herd (about 17) when I graduated college and struck out on my own. The correct type of fencing is vital for containing goats. A combination of true “goat fence” (a net like fence with smaller openings on the lower half to keep them from sticking their heads through) with barbed wire is the surest way to secure the herd. I always ran a strand of barbed wire along the ground to deter anyone from nosing their way underneath, and then another strand about 18″-24″ up from the base to deter anyone who felt like getting a good scratching session in by leaning their 150+ pounds of hairy goat body onto the fence and walking along side it. As for goats eating trees, they are natural competitors for deer for foraging. Goats like to eat grass but they are naturally foragers and will go after weeds, brush, trees, vines, etc. So if it’s something that a deer will eat, a goat will eat it, too. I absolutely love having goats as pets and as livestock animals, but you must have the proper containment for them because in the wrong circumstances they can be horrible pain in the neck!

  19. ROFL! I have had goats for years and fencing is always an issue. Right now I have electric fencing that keeps my two goats in for the most part. The yearling doe won’t leave the fence unless her mother is out and her mother is good about staying in. I would like to use a combination woven wire and electric. I have heard this works well. My plan is to use a short (2-3ft) woven wire fence with a couple strands of electric in front of it and a couple above it. It is usually my kids and yearlings that get out, so I think the short fence will work. The wire in front is to keep the goats from standing on it. Yes, goat LOVE trees and shrubs (and flowers)- the more you paid, the tastier they think they are. :P For those thinking of getting pygmies or NIgerian- they are far harder to keep in and get into even more trouble than a dairy breed.

  20. Hi Jill! Thanks for this post! My husband and I have contemplated getting goats, but we are hesitant for the very reasons you mentioned! I am sure we could do it, but they just seem like such a hassle. I am thinking we might get a milk cow someday. You have to milk goats and cows everyday, and it just seems like a cow might be the better option for us! Perhaps if we sell our extra milk we can make up for the cost of feeding the cow?!
    Thanks again!
    Love in Christ,
    Megan

  21. I nodded, I shook my head, I laughed… I feel your pain! We only have two little pygmies and they are a handful! I can’t imagine having “full-sized” ones. Goats are definitely not an easy pet to have, they don’t/won’t eat half of what people say they will. So many things are toxic to them! Luckily, we have plenty of room and fencing for them, but they still manage to squeeze out somehow. Next year, we’re hoping to start milking our female so we actually get some sort of payoff for all this trouble! HAHA!

  22. Hi, I live in Australia and i love reading your posts regarding goats. I love goats and i recommend them to everyone as great kids pets.
    It IS possible to tether them. I have 14 nannies and three billies and I tether the billies as they are impossible to keep in ANY fence.
    Firstly, make sure you get some STRONG collars. I use 5cm (2.5 inch) wide dog collars. I then attach dog chain to the collar with an industrial strength clip. To stop the chain from getting tangled around their legs, i thread the chain through about 1.5m of poly pipe (not sure what you would call it in the US, but it is the stiff black pipes that you would also use for irrigation systems). I then attached the end of the chain to a rope. The end of the rope has a loop, which i slip over a star picket, which is banged into the ground with a ‘donger’.
    The goats go go round and round the picket, but because of the loop, it (mostly) doesnt get tangled. Because of the poly pile, it is also impossible for the billies to tangle the ropes around their legs. I move them around every two days to new weed patches, it takes about 5 minutes to move them and they are already on a ‘lead’. The most annoying thing though is they keep tipping over their water buckets. I havent yet come up with a system to stop this from happening!
    Keeping in mind that I have Boer (meat) goats, i would assume for milking nannies, you wouldnt need as strong materials.

    • Yes, I had the same problem with the water buckets too! Sounds like you have a great set-up, though.

    • Christa says:

      I had Boer, Nubian and Cross goats and the wide dog collars work best and then I got the metal stake and “wire rope” setups for dogs from the hardware store, the ones for big dogs like St. Bernards and Mastifs and they held my boys great. As for tipping over buckets I staked them in a spoke pattern around a stock tank; they got to play but could still get to water if they got tangled together. They went out in the morning and in at night; and when they had grazed down the area they were in the whole set up was moved. It typically was every two weeks between moves and took about an hour to move everything around (usually done in the morning before they went out for the day). And the move was usually perfectly timed for when the stock tank needed to be cleaned and refilled anyway.

    • We use a caribeaner (not sure what you call them in Australia) and attach the 5-gallon bucket handles (flat-sided buckets) to the fence where they’re grazing. If they’re not tethered close to a fence, I could definitely see your dilemma!

  23. I have two does and a buck and one of the does escapes the 6 foot chain link fence EVERY SINGLE DAY! I can’t figure out where she’s escaping from and it’s driving me nuts, I’m seriously considering putting a camera on the pen so I can finally see where she’s getting out from. She has done quite a number on the fruit trees we planted last winter and the pepper and tomato plants in the small garden bed. I can’t say I’m ready to get rid of her though…yet. The day may come though.

  24. I have raised dairy goats for 20 years and fencing is the #1 talk I give folks who ask about raising them. I have no fruit trees – goats ate them all years ago. We planted willow trees around the pond – they ate those too! As many experienced goat folk have commented…goats are browsers and they prefer trees, leaves and weeds to grass any day of the week (sheep are grazers…not goats!). I adore my goats and if you adore something…you put up with a lot! If you invest in the proper fencing both you and your goats will be happy. We opted for paying for secure fencing instead of other luxuries around the house (we now use cattle panels with 100% success – zero barbed wire for us). I encourage anyone who yearns to own a goat to put up the proper fencing and give it a try – you will fall in love!

    • We use four foot field fence and that is all. We have not had any escapes. The three foot with electric at the top was our first try and that did not keep them in at all. I close in three acre areas for twenty five boer cross does. I rotate them once a month. The boys have one and half acre areas on other side of property and no escapes. Our number one problem was figuring out proper space and rotation to keep parasites at bay.

  25. Hi Jill … I sympathise … I loved my Nubian goats! They were such charming pets and gave delicious rich milk, but were very mischievous about getting out of the pen! Ours never did much that was damaging while out though I agree goats love to eat trees so you have to be very careful of that. We have what is basically a granny small town homestead which is just a little farmhouse on a large lot ;-) like rural grannies used to have years ago when they moved to town. There just wasn’t room to keep the larger breeds happy here, so one day I hope to have goats again, this time Nigerian Dwarf goats.

  26. Electric fencing is your friend! You can run a strand or two along barbed wire or woven wire or a 5 strand fence of straight electric wire. I had all kinds of goat escape problems but they were easily solved this way. I use the woven wire/barbed wire as my ground and then the electric wire on nail on insulators or the kind that snap onto T-posts (depending on the posts present). For the straight electric fence, make one of the middle strands a ground wire. I picked the second from the bottom but I wouldn’t see anything wrong with using one of the others either. They will go right up to the fence but there is no more pawing, leaning, climbing, or pulling on the fencing. Be extra aware for the first few days as they tend to take a little time to get used to it. They may stretch it or damage it at first but this will stop after all the goats get shocked.

  27. I’m curious why no one is talking about daily moveable goat pens, like a chicken tractor. It seems to me that for a couple of goats, this would be a great way to save on feed costs, have a sturdy but portable pen, avoid overgrazing and help avoid parasites. Sure, you’d need to move the pen each day or two, but this would be no different than a chicken tractor. Any thoughts?!

    • What type of materials are the pens usually made of? I’ve heard of people moving around electric fence, but not sure how panels would work?

  28. I’ve had goats off and on for 40-some years. My Dad used to say, “If you want to build something to hold your goats make sure it holds water…cause if it holds water it will hold a goat!” He was right about that. Even with decent fencing (6 foot chain link) they like to rub against the fence until it starts sagging. Then they try to push thru any hole they thing might fit their bodies thru. 10 years ago I had 13 goats and that kind of tipped the ecosystem the wrong way. Thru old age (and unfortunately coyote attacks) I am down to 2 goats. Also the lawn mower myth.. The goats will go for your trees first, then any plant you have actually bought, then when there is nothing left they will eat a weed (if they can’t get to the hay or their goatie grain somehow). They are very entertaining though. They are very eccentric pets and very friendly.

  29. Our goat fence has been really successful.
    Four strands of barb-wire, one of them at ground level, then really heavy duty chicken wire stapled to the barb.
    This has kept them secure for over two years now without one breakout….phew!
    The cheaper, lighter weight chicken wire isn’t strong enough to hold them in but the heavy weight wire is perfect. I hated using hinge joint wire because our goats have horns and they would stick their heads through and be caught like a fish hook and then we would have to cut the wire to get them out.

  30. Laurie Pringle says:

    I loved reading about the fencing issues. We raise and breed Pygmy goats. I have two kinds of fencing I use. The does are enclosed in a large area fenced off with dog run panels. The bucks and whethers are in two enclosures on one side of the horse pasture. Their pens are fenced with 5 ft no climb stapled on to lodge poles 7-8 ft apart. (same as the horse pasture). Both of these have worked very well for us. They are either quite content or can’t find ways out.

  31. Lorri Davis says:

    I have 5 Agoutis and 2 Pygmy/Nigerian crosses. I have an electric fence around an acre of our property that has trees, brush and grass. So far it has kept them in. We had one problem with our 1 yo buck (Greyson). He’s so small he was literally just walking between the lines! So one of my 16 yo sons had to go out and run another strand in between. Every once in a while we see him look at the fence, he kinda shivers and walks away. All my babies have a healthy “hate” relationship with the fence! I had never even touched a goat until I bought my first one! Now, my husband will be out before they are!! LOL

  32. I have 21 goats on a five acre plot on my farm. I invested in the sturdy “no-climb” fencing that has only a 2″x4″ opening. It’s woven, not welded and pretty heavy duty. 13 years later there are no holes and I had only one escape when a T-post got loose and a goat just pushed it down and walked over the fence. That was easy to fix. I used to have a lot of little wild plum trees in that field but the goats ate them all. To save the big shade trees I have barricaded them with cages made of cattle panels cut and wired together and then, if I see a goat getting through that, I put an old wooden pallet stacked up against the tree (4 to a big tree works great). Good gates and properly installed posts prevent the escapes. I have let my goats graze in the big fields last winter after the drought left them with nothing in their field. It was really enjoyable. I spent maybe 45 minutes a day with them. I had one baby goat that was really bonded to me and when I called her to come to me she would run and the others would follow. If I need them inside all I have to do is shake a bucket with some cattle cubes and they run back into the barn. I could never part with a single one of them. They are my outside dogs. Many are rescues, a lot have been born here and they are all part of my family.

  33. My goats proved dry difficult to contain as well. My hubby and I wanted to put them on pasture with our cows, since we already had the fencing done and they would eat the weeds the cattle left behind. However, they easily slipped through the barbed wire. I then invested in some very expensive portable electric fencing to use on areas of the farm we hasn’t yet fenced. I was so disappointed! The fence was so flimsy, wouldn’t stand up, and the goats weren’t phased by the shock. They just tried to walk through and got tangled up. Finally, we decides to run and electrify high-tensile wire. We ran 5 lines, the first about an inch off the ground, the second 3 inches up, the third 3 inches up from the second, and the fourth and fifth at about hip level. Eureka! The goats learned to stay away from the fence quite quickly and it was affordable!

    I just found your blog today and I love it! I will be breeding my goats for the first time this year and will definitely use your site as a guide!

  34. When using electric fence, how do you teach the goats that’s it’s ouchy? I know this sounds like a stupid question… but I have two DETERMINED jumpers and one of them is extremely adept! She never touches the fences while escaping. She eyeballs the height, takes three or four steps backwards to get her run at it, then sails right over. I put up hotwire and she has no idea that it zaps because she’s never touched it. I have standard height woven wire field fence. I put two strands of wire above that, so the highest part of the fence is right around 5′. It means nothing to her! She’s a Nubian/Alpine yearling. Her partner in crime is the meatiest, fatest Savanna/Boar doe you can imagine. It’s a miracle that she can gain that kind of elevation! The worst part is that they’re teaching my weanling doelings the art of escape!

  35. one way to keep your staked out grazing animal from getting tangled up is to take some old pvc pip or garden hose and string your lead or rope through it,and clip on your animal.no worries about tangled livestock.
    http://youtu.be/cGJNQyOk00w
    nice video tells you how to do this.

    • oh,and if you have fence jumpers you can make a collar out of wood(a triangle shape),and they cant easily go through or over a fence.
      you can do this with a “y” shaped piece too just tie the two ends around the back of the head.

  36. You mention the portable electric fence as an option, that you ruled out due to time/work load. This is the avenue I would like to take but I’ve had a rubbish time figuring out reliable sources for the portable electric fencing. I’m considering goats as both dairy and (don’t read farther if you’re sensitive) a potential red meat source. I don’t want to get into hay feeding (except winter) and aim to be as self-sufficient as possible in terms of pasture/hay.

    I’m wondering if I can run goats ahead of my chickens, in a similar manner to Salatin’s beeves/chicken rotation and get all those benefits. I’m looking at beeves and not sure I really want to deal with a 1,000 pound cow! Goats are small (bossy, but small) and according to some sources, very tasty. I’m on the hunt for local goat meat to do a taste/cooking test. I know we want dairy goats…and possibly a Guernsey. I like butter. A lot. ;-)

  37. I am getting 2 angora goats in the spring. They are easier to keep in, they do not jump and climb like other goats and will stay in a fence unless it has a hole that is almost goat sized. They are to add to my fiber farm that has French Angora Rabbits.

  38. It’s all true, and it’s good for people to know up front what the challenges to goat ownership are. It really does come down to fencing, which we learned the hard and expensive way. I was so frustrated with my goats at one point, I wrote a blog entitled “Top 10 Reasons Goat are A##holes!” I recommend everyone doing research read articles like this so they know the whole truth before going in! : )

    http://www.boldsoulsmicrofarm.com

  39. Portable fence is worth its weight in gold. It is all we have to pasture our goat girls at the moment. We have 4 large sections which takes 5 goats at least a month to browse down. Highly recommend. We only have goats get out when I forget to turn on the electric. Oops!

  40. I have found using woven wire with 2 stands of barbed wire turned in works well but they are escape artists, more than once I have had to saddle up and head east to the nieghbors to wrangle goats who have gone astray.3 weeks ago I was in South Dakota to visit family and my girl friend ran across 2 Nubian milkers that a lady wanted gone and she gave them to us, great girls and there good producers at 3 years old.The big problem was getting them back to our spread in Kansas, we had our car and not the truck.So I removed the bottom of the back seat and repacked the trunck of my 04 grand prix so the seat and our lugage would all fit, and we proceeded home 7 hours with 2 large goats in the back seat!! This will never happen again, but was kinda fun :-)

  41. So far I haven’t seen this mentioned on the blog, but I found a solution to the goats and fences problem! We bought Myotonic Goats, better known as Fainting Goats or Tennessee Wooden Legged Goats. They play and jump around in their enclosure (made of simple cattle panels, nothing else), but they do not climb nor try to escape! They are sweet natured, lovely animals. We did not milk them, though I suppose you could. One of my Fainters had a good crop of cashmere that helped to feed my spinning fiber passions! This breed comes in a variety of sizes including minis. A delight!

  42. Hi, I loved reading about your goat experiences and those who commented. I learn so much from other people’s experiences. We have had milk goats for 3 years, so I don’t consider myself an expert, though I am learning and forming opinions! I suspect that goat breeds play a part in the fencing issue. We started with Saanens. They are very docile and seem to lack the escape artist tendencies of other breeds. Our Saanens got out one time, when they figured out how to flip up the catch on the chain link gate, which just about ANY animal would figure out with time. The rest of our fence is just thrown up and not particularly strong. The goats could push right through it easily if they wanted to. They also have no interest in jumping like my father-in-laws mutt goats.
    I bought 2 kinder goats last year. They a little more noisy and not quite as people-loving as the Saanens,but they have never bothered to escape either.
    I am relieved because we would not have been able to put the time and money into more, better or stronger fencing.
    Tina

  43. Ha-ha! I got two Boer Goats from a co-worker – thinking we would start raising them – UNTIL we realized our fencing was NOT going to hold them in! We came home numerous times to find them OUTSIDE the fence just roaming around. My two I have now are just pets, but they are in a paddock that is secured like Fort Knox. I now am raising Katahdin sheep – MUCH easier to keep. I love the goats personality, but the sheep are sweet and much easier to keep.