Saturday, November 12, 2011

Goat Fencing

After years of reading and learning, I think we're about to bring home some goats! Unlike chickens, goats require more work, but to have my own milk and meat source is worth the trade off. I hope! We're about to find out.

One of the reasons I've dragged my feet for so long is the issue of fencing. Goats are notorious escape artists and they can be destructive as well. Constantly climbing and chewing, they can make a mess of things really quick. Read any goat book and fencing is a good portion of the contents and usually there's a full chapter dedicated to the subject.

For months, I've been weighing my options. I wanted my goat area to look as lovely and nice as the chicken yard, but our peeler post fencing with non-welded wire would not be tall enough or strong enough. We'd be repairing it constantly, and since my husband has a progressive disease (and of course, we're getting older each year!), I didn't want to add something that would be more work for him. We have enough things to do around here to last a life time!

Because of our CC & Rs, several choices were automatically eliminated. (Oh, how I'd love to have white fencing! But I knew the rules before I moved into the area and I don't regret our decision.) That left us with only a couple of viable options...  I chose corral panels.

Practically speaking, corral panels will withstand a lot of abuse and last for the long haul. And because they're portable, I can move them around or change the configuration depending on our need at the moment. I can add more panels as money is available and expand the area, or I can create sections in order to keep mommas and their babies separate from the rest of the herd.  And should I ever decide we don't need them, I can resell the panels and recover a good portion of my costs (although I've thought about reusing them for my meat chickens if the need arises).

If you decide to use corral panels, the only draw back besides the aesthetics is the fact that you will need to install some type of additional galvanized welded wire to keep the animals in, often referred to as "hog panels". These usually come in 4 gauge wire with different configurations, so be sure to get one that has smaller openings at the bottom in order to keep baby goats from squeezing through. Because the corral panels are 12' long and the hog panels are 16' long, the hog panels will need to be cut to size and then wired onto the corral panels.

The goal is to get the goats here as soon as possible, so I've temporarily set up the corral in the middle of the back yard. The location is pretty much an eye sore right now, but because we're waiting for someone to grade the back 40 (figuratively speaking) where the corral will be permanently located, I needed them out of the area for the big equipment. 

There's certainly other options for goat fencing which many people use successfully, each having its pros and cons. Horse fencing would have worked, but the cost was a bit prohibitive and it's permanent so I couldn't move it around. Electric fencing wasn't an option because I didn't want to be dependent on an energy source; even solar panels on electric fencing are expensive and won't last forever. Plus, you run the risk of a goat getting caught in it and seriously hurt. The remaining options would have needed constant mending, so I ruled them out entirely. 

Now, we're moving on to some kind of temporary housing until we can get the barn built, and that issue is going to be a lot harder to resolve. I'm thinking cheap, sturdy, and totally enclosed (as opposed to a lean-to).  Suggestions anyone?


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