The goats did such a bangup job of chewing away the miniature jungle in their pen, we decided it was time to let them attack some of our overgrown side fields.  We’d planned to use cattle panels for temporary fencing, but based on some feedback from readers, we decided an electrified fence would be a better (though considerably more expensive) option.  If nothing else, we can use it to expand the chicken yards once the goats are gone.


The fencing is light and flexible.  The only problem with stringing 200 feet of the stuff around part of a field is that we live in Tennessee – whose theme song is Rocky Top for good reason.  To anchor the fence posts, you stomp a two-pronged stake into the ground.  I don’t think a single prong went into the ground on one attempt.  We’d try one spot, hit a rock, try another spot, hit a rock, finally hit paydirt.  So let’s just say the corral looks like it was installed by someone who prefers angles over straight lines.

The electricity is provided by a solar-powered unit that sends a 4,000-volt pulse through the fence about every second or so – frequently enough to keep the goats in and predators out.

The fun part (for me, because I was standing there taking pictures) was watching Chareva and Sara chase the goats around their pen to catch them and put on harnesses.  Man, those goats can move when they’re motivated.  But they got the job done, and Sara walked them (well, dragged them) into the new corral.

Both goats tried nuzzling the fence a few times, and both jerked back with a WTF?!! expression — if goats have expressions.  Anyway, they learned quickly that getting too close to the fence is a bad idea.  So now they’re out there chewing up the weeds and, I presume, fertilizing the ground.

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21 Responses to “The Farm Report: Goat Corral”
  1. Betsy says:

    Goats have many expressions…c’mon Tom!

  2. Wayne Gage says:

    To get a goat to follow just push against them and they will push back and then let them push you where you want them to go. Job done.
    Thanks for your post.

  3. Boundless says:

    Always be near the power cut-off when introducing goat to an electric net for the first time. We had one buck roll himself up in the net at first contact.

    We also use 4 foot netting like yours, as well as 4 foot fence, but it’s only goat-proof for relatively contented goats. One of ours lately became a persistent escaper. We enhanced one (non-electric) gate that she pushed through and bent, but then learned this weekend that she’s also a jumper.

    She’s on ground tie until we conjure up a Plan C.
    Plan O (outplacement) seems the most attractive option.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I had the same thought: if they charge that fence, it’s one brief shock and then they’re gone. But they seem to be keeping their distance.

  4. Travis Jensen says:

    I’m so jealous. My backyard is overrun with weeds. I’d love to let some goats run back there.

  5. Boundless says:

    If that’s premier1supplies netting, some other thoughts …

    Turn off the bottom energized string, and perhaps the bottom 2. Cut the vertical feeding string near the horizontal string. Tie the vertical feed back up. This reduces unintended ground contact and delays contact with growing grass and weeds, but leaves enough low hot string to deter most digging predators. You can always reactivate those strings with the included repair kit (for use with chicks, etc.).

    When we order more of this netting we always throw a few more of the black FiberTuff on the order. They’re great for tensioning corners at standard posts, corners not at the standard posts, and propping up sags on irregular terrain.

    On setting the posts in rock, our problem in KS is limestone, but the steel spikes easily defeats that with a little help from a hammer. For granite, which may be your problem, I’d be tempted to use a portable drill, and a masonry bit just slightly smaller than the spike diameter. Implement Joel Salatin style “grass farming”, and the rock will disappear under new soil in a few years.

  6. Rae Ford says:

    I don’t see much of a downside to goats on property like yours. They take care of the jungle and fertilize as you said. Do you supplement their diet with feed or are they pretty self sufficient on just eating the grass and shrubs? They seem to be pretty low maintenance animals that have some nice benefits.

    And as a side note, I know of a man who people pay to have him bring his goat herd to munch on the kudzu that is a big problem on much of Signal Mountain in eastern TN. Not a bad deal there, getting paid to give your goats a free lunch.

  7. Daci says:

    You do know bbq goat is wonderful, yes?

  8. Marla says:

    Train animals with food. Ring a bell when you are giving them a treat, and in no time they will come running at the sound of the bell, and will follow you, even unfenced, to new pasture, pens, or into the barn. You just have to be careful to establish your “Alpha” position so you don’t get trampled.
    I also used the same technique to train my livestock to go to the shelter during lightning storms.
    They are very trainable. I used to send my border collie out to collect the livestock, but soon they would come in on their own everytime they saw the dog coming for a gather. Just make sure you always are reinforcing with yummy food in the beginning. Even if you do unpleasant things to them ( shots, feet trimming), always finish up with treats.

  9. June K says:

    So, have you ‘tested’ the fence yet? Just to be sure it was working?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Couldn’t bring myself to take the shock on purpose. Fortunately, we have a testing unit that we hold against the fence.

  10. Boundless says:

    You’ll probably be moving the netting from time to time, as goats can clean out small areas fast.

    When you lay it on the ground, you may be tempted to walk across it (with the power off, course). This won’t usually hurt the netting, but watch your feet (literally).

    Even in calm conditions these nets like to raise a loop and grab a foot – very annoying.

    If there’s a wind, they’ll toss two loops, get both feet, and you’ll do a face-plant. Don’t ask me how I know this.

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