Deciding to get goats comes with many questions, including how to keep them contained.
Cattle guards might seem like a great way to keep livestock contained while eliminating the hassle of a gate.
A cattle guard will not work for goats, and you will need an efficient way to contain them if you do not want them roaming your yard. A cattle guard is not great for most livestock but may be a convenient alternative to using gates.
Goats are agile animals.
Have you ever seen them climbing the uneven surface of mountains or climbing up to the top of a barn?
They will find the cattle guard an interesting challenge and cross them without any issue due to their excellent depth perception.
Will Cattle Guards Keep Goats In?
You saw the cutest little goat at the fair, and now you want one.
How do you prepare?
Do you need a fence, and if so, how do you know it’s ready for a goat?
Something you need to keep in mind with goats is they are mischief-makers with inquisitive animal behavior.
Goats will chew, climb, jump, eat, and otherwise destroy any object they can reach.
Their main form of animal movement is walking, but it’s followed closely by jumping and climbing.
It’s akin to having a toddler; everything needs to be baby-proofed, or in this case, goat-proofed.
The good news is you have different options; you just have to decide which option is best for you and your goats.
Wood, metal, and concrete cattle guards are not one of the answers.
The uneven surface is something goats will easily hop over, at best, and at worst, you’ll end up with cattle grid injuries from legs falling through, especially when they’re agitated animals.
The cattle guard material doesn’t make a difference here.
It’s all useless for goats, so don’t start those cattle guard projects you’ve got on your to-do list.
Consider a better option than a true cattle grid or guard.
When keeping goats, you have a couple of options for containment.
When asked which is best, though, the only person who can answer this is your goat.
Sadly, many a goat keeper has found what they thought cattle-proof and the perfect solution, only to find their goats escaping.
One thing to remember is that you have to be flexible because what works for one goat may not work for another.
Steel Panels Or Cattle Panels
Also known as woven wire fencing, these are one-piece welded steel fence panels that come in sheets.
These are easy to move and flexible.
They can easily be cut with the proper fence cutters.
The panels can easily be attached to the fence posts with wire clamps or zip ties.
You want to use caution when purchasing this and ensure the openings are less than 4″ inches, so your goats cannot get their heads stuck in them (or even less depending on the animal size, such as with dwarf goats).
Also, if your goats have horns, you want to avoid this type of fencing completely as the goats can and will get their horns stuck.
Electric Fence Netting
When it comes to electric fences, you have a couple of options.
The simplest option is electric fence netting.
It is exactly as it sounds; it is a fence in the pattern of a net and is flexible and easily placed and taken down if needed.
Electric fences as animal deterrents seem cruel, but the wattage is so low that it causes no harm, and they learn to avoid it quite fast.
It keeps the animal safer and contained than most other fencing options if animal welfare is your top concern.
The other option is a traditional electric fence in which you will have to run the wires at the proper distances apart.
The wires should run from the bottom up at 5″, 10″, 16″, 23″, 31″, and 40″ inches.
There are some things to keep in mind with electric fences.
First, you have to keep the weeds trimmed and snow away from it.
This is where the electric fence netting is nice since you are able to take it down easily.
If your area is prone to losing power, you may consider investing in a solar box panel to keep it running.
These are inexpensive and easy to use.
Why Are My Goats Escaping?
Goats are escape artists; they will do everything they can to escape.
If you find your goats are escaping, check out some potential issues.
If a goat can get its head through the fence, it can get its body through.
Make sure you have the proper spacing, and this problem should be resolved.
Remember, goats like to climb and jump.
You must ensure your fence is at least 4′ feet high.
If you have a miniature breed, the fence needs to be a minimum of 5′ feet high.
When putting up the fence, you want the fence posts to be outside the fencing.
This is because the goats will stand on the fence, and having the fence posts on the outside will help make it sturdier.
When considering fence posts, remember goats like to chew, climb, head butt, and do anything else to possibly destroy a fence.
Use 8’-foot posts buried 2′ feet into the ground.
Use either metal or wood posts.
However, metal will withstand the abuse from not only the goats but also the weather better than wood.
Burying the posts will give extra sturdiness.
When putting up the fence, especially electric fence netting, you want to ensure it’s tight enough.
If you have a lot of give in your fence, when the goats climb up it, the fence will collapse and be useless.
Further reading: How high can a goat jump?
Goats are known to open hook, eye, lever, and bolt locks.
If you plan to use any of these locks, make sure they are on the outside gate.
If you do not want to take the chance of your goats escaping, a padlock may be best.
You may be tempted to use a cattle guard instead of a gate for your fence, but again, remember goats like the challenge of climbing and jumping.
A cattle guard will not be a barrier for goats, it will be more of a game for them and something they will enjoy.
Another way goats escape many new goat raisers don’t consider is by climbing onto their shelter and jumping.
If your goats can climb onto their shelter, ensure it is in the middle of the area, they have access to and far enough away from the fence line so the goats cannot jump off and over the fence.
Whatever you choose, remember that goats are excellent climbers and jumpers and incredibly clever.
They will attempt to crawl under, through, or jump over any fence.
When deciding to get goats, just ensure the fence is built for goats and not other animals.