Last fall I put together a plan to improve the outdoor living space for our goats. Several fence posts were rotting, and erosion caused most of the front line to have a dangerous incline. The gates were unuseable, and the goats were able to escape fairly easily – even with chicken wire between the fence boards. Most importantly, we experienced an incident where a stray dog made it into the run and killed a baby goat in March. The fence needed to be higher – and sturdier – before our female goats had their babies.
The first step was squaring off the back fence line. I installed four fence posts, sinking them 12″ into the ground and filling with concrete. The posts were set 8′ apart and boards placed at ground level and two more staggered in the middle. Salvaged fencing from my brother’s home and our field completed the addition. I built a new gate (5′ x 7′) to the field – which may sound excessive. I wanted it to be large enough for the goats and my wheelbarrow to move through comfortably, but also accommodate larger animals or equipment if needed in the future. I also built a gate on the barn side – I plan to fence around the back of the barn to the far side, giving us space to keep baby goats and/or male goats separate from the females if necessary. The project added about 100 square feet to the run, with the added benefit of the entire water tank being accessible from all sides now. The goats are loving the additional space!
We were blessed with nice weather through mid-December, so I moved on to improving the front fence line also. It was a good thing that was in my plan, since we had the opportunity to take on a new goat about that time! He’s a Boer/Kiko mix and a wether (ie. ‘fixed’) so we thought he’d make a good friend for our girls. He’s a runt and actually smaller than our Nigerian Dwarfs – he should be like 3x their size. He’s been rechristened Yoda (goats get names from the Star Wars canon) and is a sweet, friendly, loveable little dude. Yoda is as much of a parkour master as the Nigerian Dwarf kids were – so a higher front fence on the goat run was definitely needed. He lived in the new chicken coop shed for a few days while I finished the project.
First up – setting new posts. The erosion line was pretty bad, so I set the posts between 12 and 18 inches up slope. Ten posts were set 12″ deep, surrounded by concrete and connected by boards. The posts and boards were new wood, but I was able to salvage a roll of fencing from our neighbor’s (roommate’s sister) yard and began taking down the field fencing for the rest. We’re talking nearly 90 feet of thick wire fencing, times 2, so it was a significant savings. Zip ties are a wonderful connector tool – and strong enough to hold in goats. There’s about 18″ yet to cover with fencing on the top line, but the new fencing is already higher than the old – and there hasn’t been a single breakout. After some discussion I decided not to build a gate on the front fence. The goats are already used to coming in and out through the barn, and its just not worth battling erosion again in the future.
The new fencing adds up to 5′ of height (depending on the slope) and should prove a strong deterrent to any predators once our babies arrive. It added another 100 square feet (approximately) to the run. We knocked down the previous fence and I used the boards to lay out a small flower bed along the front fence line, another along the back line, and outline more vegetable beds in the field.
The irony of the project? Our goats have yet to be bred! We’ve been working to connect with our contact for three months, but his work schedule has made things a challenge. My roommate and I discuss our options daily, but there are no easy solutions. I do know that I’m thankful the project is complete and we are ready to keep kids safe, whenever they arrive on our farm.