When we started researching the type of fencing needed for our Nigerian Dwarf and Miniature Silky Fainting Goats, we were CONFUSED!
Much of the advice we found was intended for livestock fencing, or at best, for larger breed goats. Although a lot of the information was useful, we found it just wouldn’t work for containing our LITTLE goats, and keeping them safe from predators.
So, because of this, we wanted to help others in the same position that we were. Hopefully you’ll find the following tips useful when planning and building your own goat fencing for miniature breed goats.
5 TIPS for Goat Fencing for Your Miniature Goats
TIP #1: FENCE POSTS – Your post selection and installation is a very important part of your fence. You need to make sure each post is secure, and the corner and gate posts are well-braced. Even though your miniature goats are small, they are stronger than they look, so don’t be tempted to take shortcuts when building your fence. You should still follow most standard livestock fencing guidelines for installing your fence posts.
- For our posts we chose 7 – 8 foot pressure treated posts (4 – 5″ in diameter, with larger ones for the gates and corners), which were pounded into the ground 2 – 2.5 feet. The standard rule-of-thumb here is that 1/3 of the height of the post should be in the ground.
- For a wire height of 5 feet, you’ll want to make sure you have at least a couple inches higher than 5 feet of post sticking out of the ground (so mark your posts before pounding them in, to make sure you don’t set them too deep). This should give you enough room on the posts to make sure the top wire can be attached securely.
- H-braces should be installed at each of the corners, and next to any gate openings, as these are the areas where the most tension on your fence will be. We set our bracing just below 5 feet, which allowed us to staple the top of the fence wire along the brace. Diagonal wire bracing should also be installed at these points. This wire should be installed to put opposite tension on the fence run – so the wire should be attached at the BOTTOM of the corner post, and run to the TOP of where the H-brace is attached to the next fence post.
- Posts should be no more than 10 feet apart for the main fence runs, and for extra support, they should be installed 8 feet apart where your H-bracing will be located. You will find a lot of good information regarding the “physics” of the actual force that is exerted on the corner posts, and the optimal distance for the brace posts (much of which is based on the length of your fence runs and height of your fence). However, what we found was that much of this is based on barbed wire, or high tensile wire installations, or is calculated with the wire was installed on the outside of the posts. Based on the relatively short runs for our pasture, we found that the 8 foot H-brace distance worked best, and the 10 foot post spacing was a distance that works well for the type of wire we were using.
- ADDITIONAL TIP: Using concrete to secure your posts is usually recommended for posts supporting heavy gates, but for the remaining posts it can be very expensive, especially for a large area. Digging post holes and backfilling may work in your area, but we have very sandy soil, and any posts we’ve installed in this manner are just not secure enough (they start to “wiggle” and lean after a while, no matter how hard we pack in the back fill around the posts). Post-pounding has proven to be the most secure (and cost effective) solution for our fence posts, even those supporting our gates.
TIP #2: WIRE SELECTION – Your miniature goats can squeeze through VERY small openings, especially when they are young, so choose your fencing wire with this in mind.
- The 4″x4″ fence wire sold as “goat fence” by your agriculture or hardware store probably won’t work for your younger miniature goats. If you are planning on breeding your mini’s, those kids will be VERY tiny, so again, this wire will not work (even if it does manage to contain your larger goats). It is probably best to avoid it if possible.
- Graduated “field fence”, although one of the cheapest solutions for lengthy pasture applications, will typically have openings that are too large for miniature goats.
- The best solution we found was 2″x4″ wire fencing, often sold as “no-climb horse fence”. There are two types of this fencing wire sold: welded wire (less expensive, and may not last as long, but not a bad choice), and woven wire (more expensive, but the best choice, as it will last longer). Although this fencing may cost a bit more initially, it is definitely worth the investment. By installing a five-foot high fence of this type, you can also eliminate the need to add additional electric fencing wire (which you may have to with some of the other options). It is also much safer for your little ones, as they cannot get their heads through these small openings, preventing them from getting stuck!
TIP #3: WIRE INSTALLATION – The most important thing to remember is to install the wire on the INSIDE of the fence. This was where it got a bit confusing for us at first, as almost all the pictures and instructions we found showed the wire installed on the outside of the fence. However, once we got started building the fence, it began to make sense.
- Let me start with the installation recommendations:
- The wire should be installed on the INSIDE of the pasture, since the goats leaning and rubbing against the fence (and they will do this A LOT) will put significant pressure on your wire, and even push out the staples if it’s installed on the outside of the posts.
- You will also want to have your diagonal wire bracing (used on the corners and gate posts) OUTSIDE of the fencing wire, to prevent your goats from using it as a ramp to climb up and out of their pasture.
- To actually do the inside installation took some thought.
- The first run of wire is pretty straight forward. It is attached to one end post by wrapping each of the horizontal wires around the post (removing enough of the vertical wires to give you sufficient length to twist the horizontal wires back onto themselves). It then gets stapled on, down the post.
- The wire is then stretched along the length of the run. We used a come-along, chained to the bucket of our tractor, and a metal fence stretcher rod that has several hooks for attaching the wire, to help with this process. So, depending on where the top of the fence is in relation to your H-brace, you will probably need to cut some of the vertical wires at the top of the fence before you stretch it, which will allow you to pull the fence straight.
- Once you have the fence pulled tight, each of the horizontal wires at the end of the run will be wrapped around the post and twisted back onto themselves (again, cutting the vertical wires as needed). We first stapled the wire onto the post, and then wrapped around the top horizontal wires. We also stapled the wire to the line posts (along the fence run) while it was still nice and tight. We then loosened the come-along, and worked our way down the end post, wrapping around each of the horizontal wires.
- The second run of wire is a bit trickier. It also needs to have the horizontal wires wrapped around the end post, but in order to do this on a post that already has wire installed on the inside, you will need to cut away a lot more of the vertical wires to give yourself longer lengths of horizontal wires. These wires are then woven through the existing fence and twisted onto themselves. This is a fairly time consuming process (and hard on the hands, having to cut through a substantial number of vertical wires). Make sure to get yourself a GOOD pair of wire cutters for this job!
- The wire for this run (and the next runs) of fence will be stretched as before, stapling it onto each post and wrapping the horizontal wires around the end posts.
- Before you’re finished, make sure to trim the ends off all the cut wire you’ve twisted together. You want to prevent anyone from hurting themselves on those sharp pieces poking out!
- ALTERNATIVELY: When you have longer runs of wire, some of your rolls will need to be spliced together. So instead of splicing it together first and then pulling your fencing wire from the end of your run, you may want to try tying off a roll of wire to each of the end posts and stretching both rolls toward the middle of the fence run. I had found some interesting information on this type of wire installation, and it sounded like it might be an effective solution for longer fence runs. Have a look at this website for information on their technique: Installing the Fence Wire.
TIP #4: GATES – Plan your access points carefully, so that both you and your equipment can easily enter and exit your new goat pasture. And make sure the gates you choose can stand up to your goats jumping on them – frequently!
- Choose the strongest gates you can afford. Remember, these will be where your goats come to greet you, and they will want to jump on them, rub against them, and poke their noses through them to see what treats you may have brought.
- Metal/steel gates are a great choice, as they are very durable, come in a variety of sizes, and typically include all the necessary installation hardware. We chose powder-coated steel tube gates with welded 2″x4″ mesh, in 10 foot widths (for our tractor access points), and 4 foot widths, for “people access”.
- These gates are hung with bolts installed through the fence posts, and include a chain closure. Although our goats haven’t tried to “open” these, we do use a carabiner locked on each chain for added security.
- No matter how well your gates fit into the openings, your goats may still find a way to squeeze through – so be prepared! We installed our gates a few inches off the ground to allow for clearance when we have snow. However, there was just enough room between the post, the gate, and the ground for our little ones to squeeze out (and of course this happened the first day we brought them home!). So, we have had to install a few temporary boards around the gate openings, to prevent further escapes (at least until our little ones are not so little).
TIP #5: FOR EVEN GREATER SECURITY… As I mentioned earlier, your goats will rub back and forth along the fence wire every chance they get (which is part of the reason for installing the wire on the inside of the fence). This really loosens the wire over time, so as an additional measure, you can stake down the wire along your fence. This extra precaution can help A LOT in preventing your goats from pushing their way under the fence, and, at the same time, can help to protect your goats from predators getting underneath a loose wire fence.
- For the fencing stakes, you will probably have to get a bit creative, as ready-made stakes designed for this purpose might be hard to find. Over the years, we’ve used a number of different “homemade” solutions for staking things to the ground. For example, we’ve used stakes to help hold small buildings in place in extremely windy locations, to hold down wire fencing to prevent our dogs from digging and pushing their way underneath, and to help anchor the wire at the base of our chicken run. In each case, we’ve used everything from tent spikes, to L-shaped lengths of “forged sugar beet chain” which Jeff’s dad gave us from his farm a number of years ago. Essentially, any rugged metal with some form of hooked end should work quite well. Just make sure it is heavy enough to be hammered into the ground without buckling, and long enough so that it won’t pull out easily.
- For our current goat fencing, we no longer had Jeff’s parent’s farm close by, so we went to a metal salvage company, who fabricated rebar into 10″ lengths, and bent the tops over into a “candy cane” shape. These make-shift fence stakes were pounded into the ground to hold the bottom of the fence wire in place between the posts. The rebar itself was relatively inexpensive, but we had to pay extra for the labour to bend the stakes into shape. So far, this seems to be working well to keep the wire in place.
So, there you have it. For those of you who are just getting set up for miniature goats, we hope you find this information helpful. And for those who already have miniature goats, we’d love to hear your own tips for keeping your goats secure!