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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hello fellow goat lovers!

we are adopting two (4 week old, so tiny) Nigerian dwarf goats next month and we’re getting started on the fence. I have been doing endless research but I have so many questions still and I’m hoping you can help.

we are wanting a permanent, SUPER safe home for these babies. The pen area is about 80x40ft. So it’s quite large for backyard goats.

we live in Carlisle MA, in the woods, with lots and lots of predators. Keeping these goats safe is incredibly important to us, especially since they’ll be so tiny without adult goats. We have many coyotes, fox, raccoons, hawks, etc. We see them often.

they will be locked up at night in a closed barn. When I research fences I see that woven wire, 4ft fencing should be enough for Nigerians but when they’re kids it should be 6ft? Any suggestions on how to keep them safe as kids but not put an unnecessarily large fence up?

Would a five or 6 foot fence be overkill? Would it actually keep out coyotes? I’m assuming they can just climb the fence. I was thinking about putting some electric wire on the top to prevent this. If I do that, with the fence still need to be 6 feet?

And for how long do I need to worry about hawk attacks? I’m assuming just when they are super little? The farmer we are adopting from said that their pen should actually be small in the beginning so a hawk cant swoop in. Do you agree with this? What size should their pen be and do you have any suggestions on a temporary fence for the kids before opening it up to the larger permanent pen?

We are also going to do an apron around the whole fence. Do you think this is sufficient for digging or should I also put electrical wire along the bottom? I also have young children around so hoping to avoid the bottom electrical wire if possible.

Most importantly though, we really just want to make our goats as safe as possible because we would be absolutely devastated with a predator loss. We want to avoid this at all costs.

thank you so much. I know this is a lot of scrambled thoughts and questions but I would love any input if possible.
 

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I have had good luck with 4’ no-climb horse fence. The openings are 2”x4”, so it keeps in the little ones. I’ve never had a goat attempt to jump it, though I’m certain two of the six could easily do so if they wanted. I’ve heard others say their NDs jump a five foot fence. You’ll most likely be ok if there are not any toys or structures near the fence they can use to jump over it. Some goats are escape artist, some are not.

For predators, a strand of electric at the top and near bottom on the outside seems to work well. Then you may not need the apron (we actually have one around our dirt floor barn and it works well) but it definitely won’t hurt if you want to add it in case the electric fence isn’t working for some reason. I actually have aerial netting around the small pen attached to the barn because we have a lot of birds of prey here. So yes, I do think hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls can be an issue for tiny NDs.

I have only had goats for a little over a year and have six NDs ranging from 65lbs to 9 lbs. The 9 lb is the newest addition and has all the confidence in the world, walking around the five acre pasture like she owns it and never worrying about staying too near the other animals and I’m terrified a bird will swoop in and get her so I’m out there supervising all the time (doing it right now as I write this, lol). I’ve had hawks and flacons kill chickens bigger than her, so I am always worried until they get to about that 20lb mark.

It’s great you are thinking and planning now. I have no doubt your goats will enjoy their new home with you. And that you will enjoy your new goats. They are wonderful little creatures. Welcome to TGS!
 

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I have no climb horse fence too. I have the 4 foot because its cheaper and no way i can handle anything bigger to put up. Hot... hot.. hot.. wire is your friend. i would recommend a foot off the ground on the outside and on top, if you dont want your goats rubbing on the inside then a foot off the ground would be good there too-o mid way how ever large they are.
Get the biggest zapper you can. You want those animals to only touch it once and then decide they are not hungry enough to try to hope the fence. I have two zappers one is a... dang it.... i touched it again only runs like 20 feet but its for 15 miles i think but i also just use tape(its just to keep the horse from going in the yard) the other one is wire and the zapper is for miles and miles and miles of fence line. Its a fall over and see stars fence.
 

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We have woven wire field fence, I think it's 48". Barbed wire at the bottom along the ground and one strand of electric on top. Inside are chickens, katahdin sheep, mini and nigerian goats. The only things we've ever had escape are chickens and very young goats (at gaps near gates and uneven ground). We had a chicken massacre a year or so ago, I think by foxes because they hauled away most of the birds. The top wire was not working and they figured it out (and went through the goat pen several times that night).

The bottom wire keeps diggers from digging but it's never been a danger to my livestock or humans. The top wire- we have signs and tell people all the time and we still have lots of accidents with human touches. We also have a more robust, small pen with barbed wire and no electric that is 2x4 woven wire that is 5' Nothing gets out of that.

I like not having electric at the bottom because we have never once needed to weed whip around the fenceline. The sheep and goats will graze it for us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have had good luck with 4’ no-climb horse fence. The openings are 2”x4”, so it keeps in the little ones. I’ve never had a goat attempt to jump it, though I’m certain two of the six could easily do so if they wanted. I’ve heard others say their NDs jump a five foot fence. You’ll most likely be ok if there are not any toys or structures near the fence they can use to jump over it. Some goats are escape artist, some are not.

For predators, a strand of electric at the top and near bottom on the outside seems to work well. Then you may not need the apron (we actually have one around our dirt floor barn and it works well) but it definitely won’t hurt if you want to add it in case the electric fence isn’t working for some reason. I actually have aerial netting around the small pen attached to the barn because we have a lot of birds of prey here. So yes, I do think hawks, eagles, falcons, and owls can be an issue for tiny NDs.

I have only had goats for a little over a year and have six NDs ranging from 65lbs to 9 lbs. The 9 lb is the newest addition and has all the confidence in the world, walking around the five acre pasture like she owns it and never worrying about staying too near the other animals and I’m terrified a bird will swoop in and get her so I’m out there supervising all the time (doing it right now as I write this, lol). I’ve had hawks and flacons kill chickens bigger than her, so I am always worried until they get to about that 20lb mark.

It’s great you are thinking and planning now. I have no doubt your goats will enjoy their new home with you. And that you will enjoy your new goats. They are wonderful little creatures. Welcome to TGS!
Thank you! I love how your confident girl is keeping you on your toes! She’s lucky to have you!

so you have a separate fence for the smaller animals around your barn and a bigger, 4ft permanent fence around the pasture?What sizes are the fences, if you don’t mind me asking. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have no climb horse fence too. I have the 4 foot because its cheaper and no way i can handle anything bigger to put up. Hot... hot.. hot.. wire is your friend. i would recommend a foot off the ground on the outside and on top, if you dont want your goats rubbing on the inside then a foot off the ground would be good there too-o mid way how ever large they are.
Get the biggest zapper you can. You want those animals to only touch it once and then decide they are not hungry enough to try to hope the fence. I have two zappers one is a... dang it.... i touched it again only runs like 20 feet but its for 15 miles i think but i also just use tape(its just to keep the horse from going in the yard) the other one is wire and the zapper is for miles and miles and miles of fence line. Its a fall over and see stars fence.
Do you think I need one at the bottom if I have one at the top? I was thinking of doing an apron instead because I have a 3 year old and I wanted the strong zapper out of reach. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We have woven wire field fence, I think it's 48". Barbed wire at the bottom along the ground and one strand of electric on top. Inside are chickens, katahdin sheep, mini and nigerian goats. The only things we've ever had escape are chickens and very young goats (at gaps near gates and uneven ground). We had a chicken massacre a year or so ago, I think by foxes because they hauled away most of the birds. The top wire was not working and they figured it out (and went through the goat pen several times that night).

The bottom wire keeps diggers from digging but it's never been a danger to my livestock or humans. The top wire- we have signs and tell people all the time and we still have lots of accidents with human touches. We also have a more robust, small pen with barbed wire and no electric that is 2x4 woven wire that is 5' Nothing gets out of that.

I like not having electric at the bottom because we have never once needed to weed whip around the fenceline. The sheep and goats will graze it for us.
Your 5 ft fence is within the bounds of your larger electric fence? Is that why you don’t need electric or does the 5ft height keep predators out alone?
 

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Your 5 ft fence is within the bounds of your larger electric fence? Is that why you don’t need electric or does the 5ft height keep predators out alone?
Not quite. There's one short end of the 5' fence, nearest our house, that is not within the perimeter fence. We built the 5' fence ourselves as a really good, hurry-up fence after a pig escape debacle. The rest of the fence and plans came later and were installed by pros. It's more happenstance than intentional design, but both styles work.
 

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well 3 year olds are preety smart... she would only get zapped once😬...you know because they can figure out a phone in like 10 seconds.

- outside lower hot wire is preferred but if you cant the top one should work and you said you are putting them away at night.
 

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Thank you! I love how your confident girl is keeping you on your toes! She’s lucky to have you!

so you have a separate fence for the smaller animals around your barn and a bigger, 4ft permanent fence around the pasture?What sizes are the fences, if you don’t mind me asking. Thank you!
You’re welcome. Yes, I have a fenced in small pen around their barn (maybe 50’ x 30’) and an exterior fence around five acres they roam during the day. Both are the same 4’ no climb horse fence. We do have cattle panel for cross fencing, but it definitely won’t keep a young Nigerian dwarf in. They can hop right through the squares. Lol. They do make goat panels that have smaller squares if you think that would work better for your fence but it is costly.
 

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I've got a mixed herd of registered Mini Nubians and unregistered Mini Nubian/Alpine/Kiko mixes.
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It might be a good idea to go for a 5 or 6’ tall fence, since your goats are little and more susceptible to predation. If you have an electric wire at the top you will probably be fine. But if you want to be really extra super safe, I’d go taller, in case of electric fence failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It might be a good idea to go for a 5 or 6’ tall fence, since your goats are little and more susceptible to predation. If you have an electric wire at the top you will probably be fine. But if you want to be really extra super safe, I’d go taller, in case of electric fence failure.
Thanks! Taller than 5-6 ft?
 

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5' is plenty tall, especially with hot wire on top. It's very nice to be able to pass things over the top of the fence sometimes too. I'm so happy with ours. If you ask around University ag programs/extension, local fencers, or maybe county programs, you may find the tried and true methods for your area (and ways to help pay for it). We qualified for a cost share program that paid for 70% of our fence, seeding (mix and labor), waterline/pump, frost-free automatic waterer, etc.
 

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I've got a mixed herd of registered Mini Nubians and unregistered Mini Nubian/Alpine/Kiko mixes.
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5' is plenty tall, especially with hot wire on top. It's very nice to be able to pass things over the top of the fence sometimes too. I'm so happy with ours. If you ask around University ag programs/extension, local fencers, or maybe county programs, you may find the tried and true methods for your area (and ways to help pay for it). We qualified for a cost share program that paid for 70% of our fence, seeding (mix and labor), waterline/pump, frost-free automatic waterer, etc.
Wow, that sounds awesome!
 

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Thanks! Taller than 5-6 ft?
Well, it just depends I guess. It gets super dry where I am, so the electric fences aren't always very reliable. My thinking is just that a six foot fence would be significantly harder to get over than a five foot one. But five foot is already pretty tall and will stop a lot of predators - probably most predators, unless you have big cats or something of that nature around. We haven't had a coyote get into our backyard (where the chickens are) since we got a sturdy five foot fence around it. But I have heard that some coyotes can get over a five or even a six foot fence. Maybe the coyotes around here just aren't that tenacious (or not hungry enough). Or maybe the fences in question were those wooden privacy fences people tend to have in more suburban neighborhoods - they have those horizontal pieces that a coyote could use as footholds to sort of climb over.

Personally, if there were a lot of predators around, and if I could afford it, I'd go with six feet - but if I needed to save a little money, I'd go with five plus an electric wire at the top, and I've heard keeping the spot near the ground rod moist can help the electric fence be more effective. 🥰
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well, it just depends I guess. It gets super dry where I am, so the electric fences aren't always very reliable. My thinking is just that a six foot fence would be significantly harder to get over than a five foot one. But five foot is already pretty tall and will stop a lot of predators - probably most predators, unless you have big cats or something of that nature around. We haven't had a coyote get into our backyard (where the chickens are) since we got a sturdy five foot fence around it. But I have heard that some coyotes can get over a five or even a six foot fence. Maybe the coyotes around here just aren't that tenacious (or not hungry enough). Or maybe the fences in question were those wooden privacy fences people tend to have in more suburban neighborhoods - they have those horizontal pieces that a coyote could use as footholds to sort of climb over.

Personally, if there were a lot of predators around, and if I could afford it, I'd go with six feet - but if I needed to save a little money, I'd go with five plus an electric wire at the top, and I've heard keeping the spot near the ground rod moist can help the electric fence be more effective. 🥰
Thanks so much! This is really helpful. I think we’ll do 6ft just in case! I would be a mess if something happened that I could have prevented.
 
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