Ceci & Hope

Ceci & Hope

Friday, January 2, 2015

Other Fencing Options

Goat Fence 4X4
 Other fencing I recommend that is much more permanent than electric is 4X4 woven wire. There are several heavy duty brands that work well if installed properly. Red Brand have what they call the Square knot. Very good heavy duty stuff. I would prefer this over cattle panels even. Living here in Missouri cattle panels will leave many gaps along the bottom where woven wire can basically be fit to the lay of the land.

Types of fencing I do not recommend but can be made to work for goats.

Barbed wire   It can be dangerous if not done right for goats. 4-6 strands of barbed wire with 2-3 of hot wire added is workable for goats. Barbed wire can catch udders or other soft skin and tear easily if they try to slip through or if they get pushed into it. The electric will keep them off of it. I had a doe get a good size gash on her udder when they were pushing to get a through a gate. She was pushed against the fence and her udder was full. She healed fine but definitely something I did not want to happen again. I now have panels lining that part so something like that doesn't happen again.

Woven wire  
 With squares large enough for a goat to fit their head through. This is mainly a problem with horned goats. If they can get their head through Babies can get through also. I have seen many goat farms with this type of fencing and have goats with their head stuck in the fence. If you are gone through the day or they are out at night this puts your goats at risk to predators especially stray dogs. They roam night and day, coyotes tend to be nocturnal. Goats getting stuck in the fence is also dangerous in extreme weather. A goat in the heat or the cold for long periods of time will be stressed and can die from exposure. Babies can get out and separated from the herd. This makes them very vulnerable to predators. A baby in separated makes a lot of noise and can attract predators in the area. Adding a couple of strands of hot wire will keep the older goats out and off the fence.

Cattle Panels are great for many things.
 They work best for small lots, Buck pens and secure barnyards that are on fairly level ground. Because they are so rigid, it can create holes under the fence that open up your pastures to predators like stray dogs and coyotes. They prefer to go under a fence rather than over. Panels are great for secure barnyards to lock them up at night. Especially the panels with graduated squares. Horse panels are the absolute best for this.. But very pricey. I prefer to use them to build barns and hay feeders. That will be covered in another section.

My Dream Fence 
 It would be 4 foot, 4X4 goat fencing with the square knot topped with 2 strands of barbed wire and one strand of electric about head high to a goat to them off of it. Cross fencing with with hot wire for rotational or Managed intensive grazing systems. Adding height will help keep other animals like deer which can carry meningeal worm or predators out of your pastures and protect your goats. My goats are an investment as well as pets and I prefer to protect them from loss as much as possible. I also like to be a good neighbor so protect your goats and your neighbors garden with good fencing.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors....

  Fencing in goats can be difficult. The saying goes if a fence holds water it will hold goats. Just like anything else there are many options out there. It all depends on how big your wallet is and most of us probably have a fairly slim wallet. Keeping your animals contained and others out will protect you and your animals. But also protect any garden your neighbor may have.
  Some people just don't like waking up to goats on their porch or eating their favorite roses. Doing your part as a neighbor can make things easier down the road. My first piece of advice to new goat people is make sure your fence is good. Animals will escape occasionally but if its a regular thing neighbors will get upset or you can have costly losses due to bad fencing. You will possibly avoid legal trouble as well, depending on the laws where you live. Here in Missouri if your animal is hit on the road and causes damage you are liable.
Electric Fence
  The cheapest option as far as up front cost is electric fencing. I have used either all electric or other fencing combined with electric to keep my goats where they belong. I have had a Parmak 50 mile Weed burning charger for several years. As long as it is grounded properly it works great. I prefer one with a digital read out of some kind to see what it is putting out. I have used as few as 3 wires to keep them in but I don't trust that to keep them contained. I prefer 5-6 strands of alternating hot and grounded starting at the bottom with a hot wire. You need at least 17 gauge wire. The lower the gauge the harder it is to work with. And then you get into the High Tensile electric fencing which I think work great but they do get pricey. There is also poly wire which is light but tends to break down quicker than wire. Electric tape takes special insulators. It only takes one to challenge the fence and then lead the others through. I find yearlings tend to be the most hard headed when it comes to this.
   I have also used electric netting. It works well as long as it is on. Its not as durable as Regular Electric wire but is more portable than any other fencing. It is meant to be temporary. You have to be careful if it is off. Goats sticking their head in the wrong place is a common issue. If the Electric net is off they do like to stick their head through the squares. We had the most trouble with babies doing this. Had a near miss with a young buckling that was just a couple weeks old. We found him in time thankfully but any longer and he probably would have strangled himself.
   Keeping an electric fence hot constantly will keep your goats in and most predators out. I have never had coyotes cross our electric fence, stray dogs have come in contact with it but never returned after getting shocked and so far no Mountain Lions even though they have been seen in close to us. Also keeps out deer. They will occasionally jump it but after putting it back up when they knock it down they start to avoid it.. At our first place there were a lot of deer and we had paths around the outside of our fences where they went around.
  One thing to keep in mind when working with electric you can't just put the goats out there and turn it on.. They will most likely follow you back through the fence when you leave the lot. Some people claim it doesn't work for that reason. We train our goats to the electric fence.
 Electric fence is more of a mental barrier than a physical barrier. We fill a plastic bucket with their grain and hold it to the fence. They have to touch the fence to get the grain. When they do they get shocked on the nose which is very sensitive to them. They remember that for a good long while. Most of my older does wont even look at the bucket of grain when it is on the other side of the fence. They also keep their babies back from it. Giving their little warning sounds to the babies. My yearlings tend to be the daredevils, challenging the wire occasionally. The most they will shock themselves trying to reach the grain is 2-3 times. They also need to be reminded every few months. But they wise up to our tricks and leave the fence alone.
  The reason I like Electric is because the start up cost is more affordable. It is easily added on and can be moved with less effort. We have moved twice since we got our first goats. We pulled up post and wire, it gave us plenty of fencing for the new place we moved too. There are alternatives to some of the more expensive parts of electric fence like the insulators that bring the cost way down also. It does however require continual monitoring to make sure it is working properly.  

   5 month old babies up against 5 strands of electric.
Alternating Hot and Grounded wires starting with Hot at the bottom.

Closer view of 5 strand

Alternating Hot and Barbed wire
3 strands of hot wire with 4-5 strand of Barbed wire.

Electric Netting used as Cross fencing.

Electric netting used as portable fencing.  

 Alternative to Electric fence insulators....
6-8 in piece of water hose with wire threaded through it and looped.
Then you run your hot wire directly through the loop.
Works really well for corners and to keep the fence tight.

Step-in post are great to have around..
Use them to stretch the distance between the more expensive T-post.
Usually last about 5 years.

And when the Step-in post break they may not be entirely useless..
I have used them to replace insulators that have broke.
They work quite well attached to a T-Post.

I will cover other types of fencing in my next post. I look forward to your comments. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

RockyHill's Practical Guide to Raising Goats

I have been encouraged to write a goat book.. One that has practical and alternative advice compared to the normal/conventional way of doing things. I have posted on my blog The Simple Life for several years some of these things. But thought maybe I should go about it in a more orderly fashion. If you have read much of my blog here. You will see that I use some conventional methods and also herbal or alternative methods to raising my animals and my family. I think there is a place for both in life. I have combined both for many years with great results. The more natural I can be the more I like it. But sometimes there is a place for the more conventional way of farming and animal husbandry. There are several Right ways to raise animals and farm in general. Like anything else common sense seems to be disappearing. People humanize animals. They don't "think" like people. Each species has their own unique requirements and instincts. I try to remember that when caring for my goats and any other animal I have here at RockyHill.
 After tossing this idea around and even typing up the start of some chapters. I remembered about monetizing my blog.. I thought this would be a way to get feedback, start earning a little money and work out my ideas  refining them before putting them on paper. I can also add photos and drawings of what I am talking about to help explain. By putting ads on my blog it generates a little income for me but doesn't cost my readers anything to learn about goats.
  I have had goats for 13 years.I researched for a year before getting goats what little bit was available then.  I have moderated online goat forums in the past and currently have a Facebook group for Missouri Goat owners that runs a little over 1000 Missouri goat owners of all different breeds and types of management. It is an active group with lots of great members.
  I currently have 13 goats, 9 does due soon, 2 older does that are getting a break from kidding this year, one doeling to young to breed this year and a wether. Plan on adding a 3 year old Nubian doe named Lacey by February if things work out. That will have us milking 10 does by hand this year. Thankfully I have two very willing in-house experienced Dairy maids that own part of our small herd. That will probably be our limit as far as adult does for now. Living on 5 acres with less than that for pasture does limit us.
  I have also been over the 4H goat project(local and county wide) for a few years while my girls were in 4H. I have researched goats till my eyes cross and then some. I try to educate myself constantly and ask a ridiculous amount of questions when around a more experienced goat person. I will talk goats till I am blue in the face.. Only things I talk about more than goats are Jesus, homeschooling and family.
 A few things I plan on covering are the basic requirements, alternative housing, blending Herbal & Conventional meds among other things. I hope this will be something that has practical common sense for goat owners like me.. 
 So wish me luck and stay tuned to see what happens around here!