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10,000 Volts?       Seven Foot Fence?
What're Y'all Keepin' In There - Dinosaurs?

Jurasic Goat Park

The first herd of goats we owned consisted of 10 does; 2 grade Nubian and 8 Spanish - average cost to us, $62 each. Our first attempt at fencing to protect these girls on our small acreage was a disaster. Three acres - Four thousand dollars in material!
Our neighbors had warned us that the area had high predator pressure - city dogs, suburban coyotes, and two legged rustlers. The place had field fencing all around when we bought it but the first kidding season taught us that goat kids could get through and predators could get over and under. Since we planned on raising $2500 Boers we figured that we could afford to be fairly extravagant with our fencing.

      The only really strong fence material we found here on the fringes of urbania was 52-inch high cattle panels, 16 feet long with 6"x8" spacing of the 4 gauge wires. We bought enough panels to complete the perimeter - 113 panels. That set us back almost $2000 counting two boxes of staples.- we considered ourselves very lucky that there were already 54" high fence posts set in concrete every eight feet all the way around the place.
It took us a whole hour to figure out that kids could still get through the openings and yearlings could get their horns stuck trying to get to that perfect blade of grass on the other side. The solution for that problem, lacking any other material that we knew about, was another layer of panels applied next to the existing layer. With the openings offset 1/2 space from the existing panels the holes in the fence were only 3"x4". Never mind that it set us back another $2000 - the goats were safe.

      The next May we lost a very fancy show wether to a coyote - The kid had already been sold to a very nice young lady in FFA. She came to our place every evening to be with him and let him get to know her better. Having the wether eaten by a coyote was bad but telling that nice young girl that we had to give her money back to her, and the reason, just about broke our hearts.
We discovered that the coyote had jumped the perimeter fence. We extended the fence posts to 84" high in that area using "T" posts and we strung hot wire every 8 inches above the cattle panels from 52" to 84" high, alternating between hot and ground. We purchased two solar powered battery fence chargers to provide the "juice" - and juice there was... 3,500 volts!
We didn't bother doing it on the front side... our three yard dogs would keep anything from entering that way. Three days later we lost a full blood Boer doe kid to a city dog - she was just run to death and killed - not eaten. That stray dog had jumped a 48" fence at the front of the property, crossed 150 feet of open lawn, snuck past our yard dogs sleeping in the garage, jumped a 52" fence into an empty pen, crossed that pen, jumped another 52" fence and crossed another empty pen to finally jump into the pen that housed the doe he killed. He then exited over the perimeter fence on the East side of the pen - through the brand new hot wire that was working perfectly!

      That prompted us to strengthen our defenses again. We extended the 4-wire electrified fence to protect the entire goat pen area. We applied 2"x4" wire mesh from the top of the cattle panels to the top of the hot wire (not touching the hot wire, of course). We installed 48" 2"x4" wire mesh inside of the entire perimeter and to all cross sections of cattle panel (we found out that little kids with just-budding horns could get their heads stuck in the 3"x4" cattle panel openings and the adults would beat on them). We started leaving the garage door open about 3 feet so the yard dogs could more easily see and hear anything entering from the front of the property. We installed a second fence eight feet inside the perimeter fence so that the yard dogs could patrol all the pens from the outside without ever leaving our property. We scrapped the solar powered battery fence chargers and installed a 50-mile ac unit. (That charger is servicing about 10 times as much fence as when we first bought it and it still gives over 10,000 volts - even through rain-soaked grass!)

      By that time we owned 6 full blood Boers, including a National Grand Champion, and had about as much money invested in fence material as we had invested in goats - not to count the labor of installing 3500 feet of 3-layer fence 7 feet high. With an electrified wire at the bottom extending out 6 inches, 6 inches off of the ground.

      Looking back, perhaps we should have sought expert advice on fence construction. Maybe we should have found some books on the subject. How about just do a search on the internet? (more on that, later). But then... most of what we've since read about the subject wouldn't work on this small a farm.

      We still have the high-dollar perimeter fence - It's worked for the last 6 years and we're not about to waste all the labor and cost that went into it's construction. We did remove one layer of the stock panels with the 6"x8" openings. It's higher maintenance than we could wish for but it does the job very well.

Here's a few things we learned along the way. Most of our fencing techniques go against just about everything you'll read about electric fencing but remember... I'm writing about a small plot of land & raising expensive goats. Many of our protection measures would not be effective, practical, or affordable for extensive management operations.

Stuck heads can kill - The openings between fence wires must be either
1.) large enough to allow a goat's head (and horns if applicable) both in and out. or
2.) small enough that even a young kid's head can't go through in the first place.

Horns on goats act like fish hooks. Once the head is through a slightly adequate hole the goat won't be able to pull it's head free. Three threats then become active...
1.) Other goats will beat on the "stuckee" unmercifully,
2.) There is no more effective coyote caller than a stuck goat bawling at the top of it's lungs, and
3.) The goat could either strangle or suffer from "capture myopathy" - just shut down and die.

We've responded to these threats as we usually do... repair instead of replace. Like lining the inside of the perimeter cattle panels with 2"x4" mesh. All new interior (cross) fencing is either hot wire or a combination of hot wire and "horse panels" made of 6 gauge material, 48 inches high, with 2"x4" openings.

Predators like stability - Most canines (and humans) don't actually clear a fence when they jump over it - they either climb the fence or use the top of the fence for support as they go over - or both. If the top few feet of a fence are "floppy" the predator is less apt to attempt the trip. Our neighbor's fence is 7 feet high. So is ours. Coyotes routinely climb over hers but never climb over ours. Her fence is constructed using heavy duty corral panels, one above the other, with a pipe for support at the top. Ours is 48" horse panel with an additional 36" of 2"x4" wire mesh from the top of the panels to the 84" point. Climbing predators are very uncomfortable trying to scale this arrangement because they can't get a good grip on the mesh to pull themselves over.

Predators really hate hot wire - We use extended length (6") insulators to mount hot wire on the outside of the perimeter fence. Three strands - 6" off of the ground, at the top of the solid fence, and at the top of the mesh extension. There isn't a real need for the middle and top wires to be tightened too much... just enough so that they won't short out against the panels or mesh. The panels and mesh are grounded so a circuit is completed any time an animal touches a hot wire and the fence at the same time. Unless they learn how to pole vault I doubt if any will be coming over that fence.

Predators can and will dig under your fence to get at your goats. They can be stopped (or at least severely discouraged) from this digging by placing a barrier on the ground outside the perimeter. We found that cutting some 16 foot cattle panels length wise made great material. The cut sections were laid flat on the ground and attached to the bottom of the solid fence. The flat section was then covered with dirt and rocks. When the predators dig they run into the panel extending out from the fence and can't dig through. They haven't, so far, figured out that they can back off about 2 feet from the fence and dig there. Even if they figured that out they'd have to dig a tunnel about four foot long, being careful to not touch the hot wire at the bottom of the fence.

Goats don't like each other - If you put two goats on opposite sides of a fence they'll try to butt heads through the fence. It doesn't matter if they're complete strangers or are yearling birth sisters who were separated 30 seconds ago. They'll still butt heads through the fence. And destroy it. Then you have to replace it before one of them gets stuck in the eye by a broken wire. Unless the fence is "hot".
Our solution was to convert all of our "cross" fencing from cattle panels to either high tensile four-strand hot wire or to an "all hot" fence.
Here's how we built the "all hot" fence":

"T" posts - 6 feet long - medium
Pipe - 1-3/8 inch diameter, 10 foot galvanized - the kind used for chain link (cyclone fence) top rail
PVC tubing - 2 inch diameter schedule 20 - cut into 2" lengths - 1 for each T post
Wire wraps - plastic - 8" - UV protected
welded wire mesh - 2x4 - 3 foot
Electric fence wire - 14 gauge galvanized smooth
Upholestry "hog" rings
Insulators - T post application - short - 4 per "T" post
Insulators - End or corner application - 8
Fence tighteners - metal or UV protected - 2
knife switch.
Construction "T" posts - drive 2 them feet deep, 8 feet apart.

      install on each post from the ground up at 6", 15" 24" and 31"

Electric fence wire and tighteners
1.) Install tightener on wire
2.) Run a length of wire *through* the middle insulators (*don't wrap it around the insulators*) and another length through the bottom insulators. The insulators at 15" and 32" are just to keep the mesh from touching the post - they do not have smooth wire run through them.
3.) Secure the ends of the wires with "end" or "corner" insulators. Tighten the wires.

PVC bracket PVC pipe -
Cut the pipe into 2" lengths - one for each "T" post. Using a plastic wire wrap, attach one PVC piece to each fence post at the 42" level. Run the pipe through the PVC pieces. Slide the pipes together.
Hog Rings
Unroll fence mesh and attach to the pipe every 2 feet using plastic wire wraps. Attach mesh to bottom and middle smooth wires with hog rings. To prevent the ends of the mesh from warping you can run a length of smooth wire from the pipe rail to the bottom smooth wire at each end of the fence and attach the ends of the mesh to these vertical wires.
Install the knife switch and "power it up". Why do you need a knife switch, you ask? *Every* section of fence that might need maintenance should be controlled by it's own switch so that the rest of the system can stay hot while you repair that section.

Holly Jentsch did a quick search on the web for 'electric fencing' with these results: Click here to email Holly.

Click this link for 17 Mistakes To Avoid With Electric Fencing By Wayne Burleson email:
Quoting from his article:

"High-tensile, smooth wire, electric fencing is the fastest and most affordable fence that I know about, and its technology has drastically improved over the past 10 years. But many folks are hesitant to use it because they remember old failures -- wires breaking, chargers starting fires, wet vegetation shorting out the fence and other troubles."
(you get to click on the "17 Mistakes..." link above for the actual 17 mistakes)

A good book on the subject of livestock protection is:
"...May Safely Graze" by Eugene Fytche. R.R. #1, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0, (613)256-1798
Subject - Predator Control. Sections on identifying the problem, assessing the predator risk, preventative measures, mobile protectors (guard animals), and external protection (hunting and baiting) will assist the reader to determine the appropriate livestock protection measures for his or her unique situation.
This book is highly recommended.


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