How to build a goat proof fence

One of the key steps in building a goat proof fence is using premium material.  You may be tempted to up cycle materials you find around town, but DON’T DO IT!  Older material will cause you problems down the line!

You need wire fencing with solid welds. Also you need solid posts, set deep. Another key thing to consider is keeping your fence tight along the ground. This can be tricky. You may want to bury your wire, or attach it to a solid beam that runs along the ground.

Goats will often apply all their weight to a fence…They will make it look like they are scratching an itch that, before you put in that new section of fence had been impossible to reach…They will rub their backs along an entire section of fencing. If you have weak welds, goat sized holes can be formed. If your posts are weak, and set shallow, they can collapse and allow the fence to lay over when your goats act like they are just using it to reach a tasty morsel at the top of an 8ft burdock.

If the bottom of the fence is not secure, a bulge in the center of the fence, between posts can form, allowing a goat to crawl out accidentally when he just has to have that piece of clover outside the fence.

Also your fence needs to be a minimum of 6 feet high, as goats can, and will jump.  A large 18 wheeler will come barreling down the road doing 110 MPH in a 45 MPH zone, and suddenly down shift with a mighty roar, causing a “sleeping” goat to leap over the low point in a fence in terror.  They will then run blindly for the chicken feeder, trip, and fall open mouthed, into it, where it will empty into their mouth and be swallowed as the panicked goat gasps for air.

A couple of strands of electric fencing inside the perimeter of your fence will help keep your goats grounded. One strand should be low enough so that if your goat kneels on the ground to attempt to crawl out his shoulders will touch the fence. The second strand should be set so that if a goat attempts to jump the fence, his front legs, or chest will make contact with the fence. If you are not sure if the fence is working, 10 year old boys can be bribed into testing it with money, but only once.  After that, you either have to test it yourself, or wait for a cat to stroll by with his tail held high.

The next thing to remember when building a goat proof fence…And this is VERY important…Probably the most important key to building a goat proof fence, is this…YOU CAN NOT BUILD A GOAT PROOF FENCE!

So yesterday morning, I set to expanding my goat pen.  I took 2 sections of privacy fence I had salvaged from the side of the road, and leaned the first one up against the edge of the wall of the livingroom addition, I secured it with long screws.  I then drove a 5ft rusted U-Post about 3 feet into the ground at the other end of the panel, and to that I attached a rough cut 2×4 I salvaged from a torn down house.

The second section of fencing had a small gate cut into the center of it, and I set it up the same way, securing it to the first panel, but  I used 2 U- posts on that section. One directly near the gate, and the second at the end of the panel.

My intent had been to run the fence over to the cedar post I had set a couple years back for a garden that never grew. One side of the ”garden” had salvaged fence that ran the entire length, that was already attached to the goat pen.

Sadly, there was a pretty big gap from the privacy fence panel, to the cedar post so I screwed two pallets together, one on top of the other, making sure to run the slats vertically, as opposed to horizontal so they couldn’t be used like a ladder!

Then I set about to making sure the old sagging fence was standing up somewhat. Knowing I wasn’t finished yet, but attempting to find major weaknesses in my set up I put the goats in for a test run.

I believe it was all of 52 seconds before Smeck, the master mind, was out. He found a section of the old wire fence that had weak welds, and was sagging that had been hidden behind an 8ft burdock. (It REALLY IS a remarkable specimen of burdock! GIANT leaves at the bottom, the largest likely 3 feet in length, with the top leaves an impressive foot long! The entire plant is decorated like a Christmas tree with little green and purple burdocks! The stem a third of the way up is near 2 inches in diameter!) Anyway…UP HE WENT right over/through it! Thankfully my 10 year old son William was near by, and he wrangled him up nicely!

Once Smeck was back inside he went back to grazing with the other 2 goats, Billy and Kramer.  He scratched his back a couple times along the skirting around the trailer, and the fence…Or sure…It LOOKED like he was scratching his back, but his eyes were making note of every broken weld, and gap on the ground, just WAITING for me to drop my guard so he could make a break for it, and raid the chicken feeder!

Once it got a little later in the evening, and my 3 billy goats gruff were not so eager to fill their rumens, I herded them back into the main pen, and made notes of the materials I would need to finish the job.

This morning I went to Lowes, and got 2 7ft U-posts, drove them in about 4 feet, attached some salvaged lumber to them, topped off the lower section of fencing with a second layer of salvaged wire fence, and zip-stripped them together, and let the goats in to graze. Smeck tried several places, as did Billy, but it looks like its going to hold! Now that I have written this, I’ll go check!

The goats in the new addition

The goats in the new addition


Yeah…So if you see 3 goats eating stuff out in your garden?  Do me a favor!  Check to see if one has a blue harness, another a red harness, and the last a blue collar.  If so, those could be my goats!  😉

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.