Building a Backyard Goat Fence for Our Nigerian Dwarfs

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Fencing, (I learned long after the fact), may just be the single most important investment when it comes to owning a goat. A popular adage in the goat world is, “To test a fence for it’s ability to be goat proof: Toss a bucket of water at the fence. If the water can go through, so can the goat.” Goats are known to be one of the more wiley, tricksy, craftsy escape artists of all barnyard livestock. They are the Houdini’s of the animal world.
They will jump over, crawl under, squeeze through, stand on, lean against and attempt to circumvent any boundary. And if it appears to be impenetrable, they’ll spend time learning how YOU operate the gate or fence in an effort to learn how to work the latch like a peoples – kind of like those raptors on Jurassic Park.
Or so I’m told.
Whoever classified goats as such has clearly NOT met the lazy, clumsy, apathetic creatures currently living in my backyard. While these guys enjoy being let out to pasture as much as the next goat (read: set loose on the back lawn for grazing) they are remarkably content to just hang out in their pen all day.
Which is a good thing too, because I learned long after the fact, that every facet of my backyard goat fence is just wrong wrong wrong. Wrong fencing material, wrong gate style, huge gaps under the gate and by the fence posts, etc., etc. But so far (three months into goat ownership) it is working perfectly for our needs. We have not had to deal with any escape attempts, let alone any actual escapees.

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Building the Goat Pen Fence

First off, I did not anticipate how much fencing would cost for the tiny little corner of our backyard we decided to devote to the goat pen. When factoring in the total cost of new goat ownership, this is one area I severely under budgeted.. but even so, we managed to cut the cost drastically, and paid a fraction of what we easily could have.
Like most of the projects around our little budding homestead, I had planned to recycle and upscale pre-existing materials to suit our needs – the fence was no exception!
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While the goat barn was still under construction, we marked off the parameters of our goat pen, and then set to work on building the fence. My parents had an old carport type tent with heavy galvanized aluminum poles, very similar (though we learned too late, not EXACTLY similar) to chain link fencing poles. They were tossing the tent, so we scooped the poles out of the rubbish pile, and we decided to use those, set five feet apart, for the posts in our 35 foot fence.
After setting the poles into the ground with cement, we bought a 50 foot roll of 4 foot high welded wire mesh fencing, which was easily under $50. We attached the wire fence securely to the tent poles using chain link fence hog wires down the length of each pole.
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While I knew there were better (and far more expensive) options out there, I didn’t realize that apparently welded mesh wire fencing is NOT recommended for goats. The reason being, when goats excessively jump or rub against the fence, the welded bonds in the wire will pop loose, creating gaping holes, or causing the fence to eventually sag. However, our goats rarely (if ever) jump on the fence, and when they rub against it (which happens on occasion) they exert so little pressure that I can’t imagine any real damage occurring to the fence. *knock on wood*

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Idee being a dear and demonstrating the occasional “goat rubbing against the fence” routine. Her meager 40 pounds doesn’t put much of a dent in the welded wire fencing, IMO.
When I had my husband cut the fence poles down to be flush with the wire, so we didn’t have random pole sticking up past the fence, he accidentally left the corner post long. This bugged me at first, (I’ve known to be little Miss Perfectionist at times) but we later learned it was a GREAT idea. Whenever we need to tie up one of the goats, the fence post is a perfect spot to loop the leash handle around for easy goat tethering. (Note: NEVER leave a leashed goat unattended, the choking hazard is far too high!)
We usually use this post to rope up Odee, when I’m trying to get my milking pail and supplies ready for morning milking. He’s taken to jumping up on me with the pail, which is no bueno – especially when I eventually have a newborn in my arms!

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fence

For the gate, we initially tried building one from scratch using a wooden frame and mesh wire and using chain link fencing gate hardware.. buuuut, that didn’t work. Apparently the tent poles were far larger than chain link fencing poles, meaning the hardware we bought would NOT work. So we scrapped that idea and immediately tried to build another gate from scratch, using an old bed headboard as a decorative element (me and my Pinterest ideas!)
But after adding up the cost of lumber, we realized it would cost us FAR more to build a gate from scratch, than it would be to just buy a pre-made gate. So we bought a length of 4×4 and some wooden fence post end caps for gate posts, set them in the ground with cement, and then placed a pre-made wooden picket garden gate in the frame for our gate.

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Looks like my choice of gates is also a huge goat owner no-no. It seems that picket fences pose a huge risk to goats. The reason being, if the goat jumps up on the fence and slips, they could potentially impale themselves on the “spike” of the picket, or get their heads stuck in between the pickets and hang themselves. Again, our goats rarely, if ever, jump on the fence, and when they do, they are such short little goats (being Nigerian Dwarfs, a miniature breed), they can’t get their heads positioned up over the pickets enough for me to worry about “death by gate hanging”.
So not that I’m advocating NOT doing things by the book, but if you are lucky enough to have lazy and chill goats like ours, you MIGHT be able to get away with a cheaper / easier fence and gate design that what is recommended by larger farms and dairies. 
To get an idea for how quickly the cost of a simple gate can add up (even using some free parts!), here’s the total cost breakdown of our little pieced together, 35-foot length of backyard goat fencing:
Fence Posts – Pre-owned
Cement – $10
35 Feet of Welded Mesh Wire Fencing – $40
Chain Link Fence Hog Rings – $5
Gate Posts with End Caps – $25
Gate – $20
Gate Hardware – $15
TOTAL – $115

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So there’s the saga of our great goat gate experience! I hope some of you potential goat owners out there can find it helpful!

Gingi Freeman on sabfacebookGingi Freeman on sabinstagramGingi Freeman on sabpinterestGingi Freeman on sabtwitter
Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
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Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

57 thoughts on “Building a Backyard Goat Fence for Our Nigerian Dwarfs

  • 29 January, 2015 at 10:57 pm
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    I wish I had a goat!! In city life, one is lucky to have a patio 😉 good post, Gingi!

    • 29 January, 2015 at 11:01 pm
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      Thanks! They’ve been quite the project! ^_^

  • 29 January, 2015 at 11:13 pm
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    They’re not lazy Gingi, they just like their home and don’t want to escape. 😉 Animals are smarter than most people give them credit for. I just adore their sweet faces. Those eyes are killing me!

    • 29 January, 2015 at 11:31 pm
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      Yeah, I wonder how much is the fact that I let them out to graze the lawn every now and then? Like.. there’s no real need to “escape”? haha! But yeah, they DO seem to love their new home! ^_^

  • 30 January, 2015 at 12:29 am
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    So do you have other animals or just the goats?
    BTW – I saw that you are a photographer – too bad you don’t live closer. We own an event venue and people are always looking for photographers!!

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:21 am
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      We have five cats, a dog, two goldfish and the two goats. Hehe. I WISH we could have chickens, quail, etc. etc… but I don’t want to flood our little backyard with too much, ya know?

      Awww, where are you located? I shoot destination weddings all the time! hehe

  • 30 January, 2015 at 12:58 am
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    Oh, your goats are beautiful! This really made me want a goat!! They are so cute. I’m not sure my husband would be on board though. I think you did a great job with the fence.

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:30 am
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      My husband wasn’t really on board at first either, but now whenever we go to petting zoos, he’s like, “Our goats are better…” lol!

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:33 am
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      Haha, no, but whats sad is, I saw someone on Craigslist in my area just the other day asking if her could rent goats to graze his pasture!! (He needed like, 20 goats though, lol)…

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:36 am
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      Thanks! It was worth all the work!! <3

  • 30 January, 2015 at 2:46 am
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    Wow, this seems like a lot of work! Nice job!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:38 am
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      Yeah, but it was FUN! ^_^

  • 30 January, 2015 at 3:00 am
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    Gingi, I think the goats are cute… I do know that they have to be penned up or they will destroy things quickly… I think you did a wonderful job on the fence xox

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:39 am
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      The only thing they are coming close to destroying is the ponytail palm plant in the back of the pen.. and then it’s more just unsightly nibbles than actual destruction. Our goats are seriously rediculously chill, not at all like the cliche “chews on everything” goat you hear about…

  • 30 January, 2015 at 3:14 am
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    I would worry more about them getting hurt (impaled) on that old wagon wheel by the tree…with the long bit of axle sticking out. Then, I’d also worry more for Tessa falling onto it too. There are so many things for critters to mess up or get hurt on, you just gotta do your best with what you got. I really love the gate…so homey and cute.

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:43 am
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      Yeah, I worried about that too (with the axle), but the tip pointing out is rounded, and it’s actually Odee’s favorite barnyard addition.. he rubs his head up against it and uses it to scratch his horn nubs! lol!

  • 30 January, 2015 at 4:00 am
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    That really is ‘the goat pen saga’. But you’re goats are still mega cute, even if they’re lazy, so what… they make for very good photo models 🙂

    • 30 January, 2015 at 4:44 am
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      Haha, you should have seen them when I first got them.. I had to CHASE them around for pix, haha…

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:02 pm
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      That’s what I hope! Hehe! It helps too that they are mature goats, I’m sure if they were younger, they’d be more frisky! 😉

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:04 pm
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      You probably wouldn’t want any IN your garden, hehe! I am actually trying to figure out what to do with my raised garden beds this summer! I don’t want the dogs or goats into the veggies! But I’m not relishing the thought of building a new fence! haha

  • 30 January, 2015 at 1:09 pm
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    Luckily you got some lazy goats – ha-ha

    good job on the fence & you guys really put a lot of work into this 🙂

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:07 pm
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      Yeah, it was more work than we anticipated for sure, but worth every moment! I actually like doing these kinds of projects with my husband, it’s fun!

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:09 pm
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      LOL, I’m just lucky my goats aren’t “normal”. 😉

  • 30 January, 2015 at 2:37 pm
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    Awww, the goats are so supercute. I would love to snuggle with them!
    The pen looks great. I think the goats will like it and feel safe with the new fence 🙂
    /Charlotte

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:11 pm
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      They actually ARE rather snuggly! They like being hugged around the neck, and Idee loved to give kisses! They are so sweet!

        • 1 February, 2015 at 4:52 am
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          <3

  • 30 January, 2015 at 3:28 pm
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    Your goat friends are so cute. Anyhow we built a very fence to keep the animals out instead of in. Although we live in suburbia, we have a very large deer population who enjoy our backyard. And if left unchecked, will eat every last bit of produce from our garden, so to protect our investment, we were forced to put up a fence. (And it probably doesn’t help that I feed them the rest of the year luscious apples). Your fence is fantastic and reminded me that we probably could have installed ours cheaper.

    • 30 January, 2015 at 3:32 pm
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      What kind of a fence was it? I really wanted to do pasture fencing (although I learned later that that is ALSO another goat no no, haha!)….

    • 30 January, 2015 at 4:30 pm
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      Thank you!! That means a lot coming from you, I love your photos!! ^_^

  • 30 January, 2015 at 9:30 pm
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    So you’re really lucky, but maybe dwarf goats are better educated than normal ones :))
    Will they still grow?

    🙂
    Rosa
    Styleyourselfinstyle.blogspot.com

    • 30 January, 2015 at 9:40 pm
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      Nope, mine are fully grown! They are both 2 years old. ^_^

  • 30 January, 2015 at 11:33 pm
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    Hi Gingi…stopped by to check out your blog…I read a lot of food blogs, so it’s nice to happen upon something different…because how else would I know how to build a fence for dwarf goats? 😉 Cool blog!

    • 30 January, 2015 at 11:37 pm
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      LOL! Between the two of us I think cooking is a bit more useful of a skill. 😉 But thank you so much for stopping by!! <3

  • 31 January, 2015 at 1:07 am
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    I love this! I’ve been chased by goats so much as I grew up in the countryside, more people should fence like you! Love your blog! 🙂

    • 31 January, 2015 at 1:08 am
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      LOL, good chased, or bad chased?! Hehe, that’s funny though! ^_^

  • 1 February, 2015 at 1:44 am
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    The photos look like paintings!
    I’m laughing about the goats being lazy and apathetic. Those two words do NOT describe my son but everyone told me that since I now had a boy, he’d try to mess with and get out of everything. Not so! He’s content! That’s the word.

    • 1 February, 2015 at 5:11 am
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      I love when the cliches fall flat, lol.. No one seems to believe me when I mention how my goats act (picky eaters, not escape artists, etc.)..

    • 2 February, 2015 at 4:07 pm
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      Ohhh, what kind of goats do you have?!?

  • 2 February, 2015 at 6:05 pm
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    I just can not get enough of these goat pictures. You have me wanting goats… almost. 🙂 I just really love your images. 🙂

    • 2 February, 2015 at 6:14 pm
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      Awww, thank you! That means a lot to me!! <3

  • 3 February, 2015 at 7:51 pm
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    Aww they are so cute! My husband wants to get goats, but I’m not sure we have enough grazing food for them.

    • 4 February, 2015 at 4:48 pm
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      They actually don’t need much graze. The saying is, “Sheep look down, goats look up”.. goats aren’t into pasture and grass so much as they are into trees and leaves. So if you give them hanging food troughs that you stuff with hay, they should be fine! ^_^

  • 11 February, 2015 at 1:25 pm
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    Never knew that there were other kinds of goats out there. I have seen goats maybe just twice in my life and they’re like stray goats (god bless their souls, going around the neighborhood in the city — who knows how they even got there in the first place).

    You have adorable goats. Good capture on the last two pics, esp the smiling one. Just wondering if you have other animals/pets around.. or just these lovely adorable goats? 😀 Oh oh and … will there be baby goats soon? Or they’re all of the same sex? Haha sorry for my questions. :3

    • 11 February, 2015 at 2:18 pm
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      Haha, I have five cats and a dog! Oh! And two goldfish! 😉

      And yes!! We should have baby goats in about 6-9 months!! Just waiting for Idee to go into heat so we can breed her! ^_^

  • 12 February, 2015 at 8:46 pm
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    I love that you own goats! These guys are the cutest and I think you did a good job to make your own fence. The gate was worth the investment because it looks so sweet! 😉

    • 12 February, 2015 at 8:48 pm
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      Awww, thank you! I quite enjoy owning them, I must say!

  • 13 February, 2015 at 4:51 am
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    I can’t say I’ve evere considered goats to be adorable creatures. You’ve opened my eyes to the cuteness of goats. Or maybe it’s just your fantastic photography 🙂

    • 13 February, 2015 at 2:39 pm
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      Oh, they are SUPER CUTE!!! You should YouTube search “baby goats” and prepare for a heart explosion of cuteness!! lol

  • 1 December, 2015 at 7:22 pm
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    I keep joking with my husband that we need to get a goat. We have a concrete back patio framed by about 30 square feet of dirt. We tried to grow grass on the dirt, but it got overgrown and we weren’t going to buy a lawnmower to spend 10 seconds cutting it once a week. Do they need an open fence so they can remain content in their pen? We have solid vinyl fencing.

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