Confining Goats and Free Range Pigs - Advice Needed Please!

by Terry Heinemann
(St Johns, Arizona, USA)

I have 7 goats (3 does, 1 buck, and 3 wethers) and 6 hens. All of which were given to me by neighbors who needed to get rid of them for one reason or another, and all of decent stock (at least from what I have read and my best judgement based on those readings). I am also currently awaiting the delivery of an additional 10 chickens from a neighbor who has simply decided against raising anymore.


But come next year I hope to purchase a few pigs, rabbits, and additional poultry (such as geese and ducks), as well as installing a small aquaponics system which I intend to stock with a select variety of fish.

I live in the White Mountains of Arizona, USA. And have just moved to this semi arid paradise from Maryland, and before that Illinois. So I know little of what I can expect from the area. But I have no intention of changing locales again and intend to install my homestead and grow old here. It is the first place I have ever felt I belong. I have never before lived on a farm, but have some experience tending to bulls and horses through the jobs I have held, and some gardening experience thanks mainly to my mother in law.

But when I received the goats I had little idea the problems they would cause. This is a free range territory, so I did not bother to fence them in, but my wife has grown tired of them lounging on our deck and covering it in their wastes. In response to this issue, I have begun construction on a woven stick fence. Does anyone know if such a fence will manage to keep the goats away from our porch and gardens? Or am I simply wasting my time?

In addition, the thought has occurred to me that I should investigate the issue of pigs before I purchase them. I intend to use them to clear the areas I hope to grow grain crops. And in doing so intend to move them in a rotation every year between 0.25 to 0.5 acre plots. I hope to breed them to produce meat and sale stock. But can anyone tell me how many I should purchase?

Would it be unwise to purchase a sow and boar for such a small area? I have many juniper trees (a hard wood) on my property, and hope for them to tear them out for me. But I do not wish to overpopulate the area. Please help. Any advice would be appreciated.

Comments for Confining Goats and Free Range Pigs - Advice Needed Please!

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Apr 02, 2012
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GOATS
by: Cristina

I also have goats and enjoyed reading all your comments and recommendations.
What I can add is that it is important to provide some kind of shelter, nothing fancy but something that will protect them from heavy rain and wind. They hate to get wet!
Also, when building your fence make sure the spaces between the wires are not big enough for their horns to go through. It can be difficult to get them out when really stuck.

They will chew on tree trunks; they love chewing on the bark of the trees. I recently had to protect a huge oak tree we have in the middle of the corral by wrapping its trunk with chicken wire.

Enjoy them; they are a lot of fun. Careful with those horns though which can be very dangerous no matter how small they are just by leaning forward to play or pet the goats.

Apr 01, 2012
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GOATS
by: Cristina

I also have goats and enjoyed reading all your comments and recommendations.
What I can add is that it is important to provide some kind of shelter, nothing fancy but something that will protect them from heavy rain and wind. They hate to get wet!
Also, when building your fence make sure the spaces between the wires are not big enough for their horns to go through. It can be difficult to get them out when really stuck.

They will chew on tree trunks; they love chewing on the bark of the trees. I recently had to protect a huge oak tree we have in the middle of the corral by wrapping it with chicken wire.

Enjoy them; they are a lot of fun. Careful with those horns though which can be very dangerous no matter how small they are just by leaning forward to play or pet the goats.

Oct 13, 2011
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A few comments
by: Red

Goats: I too have found that the large size dog collars work great for the goats, much easier to lead them around and stake them out. If you stake your goats out be sure someone is home to keep an eye on them and don't leave them staked out over night. A staked goat becomes easy prey for stray dogs, coyotes, wolves, cougar, etc. As mentioned in other posts goats are escape artists. I used to use a pulsing electric fence but the goats figured out the pulsing pattern and would quickly squeeze through the wire strands(3 rows) when the current wasn't running through!

Pigs: Adult pigs can and will get over 4' fencing if they can get a foot hold. Spacing between the boards of wood fencing and the spaces in welded wire hog panels offer good places for hogs to get their feet onto and hurl themselves over - not a good thing if you have an aggressive sow! Adding a hot wire on the top will help. Jumping the fence does not seem to be a problem with market size or smaller hogs, just the bigger sows. Also, keep in mind that hogs will try to lift up hog panels with their noses so be sure the panels are held securely.
Hope this helps!
Red

Sep 01, 2011
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Goat tips
by: Anonymous

Chain link is good if it is secured well, the goats will rub against and stand up on it. If it is not secured well to the posts it will eventually begin to pull down.
Also, if you put dog collars on your goats it makes it easier to handle them and catch them.
If you give your goats grain now and again as a treat, and shake the container or scoop of grain so they can hear it each time, they will learn to come to the sound of the grain scoop being shook.
Then when they get out they are easier to catch because they will come to the sound of the grain in the container. Works for me.

Jul 29, 2011
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Keeping pigs on pasture
by: Pete

Terry,
I live just outside Concho and I too have goats, pigs, and chickens. I've read several books on goats and pigs and the best advice I can give is don't get frustrated with them, just outsmart them.
Goats are escape artists, yet they're fairly easy to contain if you have a good fence and a strand or two of hotwire running along the middle and top of it. Goats like to rub themselves down the fence and in no time your fence will be bowed out and sagging. Also, the top wire will keep them from leaning on it with their front feet and making it sag.
Pigs on pasture are best contained with a portable mesh electric fence. They only have to touch it once and they get the message. Its easy to install and move around. Well good luck with your critters.

Sep 19, 2010
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Confining goats
by: Carole

I hope all the comments are starting to help out. Portable electric fencing run from a small solar energiser with backup battery is the most versatile way of confining goats. It means you can move them from one place to the other as they trash wherever they are living. Goats are notorious for destroying herbage if they aren't rotated frequently enough so you're going to have to be able to move them around. Two strands of electric fence cable or tape on reels, a collection of insulated posts and a solar energiser will go just about anywhere.
Electric fencing is very safe. If you touch it, it will bite (that's how it works) but doesn't do any harm, even to my chickens. If you use coloured fence line that looks different from ordinary fence wire, children learn VERY FAST to avoid touching it.

Jun 08, 2010
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confining pigs and goats
by: wendy

Yes,I hear you - the electric could become hazardous, so safety first around the young children. We call chainlink, ringlock in Australia, but its the same wire. Very handy for lots of livestock too. Goats are very smart and will find a way out eventually. I use a lasso to catch mine when they get loose as they'll come to me for some treat when called but not close enough to catch - the lasso works every time. Just practice with a tree or something; any piece of rope will do. Yokes will work well so good luck with that. I love goats; I called mine Daycos and Barem after two football players here in Australia.

Jun 03, 2010
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Thanks
by: Terry Heinemann

Thank you for your comments. I will keep them in mind. But since my posting I found a great deal on some chainlink fence that is 5 and a half feet tall, used. Thus far it has kept the goats contained and happy.

I am really hoping not to use any electric fencing as I have 2 young boys and the elder one has autism. My wife and I have discussed it at length, and we feel it would just be too reckless of us to use it until they can be told not to touch it, and grasp what we are saying to them.

We don't mind doing extra work every once in a while if it means they are safe. We just want to minimize that work where we can.

Thanks again for the input. I think I shall probably use the yoke suggestion when I get my pigs.

Jun 02, 2010
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Confining goats, pigs,
by: wendy

I agree you'll need an electric fence - just make sure its a stand away one for the goats as they will just jump onto the fence post tops and get over anyway. You can however just put an old fashioned yoke on them in a wire fenced paddock as the weight keeps them from jumping over and the yoke from going through the wire fence: use a long piece of wooden stake or two [cross them over] and some soft wire threaded through some garden hose [for comfort] to tie around their necks [threaded through the wooden stakes as well of course]. Goats will climb in any trees in their pen too, eating all they can reach. Use them tethered to clean up areas too (do provide shelter though). The pigs can be kept in and rotated by fencing with ringlock and a barbed wire middle wire just high enough to prevent them snouting up under the fence. (MEG: A low electric fence works good too). Pigs don't jump. Good shade pens with soft bedding and plenty of fresh water and a mud roll for your pigs, clean eating toughs every time they are used - for best results.

May 31, 2010
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Confing goats
by: Anonymous

Terry - your goats need to be confined, that's for sure, otherwise they will destroy everything that they think may be edible. They need *shade/shelter* plus *water* plus *feed*. Keep in mind that they are more browsers than grazers and can reach up very high when they stand on their back legs! A shady lean-to or pole barn type of structure will shade them, and electric fence will keep them off your crops, and they will need access to clean water too. I only ever kept dairy goats, but we used the spare billy kids for meat.
Hope this helps and good luck
Tom



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