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Goats/Fencing for horned goats


QUESTION: Hi! I have San Clemente Island goats who have kept their horns. The males have substantial horns that point outward. My herd of 35 includes half males and half females. I try to keep them separate, but the males have destroy every fence I've put up to get to the females. They've destroyed:

- No climb fencing.
- Cattle panels.
- Chain link.
- Welded wire 2"x4".
- 1/2" hardware cloth
- Horse gates (they crush the metal and loosen the hinges and latches so they can get in)
- Electric wire (they get it caught in their horns and then break it)

They can even poke holes in plywood. They rub wood posts with their horns and wear it down, but I solved that by covering exposed wood with wire.

I love the breed, as the males don't smell strongly and I can keep the entire herd of males together without castrating them. They get along fine with each other.

But, they destroy my gardens, keep reproducing, and occasionally get into chicken feed, which requires medical intervention.

What can I do to keep them contained? I want to expand their roaming area but don't want to spend a lot of money on more fences for them to destroy!

Thank you!

ANSWER: Hi there - our bucks have large horns that spread out to the sides and yes, they can easily break down most fences - see a photo of one of our boys on our website    

We use just the horse/livestock fencing, 4 feet high, and then on the inside at chest and head high for the bucks we put electric fencing - I like the wire - heavy duty type - I also use a charger that is made for 10 miles on their 1/2 acre area - yup, it's hot.  Also this electric wire is about 10 inches from the main fencing.  This does the trick for my four big boys.  Because the wire was heavy gauge/large and very tight there was no way for them to ruin it with their horns - I use the insulators and then wrap the wire around every other one so tension is always there.  I have one buck that during breeding season I do have to put on a dog runner as he gets so aggressive towards the other bucks.  I also suggest never keeping more intact males than you need.  Yes, the horns are prettier when they are bucks but their metabolism also "eats" up more food than they would normally need.  I have four bucks currently and one of them is up for sale and that takes care of my does and other servicing needs of other Oberhasli breeders.

I also know of a person who used single strands of the electric wire hanging down off the top wire of the electric fencing so that no matter how the goat stuck its head toward the fence it would get snapped.  

Hope this helps - Donna

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks so much Donna. I love your website. Yes, the goat horns look similar!

Do you have a picture of your fencing setup? As you can imagine, I've already invested quite a lot in ultimately destroyed fences, and I'd like to do a test run with your setup!

The goat breed I have is very rare (only about 400 left), so for genetic diversity and the difficulty of replacing males, I do keep more than an average person would. I think the horns do provide them with a way to protect themselves in my area, which is rich with wildlife.

I see your goats go into remote forested areas. How do you keep the goats safe from predators? I want to put mine into the forest so they have more room, but it's less safe. I was thinking of getting a guardian dog for each area, and then my other dogs will run on the outside. I have mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raptors, neighbor's dogs...

Thanks so much for your time!

ANSWER: I don't have any photos but will do my best to get some for you.  Tottally understand about the rarity of the breed - our Oberhasli have just been taking off the "to be watched list" after 20 years.  We use our wethers as packgoats and go places where wolves, bear and mountain lion area - we have both horned and non horned packgoats - over 20 years of hiking into predator prone areas we have not had any issues with predators.  I am more concerned about local neighbor's dogs and for that reason we also have a hot wire on the outside of the fence towards the bottom so they get "stung" when they sniff too close.  We also have a livestock guardian dog in the largest most perimeter pen.  Donna

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Donna. I sure would appreciate a picture. Thank you.

In my area, mountain lions have taken livestock. A lot of people who didn't grow up in rural areas are trying to get "back to the land" and put livestock in areas where they are in danger and have no protection. Then they get upset when they're taken. The predators are learning that livestock are easy food, and that's a huge problem. I wish people would be more responsible.

Anyway, thanks so much and looking forward to the pic!!

Agree about the mountain lions - we used to have them 30 years ago but since humans have moved into the area the lions are gone.  But we still see them in the wilderness.  We do have a livestock guardian dog and he does a great job - he is a Great Pyrenees and is 1 year old and 170 pounds.  Hot wire on the outside top and at the bottom does help with any predators including mountain lions - we also use a product called NiteGuard all around our property and that helps keep coyotes and neighbor dogs out too.  Donna


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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres


All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.


27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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