As I’m researching goats for my homestead, I’m constantly hearing goat owners talk about how their goats keep jumping their fences. To me, it seems like a lot of work to go herd them back in so often. So, is this really a thing? Can goats jump fences?
Goats often jump over fences 5 feet or higher. Most of the time a 6-foot fence is enough to keep them in. While wethers and bucks are more likely to attempt an escape and jump the fence, larger goats will have a harder time. Pygmy and Nigerian goats are more nimble and even stand on others’ backs to jump the fence.
So, how likely are goats to jump a fence? And is there a way to stop them? Let’s find out more.
Can a Goat Jump a 4-Foot Fence?
Most goats can easily jump a 4-foot fence, especially if they’re pygmies or another variety of dwarf goats.
These breeds often stand on the backs of other goats or livestock to get higher. They’ll also use any structure as a ladder, including trees. Check the fences and any nearby structures to prevent escapes.
Since smaller goat breeds are a popular choice, many homesteaders invest in better fencing and measures to keep them in. Larger goats weighing a couple hundred pounds naturally won’t jump as high but can do more damage to the fence due to their heavier weight.
How High Can a Goat Jump?
Generally, goats can jump over 5 feet in height. However, you might have a more athletic one. Some homesteaders have said their goats easily jump over a 5-foot fence, while others have said their goats have jumped even higher.
Pygmy, mini-Nubians, and Nigerian dwarf goats are two of the most capable breeds of goats when it comes to jumping. Their smaller bodies make them much more nimble and they’re able to climb at an extremely fast rate.
They’ll prove challenging to keep in their paddock, so keeping the proper fence height and structure is important.
Your goat’s jumping ability may surprise you, so take the proper precautions and make sure climbable objects such as trees and structures are blocked or removed and fences are secured.
How Far Can a Goat Jump?
Smaller breeds of goats can jump a maximum distance of 9-10 feet. If they can get up on top of anything, and the fence is within range, they’ll try to clear it. Observe your goat’s behavior early on and see if they try to jump and escape from obstacles in range.
The distance a goat can jump depends on the breed. Smaller breeds such as Nigerian, pygmy, and mini-Nubian will have the farthest jumping capacity.
If your goat can climb, it can also jump pretty far to get out of its enclosure. This is why it’s key to remove any climbing structures to keep your goats in their paddock.
If any obstacles in the paddock are within 9-10 feet of the fence, consider removing or blocking them off. The goats will likely end up using them to jump off at some point. Even if they fail their escape attempt, it could end in a broken leg.
Additionally, you may want to try making them more comfortable in their pen to help prevent future escapes.
The Best Types of Fences to Stop Goats From Jumping Over
The best types of fences to stop goats from escaping are electric, woven wire, and sheep fencing. When building, use 8-foot wooden or metal posts, and place corner posts on the outside of the fence to prevent the goats from climbing them.
Drive these posts 2 feet into the ground. The remaining 6 feet should be enough to keep the goats fenced in.
Generally, while a fence height of 4 feet can work, 5-6 foot fences work best, especially for the smaller breeds that can jump higher.
If you’re raising larger breeds of goat (in the 200-300 lb range), focus less on the height and more on the stability and durability of the fence.
Woven wire is one of the most popular types of fences as they’re durable and effective. While woven wire fences are expensive, they’re reliable and fairly easy to install.
Avoid getting a wire fence that has openings larger than 4 inches. Otherwise, the goats can get their bodies or heads stuck and become injured.
When using woven-wire fencing with your goats, avoid using barbed wire. Goats won’t see it as a deterrent and will still try climbing over it. They’re likely to get their ears and face cut up, along with other potential injuries.
They won’t learn their lesson and will keep attempting to escape. For simplicity and for safety of the goats, avoid barbed wire from the start.
Additionally, stay clear of fences that bend over or fold easily. Goats quickly take advantage of this and lean on them to escape.
Another popular choice is electric fencing. If you install an electric fence, keep the bottom wire hot and closer to the ground. This is because goats can often go under the fence. Aim for an electric fence with 4-5 strands with 4500-9000 volts.
- Permanent – More costly, less maintenance, can have inner fences for pasture rotation.
- Temporary – More affordable, movable, and great for pasture rotation. Also called electric netting.
You can also use a woven wire fence and run a strand or two of electric wire on it. This is a good way to get the best of both worlds.
Keep in mind that goats can seemingly somehow sense when an electric fence is on or not. If you have a power outage, they’ll likely try to take advantage and escape. To prevent electric fence downtime during blackouts, consider getting a solar charger or energizer.
If you’re interested in a good electric fence for your goats, I recommend using Premier 1 for their affordability and effectiveness. For a head start, check out these temporary electric fences on Amazon.
You can also power it with a solar energizer which is great if you’re not near the house, but connecting directly to the grid is more reliable.
Tips to Stop Goats From Escaping Their Fence
While getting the proper fence is important in preventing escapes, it also helps to know what precautions to take to further reduce the chances.
When in doubt, use sheep fencing. It’s more expensive, but it’s easier to install, looks nicer, and it’s very effective. Adding electric wire at the top and bottom of the fence is a nice bonus.
First, bucks can weigh above 300 lbs, so if you’re raising bigger goats, your fence should be sturdy and durable. If your fence is flimsy, it can be easily damaged by the goats, and escapes will happen.
When goats are comfortable, they’ll often try escaping less (what goat would want to escape from a goat paradise?). While this isn’t true for all goats, it could be a good prevention measure to take.
To help with this, aim to provide enough:
- Shade (and sun)
- Goats in the herd
- Pasture (and pasture rotation)
- Attention (from you)
Use this list as a rough guide, and if you meet and exceed all of your goat’s needs, they might try escaping less (depending on what their motivation is).
Lone goats will also try escaping more than if they were in a sizable herd. Along with this, it’s important to have at least two goats together to prevent loneliness.
Another factor to keep in mind is fireworks and motorcycles. Loud noises like these can easily startle goats, prompting them to attempt an escape over the fence.
If you know that fireworks or other events will happen soon (like during a major holiday), stay proactive, and keep your goats in the barn to help prevent any escapes.
Goats can and will jump over your fence, especially if it is 4 feet or under. For best results, use 8-foot posts and drive them 2 feet into the ground. The remaining 6 feet of fencing should be more than enough to keep them in.
Give your goats everything they need, and they just might try escaping less. Remember that your fence will evolve with your goats. Just keep upgrading your fence whenever there’s an escape and it will work better and better!
While sheep and other livestock can be managed with much less fencing, goats require something more heavy-duty, and also most likely electrified.
When I started homesteading, I thought goats would be my first animal, but I later found sheep and cows are much, much easier to manage.
It’s no wonder why homesteader Justin Rhodes says sheep are the most underrated livestock.
To see the best and worst livestock for beginners, check out this helpful video below by Homesteady.