As I’m researching goats for my homestead, I’m constantly hearing goat owners talk about how their goats keep jumping the fence. 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 can often jump over fences up to 5 feet in height. While wethers and bucks are more likely to attempt an escape and jump the fence, larger goats will have a harder time. On the other hand, pygmy and Nigerian goats are more nimble and will even stand on the backs of others to jump over the fence.
So, how likely is it your goats can jump a 4-foot fence? Also, how high or far can they jump, and is there a way to stop them? Let’s find out more.
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Can a Goat Jump a 4-Foot Fence?
A 4-foot fence is great for housing sheep, alpacas, and other smaller livestock, but is it suitable for goats?
Most goats can easily jump a 4-foot fence, especially if they’re pygmies or another variety of dwarf goats. These breeds will 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 have to invest in better fencing and measures to keep them in. Larger goats weighing a couple hundred pounds will naturally not be able to jump as high, but can do more damage to the fence due to their heavier weight.
How High Can a Goat Jump?
Pygmy 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 definitely prove challenging to keep in their paddock, so keeping the proper fence height and structure is important.
Some homesteaders have said their goats can easily jump over a 5-foot fence, while others have said their goats have jumped even higher. Generally, a 4-foot fence will work for most goats, however, you might have one that’s more athletic. The Nigerian and mini-Nubians breeds are typically known for jumping.
Your goat’s jumping ability may surprise you, so it’s important to take the proper precautions and make sure climbable objects are removed and fences are secured.
How Far Can a Goat Jump?
If your goat can climb, they can also jump pretty far to get out of their enclosure. This is why it’s key to remove any climbing structures to keep your goats in their paddock.
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 will 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 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 of 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 the off-chance they attempt escaping less often.
The Best Types of Fences to Stop Goats From Jumping Over
After reading this far, you’re probably thinking you’re never going to use a 4-foot fence for your goats. While I don’t blame you, and getting a higher fence will likely help prevent escapes, there are different types of fences that are more effective than others. So, what’s the best type of fence for goats? Let’s take a closer look.
The best types of fences to stop goats from jumping over 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. Drive the posts 2 feet into the ground. The remaining 6 feet should be enough to keep the goats fenced in.
The reason why it’s important to place the corner posts on the outside of the fence is to prevent goats from climbing up them. Aim for a fence height of at least 4 feet, but 5-6 feet can 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.
For more information about proper fencing for your goats, you can check out my post on the best fences for goats.
The most popular type of fencing is woven wire. These fences can be expensive, but they’re reliable and fairly easy to install. However, avoid getting a wire fence that has an opening more than 4 inches. Otherwise, the goats can get their bodies or heads stuck and become injured.
Also, 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 the safety of the goats, it best to avoid barbed wire from the start.
Additionally, keep clear from fences that can bend over or fold easily. Your goats will 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 a voltage of 4500-9000.
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.
Lastly, when in doubt, use sheep fencing. It’s more expensive, but it’s easier to install, looks nicer, and it’s very effective.
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. Here are some tips that may come in handy.
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. Here’s a list of ways you can make your goats more comfortable on your homestead.
- 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 should be more than enough to keep them in. Give your goats everything they need, and they just might try escaping less. Lastly, it’s important to 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!