Keeping goats inside city limits presents several challenges, the most significant of which is keeping these notorious escape artists on the property–as well as out of gardens, landscaping, and areas you do not wish to booby trap with poop (Poopy trap?).
Portable electric set-ups are perfect for this task, allowing you to move the goats around the yard to clear brush, forage some of their diet, and enjoy a periodic change of scenery, while reducing the need for extensive fencing. With an energizer hooked to a 12-volt battery, your fence can be moved anywhere on the property in about 15 minutes.
Electric net fencing (I use: E-net fencing)
Approximately 10 support posts (I use: Power posts)
Portable energizer (I use: Patriot P10)
12-volt battery (I use: Rhino battery)
12-volt battery leads (I bought: Replacement leads)
Ground rod (I used a salvaged metal rod)
Insulated cable (I use: Maxishock)
Weather protection for energizer (I use a plastic tub under another plastic tub, held in place by a brick–high class)
Large plastic dog house (I bought one from a friend–plastic is good because it tends to be lighter, and you’re going to be dragging it from site to site when you move your fence)
You will need a ground rod. My electrical knowledge is cutting edge stone age, and I frankly have no clue why you need a ground rod. But you do. Everyone says so. You can use a metal fence post, a purpose-made ground rod, rebar, or any old conductive metal rod you find lying around your property. Choose a location central to several areas you would like to use, and close enough to all of them, and drive it into the ground like this:
It should probably be deeper than that (or not, I don’t know), but I decided I’d prefer for my children to run into it sideways rather than fall on top of it, and so I left it tall enough for that purpose.
Next, you need to gather up your insulated cables (you need two separate pieces–divide it in half with wire cutters, leaving one piece about six feet long, and the other piece as long as you can), and pull out your energizer:
First, you’re going to connect your energizer to your ground rod. You want to use the longer piece of wire for this, because the ground rod is considerably less portable than the fence or the energizer. Just try uprooting a metal rod sunk three feet deep in Carolina clay, and you’ll know what I mean.
Using a sharp knife, whittle the insulation off both ends of the cable, leaving about three inches or more bare at one end and two inches at the other end. Take the longer exposed end, and wrap it firmly around your ground rod. If you’ve purchased a ground rod, it probably came with a clamp for attaching the wire–use it. Otherwise, just wrap it firmly and check the connection periodically. Whittle more length if you need it.
Now, remove the black knob from your energizer (if yours is like mine) or otherwise expose the ground connection:
Take the other exposed end of the cable, and wrap it around the ground connector:
Here the power cable has already been connected. You’re going to do that in the next step. But first, go ahead and put the black knob (and washer) back on to secure the connection.
Then take the other length of cable, and connect one end to the power connector (under the red knob on this energizer) in the same way. Leave the other end unconnected for now. Replace all the knobs. This is what you now have:
Now it’s time to set up the fence. The netting will come with instructions. Please follow them. Really. Here is what the fencing looks like outside the packaging, with the plastic support posts:
I also purchased an extra caution sign, which is attached:
Modern electric fencing is rarely dangerous. I think one time a crawling child died because its very tiny head came into direct contact with a high-voltage fence while its hands and legs were in full contact with the ground–this story is told on the warning materials that come with the fence.
My very small child did not suffer lasting harm when his hands came into full contact with the fence. He did learn the very important lesson that when Mommy says something will hurt she is seriously not kidding.
Despite the minimal danger, it is polite to warn visiting children verbally and with signs, so that when they decide to find out for themselves whether you are serious, their parents are less likely to sue you.
Next, following the instructions with the fence, create your perimeter:
Notice that the fence will likely sag between posts. This is normal, and it’s the reason you purchased plastic support posts (Power Posts). Starting with the saggiest part of the fence, gradually work your way around the perimeter using the support posts to fortify:
By the time you’ve done all that, you will have noticed that the “gate” portion of the fence has bits dangling off of it, with metal hardware. It’s now time to go back to your energizer, and pick up the cable that still has a loose end. You’re going to connect it to the dangly bit on the gate of the fence, like this:
Wrap it several times, like this:
Now you’re ready to connect the battery to the energizer to turn the fence on. Pull out the battery leads and the battery:
The battery lead clamps will attach to the battery, but first you need to attach them to the energizer. In the model that I have, there is a white plug at one end that fits into the bottom of the energizer like this:
You are almost done. The energizer is connected to the ground rod, connected to the fence, and connected to the leads that will connect to the battery. My battery came with little plastic covers over the connections.
In addition, each connection is conveniently color-coded. Turning the fence on is now as simple as connecting the red battery lead clamp to the red battery connector, and the black to the black.
Now let’s construct the complicated weather protection unit. Step One:
And you’re done. To turn the fence on, connect the clamps to the battery. To turn it off, disconnect. When the energizer is functioning, it will usually have an indicator–mine flashes a little red light. The fence itself is working if an inexpensive fence tester says it is, or if it hurts like heck when you touch it. Whichever.
You can also test it by luring an unsuspecting goat into its confines, then waiting until it is completely entangled in the fence in its attempt to climb out before connecting the battery. This also doubles as a highly effective training mechanism, but I like my goats too much to do it on purpose.
I also like them too much to leave them out in the rain even during the day (they have a separate pen with a shed, where they spend nights). So I bought a large plastic igloo doghouse, which works very well for them and can be dragged easily from location to location.
Goats hate rain. They also hate electrical shocks, making this a highly practical solution. So if you haven’t already done it, go get a couple. They’re fun.