I remember the very first year I had goats the scariest thing for me was when I had to train goats on electric fence.
Especially with my young kids, I was not sure how to go about doing it. I actually guessed and hoped for the best. Luckily none of the little kids got seriously injured that first year, but we sure did have a couple of close calls.
After 11 seasons of kids and new additions to our herd, I have learned how to make things just a bit easier for both myself and my animals.
The trick to training a herd of goats is to train the younger kids with the older does. This will help the young kids to learn by example. When they see their mothers stay clear of the fence they usually do too, well, at least in the beginning.
Train Goats on Electric Fence – Tips
How do you keep goats in an electric fence?
The only way to teach your goats to stay in the fence is to teach them what the fence will do. They will actually need to get a zap so they understand just exactly what will happen if they get too close. I know this sounds awful as a person that loves their animals but is really is the best way for them to learn. Remember, the fence is there to keep your goats safe, and the more you can help them understand that they need to stay clear of the fence the safer they will be overall.
Tip #1. Have Help
The most important tip I can give is to not do this alone.
It takes two people to train goats on electric goat fencing especially if this is your first time. Try to enlist a friend, spouse, or one of your kids to help out. The reason why is to ensure that none of your goat kids try to run through the fence risking getting tangled up and receiving a constant zap. The more eyes you have watching your herd the less stressful it will be for everyone involved.
Tip #2. Pay Attention
When a goat gets zapped on a fence it’s its nose that usually gets the “hit” first. This is actually what you want to happen. The design of the electric netting attracts animals to come and check it out. When they do they will get a shock on the nose that is painful but not life-threatening.
More often than not, when a goat gets a zap on the nose they will jump back and run the opposite way (yelling the whole time!). However, there are a few goats, especially young goat kids, that panic and run FORWARD through the fence. If you use fence netting there is a chance that they can get stuck in the opening of the netting continually getting zapped until they are able to pull free.
This is where having an extra person is crucial. Stage your helper next to the power so during training. If there is an issue that person can shut things off quickly so you can go and untangle your goat if needed.
Tip #3. Let the Zap Happen
In order for a goat to truly understand the fence, they need a “zap”. Never EVER force your goat to get shocked. Be patient and let them approach the fence on their own.
Allow them to get it on their own time. This will do more good for training purposes in the long run.
Tip #4. The Nose is Where it’s at
The most sensitive part of a goat is its nose, so if they touch the fence with another part of their body the zap will not be as effective. No worries, goats are very curious especially young kids. They will test everything with their noses first. A quick zap on their little nose is usually all you need for a lifetime of training.
Read: Goat Fencing 101 for other fencing options.
Tip #5. Not Everyone Needs to Get Zapped
Not all goats need to be zapped. If you have a follower goat that is timid and shy then you do not necessarily need to zap them to train them. Those goats will stay back with the herd following their lead.
Tip #6. The Stubborn Goats
Stubborn goats may need more than one zap. I have had some goats require up to 4 zaps to get the point. Don’t worry it doesn’t do permanent damage. It’s just a sting that goes away as soon as contact is stopped. Trust me, I’ve done the legwork. 🙂 The fences are meant to keep animals in not harm them so please do not worry that you are causing unnecessary pain to your animals.
Tip #7. Fence Upkeep
Always keep your fence line trimmed and neat so the currents run smoothly. I cannot stress enough the importance of this. Have this chore on your monthly to-do list to ensure your fence never loses current. Remember you are not just keeping your livestock in but you are keeping predators out as well. Deer are notorious for entering into pastures and if they do they can infest your herd with Barberpole worms. Be sure your fence is always working so it helps to keep deer and other animals out of your goat’s pasture.
Tip #8. Do Not Force it
Never EVER force a goat to get zapped. I know some owners that literally carry their goats to the fence and zap their noses. This does absolutely nothing beneficial for you or your herd. Sure, this approach will show the goat that the fence does hurt, but you did it on your terms and not theirs. Allowing your goats to get zapped naturally helps them to learn with the least amount of trauma.
How to train your goats on an electric fence.
Step #1 Always have at least 2 people.
Like I said before, this is a tip I learned the hard way. Have someone near the electric source at all times so you have a way to quickly shut off the electric current if any of your goats get stuck in the fence.
The goal here is to train your goats and not to hurt your goats.
Step #2 Let the goats out.
You can either do this one by one or in a group. I prefer training in a group. Since goats learn by example, seeing other herd members get shocked is usually enough to keep them all away.
As long as you have enough eyes to watch everyone, I encourage you to train as a group.
Step #3 Give them time to explore.
Don’t rush this.
Let your goats take their time and check everything out.
Goats are a very curious animal and it usually will not take long for them to “test” the fence out. Just take a seat and let them decided when to inspect the fence.
Like I mentioned above, the electric fence netting attracts the goat’s interest and before long their curiosity will get the better of them. As they approach the fence do not stop them.
Your goal is to teach your goats to respect the fence and in order to do that they need to associate the fence with the pain of a shock.
Step #4 Let the “zap” happen.
If you are new to animals, this can be easier said than done.
Watching your babies get hurt is never enjoyable, but let me assure you.
That zap is a crucial step in keeping your herd safe.
Goats learn quickly and if you teach them to respect the fence you should never have an issue with breakouts.
Also, the zaps I am talking about are not life-altering ones. I have been zapped many MANY times(more than I care to admit) and yes it does sting but not too badly.
Step #5 Once isn’t always enough.
I had a goat once that simply could not stay away from the fence. I swear she truly believed the grass most definitely was greener on the other side. I think she was zapped 4 times before she finally understood to stay away from that fence.
But you know something?
I never EVER had that goat break out of our pasture. She was well trained and understood the fence was something to stay away from.
Step #6 Lure and test.
This may sound mean, but it is an important part of training your goats.
Have someone on the other side of the fence to “tempt” the goats a bit. This will show you and them if they are truly trained.
If the goats come close to the fence, a sharp “no” will usually remind them. But be prepared for the goat that simply will not listen and get a little zap on their nose for getting too close.
Step #7 When the electric fence netting doesn’t work.
This is going to be hard to hear, but if you have a goat that simply cannot and will not be trained on an electric fence you may need to rethink things.
If one goat insists on breaking out of your pasture the others will surely follow. Stopping problems before they can happen is usually best. If you have a goat that breaks out repeatedly you may either need to find other housing for that goat or find a new home altogether.
The safety of your herd should always be first and foremost.
If that means letting go of one goat for the benefit of the others you may need to think about that.
Step #8 Repeat each spring.
If you live in an area that has 4 full seasons, it is important to know that electric fence netting will not be effective in snowy climates.
If you house your goats outside in winter weather just be sure they are trained thoroughly on the fence and they will stay away even if it is off.
If you, however, bring your goats into a barn or other shelter during the winter months then you may need to do a refresher course come spring.
My older goats seem to stay trained year after year. The younger does need a refresher course each spring. Again, one shock usually does it.
Learning how to correctly train your goats on electric fencing will help in more ways than one.
Knowing you can safely and securely leave your animals out to pasture will give you and your goats more freedom. Take the time to train your livestock effectively so you can give them the freedom to roam and graze.
Do you have tips on how to train goats on electric fence netting? If so, please share below!