One of my favorite things about having goats is watching them play and jump. Unfortunately, while jumping is cute behavior in the pasture, it’s not so cute when you are trying to keep them confined. If you have tried to contain your goats for any reason, you have probably found yourself quickly asking these two questions:
How high can a goat jump? And, how tall should my fence be? Don’t worry! We’re here to answer these questions and tell you everything you need to know about goat fences.
We even have some surprising information about a small goat breed that can jump higher than you think. Keep reading to learn more.
Goats Can Jump HOW High?
There are many different breeds of goats out there, but one thing all goats have in common is that they love to jump. While the actual height a goat can jump will vary by size and breed, you will find, on average, goats can jump between 4-5 feet (1).
While a four foot tall fence may serve for keeping in other types of livestock, it might not cut it for goats. You should plan on building a fence at least 4 feet tall to prevent your goats from jumping over it. However, as we said, jumping four feet is the average. Let’s take a closer look at how high different breeds of goats can jump, so you know exactly how high your fence needs to be.
How High Can Wild Goats Jump?
All domesticated goat breeds are descended from wild mountain goats. So if you want a good idea of what goats are capable of, you can look at the wild cousins — mountain goats. Mountain goats can leap a stunning twelve feet in a single bound (2)!
Their ability to leap and their agility make goats ideally suited for their native habitat amongst the mountain tops. While this skill is breathtaking to watch, it makes it much more difficult to contain their domesticated cousins.
How High Can Nigerian Dwarf Goats Jump?
As their name suggests, Nigerian dwarf goats are smaller than average goats. These tiny goats’ height averages between 16-20 inches (3). Often kept as pets or for milk, this breed is commonly found on homesteads.
Don’t be deceived by their diminutive appearance, though. Despite their small size, Nigerian Dwarf goats have been known to jump over four foot tall fences. So don’t be fooled into thinking a smaller goat can get by with a short fence. These tricksters are masters of escape.
How Hight Can Boer Goats Jump?
Boer goats are much larger than Nigerian Dwarf Goats. The breed is originally from South Africa, and they are primarily kept as meat animals. Mature Boer goats can weigh as much as 340 pounds (4)!
While their larger size makes them among the best goats for clearing brush, it doesn’t help their jumping skills. You may be surprised to find that Boers are unlikely to jump much higher than 3.5 feet tall. These big goats are actually less agile than smaller breeds.
That doesn’t mean you can get by with a short fence, though. Goats are master climbers as well as jumpers. If there are rocks, branches, or even other goats, these can all be used as a launching point for a higher than normal jump.
How High Can Pygmy Goats Jump?
Pygmy goats are another common miniature breed of goat. Like Nigerian Dwarf Goats, these goats are often kept as pets or for milk. While pygmy goats can’t jump twelve feet like wild mountain goat cousins, they have been known to reach heights of four feet.
If four feet doesn’t seem like a lot to you, consider that these goats stand under two feet tall. When it comes to goats, their stature is no indication of how high they can jump.
So now that we know goats can jump much higher than you probably guessed, let’s talk about how we keep these escape artists in.
Everything You Need to Know About Goat Fences
Let’s face it. Some animals are just harder to keep enclosed than others. And goats are among the most difficult. Some days I feel like the saying “where there is a will, there is a way” was written about goats. Because goats will always find a way out.
That is until you build the right fence.
The right fence is more than just a tall fence. If goats can’t get over your fence, they will try to go under your fence– or even straight through it.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know to build the right fence, the height, type of materials, heck, we’ll even discuss fence posts. So, now you can sleep tight at night, knowing your escape artist goats are locked up tight.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
How Tall Should My Fence Be?
The first question everyone asks about goats is how tall the fence should be. As we mentioned above, your goat fence should be a minimum of four feet tall. In reality, five to six feet tall is better if there is anything at all nearby for your goats to climb on. But the height of your fence isn’t the only concern.
You need to pay as much, if not more, attention to the space at the bottom of the fence as at the top. Goats are notorious for trying to squeeze out of any possible space they can (escape artists, remember?).
Your fence needs to be close enough to the ground that your goats can’t fit under the fence either.
Fences shouldn’t be more than three inches from the ground to help ensure the goats can’t fit under them. By keeping your fence close to the ground and tall enough, you should be able to keep your goats contained.
Now that we know how tall our fence should be, let’s talk about the materials we can build it out of.
Different Types of Fencing
The type of fencing you choose can depend on a number of factors. Obviously, some materials cost more than others, so budget always plays a factor. Maintenance and durability are also factors you want to consider.
Woven Wire Fence
Woven wire fence can be easily installed and is very effective at containing goats. This type of fencing is available in many different heights, wire spacing, and sizes, depending on your needs.
The downside to this fencing is that it is more expensive than some of the other options on the market.
Barbed Wire Fence
While barbed wire is a particularly common type of fencing, special requirements are required for barbed wire to be effective at keeping goats contained (5).
“Goat-proof barbed wire fences require at least five to six wires with the spacing on the bottom starting at 3 inches and increasing to 5 inches at the top.”
This is more strands than needed to keep in other types of livestock.
If you have boards lying around, you can build a fence with them. Your boards should be 1-2 inches thick and 4-6 inches wide. Attach these to posts spaced eight feet apart. This will make a nice sturdy fence to keep your goats in.
But there is a trick to it. For your fence to be effective, the boards need to be attached to the post inside the fence, where your goats are. Otherwise, your goats can push the boards right off the fence posts and escape (I told you goats are tricky!).
Many people recommend electric fencing for goats. Once your goats learn, electric fencing is very effective. But goats are stubborn, so be aware it may take some time to teach your goats to respect the fence.
Just like other types of fencing, the spacing of your strand is essential for your fencing to be effective. Make sure they are close enough to the ground as well as high enough. Tying ribbons to the strands can help your goats identify them more easily.
You can use either wood or metal fence posts. Whichever you choose, you will want to make sure they are particularly sturdy. Goats love to rub up against trees, and in their mind, fence posts work just as well.
Not only that, I’ve seen my goats charge at my fence in an attempt to get out (or even in). The posts need to be sturdy enough to maintain against the weight of your goats. With larger goats like Boers, sturdy fence posts are more important than a tall fence. Because the truth is if your fence posts fall over, then even the most towering fence isn’t tall anymore.
While some days it may seem impossible to contain your jumping goats, you should now feel confident that it is possible. Knowing how high your goats can jump will help you better judge the height of your fencing. But good fencing is more than just tall fencing.
Make sure your fence has strong posts to hold up to the abuse your goats will throw at them. And don’t leave any holes in your fence, high or low. Those tricky goats will find even the smallest space to borrow their way out.
If you follow these tips, then your goats should stay safely tucked away, where you want them.
- Goat Facts. Retrieved from: https://animalcorner.org/goat-facts/
- Fun Facts About Goats. Retrieved from: https://spca.bc.ca/news/fun-facts-about-goats/
- Nigerian Dwarf Goat. Retrieved from: https://zooatlanta.org/animal/nigerian-dwarf-goat/
- Goat Breeds Boer. Retrieved from: https://goats.extension.org/goat-breeds-boer/
- Fencing. Retrieved from: https://extension.okstate.edu/programs/meat-goat-production/site-files/docs/chapter-11-fencing.pdf
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.