Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Habitat  (Read 2716 times)


  • Joined Sep 2021
« on: October 18, 2021, 02:09:55 pm »

Recent new member here and just gearing up towards fencing before beginning my goat journey next year. I am a newbie at owning animals and would appreciate some advice regarding setting up the habit for my Pygmy goats. I intend to start off with three of them but hope to triple that the following year if all has gone well. I would also propose to add some sheep as I understand they can co-exist without issue and compliment each other in terms of what they each graze.

The field they will live in is 3 acres and has just been topped for the first time in 20 years. Fencing it is next on the agenda and I am keen to understand from people with goats what you advise in terms of setup please. I am thinking 6ft posts, 4ft high 4x4 stock fencing. Do I need barb wire on top? Do I need ground pegs?

On one side the field has a culvert running the length of it. Am I correct in believing the goats will avoid this at all costs and so does not need to be fenced?

The field has a badger set in it, do I need to be concerned for my animals about this? I am under the impression the goats will likely behave in the way that causes the badgers to remain cautious.

As the number of goats I plan to keep in the field is quite small versus its size, I am hoping to Ďleave them outí permanently, are there any reasons I should avoid this? The field has some shaded areas and I will provide some additional stimulation such as raised areas for them to climb on. I donít particularly want to make a smaller pen for them to come into at night but wondered if I should and for what reasons.

I will provide a three sided shelter that faces away from the wind (being opposite some dense trees behind the fence, this is guaranteed.) I intend to  provide hay for additional bedding and warmth in the winter but am not proposing to include a heat source currently.

Can I please have some constructive criticism regarding the above prior to me engaging with fencing contractor? I understand I have not addressed all aspect of goat care but this post is specifically around their habitat ie fencing and shelter.

My hope is to give them a nice life in a larger area than necessary for them to forage and roam with freedom. My motivation is more towards pets and as a hobby rather than profit however if I have surplus goats due to breeding I would consider selling to like minded owners, however this is the future and not on the agenda initially.



  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: either over-crowded or villages left half-empty.
Re: Habitat
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2021, 06:46:22 pm »
@PaulStaffs  - Gonna need plenty of badger "gates" in your goat fencing given that they (badgers) are already resident.  That said, I'm not sure whether setting up for a fenced goat pasture is OK where badgers already have a sett:  someone will know.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2021, 06:57:13 pm by arobwk »


  • Joined Sep 2021
Re: Habitat
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2021, 07:58:03 pm »
Thanks, hopefully they arenít an issue as I canít write off the 3 acre field but similarly have no intention of interfering with the stripey residents!


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Habitat
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2021, 09:33:12 am »

1. fencing off the culvert - if the goats want to get out they will. I would not use barbed wire on the top. and with pygmies you will need to have tensioned bottom wire. They will go under/though rather than over.
2. Very cautious with badgers - reasons: if your goats kid in the open-fronted shelter the kids may well be taken by the badger, esp pygmy kids - they are tiny. Badgers do carry bTB and goats are susceptible.
3. 4 acres is very big, I would partition, see 4.
4. Do not keep goats and sheep in the same field with shared grazing - they share parasites and goats are much less tolerant of worms and fluke than sheep are. Also ideally goat feed should contain added copper and most sheep do not need it, and indeed can have copper overload pretty quickly.
5. I personally would never leave my goat shed open at night - I also do have badgers around, but also goats really do nto do rain and dampness. So they do prefer a shed that can beīclosed on all four sides and is not drafty (as opposed to well ventilated above head height).

I would advise you to speak to other goatkeepers in your area - I am sure the pygmy breeders organmistion have membership lists so you can chat to other goatkeepers and see their set up.

On another personal note, please make sure you get goats that have recently tested negative for CAE , please google it. If you buy in kids make sure the dams have a negative test result in the last 6 months.


  • Joined Sep 2021
Re: Habitat
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2021, 11:35:12 am »
Thanks for your detailed response, it is appreciated


  • Joined Dec 2014
Re: Habitat
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2021, 12:52:58 pm »

  They will jump any ditch stream or brook
  they can jump 4ft fence  they will get heads stuck in stock wire
  they don't like rain or to strong wind
  they will eat all the bark of your trees they don't like just grass
  they will eat the hedge the trees and climb to do it
  will not come out the shed when wet weather
  they like clean water and chasing fallen leaves
  Let then do what they want to  in the way that you want them to
  ive had goats for 40 yaers now only 150 head
  good luck with it.


  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: either over-crowded or villages left half-empty.
Re: Habitat
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2021, 10:14:28 pm »
Another thought @PaulStaffs :  given the remark about how small young pygmy goats can be, I wonder whether two-way badger gates might be a small-goat "escape" route.  Depending on where the sett is (a corner maybe), might be better to isolate the sett by fencing it off from the rest of the field. If that would prevent them from using any habitual track across the field, be prepared to reinforce the fence (at least in such places) and dig in some mesh at the bottom as I understand badgers can be very persistent at trying to maintain a well used run.  Also, fencing them out would prevent them possibly developing a new 2nd sett over time. Consultation with badger experts would be advisable.

(I don't have a badger sett, but badgers clearly have runs across my fields.  I've not had a problem with the light-weight deer/rabbit fencing in Field 1 and the badgers have amicably detoured a very short distance from their original track to go around the fence, but I'm anticipating trouble in Field 2 (when fenced) where tracks go across the middle of the field.  Anticipating badger gates to avoid them ripping the rabbit-quality mesh apart, but I don't have to consider wee beasties on the inside with the potential strength to lift the flap on a badger gate to get out.)
« Last Edit: October 20, 2021, 11:55:06 pm by arobwk »


  • Joined Sep 2021
Re: Habitat
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2021, 09:42:45 am »
Thank you Goatherd, these are both extremely helpful posts and I appreciate you taking the time to share your wisdom.


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Habitat
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2021, 10:25:58 am »
Thinking more about your field size etc, and you are probably a rural location (?), I wonder if pygmy goats are the best choice. If you want the goats purely as pets (nothing wrong with that), you have the space etc to go for wethers of the larger breed (e.g. dairy goats). Much less hassle with escaping under/through fences, easy going temperament, they will do a lot more grazing than pygmies would and require minimum additional feeding (except for the usual quantities of hay). And if you are so inclined, they also make the most fabulous goat curry/slow roasts in the world. All other answers wrt keeping with sheep however apply (Johne's, CAE, parasites).

Just a thought...


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Habitat
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2021, 05:22:31 pm »
Its more cost but i would divide into 4, (maybe do your own internal fencing?) rotate/rest different sections, may even be able to make you own hay on a section,
If badger sett is conveniently in one section, maybe use that for hay/cutting for forage when weather is wet?


  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: either over-crowded or villages left half-empty.
Re: Habitat
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2021, 12:37:09 am »
Of course, there are wild/feral varieties of goats throughout the UK that are hardy and which might be/are kept as domestic - rare breeds? - stock.  (I wouldn't know whether they are even harder to fence in !!)


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Habitat
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2021, 06:56:42 am »
I too would avoid pigmys and get larger breed wethers.  They will still escape but make great pets (pigmys dont always have pet temperment where as my Anglo Nubians just love people) .  If for pets I would get debudded ones especially if children are involved... not that horns are always a problem but accidents do happen.  If kept as pets 3 or 4 is enough and I would avoid breeding... that is a whole other list of problems!

Goats will get out of a badger gate ..... under and over any fences to get to trees and bushes they fancy ..... they tend to only eat grass when long and fresh ... so paddocks to rotate are essential...

They need a proper shed to be shut into where they can escape the worse of weather .... and mine always prefer to lie on concrete or hardcore on a warm day rather than grass.

I suggest you visit a few local goat keepers and talk to them ....  commercial as well as pet. 

Im sure people on here would be happy for a visit if close enough to you

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.
Nantygroes  facebook page

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: Habitat
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2021, 03:29:16 pm »
I agree with all the previous suggestions but wanted to add, I would use straw for bedding as it's cheaper than hay. In the winter and early spring when there is no fresh grass or scrub or when the weather is wet, they will need to be fed good hay and that has to be in racks because they would starve rather than eat it off the floor. Don't use hay nets because they jump up and could get a leg caught in the net. They will also need water buckets in racks so they don't get knocked over. If it rains they will be in all day and still need to drink and it must be fresh water at least once a day because they are very good at pooing in the bucket.

If you do split the field, a mobile shed might be useful so you can tow it between paddock.

My goats were happy with stock fencing but they were disbudded. Pigmies or horned dairy goats can get caught in the fence. Pygmies can't be disbudded because they have thinner skulls and it's too dangerous. Dairy goats will clear a five foot fence. I kept Saanens and they weren't too bothered about trying to jump but I know other breeds do.

Most of all, enjoy your goats.


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