My goats have spent the last 6 months or so in the two pastures at the northeast side of the property. It's worked out pretty well. Before I moved them over there, only horses had occupied those pastures so there were no goat parasites sitting in wait in the grass. Parasites are a huge issue with goats so reducing the level is always a good thing. Regardless of that, I'm getting ready to move the goat herd back to the barn. Stephen Franco, my wonderful goat shearer is due here this coming weekend so the goats will need to be in the barn by then. Once Stephen strips them down to not much more than their skin, the sun and the currently colder than normal temperatures will be their biggest enemies. They will sunburn easily and have no protection from the wind and rain and cold. They will probably stay in the barn for at least a week or two.
Well, "in the barn" doesn't quite explain it properly. The goats will have access to all three stalls in the barn which are well bedded with hay but they need to have access to the outside too so will have the pens at the end of the barn, the fenced off drive-through behind the barn and both of their original goat pens which includes another well bedded shelter. Most of the fences that surround these areas are goat proof but some are not.
The wooden fences that create the pens next to the barn, where built for horses. The original three boards were excellent for keeping tall animals in - the horses and the llamas and alpacas were all nicely corralled. The goats, however, could easily slip out underneath those rails. Several years ago I had my contractor and friend, Richard Baron, add one more rail to the wooden fences. That worked fine when all I had were fully grown adult goats. When I added weanling goats, it was a totally different story. Piper, Parker and Paxton all laughed at my fence and generally went walk-about with ease.
In the last several years I have lived with the goats getting out if I left them in the pens or I have made sure the barn doors were closed so they weren't left in the pens at all. Now I need those fences to be secure for another reason - Sadie.
Sadie has learned that I'm not happy with her chasing any of the livestock. She has just recently been able to get in with and llamas and alpacas and so far I haven't been able to stop her from chasing them. Three times was my limit so I've now re-arranged pastures and closed some previously open gates to stop her getting into their pasture. She doesn't try to hurt the animals but she loves to see them run and she likes to keep them grouped together - a measure of the Border Collie part of her heritage, I guess. Sadie also loves to chase the goats although so far I've been able to grab her when she's managed to get through the gate into their pasture. Now that I'm going to be moving the goats back to the barn I want to keep everyone safely separated.
Ron and I spent several hours this morning placing my green livestock panels around the outside of the wooden fence as well as using what hog panels we have left. We've done a pretty good job of making the space between the ground and the bottom rail too small for a goat or a crazy dog to get through.
I think I will have to address the gate into the pens tomorrow. I think Sadie can get through the bars. I'm not sure what to use - chicken wire might work and I have some of that. We'll see what I can find.