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Moving chicken and goat paddocks setup

 
Rob Irish
Posts: 223
Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Hi Everyone!

We have chickens and goats.

I'm looking to purchase now electric fencing and create moving paddocks. We have 28 acres of mostly bush, and areas dominated by birch and then other areas dominated by spruce and pine. It was all clear felled ~30 years ago. About 6 acres of that is grassy stuff with bush here and there like willows and spotted alder. The goats aren't a big fan of the alder. They love the willow.

At first I thought I will just get 1 energiser, and have it charge 2 paddocks (1 smaller chicken area and 1 for the goats). Move them around together moving the chickens in after the goats. The problem with that is in the forest there starts to be a lot less light and in our colder climate the chickens aren't producing eggs unless they get to sunbathe. So I think we're going to need 2 independent energisers and the cost starts to increase a bit.

Currently we have 6 adult goats, 5 babies.

We have 5 chickens currently. We want about 36 chickens at least.

And finally, we want sheep, but they will come later in the year.

So I'm looking at these poultry and goat electric nets ready to invest. Hoping to get some advice from you guys, the masters.

We're wanting to move them not more than once per day and also save money and power and go solar. But I wonder: How much direct sunlight does the typical solar panel require to keep that battery charged? I understand where ever I put the netting I need to make sure grass or branches are not touching it to rob the power. Let's say I move the goats into an area and where I first place the panel it only gets sun for 20 minutes but then the sun goes behind the tree - how long is the battery going to keep a charge for? I understand that depends on the size of the netting. Which leads me to the next question: with our number of goats how many of these 50m nets should I be looking at getting?

Also finally, keeping in mind, we want to roam the goats split up into 2 groups to control the breeding. I only want our new baby goats to get pregnant so they will become milkable.I don't want our old girls producing any more this year. I know thats a lot more work, but for me the weight of that is less than the weight of butchering them. I don't mind goat meat, but we're going to get sheep for meat instead. It just doesn't seem worth it to kill a goat for meat. We went through 3 goats just between the 2 of us since autumn last year.

I have seen there are these grid like electric fence nets, but then there are also the type that don't have the vertical strings which are more affordable. What is the general consensus for goats in this department? What do permies prefer to use?

My objectives with the goats is to move them throughout the property and make it less bushy.. Since it was clear felled it was left relatively unmanaged, so there is areas of dense understory growth. Areas that are not fun to walk through. There are also areas we'd like to turn into paths which we could let the goats really go for it and clear it up. Once we've cleaned up the forest a bit, we'll bring the paddocks back to the grassier / bushy areas which means we can introduce lambs to enjoy the grass.

So that's the game plan. Would love to get some input as to what sort of voltage energisers to get, and more understanding about what size fence areas we should get. As I understand it, it is easier to do this with chickens because at night they all go and sleep in the tractor, so before letting them out in the morning you can reposition the existing fence. But with goats, that isn't so easy. So is the way everyone does it is that they basically have double the fencing area required for the goats? So essentially you place out the next paddock's fence, open a 'gate', let them in, then take down the previous paddock?

Many questions, I'm sorry. Really appreciate any tips.

Many thanks,
Rob

 
Rob Irish
Posts: 223
Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Update:

I've since been trying to learn what I can. Still a ways to go but here is an update on what I've discovered.

I thought at first that these fences consume more power to be on than they actually do hence my concerns about setting up a paddock in a partially shaded forest. Due to the pulsing and not a constant power 'on', they actually somehow use very little power on idle. So it seems quite feasible to have a solar powered charger that only gets a couple hours of sunlight per day. Many users report going weeks on bigger batteries without any recharge.

At first I was thinking of getting one of these pre-built energisers which have a bundle of battery, energiser, solar panel etc all-in-one, but when I thought about it, it seems like the cost goes up considerably for the convenience of it being in those nice little units. But also, the panels typically can't be just taken out for example used for something else when I don't need to be running the fences during winter. So I'm looking at just getting parts individually. It seems easy enough. And I'm sold on the nets.

A single 50m net for the chickens seems like it would be suffice. But a 50m for the goats I think I'd be moving them multiple times per day. I think then I would need to get 200m to begin with. Feel free to stop me if that sounds like too little, or too much
 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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forest garden goat trees
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One factor to take into consideration is whether your goats have horns. If so I would avoid the netting type fence as they can get stuck in it and end up getting continually shocked. There are probably lots of people who use these fences with horned goats but it isn't a risk that I would personally be prepared to take.
 
Rob Irish
Posts: 223
Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Thank you for that Katy. That would not be good! Half of ours have horns, fairly simple horns. This is something we have to weigh up. We would train them to the fence closely at first. I don't know what is worse: half starving the whole herd by limiting them to fixed and insufficient permanent paddocks, or risking death by electrocution. The holes in the net are too small to fit a head through, but I could see how if they were eating near the base off the fence, then suddenly lifted their heads the horn might grab on to the net. If their horns had those loops in them, more spiral-like, then I could see they'd really struggle to get unhooked. Thanks for bringing that at up.

I wonder if there is a kind of shut-off system available which can detect if there is too many shocks happening like that. Probably not , because the system is designed to handle occasional shocks from grasses touching it often, right?

 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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forest garden goat trees
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When I have to use electric fencing for my goats I use the horse tape. You have to put the strands quite close together so that they don't jump through between them but it works quite well. I have different types of electric fencing for the chickens - I use the netting stuff - but it is never used in the same area as the goats or sheep in case they get caught in it. I wait until they have moved on then put the chickens in.
 
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