Houdini Goat

Pip and Caper have a sturdy, permanent paddock fence. Beyond that is a small meadow, filled with things that goats love, like brambles and vines, ferns and sprouting acorns. That’s one of the wonderful things about goats – they clear an area of weeds before they touch the “good” grasses. Goats are very effective at keeping the margins of fields mowed down to the stone walls. I use electric poultry netting to keep them in. It’s easy to move, and I change it around frequently so that they can get to the brambles, but not overgraze. The goats quickly learned to respect this fence. They don’t like being zapped. But, they’re not scared of it. They get up quite close in order to nibble their favorite plants.

It’s always a good idea to check your electric fencing to make sure that it’s working. I haven’t done that recently, but, obviously, Pip has. Pip decided that the grass really is greener on the other side. Despite the fact that almost all of his 45 pounds is big belly, he managed to ooze under the fence. All goats have this superpower of being able to warp the rules of physics. I was outside and saw him do it and yet I’m still not sure how he squeezed through. My next goat will be named Quicksilver.

The goats are now in the paddock. The gate to the meadow is closed. The goats are lying next to it, chewing their cuds, looking innocent. But, they’ve never, ever laid there before. I know what they’re doing. They’re contemplating their great escape. I’d bet my money on them.

(PS There’s no photo. I was too busy wrangling goats.)


  1. I can totally see this happening. My daughter’s horse was Houdini in a previous life. He hasn’t met the fence he can’t crawl through, over, under, or just jump. We seriously contemplate leasing him to a fencing company so they can invent the escape proof fence!

  2. Yes, funny, except I’m about to go to the airport – am going to a 2-day conference. Now have to change my clothes…

    BTW, I had an appaloosa who would listen for the moment the electric fence turned off (it stopped clicking) and he’d go right through. Never when it was on.

    • Yup, TC does that as well. He also pulls the insulators off the fence when the fencer is off. It’s lucky for him he’s such a solid mountain horse, cuz he’s a royal pain at home!

  3. Goats are wonderful escape artist and acrobats. I will never forget the time we have a billy up on the barn roof. The lowest point was about 9 feet high. To this day we have no idea how he did it. He stood up there and complained loudly until dad got the ladder out and leaned it up against the barn so he could get down.

  4. Oh Dear Terry – I laughed so hard, I did not realize it was a family trait – Their Mother was a escape artist, especially when she headed for the neighbors roses!

  5. I raised Dairy Goats for 12 years while in 4-H, and in that time I had a goat figure out where the wimpy part of the chain link fence was, and walk up that part until it laid flat, allowing all his fellows to pour into uncharted territories. Another went up a ladder so he could climb in a second story window. There was the 6 month old doe kid that liked making hammocks out of any type of sheltering blue tarp. If it was suspended in air, she would be on it, swinging in mid air sleeping. I can’t remember everything they did, but goats are so much smarter than people give them credit for. ;)

  6. My goat Zygoat was constantly finding ways to get out of his enclosure so instead of trying to keep him in, we decided to let him go where he wanted. Hes proven that he is a trustworthy goat and stays on the farm; his daily routine is always the same, he makes a pass past the chicken run to make sure the birds are where they are supposed to be, then goes to the horse pasture to visit the horses and then takes a nap with the stallion on the hill in the afternoon. He truely is a free range goat and he loves it. :)

    • I wish I could! Mine would make a bee-line for the roses, then do in the basil and cilantro and finish with the zinnias.

  7. I am SO enjoying everyone’s posts about their goats’ antics. What gets me is that they can wreck such havoc while having the sweetest little smiles on their faces.

  8. Hi Terry,

    Would you recommend the poultry netting you have for free ranging hens? I currently have 9 pullets in a 10×10 run along with a small hutch. We’re still planning out our larger chicken house and run. We have a large yard but we live in a two family house and our neighbors have a dog that has gotten loose more than once and has tried to get our hens. Since they seem so bored in the current run I’m considering getting the electric fencing to give them more space. My question really is should we build a larger run (and if so how large to keep them happy) or get the electric fence?

    • Hi- poultry netting is expensive! It’s good for covering a fenced run, but you’re not going to be able to cover a huge expanse. I’d say yes to the larger run. The electric fence will keep the dog out. A rowdy dog is worse than hawks. But, if there are hawks around, only let the hens out to free-range when you can watch them. To ease boredom, make sure they have lots of loose dirt to bathe in (fill a kiddie pool if the run is too packed down.) Also, feed lots of kitchen scraps. They’ll like shredding and tasting. What they don’t eat, rake up and compost.