There is a lot of truth in the statement “good fences make good neighbors.” This concept applies to predator control as well. The first thing you need to realize is that you cannot fence out all predators. They will always find a way into your fields. Good fences make it more difficult for them, increasing the chances that they will look for food elsewhere.
The most common fences for predator control involve good woven wire and electric trip and stand-off wires on the outside of the pasture. The normal use of this type of fencing is in the construction of a night penning area. This is a special area, generally around a shelter, where animals are penned each night and released during the day. Because most predation occurs at night, this provides protection without the very high price of changing your total farm fencing.
Most night penning areas will be constructed with a 6- to 8-foot fence that uses the 4-by-4 woven wire. Electric stand-off wire and trip wire are then placed around the outside of this pen to stop the predators from digging under the fence or trying to climb it. The trip wire is generally placed at 3 inches off the ground and 8 to 12 inches from the main fence. The stand-off wire is then placed 3 to 6 inches from the main fence and 12 to 16 inches off the ground. The idea is that the animal will not be able to get between the two wires to dig without getting hit by the electric current. In some situations, producers have buried woven wire up to 3 feet under the fence to prevent predators from digging through. The gate becomes the weak place in these systems; be sure to continue the electric fencing or a woven wire, skirting along the gate area, and make sure there are no gaps between the gate and the gate post or ground that a predator can get through.
If you wish to construct perimeter fencing that will reduce predators, the most economical method is with an 8- to 10-strand high tensile electric fence. With the close spacing allowed by this high number of strands, predators must come in contact with the wire when going through the fence. If the fence is kept charged properly, they will often learn to avoid crossing it. There have been reported cases of coyotes changing their normal travel routes due to well-constructed electric fences. If electric fencing is not an option, then 8 to 10 strands of barbwire can also be used if spaced apart properly.
It is important to remember that night penning only offers protection when the animals are in the pen, and predators may attack during the day. Birds of prey can be a significant problem during the day. Also, in some cases when pens are not build properly, predators can enter, and there is no escape for the goat. Heavy losses can then result, especially in the case of domestic dog attacks. Someone also must pen the animals and release them each day for this to be an effective method of control.