Linda Geist

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. – Goat producer John Kirchhoff of Moberly likened goats to a covey of scattering quail at the Missouri Livestock Symposium, Dec. 7-8 in Kirksville. University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Livestock Symposium Committee organize the annual event.

Kirchhoff, a technician with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, has raised Katahdin hair sheep for more than 25 years. He has helped his mother with her Nubian goat herd for 47 years and is a regular contributor to Sheep! magazine.

Fencing is challenging for goat owners, Kirchhoff said. Goats are known for their wayward habits and inquisitive nature. There is little they won’t climb or stick their heads through, making their personalities both lovable and troublesome, he said.

Electrical fencing works better for goats than sheep, Kirchhoff said. Owners need fences with 4,500 volts of electricity and multiple wires. “One thing about goats is that they check the fence every day,” he quipped.

Steel posts sap the energy from power supplies when pulses are sent along the fence line, so Kirchhoff recommends that owners consider nonconductive posts.

Shut-off valves at various locations along the fence line are helpful in locating shorts and determining where energy is being consumed at above-normal levels. He also said that electric netting is good for a temporary fence.

Kirchhoff talked about the psychology of goats, noting that goats have to think it is their idea to be moved. “When you understand this behavior, you can use it to your advantage.”

Goats also are easy prey for other animals, he said. As a result, they develop defense mechanisms against possible dangers, and anything out of the ordinary is seen as threatening.

Kirchhoff showed pictures of creative fences he has seen as he crossed the country. On a waterway, a fence post was anchored by concrete inside a discarded tire. He also showed a photo of an old backhoe tire with a hog panel atop it. It served as a watering area for goats.

“The easiest way to make money is to save money,” he said.