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  • Writer's pictureConstance Wilmoth

Net Fencing Disaster!

We finally felt like things were in a good groove, MJ was doing better, we had a system that was working for our jobs and our side hustles and we were enjoying work. Last Thursday night I finished up work around 4:30 PM and heard the girls screaming, I looked out the window to see Turbo wandering down from the barn. I had moved the buck fencing behind the barn to allow them to enjoy the immense amount of weeds and foliage back there, and Turbo must have decided that he had enough of being back there and jumped the fence! I quickly grabbed him before he had a chance to breed any of the girls and took him back to his buck house and attached fencing, poor Branson was crying, so I wandered back over to the buck fencing and unplugged it, taking Branson over to his screaming companion Turbo. The girls were all out in the field happily grazing, so after debating in my head I decided to leave them out while I went to help Rob on the project he was working on. I rationalized I would only be gone a few hours and I would be home before dark. We worked hard for a few hours deciding to call it quits around 8PM, as we arrived home we were greeted by everyone except MJ and Moots.

Rob immediately started to panic, as he ran up to the barn Moots greeted him with a distressed call and we did not see MJ. Rob was frantically calling for her at this point we heard her scream, and it was a bad scream. A scream that a goat owner never wants to hear, it was a painful distressed scream. We both took off running to find MJ completely entangled and wrapped in the next fencing of the bucks. She could not stand and was laying on her side. We worked frantically to get her loose. Rob ensured her air was not cut off and got her head and neck untangled and I was able to free her hind feet. After what felt like hours, but I am sure was only a few minutes we were able to free her and she was able to stand. She was extremely stressed, and breathing heavily, so we rushed her into the barn and put her in a pen by herself under the fan. As I watched her I was so thankful that her legs seemed to be unscathed. Although, very scared and a bit stiff she seemed to be O.K. As I observed her I began to think about other possible complications. I had been gone for at least three hours, how long had she been trapped like this? How was her rumen? Did she look bloated? After additional further investigation she did not appear to be bloated, but I made a slurry of baking soda and gave it to her along with some probiotics just to be safe. Additionally, I went into the house to draw her up some Meloxicam, which is an anti- inflammatory and pain reliever to help her feel better. After careful monitoring she seemed back to her normal self the following morning.

As Rob and I discussed I realized several things that I did wrong and interesting learnings from this experience. The first one was how smart and attached Moots is to her daughter. She stood back by us crying in distress the whole time we were helping to untangle her and I believe she had been standing back by her while she was caught to try to keep her calm, and when she heard us come home she ran to us for help! The first thing I did wrong is I put the buck fencing in an area where the girls like to adventure, they go behind the barn to browse. I normally have the buck fencing on the other side of the property, I should have never brought it back close to the girls. Secondly, MJ and Godiva had never experienced the net fencing before, so she was not trained to stay away from it. Thirdly, I left the one piece of the fencing laying on the ground after I took Branson out, making it much easier to become tangled.

Overall, the situation could have ended much worse and I am very thankful that I learned these several lessons to hopefully, prevent issues in the future. Net fencing can be very useful, but the keys to safe use with goats is training, management and proper charge on the fence to ensure the goats respect it. I hope you have all learned something from this experience and it never happens to you.

Have a wonderful week and Happy Goating!

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