I do not yet have any good photographs to share of this project….you will have to bear with me. My animals never have babies when it’s convenient to me. We lost our first goat kids of the season due to their birth during a horrid rainstorm at the same time in which our vehicle was in emergency need of some unplanned maintenance. It left us on the side of the road, and as I walked home….I noticed one of the LGDs (that’s Livestock Guardian Dogs), licking a tiny, adorable kid. It was three pm and over six hours went by before we were able to turn our attention to caring for the wee beasts, who had chilled. We tried our best to save them, but they only made it for a few days.
“If only I had pens for expectant Mamas,” I thought. I researched. I looked at all sorts of sheds, stalls, etc. and nothing struck a chord. My favorite chicken coop I had made was my hoop coop – an 8×8′ wooden frame built with 2x4s with two cattle panels carefully secured in place over them. (Stationary versions are best served with T-posts to support the cattle panels, portable tractor versions need a frame at the bottom and ends). Add a tarp and you have a quick and easy shelter.
Well….I need fencing for my sheep and goat friends. So, here is my design. A total of seven T-posts and four cattle (or better yet, livestock) panels – the fence like flexible ones, are the meat of this project. Add some tie wire, buckets for water and feed, possible fence or panel scraps to make hay feeders, tarp or canopy to cover (if not under a shed or barn….) and you have three small holding pens. Let me explain more!
Drive two t-posts just under 16′ apart, say about 15′, 9″ apart. Space two t-posts as evenly as possible between the first two. You may need a helper to very carefully bend a panel into a U-shape with each of its open ends resting between two of the t-posts. A third post will be added at the bottom of the U-shaped panel for extra support, and the remaining two posts will make up the likewise middle supports. Wire each of the panels firmly in place to the t-posts. Now is the time to add and fill water buckets (attach the bail of the bucket to the bottom-middle support t-post lest it get kicked over), make hay feeders, hang or attach feed buckets if you so desire, and add bedding. I use pine shavings and about two packages of compressed shavings should adequately cover the three pens.
If you are putting a shade canopy or “easy up” type shelter over the jugs, this is a good time to do so before you have critters in there who are, inevitably, horrified at the process and flipping out.
Now, attach ONLY ONE END of the last cattle panel to one end of an end pen – the goal is to lead or herd the animal into the pen nearest the connected “gate” panel that you just attached, then wire the panel to the next available T-post, leaving the panel curved to funnel in the next animal to the middle pen, where you can attach the gate then to the next available t-post and curve the rest of the panel to leave an opening for the third animal to get in to the pen, then wire the end of the panel to the remaining t-post. Huzzah! Some victory here.
If using a tarp over the jugs, it could be very carefully installed now. There is no “working” gate, if you need to attend to your animals you will need to carefully climb over the fencing. It seems to be the recommendation to keep lambs or kids penned up together for just a few days for monitoring, we have left ours in the “jugs” a little while longer. We have also used this system to hold a goat for veterinary care (your vet, however patient, does NOT want to troop all over your 10 acre pasture to find “Lucky” for whatever vetting is needed).
WARNING: Baby kids or lambs may very well be equipped to walk right through a cattle panel “jug” construction. If this is the only thing enclosing your little darlings, you may wish to use livestock panels with 2×4 spacing instead. You could wrap the whole thing with snow fencing, too, if you so desired to keep “everyone” in or out. This is a deterrent from most predators, a raptor would not be slowed down in the least by this unless you have a tarp or canopy over the top.