Any tree you are using should be healthy and strong (remember, they want to eat it). T-posts should be buried deep and in well-set soil (nothing sandy, muddy, etc.). While you can use rope, we have had a goat or two try to nibble on the ropes, though none of them ever chewed through it.
However, the simple attempt was enough that we now only use metal. I recommend linked chain for the lead. Use wire rope for a run. You can either thread the wire rope through the last link in the chain, or, if you want your lead to be removable from the run, use a pulley that you can attach a latch to.
As you consider what type of tie-out you want to use, consider how often you may have to move the goat. We have successfully used a 100 foot long run with the goat on a 15 foot lead, another much shorter but similar run, as well as a simple 20 foot lead attached to either a tree or T-post.
One tip about using a T-post: Use a large metal ring around the base of the post to attach the lead to. This lets the goat walk 360 degrees around the post with tangling.
Forage for Feed:
Your set-up and the amount of plant material in the area will determine how often your goat needs to be moved, assuming you do not plan to provide the feed yourself.
You can accomplish moving the animal in a number of ways – from the obvious of reattaching the lead to another tree further away, to this creative idea: We once were able to have a central tree, and a large circle of trees surrounding it, on which we attached a run line.
While the run remained attached to the central tree, we would move which tree the other end was attached to every few days. This, combined with a fairly short lead rope, allowed us to keep the goat in the area for a longer period of time.
When we changed which tree the outer part of the run was attached to, the area we were previously using had time to grow before the goat was ever moved back.
Also remember the water – and remember that your goat may enjoy tipping over any bucket you try to use. There are several ways to water, from a natural source, like a stream that happens to be in reach, to watering valves (watch the video above), to simply filling a bucket whenever it is low.
If you use a bucket, consider using stainless or galvanized steel tubs over rubber buckets. Despite all the advertising which says they will not grow mildew, etc., they will – and they are not easy to clean out.
Untangling Animal Leads: Finally – unless you get that 1 really smart goat, and we do have one (only one), they will get tangled. They will wander from tree to bush to tree again, not caring about the crazy mess of a wire they are weaving behind them.
Most of the time they will be caught up in small saplings, vines, or other thicket. Because of that, be sure to keep a good pair of garden loppers handy. This way, instead of trying to weave your goat back through the mess, you can just cut it. Make one cut above the wire first, then one below. The goat will feel the slack and try to move, freeing it.
Like this idea but do not think it is for you? Have you consider electric fencing? Click here to read our article about setting up an electric fence to contain goats.
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