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Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


Starting a Rotational-Grazing Goat-Rental Service, Part 2: When Things Go 'Baahd'

Read Part 1 of this series here.

We started getting calls! The problem? The calls were from out-of-state. We added in mileage and the "goat rate." Some people were willing to pay this, but I wanted to contact our State Agriculture Department to see what permits we had to acquire before taking the goats out of state.

Goats waiting

When Things Start to Go 'Baah’d'!

Why is it nothing to do with farming is ever simple? Well, the State Vet told me we would have to have a health certificate on all the goats going out. I was thinking maybe a herd certificate but not all.

And, we would have to have a vet in whatever state we had them in create a health certificate before bringing them back into the state (we are located in North Carolina). I don't know if all states have this requirement, but I would suggest checking into it before taking animals out of state.

We tried to focus on local work for the goats. Many of the calls we got were from people who had the mindset that a lot of people do: Well, if they're "brush goats" why can't you just stake them? NO, NO, NO — and did I say NO?

Have a Plan, and A Second Plan

Make sure you know what you need to know about the basic safety and maintenance of goats to begin with. What are their needs when it comes to health, shelter, food, etc.? Also, what are concerns such as plant toxins and predators?

Each state is different on their requirements for moving animals in/out of state. Contact your State vet. You can Google search "Dept. of Ag (your state)" and this will usually give you a site with contacts for each department. Find out what permits and license is needed for your state.

If you are taking a job that is inside city limits, you may need a temporary permit for the goats. The property owner can check on this and it is their responsibility to have the correct permits.

You should decide on a “generic” application for your customers to sign. Make sure they understand your terms before either side agrees and signs. There are no set standards. Really what works for you and your animals.

When you are deciding how you will run your business, you may want to look at these options.

You can take jobs that are close enough you can do daily, 8- to 10-hour, trips or you can take larger jobs taking up to 3 to 4 weeks to finish. With these trips, you need to decide whether or not you want to take a camper/tent and stay with your herd or if you want to make arrangements to check on them weekly.

Setup depends on which of the above options you have chosen.

Now, Lets Get to Work!

You always make an initial visit to the property before taking the goats. You need to do a walk-around of the area to be cleared. Make sure there are no toxic plants that the goats can eat. See if the property already has fencing, because if not, you will need to prepare for this.

Does the property have accessible water for the goats? If not, you must provide water while they are on the property. Ask about predators. Coyotes or neighboring dogs. Does the property have shelter (can be a lean-to) for the goats to get into away from rain and drafts? If not, you must prepare. This way, you can get a “feel” for how many goats you need and supplies you will need to take. You can also give an estimate of your total fee.

You will need a vehicle and trailer for hauling your goats. Whatever you haul the animals in needs to be covered.

You will need temporary fencing. Premier 1 is a good source for fencing needs. If the area is remote you may need a solar charger. These can be found at Amazon.com. Your job may require temporary shelter. There are animal huts available at FarmTek. You may also need watering containers for the goats while they are away.

Fenced in

Which Goats Should You Employ (and How Many)?

Deciding which goats to take out, I would suggest wethers for this type of work. I would not suggest intact bucks. This could prove dangerous. I would not suggest does in milk or very young goats. You could take unbred does if you must.

How many goats do you need to take out? That all depends on the size of the area needing clearing. For instance, if you have somewhere around an acre...you would need 3-5 goats. This would probably take about 3 weeks for the goats to eat it down.

If you’re doing day trips, you can stay with the goats and you don’t need to worry about shelter. Some people cannot spare the help to be away from the farm that long and opt for the other choice. If you’re leaving the goats make sure you come to check on them at least 1time per week. Anything could go wrong and you may be liable for any damage if they happen to get out while you’re not there.

Sample Pricing

If you have approx. an acre and that requires 3 goats for approx. 3 weeks and you need temporary fencing (solar-powered electric) that would run $125.00/week+: $100.00 one-time set up fencing fee + $100.00 delivery/mileage. Total for the job would be $575.00.

Require a $100.00 set-up fee when job is scheduled. Require a $100.00 delivery/mileage to be paid when goats are delivered, and finally, $125.00 at the end of each week the goats stay.

This can be broken down if you decide to do daily trips. Just make sure your customer is aware and understands your terms. Make sure there is a signed agreement. Remember this is just a basis for you to work from.

Now, go out there and put those goats to work!

Note: We no longer offer goat rentals. We are trying to let people who are interested in this idea know how to go about it without wasting so much time and energy as we did.

Susan Tipton-Fox continues the farming and preserving practices that had been passed down to her by her family. She presents on-farm workshops in Yancey County, North Carolina, and growing her on-farm agritourism by promoting "workshop stays" on the farm (extending the farm experience). Find Susan on Facebook, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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