A brushy backyard before goat mowing.
The same property after mowing with goats. Photos by Mary Powell
In 2016, I decided that I needed to be my own boss, so I could chose when I could work as my life had changed drastically after having West Nile Virus. I couldn't work the 12 to 16 hours a day working for others, I needed to be able to take breaks to rest. So, I looked into the goat rental industry.
Yes, goat herders do rent out goats to do weed and brush control and you don't need very many animals to make good money battling weeds but it does help if you do large properties. This blog will cover what I have learned as a goat rental professional and if you are interested in becoming a goat rental professional, I can tell you that there is a need for us as once people find out about you, the business will keep you busy. The beauty of the business is that you can chose what you want to do and the best part, people pay you to feed your goats for free!
Some basics of the business include having a way to transport your animals, electro netting to contain the goats and a proper fence energizer, and animals that will honor the fences and are fairly easy to manage (goats learn to load and unload once they figure out this game).
Make a goat rental business plan. If you chose to do this as a business, you will need a business plan to get started. My banker laughed at me when I first mentioned what I wanted to do. After four months, he realized I was serious and he told me to throw together a plan and bring it to him. I managed to pull together information sheets, research papers and some pretty convincing estimated incomes. I got the small loan to buy 10 fences, an energizer and some camping gear (I had a pickup and stock trailer). I had 75 does to haul to the job site, so all I had to do was train them to the fences ahead of our first jobs and figure out how to haul water to the site.
Carrying water. I purchased a food-grade chemical tote to haul 300 gallons of water for $35, and I carry it on the back of my pickup — it provides drinking water for the goats, dogs and me (I use it for cooking and washing as well). I also let the customer know that if we run out, they will need to provide a place for me to fill up so we can have drinking water. The tote is strapped in the front of the trailer hitch on the flatbed, so you need a full length pickup bed or you need to haul it in the stock trailer with the goats. You don't have to use this idea but it is an example of how we manage our water issue.
Setting pricing is another issue that take considerable thought. Some businesses charge a transport fee, set-up fee and a daily rate per goat. I chose to make things more simple as some customers balk at all the different fees. I set up a daily flat rate for rural jobs and a separate rate for jobs in the cities (because it is more stressful and usually requires me to hire some help). My transport fees and set up fees are included in the fee. I also try to have more than one job in the area of Kansas I am headed to, so I can spread out the fuel expenses.
Do you leave your goats unattended? Not all goat rental professionals stay with their animals 24/7, but I do, because many times I am more than an hour away from home, and I don't want to leave my animals unattended or to the mercy of people who may want to harm them. My business insurance also requires me to be within 30 minutes of the animals at all times. So when I travel, I camp out on the job site unless it is a day job that I can travel to, complete and get home by dark.
Do you have questions? I am sure you do. We will start covering some of those questions as I share what I have learned. You can contact me by email, to learn more.
Mary Powell is a goat rental business owner and agricultural educator with 30 years’ experience working on ranches, farms and feedyards. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Kansas State University with an emphasis in Livestock Production Management. Follow Mary and her many misadventures with the goats on Facebook at Barnyard Weed Warriors and Ash Grove Goat Ranch or on her BarnyardWeedWarriors.com
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