The goat rental business is one of the most flexible businesses in agriculture one can find as it can be set up in different ways as far as the type of animals the business utilizes. For many businesses, they use their breeding does, others will purchase animals each spring, feed them all summer, then sell them at the end of the season, so there isn’t as large of a feed bill over the winter. Some businesses lease goats from other producers to fill their need per job and some businesses may join two separate herds to fill a job site. Then there are businesses that just rent the goats and let the renter manage the animals.
There are advantages and disadvantages for these options and each operation is different, so it is up to the individual business to make those decisions and since the industry is still growing, other ideas may come up with the creativity of a new business owner. Let’s take a look at some of the options.
Advantages: You own the goats, know their animals and their personalities, making it easy to spot any physical or herd issues.
Disadvantages: You need to kid out in January, February and March to be able to wean kids off before the season starts or you will have to consider hauling kids with their mothers. Some businesses do haul kids and does but special care when loading onto trailers and ensuring the kids are all accounted for and they need to be trained to the electric netting. And kidding on job site has its own issues; keeping track of newborns and their mothers can be a nightmare.
Purchasing Goats Annually
Advantages: Purchasing the goats prior to the season, you can select animals that are on the thin side and fatten them up so you will have not only an income from the weed and brush control but also from selling a fattened animal. Also, you don’t have that expensive winter or off season feed bill. If you are wanting to build a herd of does, this is a way to purchase animals, watch them grow and develop before you decide which animals you want to keep or sell. The animals earn their keep by working for you. In addition, if you purchase all wethers, you don’t have to worry about heat cycles disturbing the herd when they should be grazing.
Disadvantages: You need to find quality animals to purchase and you won’t find that at a sale barn. You will need to find herds that are liquidating wethers, young does that are culled from the herd or older animals that have aged out of a breeding program. You also need to train the animals to the electric netting and loading and unloading from your transport. You may need to retain some animals over the winter as ‘trainer goats.’ Other considerations are the worm load these animals may or may not have. They will all need to be pre-conditioned prior to the grazing season. Some animals may die in accidents or illness, which cuts into the re-sale profits.
Advantages: Like purchasing goats every year, leasing goats can be a way to keep initial costs down, by leasing a herd from a producer means you don’t have to feed animals over the winter.
Disadvantages: This is a legal agreement, and you are responsible for animals lost or injured. The goat owner can become difficult to deal with or may require certain guarantees or a fee for leasing the animals. You may have to deal with mismanagement issues of the owner, such as heavy worm loads, lack of veterinarian care or you may have to vaccinate the animals.
Joining Two Herds
Advantages: When you need extra animals for larger jobs, you have a partner who can share some of their animals. You work with someone you know and can rely on.
Disadvantage: Biosecurity measures will have to be taken to ensure cross contamination does not occur. You may have to keep animals in separated paddocks on the same job site if you don’t have easy identification tags or collars.
There is a lot of flexibility setting up a goat rental business. You can try the various ways to manage your goats and find the one that works for you. For the past five seasons, I have used a herd of goats that was co-owned with my landlord. After changing some management strategies, the 2021 grazing season, I will purchase part of my work crew and lease the rest of the crew from a friend for a small fee. This may add to my expenses, but it will give me the freedom to work with my friend who has some great breeding plan ideas as well a more modern-day approach to managing goats.
If you have questions about setting up a goat rental business, please do not hesitate to email me. I would be more than happy to advise you and share my experiences. Here is my email address.
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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