When fighting weeds and unwanted vegetation, homeowners and farmers alike usually turn to chemicals or tools. However, there is a completely natural solution that has been used for thousands of years- goats. Goat grazing is becoming an increasingly popular way to clear vegetation and weeds all over the country.
What is Goat Grazing?
Aaron has a professional background in urban and community planning, but grew up visiting the family farm in Iowa. Here he would help with farm chores, learn the ins and outs of the farming business, and spend time with his cousins.
When looking at a career, unfortunately farmland in Iowa is hard to break into if you are not grandfathered in through family land. In fact, it could cost up to $20,000 per acre of farmland in Iowa!
Deciding on another approach, Aaron decided to go to school and get a degree in urban planning. However, he never lost the farming itch, and decided to invest in a handful of goats. It was with this small herd that he found his unconventional path into agriculture.
Starting a Goat Grazing Business
Aaron’s first business was Goats On The Go, a “targeted grazing” business that utilized goats to clear land of unwanted vegetation and weeds. After launching, Aaron was overwhelmed by the amount of demand they saw. Not only were their goats working around the clock on different projects, other farmers from all over the country were looking for guidance on how to grow their own goat grazing business.
From here, Aaron started an affiliate network of like-minded goat grazing businesses sharing the Goats On The Go brand, and eventually purchased the online directory of goat grazing companies, HireGoats.com. With the Goats On The Go affiliate network and HireGoats.com, Aaron has built a deeply engaged community of goat raisers. Additionally, there is an annual conference that brings together goat grazers from all over the country.
What Is the Business Model for Goat Grazing?
The business of raising and renting out goats is quite straightforward. While it depends on the location and time of year, the largest expense associated with goat grazing is feed. The cost of maintaining a goat herd is roughly about 85 cents per goat per day, however this also is where the business thrives.
During the busy season, the cost of feeding goats goes down significantly to essentially zero, as they are feeding on the clients’ vegetation. This becomes very lucrative for the goat grazers, as their operating costs are reduced significantly. For grazers in warm climates like California and Texas, this means that their feed cost is much lower due to the nearly year round demand.
In fact, you do not even need to own the goats themselves to start a goat grazing business. Many grazers lease their goats from a goat producer for the growing season, which is about 6-8 months out of the year in temperate climates. Once the busy season is finished, you return the goats. That being said, you still need to have an understanding of livestock and agriculture in order to lease goats. However, this offers a lower barrier to entry for prospective goat grazers.
Who Are the Primary Customers?
On the surface, it seems that farmers with large amounts of land would be the primary customers for a goat grazing business. However, that actually isn’t the case. Farmers have a hard time getting behind paying another farmer to bring their animals on their land to feed. To them, they can just do this themselves by investing in a few goats (Aaron made sure to note though that it actually is still beneficial for farmers to use a goat grazing service instead of investing in goats themselves!)
Some of the largest customers end up being landowners with large lots, rural fringe suburbs, rural estates, and smaller hobby farms. Additionally, people with second homes often hire goat grazing services for yard upkeep on their recreational home.
On top of the private sector, many local governments hire Goats On The Go and similar companies for local parks and trail systems. Vegetation can quickly get out of control at local parks and trails, and goats are the perfect solution for managing this.
What Is the Future of the Goat Grazing Business?
Aaron’s primary goal with Goats On The Go and HireGoats.com is to help farmers across the country to be successful regardless of their starting point and scale. Many farmers do not have much experience with raising goats, and the community that Aaron has started is proving to be invaluable to help grow business.
In addition to goats, “Solar Grazing” is starting to become increasingly popular. As more utilities companies are adopting solar power, a large challenge is convincing landowners to use acreage for solar power as opposed to traditional farmland. Solar grazing is the solution to this- by planting good pastures under a solar farm, you can effectively raise sheep under the solar installations. This is a sustainable compromise that allows for land to be used in multiple ways.
In addition to expanding into solar grazing, Aaron also runs the Farm Dog podcast, a podcast focused on the working dogs of farming and ranching.