Last week I wrote about how you can start a business cleaning up after other people’s pets. I was still thinking along the lines of pet-oriented businesses when I saw an article recently in the local paper about another interesting business opportunity for animal-loving entrepreneurs.
More and more cities and towns have been relaxing local ordinances to allow backyard beehives and chicken coops. People like knowing where their food comes from (though I’m not suggesting a side business selling honey or eggs… that may be a blog topic for another day!). They also like the idea of greener living in general; for instance, environmentally-sound lawn care methods. But how can you keep a large property clear without using pesticides or gas-guzzling machinery?
With the search for greener solutions, it was inevitable that someone would start a business clearing brush the old-fashioned way – by turning a herd of goats loose on it. I did some Googling, and I found that there are entrepreneurs out there making decent money renting goats or sheep to property owners who need to get rid of a large amount of unwanted vegetation. In fact, speaking of Google, they’re always ahead of the curve! They actually hired a herd of rental goats to mow the lawn at their Mountain View, California, campus.
Goat-based yard care is a green solution for clearing weeds and brush – pesticide-free, no noise or fumes from lawn mowers (OK, maybe some goat fumes, but as far as I know, they’re not toxic!), and they even throw in their own fertilizer for free! In fact, animal mowing actually inhibits weed regrowth – the seeds are sterilized in the animals’ digestive systems. Plus, goats can get to places where lawn-care equipment can’t go because of the terrain.
It will take a herd of 60 goats about three to five days to clear out a quarter acre of dense vegetation. The goats will eat just about any kind of plants… berry brambles, all types of weeds, even poison oak and poison ivy! And they especially seem to love kudzu, an invasive species that has caused terrible problems in the Southeast.
To get started in your rent-a-goat business, you’ll need to acquire a herd of goats and a location to adequately pasture and shelter them. You’ll also need transportation to get the goats to the locations where they’re needed, as well as food and veterinary care to keep your workers happy and healthy.
One such company in the Seattle area, Rent-A-Ruminant, boasts a herd of over 100 hungry goats who clean up construction sites, school grounds, and private business sites. The company puts up an electric fence around the land containing the unwanted greenery and turns the goats loose! Rent-A-Ruminant charges $750 a day for the average assignment with a three-day minimum and a setup fee/transportation charge of $350 to $500. The website Goatfinder.com actually provides a listing of goat-rental companies organized by state.
If you enjoy working with animals and like to work independently outdoors, you might consider being a “Goatherd-For-Hire.” And it’s a pretty sweet gig for the goats, too – eating their way from banquet to banquet!