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When overgrown brush or other large patches of ground must be shorn of grass and weeds, the goat rental business provides an environmentally responsible way of cutting and even naturally fertilizing the land. Also known as goatscaping, the goat use enables landowners to landscape without chemical fertilizers, gasoline, or the risk to human mowers of steep or uneven ground or poisonous weeds and thistles.
Who is this business right for?
Since a herd of at least four goats requires a certain amount of space, this business might be ideal for a farmer or landowner with at least an acre or more of real estate within zoning that allows livestock. You should also have a basic understanding of how to care for a herd of goats, and enough knowledge of vegetation to know weeds or plants that might be harmful to your herd and those plantings that your goats will ignore.
On top of that, you should be skillful at convincing sometimes dubious prospects that your business had advantageous over conventional landscaping and mowing techniques.
What happens during a typical day at a goat rental business?
Your typical workday could consist of a range of activities including:
- Feeding and caring for your herd, including hoof trimming, birthing, observing health, dealing with a livestock vet and other responsibilities
- Promoting your business
- Selling your services to individual prospects
- Transporting your herd to customer locations and setting up fencing or providing human supervision
- Picking up your herd and receiving payment for your services
- Paying bills, maintaining your books and conducting the typical responsibilities of business ownership
What is the target market?
Although some goat rental businesses have golf course and homeowner customers, goatscaping works best on less well-sculpted lawns. That’s because the goats might not eat everything on the land, and could cut vegetation to varying heights.
Therefore, many goat rental businesses look for municipal and Department of Transportation customers in charge of large underdeveloped tracts of land such as empty or abandoned properties or commercial strips of brush that need clearing. Fire departments can also be customers, especially in parts of the country where overgrown public lands present wildfire risks. Wetlands and steep property are also perfect for this business model.
Other customer types would include municipalities, commercial, and even residential landowners with strong feeling on ecology who would prefer a more environmentally safe and even beneficial mowing solution.
How does a goat rental business make money?
There are various ways of charging for the business. Smaller operations might consider it as a way of feeding their herd for free and only charge for transport and the hourly rate of a herder to oversee the goats. Larger operations might charge on a per-goat basis or per-day for the herd.
What is the growth potential for a goat rental business?
As environmental concerns grow, so can the business of cutting grass in an environmentally responsible way. Wildfire concerns and reduced hiring of municipal maintenance workers can also boost your business.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful goat rental business?
You should be able to look after herds of livestock and make the sale. Once hired, you need to be able to make your herd feel safe, comfortable and motivated to get the job done without damaging the property.
What are the costs involved in opening a goat rental business?
Goats need a certain environment and amount of land in which to be raised and housed. Thus, you should own at least a small farm or an acreage before considering goat rental as a business. With that as a given, here are your likely startup costs.
- Goats: $75-$300+
- Transport: $10,000-$20,000+. You will need a stock trailer in order to transport your goats, the size of which depends on the size of your herd. Here are some examples of typical transport.
- Goat care: ~$350 per year. Goat care may be more or less expensive, but will include medicine, food, etc.
- Goatscaping equipment
Marketing and promotional -- $500 to $2,000 per year, or more. This can include logo development and signage, a website and marketing materials. Here’s an example of the marketing and promotional image of one business.
Legal and insurance -- $1,000 or more. You should have a lawyer write a basic contract for customers and carry liability insurance in case your herd strays or gets in trouble with homeowners.
Staffing -- Zero to $10,000 or more per year. This is highly variable depending on whether you set up your business to run it solo or only use employees to transport your herd to and from locations. In some business models, the herd renters are responsible for basic care, and employees are only needed to drive and to set up and take down electric fencing (which can take as long as four hours, depending on area). In other models, you might want someone on hand all day to protect and oversee the herd. Another form of “free” labor might be herding dogs who can protect the herd from such predators as coyotes or other dogs.
What are the steps to start a goat rental business?
Once you're ready to start your goat rental business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your goat rental business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your goat rental business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Recommended: Fizzle.co offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for free.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a goat rental business?
Learn about your herd’s eating habits and where they’re likeliest to do the most good. Look for topography that challenges human mowers, such as heavy, dense brush, wetlands, steep hills, and rocky ground. And always be sure to stroll the grounds before accepting an order, so you know that the job can be completed to customer satisfaction and the safety of your herd.
How to promote & market a goat rental business
Take advantage of the novelty and “cute” factor of your business. Approach the local media with a story that focuses on the silence of the herd (no noise pollution) and the ecological benefits.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Your best customers are those who have the largest headaches getting their ground mowed. Look for goat-friendly topography and call prospects directly. Shoot and post videos of your herd quietly munching away and show before and after shots of customer property. Once you’ve made a beneficial customer relationship, consider volume discounts for additional acreage or monthly retainers for repeat business on the same property.
How and when to build a team
You might stay solo, only obtaining enough business to keep you occupied and making your customers responsible for the basic care of your herd while on-premises. Alternatively, you might consider the need of one employee per herd. So if you get enough business to provide three herds on a regular basis, you’ll need three employees.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a goat rental business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
A goat rental business should create a services contract, which outlines the parameters of land removal, the price, and the expectations of the client. This agreement should also address what is to happen if the goats cause damage to any part of the client’s land. Here is an example service agreement.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your goat mowing business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
Certificate of Occupancy
A goat rental business is generally run out of a farm. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a goat rental business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your goat rental business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
How much can you charge customers?
Rates vary wildly depending on location and competitive pressure. One business charges $20 per goat, per day, while another charges $700 to $850 per four-goat herd on a weekly basis.
What are the ongoing expenses for a goat rental business?
Goat care, transportation, off-season feed, and labor costs will be your main ongoing expenses. While one business owner estimated annual goat care costs to be $350 per goat, total expenses will be determined by the size of your herd and the number of jobs you take on.
How much profit can a goat rental business make?
That’s variable depending on the size of your business, but check out this Shark Tank blog in which the owner of a goat business alluded to grossing $600,000 a year. More typically, your business might gross $750 a week per herd during grazing seasons.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Consider breeding some of your goats for sale. You can also take fuller advantage of the novelty of your business by renting your goats out for kids’ parties or other celebrations or events.
Or expand your business and take advantage of your knack for selling to landowner and municipal customers by also offering more traditional means of landscaping.