A new project idea: getting youth involved and boarding goats

With fall quickly approaching, it has me reflecting on my most recent endeavor here on the farm and how our future farmers and ranchers might get involved or stay involved in goating. Often, even as adults, we want the quick payoff but we all know goat ranching requires hard work and determination. Again though, how do we ensure the future — ensure might be a lofty goal — but there are certainly interesting aspects of goat ranching, raising goats for meat or breeding or both that often pique our kids’ interest.

Whether it is tracking the data, drawing blood, giving vaccinations or selling the meat, we get questions from local kids weekly about goats and what you need to do to run a successful busi- ness.

So how do we draw our younger generation in and keep them engaged. Let’s face it, we are all intrinsically and extrinsically motivated by something — so we just need to capitalize on that to get kids involved. I know it’s easier said than done sometimes.

In any case, my latest endeavor has

us offering a new service: boarding goats, which I think just might be a great chance to help cover hay costs in the cooler months and also an opportunity to keep kids engaged with a potential revenue stream that has a regular monthly payoff.


The list of services is endless. There may even be other more costly services you could offer including AI, breeding and kidding services. You might say to yourself: who in their right mind would pay for having a goat boarded? Well, I said the same thing until I was ap- proached about boarding. Of course, I have many reservations about the idea of boarding goats. I will come back to that in a minute.

The cost to board a goat is probably more money than the goat is worth. That is what most would say. Then again, we all have something we invest our money in for a hobby. It is just that some hobbies are more eccentric than others.

In the case of boarding a goat, poten- tial clients may wish to have something that they can come visit, walk, talk to (yes talk to), want to train for packing and hik- ing but don’t want to build barns or sheds to house their goats, yet still want the com- panion. Maybe not quite a dog but pretty close, at least that is what I have found over the years.

Proposal would give kids a place for their goats to live. Now you might say boarding goats — I’ve never heard of that.

Me neither. Boarding horses is a norm. We see it all over the country. Everyone wants a horse but they aren’t interested in the daily grind of taking care of it or the short and long term expenses of having a farm or ranch. But they do want the ability to call something their own and be able to visit as often as they wish. Ultimately, it gives the owner all the freedom in the world to do as they wish and know their animal is being cared for in their ab- sence. Often customers only want one goat and, of course, we know goats are herd animals so boarding also makes good sense for those that just want one goat. Wait, let’s back up. What exactly is boarding? Whether a horse, goat, pig or whatever animal we might be exploring, the short of it is that boarding is sort of like rental housing for the animal of choice. The longer version is that boarding can include a wide variety of serv- ices but typically includes the basics: shelter, hay/water and security. Other services that might be offered include administering med- ication or giving vaccinations, drawing blood samples, riding lessons (for horses), pack goat or cart pulling training, learning to lead an animal, grooming, hoof trimming, fecal testing, etc.

12 Goat Rancher | September 2021

Of course, boarding a goat might mean you are opening your farm or herd to potential hazards. This is where my reser- vations come from but I believe there are ways to combat these possible issues. Many goat breeders have completely closed herds to prevent the transmission of

diseases. I personally have a closed herd but like many when I do bring a new animal in from another herd, I isolate, draw blood and test for common diseases like Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE), Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL), Johne’s Disease (JD) and Queensland Fever (Q-Fever) and collect a fecal sample to test for Coccidia, Stron- gyloides, Nematodirus, Trichuris, Moniezia (Tapeworm) or various other Strongylids including Haemonchus Contortus, the infamous Barber Pole.

Once we have the results of these tests and a sufficient isolation period has passed to ensure other potential issues are not likely a threat, like pink eye, pneumonia, or the common cold, then we allow the goat to join the herd.

Whether you use this approach or you run a separate herd for your boarded goats, testing and isolation reduces the threat of pos- sible problems in the future. Ultimately, though, I think the reward or payoff outweighs the challenges or extra work that might be in- volved to board a goat.

So how much do you charge for a service like this? That is a

good question. With the rising prices of hay the boarding service fee must also adjust accordingly. Without getting into calculations, you

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