Do you want to start a goat farm? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a goat farming business with NO money and no experience plus a sample goat farming business plan template. Starting a goat farming business requires careful thought and preparation because in addition to purchasing the livestock you will need to start your farm, you must also ensure that you have a reliable goat feed supplier and that the facility you intend to use is ready.
One question you must ask yourself before starting this business is why you are choosing to run a goat farm as opposed to the traditional dairy cow farm especially as goat milk is not widely consumed in the united states as opposed to cow milk even though goat milk is easily more digestible especially for those that are lactose intolerant.
It is important that you check the local zoning regulations before deciding to start your goat farm so that you do not end up wasting money in securing a place only to find that the local governments will not allow your business to run.
In checking for zoning regulations, you may need to contact the zoning board or other regional government offices in the area you are looking to start your goat farm in order to find out if there is a limit to certain breeds or any other limitations. Because there might be different regulations depending on what you intend to raise the goats for, it is vital that you clearly state your purpose of starting a goat farm.
You must decide on the number of goats which you are looking to raise for your goat farm as you cannot start your business with just one goat as goats are social animals who try to escape or act uncooperative when kept alone. You must also decide on the number of male and female goats you intend to purchase and know about the different kinds of goats that exist.
Goats are divided into three main types due to their sex; females (does), castrated males (wethers) and uncastrated males (bucks) and so knowing this might help you make the right decision. Due to the aggressiveness of bucks and strong odor, most goat farmers usually fill their farms up with does and then pay a goat farm with a buck for an opportunity to breed.
You should also select the age of the goats which you intend to raise, while young goats (kids) are easier to raise and cheaper too, they usually require at least a year of care before they can be bred, sold as meat or even produce meat and so you must take the cost of feeding for at least a year or two before generating revenue.
A junior kid takes less time to mature while an adult may be the cheapest option for your goat farm. Ensure that you select the breeds depending on what you are looking to achieve as some breeds are suited for milk production, others for meat production and others for their hair or hide.
Once you have made the decision regarding the age and breed of goats you want, it is essential that you plan out your costs as cost usually varies depending on the time and the region as well as the profit you will make from selling your goat products. It is essential that you talk to as many goat farmers as possible or read any recently published goat farming business guides peculiar to your location in order to have an idea of the expected costs and profits.
17 Steps to Starting a Goat Farming Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
The goat industry within the United States is growing and this can be credited to the changing demographics of the United States’ population which has caused an increase in demand for goat products as well as an increase in more goat hobby farming.
The popularity of goat meat in the United States can be attributed to the varied cultures that have become established within the country. It is therefore expected that the growth in the goat meat industry will continue as long as the ethnic population continues to grow within the United States as well.
There has been a growing interest in the consumption of goat meat and milk in the United States. Goats which are usually slaughtered in plants that have been inspected by the USDA has increased since 1999. The United States which had been a net exporter has changed to a net importer in the last decade as there has been an increase in the number of Asians, Hispanics and Muslims that have settled within the country during the same time period.
Another factor that caused the increase in demand for goat meat is the fact that it is regarded as healthy meat and because most Americans are now conscious of what they consume; it has created additional publicity for goat meat. There is also a great opportunity for value-added products in this industry and so goat farmers in the United States cannot only target new markets but can also diversify their farm products. There is however still need for increasing education to be conducted on the benefits of goat meat as well as strengthening of the market structure.
The current market for goat meat is not only confusing but also disjointed as there is a large number of unfilled demands for goat meat in several major cities across the United States especially in population centers where there is the Eastern seaboard.
The increase in demand has been linked to the growing segment of the population in North Carolina and also the Eastern part of the United States where there are a large number of ethnicities that prefer goat meat as opposed to other kinds of meat.
The United States has been a net importer of goat meat since 1991 and by 2014, more than 43 million pounds of goat meat valued at nearly $95 million had been imported compared to the over 2 million pounds valued at nearly $2 million that was imported in 1990.
There has been a dramatic increase in the price per pound as it went from $1.50 in 2009 to $2.17 in 2010 and then climbed to $2.61 in 2011 before decreasing to $2.19 in 2014. Over 90 percent of goat meat from 1991 has been imported from Australia with the exception of 5 years and the trend has ranged between 96 percent to more than 98 percent in the last 9 years.
According to experts, the published goat population statistics for the United States are quite low; however, a true estimate of the population of goats is complicated due to the fact that there are many uses for goats as well as the direct sales of goats to consumers with no passage through a traditional route.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who drive the demand for goat meat and its products include the Hispanics, Caribbean, Muslims, Chinese, Africans and a select number of Americans. However, in defining the demographics for your goat farm, try not to make it too restrictive so that it can accommodate other target markets.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Even though the largest market for goat products is the meat group, there are also other niches that are quite popular and lucrative and so if you are looking to start a goat farming business, ensure that you know the various niches that are available within the industry and that you have conducted a thorough research on these niches so that you do not end up wasting your time and efforts on a niche that will not be productive.
Below are some of the niche ideas within this particular business that you can specialize in;
- Goat meat production
- Dairy production
- Fiber or Hair
- Industrial uses
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Even though goat meat is not as widely consumed as cow meat, there are a lot of goat meat farmers in the United States especially as there are a wide uses for goat products, which therefore means that there will be stiff completion as already existing goat farmers look to keep a firm hold on their share of the market.
Even though those that largely consume goats are those from different ethnic diversities, it doesn’t lessen the fact of what they want when they buy their goat meats and so it is important that you breed your goats in quality condition. Even though there are still a lot of people who do not consume goat meat in the United States, there is still an ample demand market for those that do especially as demand has continually outweighed supply.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
The goat farm business in the United States is thriving due to the varying ethnic groups in America that consume goat meat. Aside from consuming goat meat, farmers in the United State also export goat products to different parts of the world. There are various goat farms all over the United State and while some are popular because they have been in existence for long, others are popular due to the breed of goats they rear.
Below are some of the well-known goat farms in the United States;
- Modern Farmer
- Shepherd Boy Farms
- R & R Meat Goat Farm
- Onion Creek Ranch
- Farm Flavor
Goat meat production is an alternative form of livestock production and is especially useful for inexperienced producers who intend learning new opportunities with which to expand their base of knowledge as there are primary areas that require continuing education such as reproduction management, breed options, health concerns and management and feeding and nutrition.
The production of goat meat within the United States is driven by the continual increase in ethnic diversity among the consumers. Demand for goat meat in the United States exceeds what is being supplied by the two largest exporters of goat meat to the country (Australia and New Zealand), which has caused an increase in domestic production in order to meet domestic demand. Imports from other countries are however being limited due to the disease status of livestock from the various countries.
According to a 2007 USDA-NASS data, more than 75 percent of the goat meat produced in the United States are from ten states – Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma and California. Texas led other states in the production with a 44 percent share in the total market, followed by Tennessee and then California.
The goat meat industry has several factors that seek to compromise its potential production and expansion such as inconsistent supply with which to satisfy demands during peak periods like religious holidays, non-standardization of production practices which has kept the industry still in a developmental stage as well as a limited number of USDA-inspected facilities across the country.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When looking to start a business, one decision that you will need to take is whether you should start your business from scratch or whether to buy a franchise from existing opportunities available. One thing you should note that while each option has its pros and cons, it is not an assurance that your business will become a success.
Which is why when making a decision; it is best to choose that which best aligns with your core goals and objectives. The livestock industry has few franchises in existence but there are currently no franchise opportunities available for entrepreneurs looking to start the goat farming business.
Starting a business from scratch can usually be overwhelming for an entrepreneur especially if you are new to the particular business you are running. Not only do you have to make your business a success but you also will be competing with already existing competitors for a share in the market.
This is why it is important that you have a business plan in place as you will be in control of all the major aspects of your business, from finance, marketing, stock and business management and so a business plan will help you be in control of the business and not feel overwhelmed.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Regardless of the industry that you are looking to start your business, it is imperative that you expect that threats and challenges will crop up and therefore have ready plans on how you will handle them when they do. You should however note that in livestock farming, there are some threats and challenges that you will not be able to easily handle and so when they occur, the best you can do is try to limit whatever damage that might be wrought on your farm, while remaining optimistic.
Some of the threats and challenges that you are likely to face when starting your goat farm business include; outbreak of diseases in farm, having to compete against already existing goat farms, popularity factor of the goat meat, strict industry regulations and startup capital.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
One very important decision that you will need to make when looking to start any business in the United States is what legal entity will be most appropriate for the business and this is because the legal entity you decide to choose for your business is likely to have an impact on several aspects of your business such as the daily operations, your responsibility as the owner and how the business can later expand.
If you aren’t sure of what legal entity will be best for your business, you can ask other goat or livestock farmers or engage the services of an attorney with knowledge about your kind of industry to help you out.
As an entrepreneur looking to start a goat farm in the United States of America, there are five basic legal entities that you can choose to start your business under and they include; sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC) or cooperative. The entities differ due to several attributes such as ownership and control, extent of liability, taxation structure and long term goals of the entrepreneur.
The sole proprietorship kind of legal entity is usually the simplest for any entrepreneurs in the livestock industry to form as about 35 percent of livestock farms in the United States run under this entity. Under this entity, the farmer is in complete control of the farm and while he enjoys all the profits, he is also help liable for all debts accrued by the farm.
In the livestock industry, most farmers come together to form an LLC and then they all abide by an operating agreement that govern the daily operations of the business. About 35 percent of livestock farmers in the United States have their farms under the LLC structure. One major advantage of the LLC over the sole proprietorship is that the farm is regarded as a separate entity from the owner and so should the farm incur any loss; the personal assets of the farmer won’t be affected.
About 24 percent of livestock farmers in the United States choose a corporation but the corporation which is usually owned by shareholders and regarded as separate from the owners (shareholders) is usually not so easy to form and requires a lawyer to handle all the formalities.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
While having a business idea and the capital to start the business is fantastic, you can only begin legal steps to starting your business by giving it a name. A business name just like an individual name helps to set your business apart from others in the same industry and so it is necessary that the business name be unique, catchy, easily memorable and indicative of the industry you are in.
You can decide to use your own name for your goat farm or come up with a fictitious name. Some of the catchy business names that are suitable for your goat farming business include;
- Ben Goat Farms Inc
- Calder’s Ranch
- Green Livestock Farms
- Swig and Sons Goat Farm
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Running any livestock business can be quite risky as there are many unpredictable events that can occur and destroy all your investment and so it is usually necessary to protect your business against natural and manmade disasters. Buying an insurance policy for your goat farm protects you against the risks that you are likely to encounter when running the business.
However, before you decide to set aside a budget for the insurance you intend to purchase, it is best that you engage the services of a real estate agent in order to find out what insurance policies will best suit your goat farm. Some of the insurance policies that you should consider purchasing when looking to start your goat farming business in the United States include;
- General Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Auto Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Theft and Burglary
- Property Insurance
- Hazard Insurance
- Casualty Insurance
- Equipment Insurance
- Business Interruption Insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
The goat farm business involves raising goats for consumption or industrial purposes and so applying for an intellectual property is not what you should be concerned about especially as farm work is one that is hands-on. However, you can decide to apply for intellectual property protection for the name of your company, logo or any other material you deem necessary. It is however not considered as a priority by entrepreneurs in this industry.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Most goat farms in the United States are inherited properties with only a few new goat farms in existence and since farming requires time, dedication and skills; it is not considered necessary for you to get a professional certification before you can successfully run your goat farm.
This does not however mean that you cannot get professional certification in certain courses like animal husbandry or livestock or even in business in order to give you leverage amongst other goat farmers.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Regardless of the business you are looking to start in the United States, it is necessary that you have legal documents in place so that you do not run into trouble with the authorities especially as the livestock business is in a highly regulated industry. If you do not know what documents you will need, engage the services of an attorney to help you out.
Some of the legal documents that you would require when looking to run your goat farming business include;
- Business Plan
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Business License and Permit
- Insurance Policy
- Employment Agreement
- Contracts Document
- Employee Identification Number (EIN)
- Federal Tax Identification Number
- Sales Tax Permit
- Food Handler Permit
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Deciding to run a goat farm without having the necessary capital means you are already starting a failed venture because your business doors will not open for long, no matter what fantastic ideas you might have. A business requires money to run before it can start making profit which might not be immediately.
Some of the financial options that you can explore when looking to start your goat farming business are;
- Generate startup capital with your savings or revenue from sale of property
- Source for soft loan from friends and family members
- Get a private investor or business partner to commit funds to your goat farm
- Apply to the commercial bank for a loan
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Most goat farmers live in the countryside or start a farm in the country side and so why location might be a big deal for other businesses, it is not so for a goat farm because once you have gotten the property in an area that is suitable, then you can start right away to raise your goats especially as those that will be visiting your farm are those who want to buy whole goats, butchery or supermarkets and grocery stores.
If you are living on a property that is not allowed to raise goats on a large scale, then you might need to source for an appropriate place you can use in raising your goats on a large scale. This is the reason why having a business plan is important because it gives you an idea of what size will be most suitable for your goat farm.
If you are going to be leasing or buying a land to run your goat farm, ensure that you have conducted proper research on whether it is within the regulated zone allowed for your kind of business else you will waste time leasing a property only to find out that you cannot run your business there.
You might need to consult with a real estate agent or broker with experience in your kind of industry to help in choosing an appropriate location for your goat farm, if you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location. It is important that the location you have chosen for your goat farm can be easily accessed by your intending customers as well as employers (if you are going to hire any). Also, the area should be conducive for the goats.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Goats are regarded as multi-purpose animals due to the fact that they can be used for companionship, consumption and industrial purposes. There are so many products that are gotten from goat milk alone and these include yoghurt, cheese, soaps and pharmaceuticals. Goats are regarded as excellent pack animals that can navigate terrains that mules and horses cannot. One unique characteristic of the goat industry is that it can be raised for food, fiber production or as pets.
Within the United States, there are approximately 11 breeds of goats that are being raised majorly for milk and meat purposes. The importation of live goats for breeding purposes into the United States has been restricted due to the incidence of diseases in other countries.
Importation of live goats has majorly been from Canada and Australia, with that of Canada ending in 2003. The meat goat breeding herd in the United States has been self-sustaining after the initial influx of Boer or Kiko goats into the country between mid to late nineties.
During breeding and selection, it is important to take note of certain considerations such as multiple births, rapid growth, twice-a-year kidding, color standards and good conformation. Due to the fact that income is usually derived from the sale of kids, it is necessary that multiple births be given a high priority. A good reproductive performance by a breed can point to compatibility of the environment that the breed is in.
Due to fact that goats are excellent at climbing over low fencing or crawling through small gaps, you must ensure that your fences are at least five feet or higher and that there are sturdy wire fencing strung between the posts so as to make it harder for them to climb. You will also need to build a goat shelter to protect your goats during winter and rain.
Acquiring supplies for your goat farm is absolutely necessary and so you will need to compare various grains in order to determine which will be not only nutritious but also cost-effective for feeding the goats you are looking to raise. It is essential that the feed has significant amounts of calcium and phosphorus in a ratio that will prevent health problems for your goats. Certain feeds might require that you get additional mineral supplements.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Goat farmers usually either sell live goats directly to consumers who slaughter the goats themselves or provide the service of slaughtering the goats on behalf of the consumer.
Sometimes live goats are sold at auction houses which may either be virtual, through video or live and once the right price has been bid on the goat, the goats are then delivered in trailer loads to metropolitan market, where there are a number of slaughter houses that process the goats for the meat market.
The availability of Halal slaughter is very important in the continued processes involved in the goat farming business as many of the ethnic groups that demand goat meat are Muslims.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
In order to generate revenue that will grow and sustain the business, it usually has to engage in an awareness campaign that seeks to not only make customers aware of the business but also to convince them on the need to patronize their products or services. Marketing activities are usually sensitive because you must be able to anticipate the needs of your intended target market and then ensure that the needs are being met.
However, to be able to identify these needs; you would need to conduct a thorough market research. The point of a market research is not only so that you can identify your target market and know what is they expect from you but it also enables you to identify your competitors and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are in order that you might be able to compete fairly against them.
Once you have had a thorough understanding of the industry, you can then write out your marketing policies regarding what you intend to achieve in the short and long term before crafting strategies that will enable you to achieve your goals and objectives.
You might need to engage the services of a marketing consultant who has a deep knowledge of your industry to help you out. This does not however mean that you won’t monitor the strategies in order to determine their effectiveness from time to time.
Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies for your goat farm;
- Create a YouTube channel and guide people through the art of raising different goat breeds
- Ensure that your goat farm business is listed in your state’s farmers’ guide, yellow pages as well as online directories
- Ensure that you place adverts in local newspapers, agricultural and food magazines as well as on local radio and television stations about your goat farm
- Attend livestock farmers seminars and conventions in order to remain aware of industry trends and regulations while also using the chance to market your business
- Engage in direct sales of live goats to your different customers
- Install flexi banners in various strategic locations in order to create awareness for your goat farm
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
No entrepreneur wants to start a business that will not attain visibility because it is through positive visibility that a business can grow and achieve its goals and objectives. Boosting awareness for one’s brand achieves a dual purpose because while more people get to know about the business, a percentage of them will actually take a step to patronize the business.
Before you can however engage in any publicity activities or craft any strategies, it is essential that you understand the market well so that you have an idea of which publicity strategies will work for you. Boosting awareness for your brand not only helps you to penetrate the market and get the attention of your intended target market, it also ensures that you are able to get a fair share of the market for yourself whilst competing against your competitors.
Even though there are huge benefits attached to boosting awareness for your brand, it is important to know that what works for one brand might not work for yours which is why it is necessary to understand the market well and constantly monitor your strategies so that you can find out which strategies are working for you and which aren’t.
Technology has helped farmers to accomplish a lot as they are able to reach a wider market than was previously possible. It is also very cost effective for farmers as the internet and social media platforms have opened up a lot of avenues. It is however important to note that not all publicity activities require spending money before it can be regarded as effective.
Below are some of the strategies which you can use to boost awareness for your brand and create a corporate identity for your goat farm;
- Ensure that you create a website to use in creating awareness for your goat farm
- Encourage your loyal customers to help spread the word about your goat farm
- Join your local farmers association in order to network and create awareness for your goat farm
- Advertise your goat farm in popular online forums in order to create awareness for your farm
- Ensure that you place adverts about your goat farm in local newspapers and magazines as well as on radio stations
- Get a Facebook and Twitter account and use this to create awareness about your goat farm