Business plans are an essential part of starting any farming endeavor—even, or perhaps especially, goat farming. Goats, are after all, ornery creatures, and anything you can do to help smooth the pathway to success will save you headaches in the long-run.
While good business plan can help you get funding through farm-related grants, loans and crowdfunding websites, it’s perhaps even more important in helping you nail down the nuts and bolts of your operation. Thinking about your future goat farm and putting your plan to pen and paper is the first step to ensuring a successful business. Here, we’ll walk you through a business plan for beginners, which will help you decide if a goat farm is right for you and help you begin to build your new venture.
How To Know If A Goat Business Is Right For You
Here are the three best ways to determine if a goat farm is the business for you:
- Do some market research to learn the demand for your products. Specifically, go to local farmers markets and retailers to see what’s available that might be similar. Use Google to research farms nearby that raise goats and see what products they sell. Ask your friends and neighbors what they think about your idea—you may find your market closer to home than you realized.
- Visit other goat farmers to get a feel for what all goes into the daily operations. Ask them questions about upfront costs and where to focus your money. Be specific, asking for makes and models of machines and materials they use. Always ask what those farmers would do differently if they could do it all again—their insights can be very helpful.
- Look at your terrain and forage to see if it would be suitable for a goat farm. Goats are some of the least particular livestock, but they can’t survive on, say, conifers alone. Decide if you have a good diversity of flora—a mix of brush and grasses is nice—good access to water, good shelter and good fencing. No, make that great fencing. If not, you may need to improve your infrastructure before acquiring the goats.
Goat Products You Can Sell
Depending on whether you choose meat, fiber or dairy goats, these animals are capable of producing several marketable goods. Soaps, milk, cheeses and caramels can all be made from goat’s milk, though meat is becoming equally valuable. If it’s fiber you’re interested in, however, bring cashmere goats to your farm. If you choose to keep your goats semi-stationary, their manure might be used to make a compost for home gardeners—in good packaging, this could make a nice addition to your farmers market table. Also, though not a product, many goat farmers host on-farm goat days during kidding season where families can pay to come see the baby goats. Utilizing as many facets of your goat farm as possible is the key to raising goats for profit.
Selecting Your Goat Breed
You will have to choose between fiber, dairy and meat breeds before getting started, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try a few of each kind. Here are some of the more popular breeds in each category.
Meat Breeds of Goats:
Dairy Breeds of Goats:
Fiber Breeds of Goats:
Dairy breeds can be raised for meat—what are known as “dual-purpose breeds”—if you’d like to do both.
Goat Housing And Care
All breeds of goats need a place to get out of the wind and stay dry. This can be a mobile shelter that’s used for rotational grazing or a small barn in the case of a stationary lot. They also need access to a salt block and minerals for the best health and performance.
Before bringing goats to your farm, get a book or two on general goat care and locate your nearest vet so that you can have that number on hand in case of emergencies. Otherwise, managing a goat farm is primarily about fencing: They love to jump over, unlock, duck under or push through whatever obstacle you have attempted to put in their way. Address this before getting goats, and make sure the costs associated with it are your business plan.
Writing Your Goat Farm Business Plan
Once you’ve decided what type of business you are hoping to start, the next step is to actually sit down and write out the business plan. Here are the sections you’ll want to include for a well-rounded plant that addresses all issues that will arise on your farm
The management section describes who will be doing what and their qualifications. Will you be the owner-operator? What experience do you have? Even if you’re not seeking investors, this is an important step if you plan to have employees one day or simply so the family can all agree upon their individual roles on the goat farm. These plans may change over time, of course, and that’s OK—simply update your business plan as they do.
Financials are a daunting part of a business plan for many people. The idea is to put down realistic numbers that show the growth potential of your goat business. Include a forecast of sales, a budget, income projections, along with your assets and liabilities (what you own and what you owe, respectively).
If you’re already marketing other farm products, this section of your business plan should be easy. Include how you plan to advertise, market and promote your goat farm. Feel free to get creative here, and challenge yourself. Think about how to get customers engaged with what you’re doing. Hang up flyers, do social media campaigns, guest vend farmers’ markets—think of all the ways you can advertise as well as all of the places and ways you will sell.
This section of your business plan looks at your own strengths versus the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Few businesses are without competition, and you should know who they are and what hold on the market they have. Is there already a goat-milk soap business in town? Can the area support two? Do they set up at a farmers market or just sell in boutiques? These are things that should be analyzed here and considered, so you can carve out your own niche in the market.
Importance Of Record-Keeping
Your business may or may not be profitable in the first couple of years, but you need to be able to see for yourself what about it is and is not working when raising goats for profit. This is why you need to prioritize keeping good records. A good balance sheet and a good budget can make or break any business. Include your strategy for these in your business plan.
While it might not seem you’re ever ready to make the leap from farm dream to full-fledged farm business, with a business plan in hand, you have a good chance at turning your goat farm into a success.