What would you do with 750 nanny goats?
How about using them for fire mitigation, controlling woody encroachment, and treating oak brush and invasive species?
For the past three years, Rx Grazing Services LLC has been moving their herd of goats across the Four Corners Region to do just that. The company has had projects from the La Sals in Utah to the San Juans in Southwest Colorado.
Rx Grazing Services LLC requires a minimum of 100 treatable acres for each project, and “The bigger the better!” owner Sarah Bangert says. “This is more cost effective for clients and keeps the goats in one place for a month at a time.”
So, how do they transport so many goats? They are loaded into two semis, which carry about 500 goats each. Upon arrival at the project site, they are herded on horseback and spend their days grazing. At night, they are moved into an electric fence pen.
In addition to providing targeted grazing services, Sarah also breeds, raises, and sells the goats for meat. “It’s a dual enterprise business, and we’d like to expand to 3,000 nannies and service more of the large contracts with big land managers and holders such as the forest service, the BLM, and large energy companies.”
Although targeted grazing is widely used in other parts of the country, the concept is relatively new in Southwest Colorado. When Sarah first decided to launch the business, she attended an SBDC conference, which is where she connected with Cindy Dvergsten. “Cindy was a huge help. She looked over the business plan and financial projections to get them ready for investors.”
The company’s first full season was in 2019–2020, and they’ve experienced a warm welcome from the community. The results from their projects and the potential for this tool have brought attention from cattle ranchers and residents of the Four Corners alike. “People really like it! It’s novel out here. Everyone loves seeing it work,” Sarah says.
One of the highlights of the business has been seeing the success of targeted grazing, especially on gamble oak since this is a huge challenge in our region. In addition, Sarah has seen an improvement in local ecosystems.
Of course, any small business comes with its challenges, and Sarah is quick to speak openly about the hardships facing agricultural entrepreneurs. “I wish people would talk more about the challenges of going into business,” she says. “Cash flow is always an issue, and there are a number of uncontrollable events, like weather. Getting initial financing is a huge challenge because not a lot of people are willing to finance startups. Then, there are the logistical challenges, such as having a full-time employee because the goats need constant supervision. I really commend the SBDC for being an organization that helps entrepreneurs get up and going. We need more organizations that can help people get started!”
So, if you’ve been thinking about launching your own business, Sarah offers this advice: “For any entrepreneur, networking is really important. Do as much planning as you can on the front end and expect things to go differently along the way. Create risk and management strategies and have them in place as early as possible. For those trying to break into agriculture, you have to get creative. Properties are priced for beauty and not natural resources anymore, so you’ll need to do some things different. Just be willing to think outside the box!”