Up-and-Coming Goat Business to Work in ICCSD

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Up-and-Coming Goat Business to Work in ICCSD

The goats clearing out a wooded residential lot.

The goats clearing out a wooded residential lot.

Photo courtesy of Goats on the Go.

The goats clearing out a wooded residential lot.

Photo courtesy of Goats on the Go.

Photo courtesy of Goats on the Go.

The goats clearing out a wooded residential lot.

Sofie Lie, Online News Editor

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In 2012, Goats on the Go Founder Aaron Steele employed the use of five goats to clear out his two acre property in the country.  The goal, he said, was for the goats to eat the extra pasture and to provide chores for his son to do in summer before being sold in the off-season. But Steele instead kept the goats, a decision he said was motivated by both his love for the goats and the increasing demand for a goat-powered sustainable business.

“We had some idea that a business like ours existed elsewhere,” Steele said. “However, there were very few businesses like ours in the midwest.”

Steele began to watch YouTube videos and research similar companies, mostly based in the west, to see whether there was a market for his business. But, Steele said, Goats on the Go was not promoted in its first months; customers, rather, sought the service out.  From there, his business, based out of Ames, only expanded.  

“We got more customers than we ever expected, and we’ve been growing ever since,” Steele said.

Now, Goats on the Go houses upwards of 120 goats, 40 of which are sent to eastern Iowa to work in the spring.  The goats work best in unused environments with dense vegetation; recent projects include clearing landscape at Prairie Rose State Park in Harlan Iowa.

“The goats are kind of like bushwhackers, they get vegetation down to a manageable level,” Steele said.

And the goats’ next project? Two ICCSD elementary schools: Penn and Shimek.

Art by AJ Boulund

Art by AJ Boulund

Last fall, the school board contacted Goats on the Go about the idea.  Now, they have set a tentative date for the project–the 16th of May–although the plan isn’t yet finalized.

According to Steele, one of the appeals of goats are their sustainability.  They replace herbicides and have good balance, and can, therefore, prevent erosion otherwise caused by machinery.

“[The sustainability aspect] is important,” Steele said.  “It’s something that just makes sense in a lot of places.”

Laura Cornell ‘16, who works with sustainability group, NextGen, believes that the prospect of using goats to clear landscapes in the ICCSD could bring environmental awareness.

“I think that [Goats on the Go] has a really bright future; I think it’s great,” she said.

While Steele says that sustainability is important to him, it’s often not the most important aspect to his customers–the goats themselves are.

“I think that all of our customers appreciate the environmental benefits of our service and they appreciate having their vegetation problem addressed, but I think that, for many of our customers, it’s at least as big of a motivating factor to just have goats around,” Steele said.

Although Steele still holds an off-season job, he doesn’t see his Goats on the Go customers dwindling.

“I see [the business] expanding; I see a lot of demand for it,” he said.