Tag Archives: Enterprises

Fields of Farmers

Fields of FarmersThere are two attitudes toward farm internships prevalent in America today. The first is that of stubborn individualism, the rugged “gonna do it my way” philosophy commonly associated with farmers. The second is best described as, “What I need is some interns to get this place in shape!”

In Fields of Farmers: Interning, Mentoring, Partnering, Germinating, Joel Salatin tackles both mistaken viewpoints head-on. Salatin views internships as a ministry, an investment in the next generation—not an opportunity for cheap labor.

This book was clearly written for both the mentor and the mentored. After an overview of education and how it works, particularly in a real-world context, Salatin proceeds to urge both groups of people to give and to serve. Experienced farmers are counseled to put time and effort into guiding young people, even when it isn’t easy, while aspiring land stewards are admonished to put their best into their work and forego the “I’m owed” mentality.

But Fields of Farmers is about far more than the philosophy that should go into an internship program, as foundational as that is. It is also about the mechanics necessary for making things work—the process of selecting, housing, training, and setting mutually respectful boundaries for interns. It seeks to find equitable answers to prickly questions about whether interns should be paid and what to do when a new intern is doing the farm more harm than good.

Rounding out the book is a fascinating look at the history of apprenticeship written by a Polyface apprentice.

If you are casually considering adding an internship program to your farm, Fields of Farmers may very well scare you off. But for those who are determined to play a role in training the next generation of farmers, it is an essential manual to navigating some dangerous waters in a way that enables both parties involved to succeed.

USDA Releases 2017 Ag Census Results

The average American farmer is still getting older, and his net farm income is still declining.

But the number of young farmers is increasing, the value of their production is above average, and the number of farms consisting of nine acres or less is on the rise.

Here are the highlights from the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture.

National

2 million farms, 900 million acres, and 3.4 million producers. That’s a snapshot of the current American agricultural scene.

It is important to note that in the 2017 census, the USDA changed the way some of the questions were asked. The most noteworthy change was redefining producer to refer to anyone involved in making farm decisions.

Key facts from the latest Census of Agriculture include:

  • The number of farms in the U.S. dropped 3.2% to about 2.04 million in 2017.
  • Of America’s 900 million acres in farmland, about 401 million are permanent pasture, 396 million are cropland, 73 million are woodland, and 30 million are used for other purposes.
  • The number of farms consisting of 9 acres or less rose to 273 thousand in 2017 from 224 thousand in 2012, the only acreage category that increased in numbers other than farms consisting of 2,000 or more acres.
  • The average producer is now 57.5 years old, compared to 56.3 in 2012 (partially reflective of terminology changes in the census).
  • The number of female producers has increased by 26.6% since 2012 (primarily reflective of terminology changes in the census).
  • 58% of all farmers have their primary occupation outside of farming.
  • 75% of all farms across the nation have Internet access.
  • In 2017, U.S. farms produced $388.5 billion in agricultural products, down from $394.6 billion in 2012.
  • The largest farms ranked by sales (those selling $5 million or more in agricultural products) accounted for less than 1% of all farms, but over 35% of all sales.
  • Producers under 35 years old had a total value of production of $273,522, compared to $190,245 for all producers.
  • Total U.S. production expenses have decreased 1% since 2012.
  • Total U.S. net farm income has decreased 5% since 2012, despite an 11% increase in government payments.
  • The average net income per farm has decreased 2% to $43,053.

The top 10 states attracting beginning farmers (those with 10 or fewer years of experience) were:

  1. Alaska (46% of total number of producers statewide).
  2. Georgia (33%).
  3. Maine (33%).
  4. Hawaii (32%).
  5. Florida (31%).
  6. Rhode Island (31%).
  7. West Virginia (31%).
  8. New Hampshire (31%).
  9. Colorado (31%).
  10. Vermont (30%).

The top 10 agricultural states by sales were:

  1. California ($45.2 billion).
  2. Iowa ($29.0 billion).
  3. Texas ($24.9 billion).
  4. Nebraska ($22.0 billion).
  5. Kansas ($18.8 billion).
  6. Minnesota ($18.4 billion).
  7. Illinois ($17.0 billion).
  8. North Carolina ($12.9 billion).
  9. Wisconsin ($11.4 billion).
  10. Indiana ($11.1 billion).

The top seven agricultural counties by sales nationwide were all located in California.

The top five commodities nationwide, ranked by sales, were as follows:

  1. Cattle and calves ($77.2 billion; the leading state was Texas).
  2. Corn ($51.2 billion; the leading state was Iowa).
  3. Poultry and eggs ($49.2 billion; the leading state was Georgia).
  4. Soybeans ($40.3 billion; the leading state was Illinois).
  5. Milk ($36.7 billion; the leading state was California).

Kansas

On the Kansas scene, key facts from the census include:

  • The number of farms fell to 58,569 in 2017 from 61,773 in 2012 owning to a decline in numbers of medium-sized farms.
  • Farms of 1 to 9 acres increased to 2,665 in 2017 compared to 1,975 in 2012.
  • Farms of 10 to 49 acres also increased to 10,101 in 2017 from 9,776 in 2012.
  • The average farm increased in size to 781 acres in 2017 from 747 acres in 2012.
  • The estimated market value of land and buildings climbed to an average of about $1.4 million per farm in 2017 from $1.2 million in 2012.

The top five agricultural products in Kansas in 2017, ranked by market value, were:

  1. Cattle and calves (58.1% of total sales).
  2. Grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas (32.3%).
  3. Hogs and pigs (3.8%).
  4. Milk from cows (3.1%).
  5. Other crops and hay (1.4%).

More documents related to the ag census will continue to be released over the next few months and years.

The next census of agriculture will be in 2022.

Helpful Resource

List of Reports and Publications
All the data currently available for the 2017 census, plus release dates for upcoming publications.

Adding Value to Milk

Adding Value to MilkLooking for ways to expand your small-farm dairy business? Milk offers many opportunities for diversifying your product offerings!

Here are some common ways to add value to farm-fresh milk.

Cream

Cream is not one of the more popular value-added dairy products around, but it does have a loyal following among health-conscious customers. Fresh, raw cream is often touted as nature’s ultimate health food due to its vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria. Good cream can also provide quite the gourmet cooking experience.

Butter

Because butter requires a great deal of milk fat to make, selling butter is typically a better fit for dairy farmers with cows rather than goats or sheep.

Another pitfall with butter is that it is often harder to sell to the public. Many customers (even those who aren’t necessarily health-conscious) won’t think twice about sampling homemade cheese or ice cream. But the market for farm-fresh butter is much smaller.

Buttermilk

Old-fashioned buttermilk is the milk left over from the butter churn, in contrast to grocery-store buttermilk made from skim milk, cultures, and thickening agents. Buttermilk is one of the less common dairy products sold on small farms, but it may be a way to salvage an otherwise wasted byproduct.

Or, to take the value-adding a step further, make buttermilk soap! Handmade soap can be a truly artisan product that commands high prices. It also has a major advantage over many dairy products in that it can be sold online and shipped across the country, enabling the soapmaker to find markets anywhere at all. The usual rules apply when selling soap—check the laws (soap is regulated by the FDA) and make sure you produce a quality product every time. If your customers are paying top-dollar for handcrafted soap, they expect more than a run-of-the-mill cleansing agent.

Cheese

Whether you keep cows, goats, or sheep, cheese offers a magnificent opportunity to the artisan entrepreneur. At the same time, it is a very popular product to eat across America! And another bonus? Cheese made from raw milk is typically regulated much less stringently than raw milk itself (but please check your state regulations before starting on your cheese venture).

Another advantage of selling cheese is that it allows for considerable variety, as there are many different types of cheese that can be made. Cheese made from raw milk must be aged prior to sale in some states, which means that the cheeses many small farms will be able to offer fall into the hard cheese category. Fortunately, hard cheeses do include some very popular varieties, such as cheddar and Gouda. Pasteurization will enable you to add soft cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta to your lineup. Another option for adding still more variety is flavoring your cheese with herbs and spices.

A few words of advice—trying making cheese for home use before turning this project into a business. Cheesemaking is very time-consuming, the equipment is expensive, and quality is the key to maintaining customer interest, so it’s a good idea to test your interest level and build your skills before committing. The good news is that instructional materials abound these days, making the learning curve much less steep.

Also keep in mind that specialty cheese sales usually peak around Christmas—near the lowest ebb of seasonal dairying.

Whey

Whey is a byproduct of cheesemaking. Hard cheeses are pressed to remove the fluids, which can in turn be sold as whey.

So what do you do with whey? Bottling flavored whey drinks is one option. Also, if you happen to know any other small farmers, you may be in luck. Whey can be marketed to pig farmers as feed, and it can also be sold as a very effective fertilizer for organic pastures and fields.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is an extremely popular value-added product, partly because it is readily accepted by the public whether sold by the gallon or by the cone. It’s also portable—some small-scale creameries set up shop in trailers at fairs and other special events, allowing them to capitalize on existing crowds in a festive mood.

The demand for gourmet ice cream is particularly high among older, wealthier customers. Hand churning and indulgent flavors can command an impressive premium—just be aware that choosing this marketing route will make your product a luxury and will consequently reduce your customer base.

Yogurt

Yogurt can be a favorite product among health-conscious consumers, who tend to view it as a positive snack choice.

One potential pitfall to be aware of is the fact that not all areas have a large enough interest to support a yogurt business. Even in areas with access to interested buyers, it would be quite easy to oversupply the market, since a pound of milk makes a pound of yogurt! Yogurt makers will definitely want to have another outlet for milk and dairy products besides yogurt.

Another factor to consider is that tastes vary. Most Americans prefer heavily sweetened yogurt made from low-fat milk. The thicker, less sweet product is more likely to be enjoyed by a few select groups.

Some Final Thoughts

Adding value to milk invariably requires expertise and special equipment. It also requires commitment, and preferably an artisan bent. Before undertaking any value-added dairy enterprise, assess your financial situation, your workload, and your level of enthusiasm carefully and honestly. Many successful dairy entrepreneurs start out learning to make their chosen product on the kitchen stove and sharing with friends and family for free.

One way to reduce the startup costs is to purchase used processing equipment. If you do want to buy new equipment, keep in mind that some manufacturers now make dairy equipment sized for smaller farms—industrial machinery is not necessary these days.

Also note that, in niche dairying, quality is all-important. Off flavors must be avoided, which requires close attention to grazing management. Furthermore, dairy products must be moved fairly quickly to avoid expiration.

Are value-added dairy products right for your farm? If you have serious passion to see you through, maybe so.

Helpful Resource

Starting & Running Your Own Small Farm BusinessStarting & Running Your Own Small Farm Business
This handy book offers a step-by-step approach to business planning. It addresses many of the financial, legal, and marketing issues you will encounter when considering value-added dairy. Read our full review.

8 Ideas for an Elk Business

8 Ideas for an Elk BusinessOften it is the novelty that first attracts people to the idea of raising elk. But those who do their research have the potential to cash in on a profitable enterprise.

While starting an elk ranch will require attention to legalities, fencing, safe handling facilities, and the like, one of the first questions begged is—what do you do with an elk?

Elk have several uses:

  1. Velvet. Elk velvet comes from the soft inner core of the growing antler, typically of the bull elk. Because elk grow new antlers every year, elk velvet can be harvested annually, and should not cause injury to the elk if done properly. The velvet is then marketed as a dietary supplement. It is believed to have immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. Note, however, that the velvet market, while often lucrative, can be rather volatile.
  2. Antlers. The hard, calcified antlers can be used to make innumerable items. Options range from jewelry to chandeliers to knife handles. Are you the handyman sort? Add value to your elk antlers by making art, novelties, and home furnishings, then direct marketing the finished products. Another option is to sell antlers as all-natural dog chews, a popular product in these chemical-conscious days.
  3. Ivories. Ivories are the canine teeth of the elk. Elk ivories can be made into Western-themed jewelry. Bull ivories are particularly favored.
  4. Hides. Elk hides can be quite useful since an elk hide is about twice the size of a deer hide. However, its size and thickness may make it harder to work with. Elk hides can be used for products ranging from rugs to clothing.
  5. Meat. While elk meat is a specialty item, it is a favorite lean treat with some who would otherwise avoid red meat for health reasons. Farm-raised elk can have an advantage over wild-caught elk due to its milder flavor. Prime cuts are typically sold at either farmers markets or fancy restaurants. Less valuable cuts can be processed into value-added products such as jerky.
  6. Breeding stock. High-quality breeding elk can be very profitable. Elk are typically sold by private treaty (from one breeder directly to another) or at a handful of auctions. There is also a demand for semen from registered bull elk with desirable traits, such as a calm disposition, high weight gains, and impressive antlers.
  7. Agritourism. Farm guests often enjoy taking tours of elk herds. Of course, care must be taken to protect the guests from injury, as even farm-raised elk are still wild animals at heart.
  8. Game preserves. Game preserves can be extremely profitable because they capitalize on extensive tracts of low-maintenance natural landscapes. Game preserves are sought out by hunters because they have high success rates, healthy elk, and quality trophies. In areas where wild elk are rare, a preserve is likely to receive plenty of business from hunters seeking thrilling experiences close to home.

Getting into the elk business can be expensive due to the cost of both the animals and the facilities needed to handle them. However, several lucrative markets exist that can easily justify the cost. The possibility of filling several niches with one elk herd can make this unique business an attractive one to enterprising farmers and ranchers.

An Introduction to Sheep Dairying

An Introduction to Sheep DairyingDairy sheep? Seriously?

Yes! There are many reasons some adventurous homesteaders and agripreneurs have turned to sheep dairying. Believe it or not, one is the flavor. Sheep milk has a high rate of acceptance among those who have tasted it.

And then there are the health benefits. According to various dairy sheep organizations, sheep milk boasts the following claims:

  • More protein than cow’s milk.
  • Small fat globules, which are easy to digest.
  • Higher levels of CLA than cow’s or goat’s milk.
  • Higher levels calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A, B12, and E than cow’s milk.

Sheep milk is also amazingly versatile. It can be enjoyed as a beverage, but it is also suitable for cheese, yogurt, kefir, and ice cream. Can’t process it all at once? No problem—sheep milk is naturally homogenized and can be kept in the freezer until you are ready to work with it.

 

Who Buys Sheep Milk?

It is rather ironic that so few Americans use sheep milk today, given the fact that sheep dairying has been practiced in nearly every part of the world since the most ancient times. Very few people indeed drink sheep milk as a beverage in our country.

A more palatable way of presenting sheep milk to the American public is in the form of artisan cheese, popular with foodies, retailers, and restaurants alike. The United States, while it produces very little sheep cheese, is a major importer of this product. Some of the sheep cheeses popular in our country may sound familiar to you:

  • Feta.
  • Ricotta.
  • Roquefort.
  • Pecorino romano.

Some sheep farmers prefer to sell their milk to cheese processors rather than oversee the cheesemaking process. Finding a processor in your area can be a challenge, however, because a large-scale processor must be assured the milk of at least 750 ewes to be profitable. You may need to either find a local artisan to work with or learn how to make sheep cheese yourself.

 

The Best Breeds For Sheep Dairying

The sheep dairying industry is not as well developed in the United States as it is in Europe. In many European countries, specialized dairy breeds of sheep have been selected over time for production. In the United States, most new dairymen will have to do this selection themselves unless they are fortunate enough to live where imported populations of specialized breeds have been established. This can make starting a profitable dairy flock difficult and time-consuming. Upgrading a meat flock into a dairy flock may be necessary.

One mark of a good dairy breed is its ability to produce enough milk to sustainably nurse twins and triplets. Another factor is the ewe’s ability to breed back quickly, even in the winter.

Breeds that have come to the surface in U.S. sheep dairying include:

  • Assaf (specialized).
  • Awassi (specialized).
  • Dorset.
  • East Friesian (specialized).
  • Finnsheep.
  • Icelandic.
  • Katahdin.
  • Lacaune (specialized).
  • Polypay.

Hybrid vigor gives crossbred ewes an advantage over purebred ewes in health, so a combination of these breeds is often advantageous for dairying with sheep. Crossbreeding is also a reliable way to increase the milk production of a meat-breed flock.

 

Special Considerations of Dairying With Sheep

Raising sheep for dairy purposes requires different management than is necessary for raising sheep for meat or wool. Heavy milk production places tremendous demands on the metabolism and reproductive system of the ewe. In fact, it is not always possible to meet the energy needs of specialized dairy sheep on forage alone. Extra care must be given to proper sanitation and nutrition to avoid health problems such as these:

  • Mastitis.
  • Ketosis.
  • Milk fever.

Tail docking is also recommended to ensure clean dairying practices.

When to separate the lambs from the ewes is an important consideration. In most countries, the lambs are separated from their mothers about 24 hours after birth and are then raised on milk replacer. While this practice maximizes the amount of milk available for processing and sale, it does result in a less vigorous lamb, a real downside in America where a major part of the income of a sheep dairy may come from selling lambs to ethnic markets for meat. For this reason, it may be desirable in many operations to wean the lambs at 30 days of age. The milk production can be increased in this system after the first week by keeping the lambs in separate quarters at night so that the ewes can be milked in the morning.

 

Are Dairy Sheep Right For You?

Sheep dairying is not exactly an easy enterprise to start. Building a flock can be difficult, and special equipment is required. However, if you love cheesemaking and have access to upscale markets interested in artisan cheese, sheep dairying may be a good fit for you.

Note that many sheep dairies do not rely solely on milk or cheese for their profits—lamb and wool are two additional streams of income that can make this business a success.

Adding Value to Wool

Adding Value to WoolWhen direct marketing wool, you have some options. You can sell just the fiber, or you can add varying degrees of value.

So what is the value-adding sequence for fiber, and which product or products are right for you? Let’s dig in.

 

Raw Fleece

Just offering the plain old raw fleece is very common, and it is an option that appeals strongly to customers who happen to be handspinners or weavers. Many wool growers who direct market are surprised to find that raw fleeces are their most profitable and best-selling products.

But note that selling raw fleece is not as simple as shearing a sheep and shipping out the fleece—attention to quality is far more critical in niche wool production than commodity production. The fleece absolutely must be clean and free of any and all debris. It also must be skirted, which is the process of removing anything undesirable, such as stained wool, second cuttings, or belly wool.

If selling raw fleece is your interest, note that sheep breed will come into play here. Most handspinners prefer long wool, as this type is the easiest to work with.

 

Adding Value to WoolRoving

Roving is wool that has been washed, carded, and twisted up to hold the fibers together in a sort of rope.

Roving is a versatile product used primarily for felting, but also for stuffing, spinning, and more.

 

Batting

Batting is used to fill pillows, blankets, and the like. Coarse wool works particularly well for making batting. Batting can be made to salvage wool too short to make into roving.

The batting concept can be taken another step further by making finished bedding and pillows.

 

Felt

Felt is a good product for adding value to coarse-wool batting, as it has many applications. It can be sold in sheets such as those you might buy at the craft store, but most producers who get this far choose to add still more value.

Do you have a passion for working with fiber yourself? Then you may be able to take value-adding to the next level by creating finished products, such as sponges, placemats, or felted crafts.

Another way to offer felt is in the form of do-it-yourself felting kits for beginners. These can be quite popular if they are quality kits that produce attractive results.

 

Adding Value to WoolSpun Yarn

The spinning step is going to cost you in one of two ways—time or money. Having your fiber spun into yarn at a spinnery or fiber mill can be very expensive, and the mill may require a minimum amount of wool to process. Some companies also have long delays depending on the demand. Spinning it yourself will take some know-how plus valuable time.

Offering the yarn without any dye can be an advantage to some, because there are customers who prefer to dye their own yarns either for fun or to avoid chemicals.

However, dying your yarn can increase its value to customers who are interested in knitting but not dyeing. All-natural botanical dyes can be popular among this group. (You may even be able to take the art of dyeing still further and grow your own dye plants.)

 

Woven Fabric

In some markets, fabric has a broader appeal than yarn. Yarn is primarily for craft hobbyists, while fabric is useful in a wide range of applications and on a variety of scales. Most producers have their wool processed by a professional mill. Fine wool is particularly well suited to fabric-making.

 

Handknits

Selling knit or crocheted clothing, afghans, and other gifts is an excellent way to sell your farm’s story—if you can pull it off.

One of the most common challenges with this level of value-adding is keeping up with the demand. The pre-Christmas rush will likely see your biggest boost in sales. Can’t make enough products yourself? You may need to find a team of knitters to help.

What type of products you can produce will depend primarily on your interests, but the breed of sheep you raise will also have a huge impact. Fine-wool breeds produce soft, versatile yarns, while yarn from coarse-wool breeds may be best suited to making rugs.

 

A Final Reminder

Quality is key in direct marketing wool or wool products, no matter what form they take. The best wool comes from healthy, happy sheep that receive optimal nutrition and have access to fresh water at all times (even in winter). It usually also comes from sheep that wear lightweight coats to protect their fleece from damage due to wet conditions or intense UV light. Caring for the sheep may therefore cost more in a direct-marketing business than in commodity production, but it can yield profits that more than compensate.

11 Applications for an Agricultural Interest Besides Farming

11 Applications for an Agricultural Interest Besides FarmingRunning a farm or ranch is not the only way to cash in on your agricultural interest. These days, there are plenty of fields where a knowledge of agriculture and agricultural sciences can be a plus, and where you will have an opportunity to aid those who have chosen to work the land.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Veterinary medicine. Practitioners experienced with livestock work closely with most large farms and many smaller ones, as well.
  • Inspections. Inspectors ensure that USDA and FDA regulations are enforced. Some work in laboratories, others in processing facilities.
  • Scientific research. Science and farming go hand in hand. The points at which agriculture and science intersect are too many to list here, but just to give you an idea:
    • Soil science, the study of the soil and its management and conservation as it relates to farming.
    • Botany, the study of plants of all types. Botanists may research anything from breeding crops for hardiness to the conservation of native species to new food, fiber, and medicinal uses for familiar plants.
    • Plant biology, the study of how plants work, particularly from a genetic perspective. Plant biology differs from botany in that the former seeks information in the lab while the latter seeks information in the field.
    • Animal sciences, a broad field covering the standard American livestock species plus other farm animals kept around the world. Animal scientists can focus their attention on subcategories including physiology, livestock management, nutrition, breeding/genetics, and diseases.
    • Food science, the study of and experimentation with food ingredients and processing techniques with a view to improving food products.
  • Agricultural engineering. Not the same as genetic engineering. This field involves designing logistical solutions to farming problems and needs. Machinery design is a major focus of agricultural engineering, but some engineers work with livestock housing, processing plants, food storage facilities, dams and reservoirs, or even water quality solutions to minimize pollution.
  • Historical scholarship. Some historians pin their focus on agriculture and rural living, preserving and interpreting the past of farming to aid us in understanding its present and future.
  • Agricultural economists. The study of all aspects of agribusiness, including management, law, policy, and rural sociology.
  • Agricultural meteorology. A specific branch of meteorology that connects weather events with their effects on crops and livestock. Agricultural meteorologists forecast crop yields, animal performance, and enterprise risk.
  • Agricultural communications. This field covers a wide array of talent from PR, advertising, and marketing experts to those who write about farming-related topics in magazines and newspapers.
  • Extension. Extension services provide much of the information beginning farmers rely on to get started.
  • Accounting. Many farms hire accountants and bookkeepers to make sense of those tangled numbers.
  • Trucking and heavy equipment operation. These people do everything from transport food to operate hay balers.

8 Ideas for a Bison Business

8 Ideas for a Bison BusinessWant to do something a little different with your family farm or ranch? How about raising bison?

From a land stewardship perspective, there are some major advantages to raising bison. Despite their size, these animals are far easier on pastures than most types of domestic livestock, fostering a healthy grassland ecosystem. Furthermore, they are hardy and well able to take care of themselves with few inputs.

But does raising bison pay? The short answer is yes, but keep in mind that bison are specialty livestock. It is crucial to size up the market before jumping in.

Here are a few of the enterprises you might consider:

  1. Meat. Bison finish quite well on grass alone, making them efficient in the pasture. The resulting product is lean and high in protein. It has a rich flavor that makes for an enjoyable gourmet dining experience. If you are up to the task of direct marketing bison meat, this enterprise can be extremely lucrative. Potential options are selling to consumers, selling to restaurants, or selling through some health food stores.
  2. Hides. You may be able to sell these through a novelty shop, or you may need to find a way to direct market to the end purchaser. If you can find a leatherworker interested in your bison, you are in luck as this is an excellent way to sell untanned hides.
  3. Leather. What if you are interested in working with leather yourself? Add value to your hides by turning them into finished products.
  4. Fiber. Did you know that bison hair can be spun into yarn? Bison can be either sheared or brushed to collect the hair. Then it must be sorted, as there are four layers of coarse outer coat suitable primarily for making ropes. The soft undercoat is typically mixed with wool or alpaca to make it easier to work with. The result is a soft, durable yarn.
  5. Trophies. Bison heads can make fine trophies, which in turn make marketable products.
  6. Skulls and other bones. Some novelty shops carry these items, or you can sell direct to the customer.
  7. Agritourism. Instead of just selling the bison, sell the bison ranch experience! Bison-related agritourism opportunities are too numerous to list here—the list would look remarkably like an extensive list of agritourism opportunities in general. One of the most common ideas involving bison is herd tours. This could be coupled with other enterprises, such as a gift shop or bed and breakfast.
  8. Breeding stock. Are you really serious about breeding bison? Selling seedstock may be an option. Note that there are no specialized bison sale barns. You will have to plan on sending bison either to one of the few major bison sales or selling direct to the customer. In some cases, you may be able to sell to zoos and public game reserves.

Before buying any bison, you will want to evaluate these enterprise ideas carefully to locate sales channels and to estimate demand. This requires time and research, but it will pay off in the long run. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that these unique animals are just the right fit for you.

Read Joel Salatin For Free With Kindle Unlimited

You Can FarmIf you enjoy reading Joel Salatin, this is an excellent opportunity to enjoy most of his titles for free on Kindle Unlimited. This includes his newer titles and a few old classics.

Three we heartily recommend picking up, if you haven’t read them already, are:

You Can FarmYou Can Farm. A beginning agripreneur’s guide to innovation, covering a wide range of topics from selecting an enterprise to grass-based farming to direct marketing. (Read our full review.)

 

Pastured Poultry ProfitsPastured Poultry Profits. A practical look at how to establish a pastured broiler business. (Read our full review.)

 

Salad Bar BeefSalad Bar Beef. A guide to setting up a grassfed beef business. (Read our full review.)

 

Don’t miss this opportunity!