1989 - Volume #13, Issue #2, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Look What They're Doing with GoatsGoat raisers around the world are taking a serious look at the money-making possibilities of using goats as pack animals for hiking or mountain climbing.
Sparkplug behind the idea is Wyoming goat rancher John Mionczynski, of Landen, originator of goat packing. Since discovering their "hidden talent," he's been doing a booming business selling his self-designed Bully Goat pack saddle, operating his "rent a goat" packing service for hikers and mountain climbers, and conducting seminars to share with other goat producers the "profit making potential" of using goats as pack animals.
Mionczynski, an experienced horse packer in mountains, first discovered the value of goat packing in 1972 when the U.S. Forest Service asked him to track a herd of Bighorn sheep. When horses were unable to handle the rough, steep terrain, Mionczynski hit on the idea of equipping Wether Vane, one of his sure-footed goats, with a pack saddle for carrying the delicate and expensive radio equipment used to track the sheep.
"I discovered that Wether Vane was much better than a horse on steep mountain ter-rain. One thing led to another and before long I was in the goat packing business, supplying pack goats to area backpackers."
Although Mionczynski uses mainly wethers, he notes that "the average goat will make a good pack animal with training. Goats are intelligent and they're fond of humans, a real virtue for packing since they generally want to go where you go. Rough and steep terrain doesn't bother them. And, unlike a horse or llama, they won't wander off and don't have to be tied.
"As a rule of thumb, a goat can pack a load equal to 25 to 30% of its weight, which means a 200 lb. wether can carry 50 to 60 lbs. I start training them at about 4 to 5 months of age. With a few hours training each day, they're ready to go out on their own in about a month. They have to be broken to cross streams since they have a natural fear of water," says Mionczynski.
He sells his Bully Goat pack saddles for $95 each, plus $48 fora set of canvas saddle bags (panniers), and $22 for a saddle pad. He also sells pack-trained goats in pairs for $150 each. "My best customers are couples of all ages who like to hike in the outdoors and use pack goats to carry their camping gear."
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, John Mionczynski, Mountain Goat Ventures, Box 250, Rt. 62 (Atlantic City), Lander, Wyo. 82520.
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