Looking for a new hobby to start the new year? Look no further than goat packing. Keep reading to learn more from business owner Morgan Rust of RustPack about his company, his passion for the sport and how you can do it too!
UMLF: For those of us out of loop, what the heck is goat packing?
RustPack: Some people call it a sport, but I call it a lifestyle. Most everyone is familiar with packing on horses, mules and even llamas for camping, riding and hunting. Goat Packing is the same idea but with greater qualities. A goat is one of the most loyal companions when raised in the correct way. On the trail they follow you out of love. No halter, collar or lead needed. They will pack up to 50 pounds of your gear for miles and miles into the backcountry. Another great quality about pack goats is that they're browsers so they're able to eat anything out in the wilderness. From bark, pine tree needles, grass and other various plants. So there's no need to bring any feed for them! Which makes it very effective for packing in gear. From my experience they are the best pack animal you could have.
UMLF: Tell us more about RustPack and why you started it.
RustPack: I've always been the kind of person that wants to do more in life; be a bigger part of something and give back. On my path to finding that, I stumbled upon pack goats through a really good friend. When he began raising his first pack string I immediately fell in love with the whole idea. The very next spring I got my first two pack goats and decided I wanted to do more in the small, but growing pack goat community. RustPack was then born. I started making shirts, hats, hoodies and other apparel items with the goal to allow people to wear what they love; goat packing. It then grew with the great support of the community and the opportunity to take over Northwest Pack Goats presented itself. RustPack now designs and produces all pack goat equipment from adjustable aluminum saddles, panniers, halters, pads and much more! We're very grateful to be a part of the community and create quality gear for the ones we share this lifestyle with.
UMLF: What personally got you into this sport?
RustPack: There's so many things that I love about pack goats, too much to write! One of the number one things I like most about packing with goats is the experience. To help explain this I'll share a story. I was hunting near Challis Idaho in the spring of 2021. We packed in about 8 miles with 12 goats onto the top of a beautiful mountain range overlooking miles and miles of pristine, tree covered valley's. We got up early the next morning and came out of our eight man tipi tent to the most beautiful sunrise. Our entire string of goats were grazing the mountain side enjoying the morning sun. As soon as the goats saw us all 12 of them came running over to greet our morning. We saddled the goats and went off on our morning hunt. It sounds simple but when you experience this for yourself it's truly amazing to be in the wild with a heard of goats. To share your time and energy with the mountains and such an amazing animal. There's experiences with this particular lifestyle that you can't get anywhere else. That's what personally got me hooked.
UMLF: If someone wanted to get into goat packing what is some must know info? And gear you recommend?
RustPack: If you're looking to get into pack goats there's a few things you should know. They're a very low impact animal so there's very little clean up and care. I keep my string in my back yard and the grass never gets eaten down so it stays beautiful and green. This also transfers over to the wilderness as well.
Raising a pack goat is arguably one of the most fun aspects about pack goats. But you must understand that this is a time commitment. When first starting out your baby goat will need two 16oz bottles of milk every day! This will ensure a big, strong, healthy goat. Along with feeding them premium, high protein grain, which can get pricey. But don't worry, feeding them milk only last for about two months on average and you only feed grain until one year of age. So keep in mind the time commitments and feed costs, although goats are much cheaper compared to other pack animals. Veterinary costs is also another great thing to consider. There's just some unplanned occasions that you have to prepare for.
Which leads me to my next point. Goats are very affordable. At this point in time you can get a baby pack goat for $500. Compared to other pack animals where they can easily reach $10 thousand! Just for the animal! When you factor in gear, vaccinations, feed and other needs, comparable pack stock is considerably more expensive. A full set up for a pack goat would cost you around $600 on RustPack.com. This would include saddle, panniers, halters and collars, goat coat and a few other things to have everything you need! If you are considering getting goats check out RustPack.com for the best gear and information.
UMLF: You own some cute goats! Did they get anything good for Christmas? :)
RustPack: My string of pack goats definitely get pampered during the holiday season. With the cold weather moving in, my entire string received brand new RustPack goat coats to keep them warm!
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as an entrepreneur and how you overcame it?
RustPack: Starting a business can be very scary considering the risk factor. With all of the craziness in this world there's even more risk than ever. A challenge that my business faces all the time is material supply and demand. With the given shipping crisis of 2021 it's always a challenge to get the things I need to manufacture products along with wait times and delay's. To overcome this it's very important to develop good relationships with multiple suppliers. They have the access to many other companies that can help you find what you need. It's also crucial to know your inventory in and out. Stay organized and be proactive about material orders. If there's a large wait time on a specific item, be sure to forecast ahead and put it in early so that you can keep your customers happy.
UMLF: How do you feel like the Utah Microloan Fund has helped your business?
RustPack: The Utah Microloan Fund was a huge help in the growth of RustPack. They were absolutely amazing to work with and got me through the process quickly and smoothly. They have an amazing procedure for each of their clients. It really made me look deep into my company and answer some really hard questions that most people look over. They did more than just help financially, they helped guide me into building and growing a successful company.