Goats: Who Would Have Thought?

Green Grazer Goats business owner and WilmU student Kalyn Butts won more than $22,000 in cash and prizes in a local Shark Tank-style competition.

WilmU student Kalyn Butts and partner Kevin Connor manage goats for their award-winning
business, Green Grazer Goats.

Green Grazer Goats is an eco-friendly farming operation that with goats that uses goats to clear weeds and brush instead of heavy machinery. The goats simply graze the overgrown areas and brush.

It all started with Pete, a goat Butts got for her 17th birthday. Sure, her parents thought a goat-inspired business was a “hare-brained plan,” but they went with it.

“I researched how businesses in California and other western states used goats to clear brush from wildfires,” says Butts who is pursuing a bachelor’s in Behavioral Science. “That led me to think about how we could use goats to do similar work near my family’s farm.”

For the next few years, she played around with the idea until Kevin Connor, her boyfriend-turned-business partner, invested in the goat business. In 2016, he surprised Butts with two baby goats named Pumpkin and Petunia for Christmas. The business — and goats — were up and running by May of 2017.

Green Grazer Goats alleviates the dangerous chemicals as well, and the business has become an innovative and economical option for customers. The team started with 10 goats, then 41, and now Butts thinks she’ll need at least 60 by spring’s end.

“Goat brush removal is the best bet for the environment since they create a very small carbon footprint, don’t require toxic chemicals and stabilize the soil,” says Butts.

This past September, the Butts, just 24, and Connor wowed the judges at the Emerging Enterprise Center’s “Swim with the Sharks” video pitch competition.

“The judging was based on multiple criteria, including clarity of message and vision, value proposition and feasibility of the business concept,” says Dora Cheatham, program manager for the Wilmington-based Emerging Enterprise Center, which helps start-up owners grow their businesses and develop long-term, sustainable models.

She learned about the competition by attending a Young Professional Networking group hosted by the New Castle Chamber of Commerce in WilmU’s Pratt Student Center. She even hired fellow student, Taylor Moore, to produce the video.

Eventually, Butts wants to put her new degree to work by hosting a therapeutic program camp that would serve people with emotional disorders, and goats have been to known to aid in such therapies. For now, she’s just happy chasing goats. WU

—Britney Gulledge