Offer Pet Boarding Services

If you have a small farm, you likely have animals and understand how difficult it can be to get away overnight.  One of the main reasons is the lack of reliable care for animals.  If you have the space, especially with a kennel setup, consider offering pet boarding services to fill a very real need and bring in some extra cash.  The main requirement?  You’ve got to love animals to want to add other people’s to the mix.

First, Identify the Need

Is there actually a need for pet boarding in your area?  You can start by doing a Google search or asking in local Facebook groups.  In our area, the vet offers boarding and there are a couple of private boarding kennels; a pretty decent supply for our little town.  If your local vet is the only option, you may have a potential for your area because many people are reluctant to board healthy animals in a place for the sick.

If there aren’t many boarding options in your area, start asking friends and family if they know of anyone who could use that service.

Pet Boarding Services: Examine Your Space

How many animals will you have the space to board?  Do you have an individual sleeping area for each animal?  Separate kennel runs?  How will they get daily exercise?  These are some questions to ask as you examine the available space on your farm.

If you plan to board only a couple of animals, you can probably get started with minimal investment; you may even have something set up already that will accommodate one or two pets.

If not, you can often find chain link kennel setups for low cost in the classifieds areas of Facebook, Craigslist and your local paper.  Here a used chain link kennel runs from $100 and up, depending on size.  New ones are about twice that and up to several hundred dollars.

Pet Boarding Services Quick Facts
Initial investment: <$500
Turnaround time: <1 month once you’re open for business
Acreage required: <1 acre
Daily time required: 1-4 hours per day
Profit potential: $-$$, depending on local demand

A lower cost alternative is cattle panels wired with 2″x4″ welded wire.  We use these for keeping our goats and pigs in.  The cost per 16′ panel with wire on it comes to about $35.  They are easily cut to smaller sizes, allowing you to fully customize your kennel runs to the size of your intended animals.

You can build a couple of kennel spots, complete with dog houses for shelter, for under $500.

Consider Pet Boarding Biosecurity

Taking in outside animals always comes with some risk.  Dogs and cats can carry infectious diseases, such as parvovirus and distemper.  How will you keep the risk to your animals minimized?  What about other boarded animals?  How will you keep everyone healthy?  The first step would be to visually inspect and deny any animal with symptoms of illness.  Many boarding kennels require proof of vaccination.  We don’t personally vaccinate and wouldn’t want vaccinated animals on our premises, so these issues are important to figure out well in advance of a possible issue.

Invest in Pet Boarding Insurance

If you’re boarding for family and friends, you might not feel like insurance is necessary, but if you plan on boarding for other people, you can protect your farm and livelihood with pet boarding insurance.   Time to Pet has a pretty solid article on pet boarding insurance if you want to know more about these options.  A quick search showed that rates start at just over $100 per year and go up based on your specific needs.

Determine Your Rates

According to Thumbtack, the average rates for boarding a dog overnight are $35-$50.  Research the going rates in your area and compare the services included at each price point.  What will you have to offer that sets you apart?  Can you justify a higher rate by adding other services?  If you have experience with special needs animals, you may be just what special needs pet owners are looking for; someone they can count on to care for their animals and give them a much needed break.

How Much Time Per Day?

Depending on the number of clients you have, you can expect to spend between one and four hours per day feeding, walking and caring for your charges.  Automated waterers and easy to access food bowls can speed up the process.

Pet boarding is a great way to make use of space not otherwise used for regular farming activities.  Think the north side of the barn or that small patch of land that wouldn’t make sense to cultivate.  If you do have such extra space, taking in boarders can be a great way to supplement your farming income.

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