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PETALING JAYA, Feb 2 ― After jokingly suggesting that people hire her goats as participants for Zoom meetings, a farmer in the UK has been raking it in.
Dot McCarthy, from Rossendale in Lancashire, said in a BBC report that she’s made £50,000 (RM276,802) since April last year, after trying out her luck at offering her goats out for video calls during the first lockdown in the country.
She also said that the “insane” response from the public meant that she no longer has to rely on selling manure to make ends meet, as video call sales have helped to keep her staff on full-time, pay for improvements and ultimately keep the farm open.
McCarthy, 32, who owns the Cronkshaw Fold Farm, took over the business from her mother in 2016 and diversified the business by using the farm grounds to host weddings, educational visits and even Airbnb accommodation.
They also organised other interactive activities with the farm animals as well, such as “Goat Yoga”.
However, Covid-19 restrictions in the country effectively closed that side of the business which led to McCarthy coming up with the “Goats on Zoom” idea to brighten up video calls at the start of the first lockdown in April 2020.
“This started as a joke. I came up with the idea, told my employee Emma and we agreed it was completely wacky and we should prioritise other money-making ideas,” she told FarmingUK.
“I put it on the website that evening anyway along with Emma’s email address for bookings.
“When I woke up, I had loads of missed calls from Emma saying she’d been inundated with over 200 emails and couldn’t keep up with the demand for goat calls.”
The service sees customers pay £5 (RM28) to hire a goat which will then join a scheduled meeting via the invitation system (with a little help from farm staff).
You can even choose between a lineup of different goats, with different personalities for your video calls, as the farm currently has seven goats available for the service.
The website also states that the goats are “savvy” in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Hangouts and a bunch of other video conferencing software as well.
McCarthy’s goats have since appeared in virtual meetings all over the world, ranging from management meetings to virtual church services, in countries such as the US, India, China, Russia and Australia since catapulting to fame last year.
She said that her flock commonly only enters a video call for a short appearance to lighten the mood, but there is one particular family that books one of her goats, Margaret, every Saturday morning to “catch up”.
“They call her Marg and she is one of the family now. They love to hear her news ― from her first hot date to news that she is expecting,” she said.
McCarthy added that her team has struggled to keep up with the demand for Goats on Zoom, but the money she’s earned will help her keep the place afloat and convert the farm to renewable power to reduce its carbon footprint.
“It’s way easier and more fun than selling manure.”