Niche Biz: Pee Farming

Fortune Small Business:

Sam Collora didn’t set out to become a pee farmer.

Collora was working as a plant manager at a steel manufacturing facility and running a taxidermy business on the side.

One day his wife, Judi, bought him some deer to use as live models. Owning deer is like keeping two rabbits in a hutch in the backyard. It’s harmless enough at first, but soon you’ve got a whole yard full.

As his herd grew, Collora started collecting urine to use when he hunted. Pheromone-rich urine from a doe in estrus is the strongest buck attractant. So when the does were in heat Collora would grab a shovel, scoop up their urine and some dirt with a shovel, pour it into a Baggie, and stick it in the refrigerator.

Collora had a lot of success hunting with the urine. In 1990 Judi and he built a barn with handling facilities and collection rooms. The next year they started selling refrigerated whitetail urine. Their urine must be refrigerated because it’s 100% pure and undiluted.

The preservatives that some of their competitors mix into their urine kill the pheromones that make this type of urine an effective lure. Pure deer urine has a shelf life of about 60 days, so they only collect it seasonally to make sure it stays fresh for the fall.

Collecting deer urine resembles a conventional dairy operation. They keep 130 deer and a few elk. The deer come into a barn at night to eat. Their urine drips through grates onto a sloping floor that runs into a collection vat surrounded by a cooling pit. When the vat fills up, workers store it in a walk-in refrigerator. We filter the urine, bottle it, and ship it out in coolers to our customers.

There are 17 million deer hunters in America, and the whitetail-lure business – a $44-million-a-year market – keeps growing. Collora has four full-time employees, and hires three or four more to help out during the fall. Their bestselling product is a two-ounce spray bottle that retails for $15.50.

Photo by jodies77.

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