Wondering where to start with raising animals on your small farm, hobby farm or homestead? Here are some easy animals to start with, complete with all the information you’ll need to learn about and decide which ones are the perfect fit for you.
1. Laying Hens
Chickens are a terrific way to start raising animals on a small farm. They’re hardy, easy to take care of, and don’t cost much in terms of setup. A small flock can easily produce enough eggs to meet all a family’s egg requirements, and a flock of a few dozen can generate a nice little egg business.
Plus, hens eat food scraps and provide great compost for the garden. On the downside, they’re a free chicken dinner for every predator out there, so you’ll need to keep them safe and secure to prevent losses.
2. Honey Bees
Honey bees are another great choice, especially if keeping bees appeals to you. Honey crops can be abundant, and you can also harvest beeswax for lip balm, candles and other products.
Bonus: they help pollinate your crops. Negative: they cost a good bit to start up, and while they don’t require a lot of hands-on care in terms of sheer hours, they do require timely care and attention, and take a while to get the hang of.
Goats are hardy, useful animals who can browse stands of small trees and shrubs, clearing land for you. They’re very adaptable to poor pastures. They produce a ton of milk-okay, not a ton, but one to three quarts per day! If your family can’t drink that much, you can make and sell cheese, or feed the milk to other farm animals.
On the downside, goats require strong fencing.
Like chickens, turkeys are pretty easy keeping. They can be a bit difficult to raise from poults, but once established, they do well. The market for Thanksgiving turkeys can be a big one, making them a great value-added product for a small farmer.
Pigs are also great browsers and famous rototillers. They can churn up whatever area you want, quite easily. They are also great eaters of food scraps and producers of manure.
Pigs can be vicious, so you’ll want to think long and hard before getting them, especially if you have small children, and just plan to be safe around them.