A hobby farm or homestead should be self sustaining and turn a profit. That’s why it’s important to make your selections of produce, livestock and other products carefully. In this article, we discuss the best farm animals to raise to make a profit on a small farm or homestead. Read on to learn more about the most profitable livestock for a small farm.
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5 Best Types Of Livestock For A Small Homestead
Here is a quick list of the top 5 choices in profitable homestead livestock.
Bees can be a good addition to any farm or a good choice if you don’t have a lot of room, don’t fancy dealing with larger animals and/or do want to focus on gardening to produce cut flowers and/or veggies.
Bees are important pollinators, require a relatively small amount of care, and they produce valuable, popular honey.
Local honey is in great demand, because using locally sourced honey helps people develop resistance against local allergens. Bees also produce beeswax, which can be used to make candles and other items. Bee pollen is used a great deal in folk medicine.
To keep bees, you’ll need sturdy hives and good fencing to keep out opportunists such as possums, raccoons, squirrels, skunks and bears. Good fencing will also help protect your hives from being plundered or vandalized. Installation of a surveillance camera is also recommended.
Chickens are a standby on a small farm. You need to have chickens to supply your family with eggs and possibly with meat. Chickens are inexpensive to purchase and easy to care for. Locally sourced, fresh, free-range organic eggs and meat are in great demand.
Just a few happy, free range hens are likely to produce more eggs than you can use at home. If you have a larger flock, you can easily make a profit with egg sales, alone.
Rabbits are easy to care for and can be kept and sold for a variety of uses. Rabbit meat is low calorie, low fat and high in protein. It is one of the healthiest meats in existence.
Rabbit pelts are one valuable by-product of rabbit meat production. Rabbit manure is another. Like goat manure, it is low in ammonia and can be applied directly to the garden, or it can be composted.
If you don’t like the idea of slaughtering rabbits for meat, you can breed Angora rabbits and harvest their wool, or you can breed dwarf bunnies or other specialty rabbits to sell as pets.
You don’t need a lot of space to keep rabbits, but you do need sturdy, comfortable, sheltered hutches to keep your charges safe from predators and inclement weather.
Goats are fun to have around, and they offer a many opportunities for profit. When you keep goats, you don’t need great expanses of good pasture. Goats can do well in weedy, wooded pasture, and their presence helps clear the land for other uses.
Additionally, goat droppings are small, dry, inoffensive and break down into nourishing fertilizer quickly and easily. In fact, if you have a large flock of goats, you can compost their droppings and sell the rich, nourishing organic compost.
In fact, you can make money with a herd of goats by renting them out to people who want their land cleared of weeds and brush and improved by goat droppings. People will pay well to have their property tidied up naturally (and often comically) without the noise and disruption of heavy equipment.
Like cattle, goats can be milked to produce a wide variety of dairy products. Their meat is lean and tasty and is quite popular throughout most of the world. In the United States, it is considered a bit exotic, but that adds up to greater profit.
If you keep your goats just for milk, you can sell the kids annually as dairy goats, meat goats or pets. Goats’ milk can be used to make cheese, butter, yogurt and very popular and pricey soap.
If you want to stick strictly to the pet trade, you can go with Pygmy goats. These smaller animals are popular as pets, can be milked and also offer weed and brush clearing capabilities.
Cattle are a good choice if you have the space and the grazing for them. Grass fed beef is greatly in demand these days, and if you are able to allow your animals to run free, getting most of their nourishment from natural, organic grass, you’ll have little outlay and turn a very nice profit.
You’ll also avoid making pets of them, which can make slaughtering them extremely difficult.
If you prefer a more vegetarian approach, grass fed dairy cattle are a good choice. Your cows can still get most of their nourishment from good grazing, but instead of selling their meat, you can tap into the excellent market for fresh, organic milk, butter and cheese.
Dairy cows can be bred once a year and the calves sold as either dairy stock, or if you breed your dairy cows to a meat breed bull, meat stock.
If you have the space, good fencing and shelter for them, cattle offer many opportunities to turn a profit.
Which Small Farm Livestock Should You Choose?
To determine which livestock will work best for you on your small farm or homestead, you’ll need to consider:
- The amount of time you have to care for livestock
- The size and sturdiness of your outbuildings
- The resources you have at your disposal
- The amount of space you have
- The local market
- Your climate
If you want to keep goats or cattle, you’ll need to have fenced space and sturdy shelter. Cattle will need a couple of fenced acres per cow, and goats will need about half an acre per animal. If you don’t have this amount of space, these animals are not options for you.
If you have a large fenced area covered with weeds and brush, you could start out with goats. Allow them to improve your pasture and then graduate to cattle.
If you have the space but don’t have the resources needed for fencing and shelter, you’ll have to delay purchasing large animals, but you might be able to get a start with bees and/or chickens. Save your pennies and fence later to add to your venture.
Of course, any type of animal you choose must be able to thrive in your climate. Before making any purchases, do some independent study.
Get to know local farmers and find out what animals work best for them. Contact your county agricultural extension to get good recommendations for your area and your property.
As you identify local resources, you should also ask around and take note of what sorts of products may be most in demand in your area. Identify farmers’ markets, health food stores, restaurants and other venues that may be interested in your wares.
Personal Preferences And Profit Are Important Considerations
When choosing profitable livestock for a small farm, there are a number of factors you should keep in mind. While profit is important, you should also take your own happiness and contentment into account. Otherwise, what’s the point of homestead living?
If you have a sentimental attachment to some sort of livestock, you should keep a few, even if they are not especially profitable.
If you enjoy the antics of small animals like goats, deciding to keep them only for milking or even as pets (as opposed to butchering them) is perfectly acceptable. You should not set up a “profitable” situation that is going to make you unhappy.
Put your personal preferences in perspective, and honor them in a sensible way that facilitates both enjoyment and money-making in your hobby farm lifestyle.
With patience, legwork, research and careful preparation, you can choose just the right livestock to make a profit on your small farm. Follow the tips presented here to get started.