Complete Guide to the Best Animals for Small Farm and Homestead
This is your complete guide to the best animals for small farm and homestead! These are some of the best animals to raise when you're just starting out, or if you're an experienced homesteader.
We've included detailed info on health issues, shelter, reproduction, breeds, equipment needed, nutrition, and time commitment needed to look after your farm animals.
Whether you'd like to raise chickens for eggs, goats for milk, or cows for meat, adding animals to your homestead will be a great (but challenging!) experience. If you're not sure which animals you want to raise, we have some great suggestions for the best animals for small farm and homestead below.
Animals can offer much more than a plate on your table. Manure can be used for fertilizer, omnivores can offer pest control, herbivores can assist with pasture and land management. These types of multi-taskers are vital to any small-scale operation, as you'll want to get the most bang for your buck with space and resources.
This is your complete guide for raising and choosing the best small-scale farm and homesteading animals.
Introducing Our Animals
We're going to look at goats, chickens, and bees.
- Goats can add meat and dairy products to your operation
- Their manure, with some time for composting, makes an excellent fertilizer for your crops.
- Goat's milk is a wonderful addition to homemade soaps.
- Because of their smaller size, they require less feed than other dairy and meat producers, such as cattle, which means less of a financial and land-use burden on you.
- Egg production is the obvious perk to raising your own flock
- Chickens are fantastic at pest control. Your girls (and boys should you choose to raise a rooster) will keep your crops free from many damaging insects
- Your birds can also provide meat for your farm
- Chicken droppings add a concentrated kick of nitrogen to boost your fertilizer
Why honey bees?
- Raising and tending to your own hives will leave you with a plethora of rewards. Not only will you have fresh honey, but you'll have pollinators for your crops and heaps of beeswax.
- Leftover beeswax can be used for many things including candle making and creating natural cosmetics.
Before You Commit
Ah yes. Fencing. One of the most dreaded, yet very necessary, jobs on a homestead
Before diving headfirst into the world of raising animals, we have some preparation to do. We need to identify the specific needs of our animals, as well as our ability to ethically care for them.
Take, for example, our neighbor. He runs what feels like a million head of cattle. And they're forever getting out, onto the neighboring property. Ours. We've decided that it's easier to fence them out of our property rather than start a fight over him keeping them in.
I mean, these cows are wild - they have had no human handling whatsoever so they run straight through gates that are, obviously, not up to the task of keeping them in. To keep the peace with your neighbors, good fencing is incredibly important.
Although each animal has its own requirements, there are some basic aspects of husbandry that apply to them all.
Food, water, shelter, cleanliness, and medical care are going to be inevitabilities and should be considered carefully. Sure, we may all want a fresh steak on our table every night, but does your setup have the space and resources necessary to raise a herd of beef cattle?
Some important things to explore before you choose to take on any animals are:
- Can your facility support the animal's needs?
- What's the animal's temperament?
- What are the costs associated?
- What kind of time commitment does the animal require?
- What you intend to use the animal for (consumption, companionship, work, etc...)?
Preparing for Your Animals
Once you've decided which animals you want to raise, you need to make sure you're ready to hit the ground running as soon as your new creature co-workers arrive. Our list below helps you prepare and buy the necessary things ahead of time.
Something else I highly recommend before your animals arrive is to find and contact a veterinarian in your area who specializes in livestock.
Let's dive in- what do our animals need?
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