Homesteading, Gardening, and Off-Grid Living

17 Best Homesteading Animals for Self-Sufficiency

By: Zac Friedman

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Animals provide essential services for homesteaders. You may raise animals for food, meat, milk, eggs, fertilizer, fiber, labor, companionship, and more. This guide outlines 17 of the best homesteading animals for self-sufficiency.

In this guide, we’ll cover all of the common farm animals including chickens, cows, pigs, and goats. We’ll also cover a few less common options such as rabbits, bees, ducks, and more. We’ll outline the benefits and drawbacks of raising each type of livestock.

The best animals to keep on your homestead depends on a number of factors including the amount of land you have, the types of food you want to produce, your level of experience, and the amount of time you have to care for your animals. Hopefully, this guide helps you choose the best livestock to raise on your self-sufficient homestead.

Best animals for a small homestead pin

Table of Contents

1. Chickens

five chickens

Chickens are a popular choice for homesteaders and city-dwellers alike. They are easy to care for and fun to watch. Of course, they also provide a great source of food. Chicken eggs are a nutritious addition to any diet. Chicken meat is a healthy source of protein.

Chickens also make delightful pets. Kids and adults love watching them scratch and peck around the garden. They’re entertaining. Chicken manure can also make great fertilizer for your garden or raised beds. Chickens also help with pest control. They eat harmful bugs and weeds. You can also make use of their feathers for craft projects including stuffing or making ornaments.

Before raising chickens, it is important to consider their needs. Chickens require space to roam and forage. Each chicken needs 10-15 square feet of space. They must also have access to food, water, and shelter. You’ll have to buy or build a chicken coop for your chickens to live in. You’ll also have to buy chicken feed. You can supplement your chicken’s food with table scraps.

Chickens are vulnerable to predators. They are prey animals. It is important to provide them with a secure shelter that provides protection from coyotes, cats, birds of prey, foxes, and other predators.

A number of poultry breeds are available. Some chickens are bred for laying eggs. Other chickens are bred for meat. There are also hybrid varieties that are bred for both meat and egg production.

Heirloom breeds, such as Rhode Island Reds, are more self-sufficient in terms of food. They are also more resilient to disease than industrial chicken breeds such as Cornish and white Leghorn. This makes heirloom chickens a great choice for homesteaders.

Most breeds of meat chickens are ready for harvest in 8-12 weeks. Egg-laying chickens usually start laying about 6 months after hatching and continue laying for about 2 years. Most chickens lay around 1 egg per day. On your homestead, consider raising a heritage breed. Some heritage breeds can continue laying for up to 5 years. These breeds don’t lay quite as frequently.

a chicken laying on an egg

Benefits of Raising Chickens on a Homestead

  • Eggs: Chickens will provide you with as many eggs as you can eat. You can eat the eggs and sell surplus eggs. You can sell eggs for eating. You can also sell hatching eggs to people who want to hatch their own chicks. If you want to do this, you will need a rooster to fertilize the eggs. Selling eggs is a great way to make money as a homesteader.

  • Meat: Chicken is a healthy, tasty, and versatile meat. It goes great in lots of recipes. Almost everyone eats chicken. All chickens can be eaten. If you want to raise chickens that are bred for food, you’ll want to pick a meat bird such as Cornish Cross or Big Red Broilers. Meat birds grow quickly and taste great. Depending on local regulations, you may also be able to sell chicken meat.

  • Chicks: You can hatch eggs and sell chicks. This can be a great source of income for homesteaders. You could also raise the chicks to increase egg or meat production. To do this, you’ll need a rooster to fertilize the eggs.

  • Chickens provide pest control: When chickens free-range on your property, they eat bugs and weeds. This is beneficial for your garden. Chickens will eat grasshoppers, flies, ticks, spiders, wasps, ants, and whatever else they can catch.

  • Chickens manure: Chickens produce manure that you can use to fertilize your garden. Before applying the manure, you have to compost it. Otherwise, it can harm some plants. Chicken manure can help to increase the nitrogen content in your soil.

  • Chickens don’t require much space: You can raise chickens in your backyard. An average backyard can support 3-6 chickens. Chickens are allowed in most urban areas.

  • Small investment: Feed is affordable. You can supplement your chicken’s diet with table scraps from the kitchen. Chickens don’t require expensive veterinary care, like larger livestock.

  • Low maintenance: It only takes a few minutes per day to feed and water your chickens, collect eggs, and make sure they are safe and protected at night.

  • Chickens don’t produce much noise or odor. If you place your chicken coop a reasonable distance from your and your neighbor’s house, you won’t notice any noise or smell.

  • Short commitment: Meat birds mature in just 8-12 weeks. You can harvest egg-laying chickens for meat as well if they become too much to handle. If you find that you don’t like raising chickens, you’re not stuck with them for years. You can eat them. Meat from laying chickens and roosters tastes different from chickens that are bred for meat but all chickens are edible as long as they are healthy.

  • You can process your own chicken meat and eggs: This saves you money and ensures that you know what goes into your food.

two chicks sitting in the grass

Drawbacks of Raising Chickens

  • Chickens are prey animals: Every coyote, housecat, bird of prey, dog, fox, raccoon, skunk, and bobcat wants to kill and eat your chickens. You have to build a secure chicken coop to keep predators out. Even then, predators can find a way in. Predators are sneaky and smart.

  • It takes time for chickens to start laying: On average it takes 18-22 weeks for hens to start laying.

  • Chickens can be smelly and noisy: The smell can become bothersome if you build your chicken coop too close to your home or your neighbor’s home.

  • They can be loud: Roosters are loud. They crow early in the morning and wake you up. Hens can also make quite a bit of noise.

  • Chickens can be messy: Chickens scratch around in the dirt. They also make a lot of manure. This can make a mess of your yard.

  • Chickens can carry diseases: Chickens can carry Salmonella, which is a bacteria that can cause food poisoning in humans. They can also carry E. Coli and avian flue. For more info, check out this guide from the CDC.

  • Chickens require daily care: You have to collect eggs every day or they will break. You also have to let your chickens out to forage and put them back in their coop. You must also provide food and water for your chickens.

2. Rabbits

rabbits in a hutch

Rabbits are a popular choice for homesteaders looking to produce their own food. They are perfect for those who live in a city where raising livestock is not permitted. Rabbits are easy to manage. They can be raised in any conditions.

Rabbits breed prolifically. Everyone has heard the saying ‘breeding like rabbits.’ They have an extremely short gestation period of just 28-35 days. They have 3-4 litters of kittens per year on average. Some species can have 7-12 liters per year. On average, rabbits have 5 kittens per litter. One single doe can produce 25-50 rabbits per year. A few rabbits can provide a steady source of meat for a family.

When raising rabbits, it is important to have a well-built hutch to provide them with shelter and protection from predators. Rabbits require little space to keep. You could keep rabbits in your backyard, garage, or shed. If you let your rabbits free-range, they can be pretty self-sufficient.

You can raise rabbits for meat or fur. Rabbits come in a wide variety of breeds, each with its own unique characteristics. Some rabbits are better suited for meat production. Rabbit meat is lean and flavorful. Some are better for fur production. Rabbit fur is soft and warm. Rabbits can also make great pets. When choosing a breed, it is important to consider what you hope to get out of raising rabbits.

Angora rabbits are a great choice for fiber production. They have a coat of long, silky fur that can be used to make yarn or felt. New Zealand Whites and California Rabbits are popular choices for meat production. They are large rabbits that grow quickly.

Rabbits are docile creatures. They’re great with kids. With proper care, rabbits can be a valuable addition to any homestead.

Benefits of Keeping Rabbits on a Homestead

  • Meat: A single doe can provide 125-300 pounds of meat per year. Rabbit meat is high in protein and low in fat, making it a healthy option for your family. Rabbit meat is also tasty and easy to cook.

  • Fiber: Rabbits also provide fur that can be used for a variety of purposes. Rabbit fur is soft and warm, making it ideal for making clothing or bedding. Rabbit fur can also be used to make hats, gloves, or other items. You can sell rabbit fur in its raw form or make it into yarn. Fur from Angora rabbits is valuable. It can be a great source of income on your homestead.

  • Manure: Rabbit manure is an excellent fertilizer for gardens or crops. It is high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients, which helps to promote plant growth. Additionally, rabbit manure breaks down quickly. There is little risk of burning the roots of plants. It does not need to be composted before use.

  • Selling Kits: Another use for rabbits on a homestead is selling kits. Baby rabbits, or kits, are often sold to people who are looking to start their own rabbitry. Kits can also be sold to pet stores or other businesses that deal with animals

  • Versatile: Rabbits can be kept as pets, used for their fur, or raised for meat. The meat can be used in a wide range of recipes.

  • Rabbits multiply quickly: Rabbits can have litters of up to 12 babies at a time. They can have up to 7 litters per year. This quick reproduction makes them an ideal animal to raise for meat. They can provide a steady supply of food for a family.

  • Rabbits are allowed everywhere: Unlike some other livestock, such as chickens or goats, rabbits are permitted in almost all cities and towns. This is because rabbits are popular pets. This makes rabbits a great option for people who live in urban areas.

  • Affordable: Rabbits are relatively affordable animals to keep, as they do not require much space or expensive equipment. They can be fed a diet that mostly consists of hay. They do not need vaccinations or routine vet care like some other animals do. Additionally, many hardware stores sell cages and hutches that are suitable for rabbits. You don’t need to buy a specialty home for your rabbits. You don’t need to build up farming infrastructure.

  • Low Maintenance: Rabbits are easy to care for. You don’t need any special skills to keep rabbits. If you’ve ever cared for a pet, you can keep rabbits.

  • Can be raised around children: Rabbits are docile animals. They are safe to keep around children.

  • No noise: Rabbits are pretty much silent. They won’t bother you or your neighbors.

Drawbacks of Keeping Rabbits

  • Rabbits are prey animals: This means that they are constantly at risk of being attacked and killed by predators. To help protect your rabbits, you will need to build a secure hutch.

  • You need to clean the hutch regularly: Rabbits produce a lot of waste, and if their hutch is not cleaned often, it can become a health hazard for both the rabbits and the humans who live near them. If you decide to keep rabbits, be prepared to clean their hutch at least daily.

  • There is little demand for rabbit meat: While some people may enjoy eating rabbit meat, there is not a lot of demand for it in the marketplace. This means that if you decide to raise rabbits for meat, you may have trouble finding buyers for your product.

  • There isn’t much meat on a rabbit: A single rabbit can feed 2 people. If you have a large family, you’ll need to produce lots of rabbits to feed everyone.

3. Bees

a beekeeper tending to his bees

Honey bees are one of the best types of livestock to keep on a homestead. Everyone loves honey. Humans have been enjoying the sweet golden liquid for at least 8,000 years. Keeping bees on your homestead is a no-brainer.

Bees are an essential part of the ecosystem. They play a vital role in pollination. Unfortunately, bees are under threat. Their populations have been decreasing due to pesticides, monoculture farming, and climate change.

By keeping honey bees on your homestead, you can help to preserve this important species. Without bees, many plants would not be able to reproduce, and the world’s food supply would be diminished.

It’s easy to keep honey bees on a homestead. All you need is a hive, some bees, and a bit of knowledge about beekeeping. Once you have your hive set up, they are pretty hands-off. You only have to check on your hives every 7-10 days during the summer and once a month during the winter. This makes bees a great choice for those who don’t have a lot of extra time. Bees also don’t take up much space. You can raise them almost anywhere.

Honey bees can also provide you with a steady income for your homestead. A single hive can produce 60+ pounds of honey per year. Organic honey sells for about $5-6 per pound. A single hive can bring in $300-600 per year.

Beekeeping does require some knowledge and skill. There is a fairly steep learning curve. It also takes some time for bees to produce enough honey for you to harvest. You may not get to sample your own honey for the first year.

Some homesteaders are hesitant to keep bees out of fear of being stung. Honey bees are actually pretty docile creatures if they’re treated properly. Experienced beekeepers don’t even wear a bee suit while handling them. With proper care and technique, beekeeping is perfectly safe. If you’re allergic to bees, beekeeping may not be for you.

Honey

Benefits of Keeping Bees on a Homestead

  • Honey: The most obvious use for bees on a homestead is to produce honey. Honey is produced from the nectar of flowers. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as in baking or as a natural sweetener. Honey keeps for up to a year. You can also sell surplus honey. Organic honey is in high demand. It sells great at farmer’s markets.

  • Beeswax: Beeswax is another product that can be harvested from bees. The wax is secreted by bees and used to build the honeycomb in their hive. Beeswax can be used to make a variety of products including candles, soap, polish, sealants, balms, and various cosmetics. It’s a versatile product. You can sell raw beeswax for income or make products out of it to sell.

  • Pollination: Honey bees are essential for pollination. This is the process by which plants transfer pollen from the male parts of the plant to the female parts in order to fertilize the plant and produce seeds. Without bees, many plants would not be able to reproduce and would eventually die out. If you have a vegetable garden on your homestead, keeping bees will increase productivity.

  • Selling or renting bees: Another use for bees on a homestead is to sell them. Beekeepers often sell their hives or individual bees to other beekeepers. You can also rent out bee hives to farmers for pollination services. This can be a great source of income. For more info, check out this article about renting bees for pollination.

  • Low Maintenance: Bees are low-maintenance creatures. Especially when compared to other livestock. They do not need to be fed or watered. Bees make their own food (honey). They require little work, once set up. You don’t need to check on your bees every day. They will not make a mess or damage your property.

  • Low cost: Keeping bees is also a very affordable endeavor. The initial investment for beekeeping equipment is relatively low. Once you have the necessary supplies, the ongoing costs are nearly zero. Beekeepers typically only need to purchase new hive frames and honey supers every few years. A bee suit and smoker will last many years. You don’t need to buy feed or pay for veterinary care.

  • You can keep bees almost anywhere: Bees can be kept on any size homestead, from a small urban lot to a large farm. As long as there is enough space for the hive and the bees have access to water and flowers, they will do just fine. People have even kept bees on the roof of apartment buildings in the middle of cities. This makes beekeeping a great option for those with limited space.

  • Good for the garden: Bees play an important role in pollinating plants, which is essential for plant reproduction. In fact, bees are responsible for pollinating approximately one-third of the food we eat. By keeping bees on your homestead, you can help to ensure that your garden is as productive as possible.

  • Good for the planet: Bees are not just good for gardens; they are also good for the planet as a whole. Bees play a vital role in maintaining global biodiversity and their populations are declining at an alarming rate. By keeping bees on your homestead, you can help to ensure that these important creatures continue to thrive.

  • Source of sugar: Honey is a delicious and healthy alternative to refined sugar, and it can be easily produced on a homestead with just a few hives of bees. Honey has numerous health benefits and can be used in a variety of recipes in place of sugar.

Honeybees

Drawbacks of Keeping Bees on a Homestead

  • High initial cost: Beekeeping equipment can be quite expensive. You’ll need to buy hives, a bee suit, a hive tool, a smoker, etc. Additionally, bees themselves can be costly, as they must be purchased from a reputable breeder. Expect to spend around $500-$1000 to get started. You can save money by building your own hives.

  • Bees sting: When you keep bees, you will get stung. There is no avoiding it. Bee stings can be painful. Bees are pretty docile. If you’re careful, you won’t get stung frequently.

  • Some people are allergic to bees: While bee stings can be painful, they are usually not dangerous for those who are not allergic. However, those who are allergic to bee stings can experience a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis. This condition can be life-threatening for some people. If you or a family member is allergic to bees, you shouldn’t keep them on your property. One positive is that bees do not carry any diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

  • Requires time and patience: Beekeeping requires some work. Beekeepers must regularly check their hives for signs of disease or pests. They must also harvest honey and wax on a regular basis.

4. Goats

A goat on a homestead

One of the most versatile animals that can be raised on a homestead is the goat. They provide both meat and milk, just like cows or sheep. In addition, some species produce fiber that can be used for clothing or other purposes.

A dairy goat can produce 3-4 quarts of milk per day. Goat milk can be used for drinking or cooking or making soap, butter, or cheese. Goat meat is healthy and flavorful. The hair of Angora goats and other long-haired species can be sheared and used for making yarn. Goat products can be sold for income.

Goats are a bit more manageable than cows due to their small size. Some species are the size of a large dog. They are a bit more friendly than sheep, making them a better choice for families.

Goats are well-suited to small homesteads because they don’t require a lot of space. You could raise goats in a large suburban backyard. If you have an acre or more, goats are able to subsist on forage alone.

Goats can be very helpful in clearing an area of brush or unwanted growth. They eat leaves, weeds, grass, and other vegetation. This makes them ideal for clearing overgrown areas and keeping the homestead tidy. This also makes goats relatively easy to care for. They are one of the most self-sufficient animals.

Best of all, goats are relatively low-maintenance. Goats are hardy farm animals. They don’t require a lot of special care or equipment. As long as they have shelter, food, and water, they will be happy.

Goats do need to be dewormed as they are susceptible to stomach issues. You will also need to do some research first to make sure that your local ordinances allow goats. Some cities do not allow goats. You’ll also need a strong fence to keep your goats on your property.

A goat eating grass

Benefits of Raising Goats on a Homestead

  • Milk: Goat milk is higher in nutrients than cow milk. It’s also easier for some people to digest. Goat milk can be used in all the same ways as cow milk. You can drink it and make cheese, butter, and yogurt. It can also be used for cooking. It has a nice rich flavor.

  • Meat: Goat meat is leaner than beef, making it a healthy option. Goat meat can be used in all the same ways as other meats, including roasting, grilling, and stewing. It’s delicious. Goat meat isn’t popular in the U.S. but it is common in other parts of the world.

  • Fiber: Goats produce two types of fiber: mohair and cashmere. Mohair is typically used in the production of clothing and yarn, while cashmere is often used in the production of high-end fabrics and garments. Goat fiber can be sold for income.

  • Keeping weeds down: Goats will eat just about anything, including weeds and brush. This can help to keep your homestead free of unwanted vegetation. If you have some pasture that needs to be cleared, consider adding a couple of goats to your homestead. When feeding your goat, it’s important to note that a goat’s diet does affect the flavor of its milk and meat.

  • Selling kids (baby goats): Kids can be sold for a variety of purposes, including as pets or for their meat or fiber. They can catch a good price when sold.

  • Resilient: Goats are able to withstand a wide range of climate conditions and are not easily susceptible to disease. This makes them a good choice for beginners.

  • Easy to Care For: Goats are able to thrive on a diet that is mostly composed of grass and other vegetation. They can be mostly self-sufficient. They can be kept in a variety of housing options, such as a barn, shed, or even a converted garage. They are far easier to care for than cows or sheep.

  • Goats do not require a great deal of space: A single goat needs around 150 square feet of space. Even if you only have a small backyard, you can still raise goats. You don’t need acreage. If you only have a small amount of space, consider raising a small breed of goat, such as the Nigerian Dwarf. These goats are smaller than many large dogs.

  • Versatile: Goats can be used for a variety of purposes. They can be raised for their milk, meat, or fiber. Additionally, goats can be used as working animals on a homestead, as they are able to pull carts and plow fields. They also produce goat manure and control weeds.

Drawbacks to Raising Goats on a Homestead

  • Goats are escape artists: They are notorious for getting out of fences. You need to build a secure shelter to keep your goats in.

  • Raising goats is a commitment: You will have to milk your goat daily. This adds a job for you to do. Goats require more work than chickens, rabbits, or other small livestock.

  • Goats can be destructive: They like to chew on things and will eat just about anything. This includes clothing and electric wires. Be prepared to goat-proof your homestead.

  • You need to have enough space: Goats need room to roam. Ideally, you should have a minimum of 200 square feet per goat. But, the more space you can give them, the better.

  • They can be loud: Goats make a lot of noise, especially when they are bored. If you have close neighbors, they may not appreciate the sound of your goats bleating all day long. It can get annoying.

  • Goats can be agressive: Both bucks and does can get aggressive during breeding season. If you have kids, they will need to be extra careful around the goats during this time. Goats can also get agressive if they feel threatened or upset. A goat can cause injury.

  • You need to keep multiple gots: When kept alone, goats get lonely. They can start acting out. Ideally, you should keep at least 2 goats.

  • Smelly: Goats can have a strong odor. Particularly males.

5. Pigs

Pigs

Pigs are a popular choice for homesteaders looking to raise their own food. They provide a steady supply of meat and fat. A couple of pigs can produce hundreds of pounds of food for you and your family.

When you raise pigs, you can produce your own bacon, sausage, ham, and pork chops. Their meat is delicious. You and your family will eat well when you keep pigs on your homestead.

Pigs are omnivorous. They can be fed a variety of table scraps and garden waste. They are also great foragers. You can let your pigs free-range in your garden after harvest and they will eat leftover vegetables and roots. This makes raising pigs incredibly efficient. They convert all of your waste into calories.

In addition, pigs turn your kitchen and garden waste into manure, which is excellent for your garden. They also root around in the dirt, which helps to prepare the soil for planting.

Pigs are hardy and easy to raise. They are surprisingly friendly. Kind of like big dogs. You can keep pigs in a pasture or in a pen. They do not require a lot of space because they aren’t very active animals. Your pigpen needs to be secure as pigs are escape artists.

Pigs typically reach maturity in four to six months. At this point, they will weigh around 250 pounds. A single pig can provide you with over 100 pounds of meat. This large quantity of meat is the best reason to raise pigs on your homestead.

If you live on a small homestead, consider raising Kune Kune pigs. These are grazing pigs that are able to live on little food. Their snout shape makes it difficult for them to root so they won’t damage your yard. Kune Kunes are also a smaller breed. Red Wattle pigs or Large Black pigs are also good options. They are excellent foragers.

Piglets

Benefits of Keeping Pigs on a Homestead

  • Pigs are a great source of meat: Raising pigs can provide a family with a steady supply of pork. Pork is a versatile meat that can be used in a variety of dishes, from breakfast sausage and bacon to pulled pork sandwiches to pork chops. Everyone who eats pork loves it.

  • Pigs can help clear land: Pigs root around in the soil, eating any plants or roots they find. This can be helpful if you’re trying to clear an area for gardening or farming.

  • Pigs don’t require much space: Pigs can be kept in a small pen or pasture. Each pig only needs about 80 square feet. This makes them ideal for people who live on small properties or don’t have a lot of land to spare.

  • Pigs eat kitchen scraps and garden waste: Pigs are omnivores and will eat just about anything, including scraps from the kitchen table. This can be helpful if you’re trying to reduce your food waste. You can turn waste into food.

  • You can sell piglets: If you have extra piglets, you can sell them to other homesteaders or farmers. This can be a great way to earn some extra income. Pigs reproduce quickly. A healthy sow will have at least 7-10 piglets per litter. The gestation period is only 114 days. Most pigs can have two litters per year. A sow can start reproducing at just 5 months old.

  • Hog manure: Pigs produce manure that is high in nutrients.

Drawbacks of Keeping Pigs on a Homestead

  • Pigs are large and heavy animals: The market weight of a pig is around 275 lbs. The large size can make pigs harder to manage than small livestock such as chickens and rabbits. Beginners can find them intimidating.

  • Pigs require a lot of food: Fully grown pigs need 2-2.5kg of food per day. If you don’t produce much waste on your homestead, you’ll have buy a lot of feed, which can get expensive.

  • pigs can be escape artists: Pigs are intelligent animals and can figure out how to open gates and escape from pens. If you’re not careful, your pigs can get loose and cause havoc on your property. They need to be kept in a secure enclosure so they don’t get out.

  • Pigs are smelly animals: Pigs produce a lot of manure, which can be smelly. In addition, their pens and pastures will likely get muddy and dirty.

  • Pigs can be aggressive: Pigs can be very friendly animals, but they can also be aggressive, especially if they’re not used to being around people. They can cause injury if they feel threatened.

  • They’re loud: A pig’s squeal can reach 115 decibels. That’s loud. They can be a nuisance to your neighbors.

6. Cows

A brown cow sticking its tongue out

Cows are one of the most versatile farm animals you can raise on a homestead. They will supply you and your family with a steady supply of beef and milk. At the same time, raising larger livestock does require a significant amount of space. Raising cows also requires a time commitment.

Cows need plenty of room to roam and graze. You’ll need 1-2 acres of quality pasture land for each cow to graze if you intend to grass-feed your cows. If you intend to raise your cows in a smaller space, you’ll need to buy feed for your cows. Buying feed greatly increases the cost of raising cows.

It also takes quite a bit of time to raise cows. If you raise dairy cows, they’ll need to be milked twice per day. You’ll also need to assist your cows during birthing. The hooves need to be trimmed. You’ll need to brush your cows.

In addition, you’ll also need a large fence around your property and a barn to shelter your cows. Cows also require a lot of water. Each milk cow drinks approximately 30-40 gallons of water per day. Beef cows need 9-12 gallons per day.

Cows also require regular veterinary care. Cows must also be carefully monitored to ensure that they are healthy and comfortable. This all adds to the cost of raising cows.

There are a number of different types of cows you could raise on your homestead. The best type of cow depends on the climate where you live and whether you want to produce milk or meat.

Dairy cows produce milk. The most popular dairy breeds are Holsteins, Jerseys, and Guernseys. When choosing a milk cow, you’ll want to consider whether you want A1 or A2 milk. To help you choose, check out this guide.

Beef cows are raised for their meat. The most popular beef breeds are Angus, Hereford, and Charolais.

Another option is to raise dual-purpose cows. These breeds can be used for both dairy and beef. The most popular dual-purpose breeds are Shorthorns, Red Polls, Pineywoods, and Brown Swiss.

Homesteaders must be prepared to invest significant time and energy into caring for their cows. They aren’t the best choice for those who are just getting started. For those who are willing to make the commitment, cows can be a great addition to your homestead.

Two cows grazing on a field

Benefits of Raising Cows on a Homestead

  • Beef: Beef is a popular meat that is high in protein and essential nutrients. An average cow can produce around 450 pounds of meat for your family. Two cows would be enough to feed a family of 4 for a whole year. If you raise your own cows, you can be sure that the beef you consume is healthy and humanely raised.

  • Milk: A dairy cow can produce up to 7 gallons of milk per day. That’s enough milk to drink and make chees, yogurt, butter, ice cream, buttermilk, cream, and other dairy products. Milk is rich in calcium and other essential nutrients. If you raise your own cows, you can be sure that the milk you consume is fresh and free from harmful chemicals.

  • Selling calves: If you decide to raise cows on a homestead, you may also be able to sell calves for profit. Calves are typically sold to other farmers. If you sell calves, you can use the money to cover the costs of raising your cows or to improve your homestead.

  • Selling dairy or meat: Depending on the laws in your area, you may also be able to sell dairy products such as milk, cheese, or butter as well as meat. Selling meat and dairy products can be a great way to make money on a homestead.

  • Manure: Manure can be used as fertilizer for crops. This can improve productivity. You can also sell excess manure to other farmers or home gardeners.

  • Cows can be pastured on grass: Cows are able to graze on grass, which means they don’t require as much feed as other farm animals. This can save you money.

Drawbacks of Raising Cows on a Homestead

  • Cows can be expensive: Cows require a lot of food and water, and they also need veterinary care on a regular basis. Additionally, cows need to be housed in a barn or other shelter, which can also be costly to build. If you need to buy feed for your cow, the cost will add up. Cows can eat 24 pounds of hay per day.

  • Cows require lots of space: Cows need to have access to pasture. Each cow needs at least 1 acre. If you don’t have enough land for pasture, then raising cows may not be feasible. The cost of feed makes it uneconomical. Most homesteaders don’t have enough land to raise cows.

  • Raising cows takes a lot of time: Cows need to be fed twice per day. They also need to be watered regularly. Their hooves need to be trimmed every few months. Some cows need to be brushed. Dairy cows need to be milked twice daily.

  • Slow to reproduce: Cows typically only have one calf per year. It can take several years to build up a decent-sized herd.

  • Can be dangerous: Cows can become aggressive when agitated. They have been known to attack humans. If you have small children or other vulnerable people on your homestead, then you may want to reconsider raising cows.

  • Difficult to raise: There is a learning curve to raising cows. They need help during birthing. You’ll have to learn how to milk your cows. Their large size can make them difficult to manage. If you’ve never been around large livestock before, you’re better off starting with something smaller, such as sheeps or goats.

7. Ducks

A peking duck

Ducks are a great addition to a small homestead. They can be raised alongside backyard chickens. Both species can cohabitate peacefully. If you already raise chickens, consider adding a few ducks. For more in-depth info, check out my guide to raising ducks vs chickens.

Ducks can provide you with meat and eggs. Duck eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs. They are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Duck meat is dark, fatty, and delicious. It’s in high demand.

Ducks are relatively easy to care for and require little space, making them well-suited for homesteading. They do require a bit more space than chickens, but they can be kept in small flocks. You can raise ducks in your backyard.

In addition, ducks are excellent at pest control. Particularly if you have a slug problem on your homestead. Ducks will also eat insects, grubs, and other critters. This can help to keep your homestead free of harmful pests.

One important consideration is that ducks require access to water. They are waterfowl, after all. Homesteaders should consider whether they have the space for a pond or other water source. If you don’t have room for a pond, an aboveground pool can work fine. Ducks also need a duck house to live in. This is similar to a chicken coop.

Benefits of Keeping Ducks on a Homestead

  • Eggs: Ducks provide a steady supply of eggs. Ducks lay an average of 300 eggs per year. Duck eggs are also larger than chicken eggs and have a richer flavor. They’re great for cooking or eating for breakfast. Another benefit of ducks is that they tend to lay year-round.

  • Meat: Duck meat is considered to be a delicacy in many cultures. It is significantly higher in fats and vitamins than chicken or turkey meat.

  • Selling hatching eggs: If you keep a drake (male duck) on your homestead to fertilize eggs, you may also be able to sell hatching eggs to other homesteaders. Depending on the breed you raise, hatching eggs can fetch a good price.

  • Selling ducklings: Ducklings typically sell for $5 to $10 each. Some duck breeds are more valuable than others. They can be sold to people who want to raise ducks for meat or eggs, or simply as pets.

  • Selling Eggs and Meat: You can also choose to sell both duck eggs and duck meat directly to local restaurants and consumers. Because duck eggs are less common than chicken eggs, they can fetch a higher price. Duck eggs typically sell for around $9-$12 per dozen. They sell great at farmer’s markets. Duck meat is considered exotic meat in many countries. It is prized in fine dining. A whole duck can sell for $25-$35. Selling eggs and meat to local fine dining restaurants and individuals can be a great way to earn some extra income.

  • Pest control: They will eat slugs, grubs, and other pests that can damage your crops. This can help to keep your homestead free of harmful pests.

  • Fertilizer: Duck manure makes great fertilizer. Their manure is high in nitrogen and other nutrients.

  • Down: Down is the soft, fluffy layer of feathers closest to a duck’s skin. Down is a type of insulation that is used in many different products such as pillows, sleeping bags, jackets, and blankets. If you raise ducks for meat, you can harvest and sell the down or use it to make your own cold-weather clothing and bedding.

  • Less prone to disease: Ducks are pretty hardy. They are less likely to get sick and die than chickens.

a duckling

Drawbacks of Keeping Ducks on a Homestead

  • Ducks are messy: Ducks will make a mess of any yard or garden they are allowed to roam in. They will uproot plants, defecate everywhere, and generally make a mess of things.

  • Ducks are noisy: Ducks will often quack loudly, especially when they are excited or frightened. This can be very annoying for people who live near duck keepers.

  • Ducks are prey animals: Ducks are often targeted by predators such as foxes, coyotes, and hawks. You will need to secure your ducks at night to keep them safe.

  • They take time to start laying: It takes ducks about six to seven months to start laying eggs after they hatch. This can be frustrating for people who are looking for a quick source of eggs from their ducks. Ducks usually don’t lay daily, like chickens.

8. Fish

Fresh trout

Raising fish can be a great way to supplement your food supply on your homestead. Fish meat is a healthy and delicious source of protein. They are cheap and easy to raise, once you have everything set up. Fish meat is a nice change from chicken or pork.

If you have a natural pond on your property, raising fish is a no-brainer. If you have the space, you can build a pond in your backyard. Otherwise, you can purchase a ready-made fish tank. It is even possible to raise fish indoors on a small scale.

Fish can be surprisingly easy to raise once you’re set up. You will need to feed your fish daily and monitor the water quality to ensure that they stay healthy. If you’re raising fish in a pond, they will be mostly self-sufficient.

The best type of fish to raise depends on the climate where you live and your personal taste. If you live in a warm climate, tilapia and catfish are popular options. These species are hardy and easy to raise. They can be raised in an aquaponic system. In cold weather, you’ll need a heater to keep the water warm enough.

In very cold climates, you may consider raising trout. These delicious fish can survive in cold water. You will need an aerator to prevent the surface of the water from freezing completely if temperatures fall below freezing for prolonged periods where you live. For more info, check out this guide to winter fish care. Trout are a bit harder to raise because they need excellent water quality to survive.

To increase efficiency, you can build an aquaponics system. Aquaponics is a type of gardening that uses fish waste as fertilizer for plants. The plants in turn act as a natural filter for the water, cleaning it before it returns to the fish tanks. Fish also feed on the plant roots. Aquaponics is a great way to garden organically and can be done in any climate. Alternatively, if you have a large duck pond, you could raise fish in it.

Benefits of Raising Fish on a Homestead

  • Meat: Fish provide a healthy source of meat. Fish are a lean protein that is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health. The meat is also tasty.

  • Fertilizer: Fish waste contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are essential nutrients for plant growth. When used as fertilizer, fish waste can help to improve crop yields and increase the overall health of plants. With an aquaponics system, you can use the nutrient-rich water to grow plants hydroponically.

  • Easy to keep: Fish are relatively easy to care for when compared to other types of animals. They don’t need to be exercised or herded. Fish do not require a lot of care or attention. All you need to do is feed them and make sure their water is clean. In a pond, fish can be fairly self-sufficient. You don’t need any prior experience to start raising fish.

  • Quiet: Fish are silent. This can be beneficial if you live in an area where noise ordinances are strict, if you have nearby neighbors, or if you simply prefer to have a quieter homestead.

  • Fish reduce mosquito populations: A fish pond can help keep your homestead mosquito free. Fish also eat other pests.

  • Permitted everywhere: Raising fish is permitted in most places. This can be helpful if you live in an urban area where space is limited or if your local zoning laws restrict the types of farm animals that you can keep on your property.

  • You can sell fish: If you live in an area where there is a demand for fresh fish, you can sell your excess catch to earn some extra income. You can sell to local restaurants or individuals.

  • Fish do not require a lot of space: They can be kept in tanks or ponds that are relatively small. You could raise fish in your backyard or even in your basement.

  • No mess: Fish don’t make a mess of your yard. They won’t damage your property.

  • Fish don’t escape: They stay in their pond or tank.

Drawbacks of Raising Fish on a Homestead

  • High startup cost: In order to raise fish, you will need to purchase or build a pond or fish tank. You will also need to purchase fish food and other supplies. You might need a heater or bubbler. If you want to build an aquaponics system, you’ll need more equipment. The initial investment can be significant.

  • Not ideal for cold climates: The water needs to stay above freezing so it doesn’t turn to ice. If you live in an area with a colder climate, you will need to take steps to ensure that your pond does not freeze over. This can be done by using a pond heater or a bubbler during the winter months. Some species require warmer water. If the water freezes completely, your fish will die. This makes fish a better choice for those who live in a warm climate.

  • Fish take a long time to mature: Tilapia take around 8 months to reach harvestable size. Catfish take 1-2 years. Raising fish is a long-term commitment.

  • Requires regular maintenance: You will need to regularly check the water quality of your pond and make sure that the pH levels are balanced. You will also need to feed your fish on a regular basis and remove any dead or dying fish from the pond. Fish aren’t maintenance free.

9. Sheep

Lambs

Sheep are versatile farm animals. They produce delicious meat, rich milk, and high-quality wool. They can also be extremely profitable animals to raise.

Sheep thrive in cooler climates. They do not do well in the heat. If you live in an area with hot summers, you will need to ensure that your sheep have access to shade and fresh water at all times. Your sheep will also need a good shelter to keep them protected from predators, storms, and cold weather.

Sheep are grazers. A rule of thumb is that each sheep needs about half an acre of land. However, this can vary depending on the type of grasses in your pasture and the climate. They need more space than goats.

You will also need to decide whether you want to raise sheep for meat, milk, or wool production (or all three). If you want to milk your sheep, you will need to purchase dairy-quality ewes. Dairy-quality ewes will produce more milk than wool-producing ewes. East Friesian and Lacaune sheep are good options. If you want to produce sheep meat, Suffolk and Cheviot are good options.

If you want to harvest the wool from your sheep, you will need to purchase quality breeding stock. Merino sheep offer some of the best quality wool.

Raising sheep is a great way to make some money on your homestead. You can sell your locally produced organic sheep meat, milk, and cheese for a premium to local restaurants. Knitters will also pay a premium for unique sheep yarn. You will need to learn the skills of wool spinning and dying if you want to produce quality yarn.

Sheep can be a bit more difficult to care for than similar farm animals, like goats. The main reason is that sheep often don’t show any signs when something is wrong. They can get sick and die suddenly without any warning. For this reason, they aren’t ideal for those who have never raised livestock before. Sheep also need to be shorn in the spring. Sheep are also prey animals.

A sheep grazing

Benefits of Keeping Sheep on a Homestead

  • Sheep meat: Sheep are a source of lean, nutritious, and delicious meat that can be used in a variety of dishes. Lamb is a delicacy.

  • Milk: Sheep milk is high in fat and protein, making it an excellent choice for those who are looking for an alternative to cow’s milk. Sheep milk can also be used to make cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products. Sheep cheese is an exotic food that can be sold for a premium.

  • Wool: Wool is a durable fiber that can be spun into yarn. This yarn can be used to make clothing, blankets, and other items. Imagine knitting your own sweater, socks, scarf, and mittens from wool from your own sheep that you raised.

  • Income: Keeping sheep on a homestead can provide a steady source of income. Wool or yarn can be an excellent source of income. You can also sell lamb meat to local restaurants. You could sell milk or cheese at your local farmer’s market. Additionally, you can sell lambs as they’re born.

  • Sheep grazing: Sheep graze on grasses and other plants. They can be used to clear land. Sheep can survive by grazing. you don’t have to buy feed if you have enough land to support your sheep.

  • Can survive in cold climates: If you live in a cold climate, your livestock options are limited. Sheep are a good choice.

  • Manure: Sheep manure can be used as fertilizer for crops or gardens to increase productivity.

  • Sheep are docile animals: sheep are not known to be aggressive toward humans or other farm animals. This makes them relatively easy to handle, even for those who are new to raising livestock.

  • Sheep are versatile: They produce meat, milk, wool, and lambs. They can also clear pasture land and produce manure.

Drawbacks of Keeping Sheep on a Homestead

  • Sheep require a lot of space: Sheep need to be able to roam around freely and graze. They need more space than goats. If they are kept in a small paddock they will quickly become stressed and their health will suffer.

  • Sheep need to be sheared: Sheep need to be sheared at least once a year. Sheep wool can be difficult to clean and process, so it is important to make sure that you have the time and resources available to shear yoru sheep before you decide to raise sheep.

  • Sheep are expensive to raise: Sheep are not cheap animals to keep, especially if you are planning on raising them for their wool or meat. You will need to purchase food and bedding for your sheep, as well as any equipment you will need for shearing and processing their wool. Additionally, you will need to pay for any veterinary care your sheep may require.

  • Sheep are prey animals: They are at risk of being attacked by predators. Dogs, coyotes, wolves, bears, and mountain lions are all common predators of sheep. You will need to pen your sheep at night to keep them safe.

  • Sheep need a good shelter: Sheep need a shelter that will protect them from the elements, as well as predators. A good sheep shelter should be dry, draft-free, and have plenty of ventilation.

  • You need to keep multiple sheep: When sheep are kept alone, they get stressed out. Ideally, you shoudl keep at least 3 sheep.

  • Difficult to keep: Sheep aren’t for beginners. You’ll need to learn how to shear your sheep. You’ll also need to learn how to properly care for your sheep and protect them from predators.

10. Quail

A quail

Quail are becoming a popular choice for homesteaders. There are several reasons for this. Quail produce high-quality meat that is rich in flavor and nutritious. Their eggs are a delicacy.

Quail are also small and quiet. They take up much less space than chickens. Quail are well-suited to life in a small space. They won’t make noise and bother your neighbors.

If you live in a town that prohibits chickens, quail can be an excellent alternative. Many city laws don’t mention quail. This is kind of a loophole.

Quail can also be profitable to raise. They’re a great choice for hose who are looking to earn an income. This is because quail meat and eggs are specialty products. High-end restaurants are willing to pay a high price for locally-grown organic quail. Quail eggs can also command a high price at the farmer’s market. You probably won’t have much competition. These are somewhat exotic products.

If you are thinking of raising quail on your homestead, there are a few things you need to know. Quail can’t be allowed to free-range like chickens or ducks. They will fly away and never return. You need a large enough enclosure to keep them in. Quail are considered a wild game animal. Some varieties have been domesticated.

Quail eggs

Benefits of Keeping Quail on a Homestead

  • Egg: Quail start laying eggs as soon as two months after they hatch. Quail eggs are not only delicious, but they are also nutrient-rich, containing high levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are small so you’ll need a lot of them to make an omelet.

  • Meat: Quail meat is lean and flavorful, and can be used in a variety of dishes. Quail meat is also a good source of protein.

  • Selling eggs and meat: If you have excess eggs or meat, you can also sell them for profit. You can sell eggs at a farmer’s market. Local high-end restaurants often buy quail meat. Because quail are exotic, they can demand a much higher price than chicken. This allows you to sell your quail products for a premium. Selling quail eggs and meat can be a great way to earn some extra income on your homestead.

  • Quail don’t take up much space: Quail can be kept in small pens or coops, making them ideal for those who have limited space on their homesteads. You could even raise quail indoors in a garage or in your basement.

  • Quail are quiet: You won’t have to worry about them disturbing your peace and quiet.

  • Low cost: Quail don’t require much in the way of food or housing. They can be kept in cages. They don’t require expensive veterinary care. They don’t eat much.

Drawbacks of Keeping Quail on a Homestead

  • There isn’t much meat on a quail: A single quail only weighs around 4 ounces, which is significantly less than other poultry such as chickens and turkeys. As such, it would take a large number of quail to provide enough meat for a family. A single quail is only enough to feed one person. They’re small birds. You’ll have to butcher and clean a few to feed your family.

  • Prey animals: Quail are often hunted by predators such as foxes, hawks, and snakes. This can make it difficult to keep them safe, even if they are kept in a fenced enclosure. Predators are smart. If you’re not careful, they will find a way into your quail cages.

  • You have to clean the cages: You have to clean your quail cages regularly. Quail produce a lot of waste. They can get sick if their cages aren’t properly cleaned. Cleaning can be a time-consuming and unpleasant task.

11. Geese

geese in a barn

Geese are a great addition to your homestead. They can be raised alongside backyard chickens or ducks. All three species can cohabitate peacefully. If you already raise chickens or ducks, consider adding a few geese to your flock.

Geese can provide you with both meat and eggs. Goose eggs are larger than chicken eggs. They offer a nice rich flavor. Goose meat is also delicious. A goose makes for an excellent alternative to a turkey or ham for holiday meals.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of keeping geese on a homestead is that they make excellent guards for your other farm animals. Geese can be surprisingly aggressive and loud. They are mean and can put up a fight. Geese can protect your chickens and ducks from predators. They can also alert you to intruders on your property.

If you’re thinking about adding geese to your homestead, there are a few things you should know. First, geese require a good amount of space to roam. They also like to have access to water, so you’ll need to provide them with a pond or pool. Additionally, geese can be noisy, so be prepared for some honking.

Geese

Benefits of Keeping Geese on a Homestead

  • Geese are excellent watchdogs: They will sound the alarm if they see or hear anything out of the ordinary. Geese can even fight off predators. They punch way above their weight.

  • Eggs: Geese lay large eggs. They taste a bit richer and stronger than chicken eggs. They can be eaten on their own or used in cooking and baking.

  • Meat: A typical goose yields 8-10 pounds of meat. The meat is dark and fatty. Geese are fattier than chickens but not as fatty as ducks. A goose makes for an excellent holiday treat.

  • You can sell eggs and meat: Goose is considered an exotic meat. A whole goose can sell for $100 or more. You can sell to local restaurants and individuals. The holidays are a great time to sell goose meat. The eggs are also valuable because geese are not prolific layers. Goose eggs are an interesting product. They’ll sell quickly at farmer’s markets. Raising geese is a great way to earn some income on your homestead.

  • Goslings: You can sell hatching eggs or goslings to farmers or other homesteaders in your area. To do this, you will need a gander (male goose) to fertilize the eggs.

Drawbacks of Keeping Geese on a Homestead

  • Geese don’t lay many eggs: On average, geese lay 30-50 eggs per year. Mainly in the spring. This is far fewer eggs than chickens or ducks. If producing lots of eggs is your goal, geese aren’t the best choice.

  • Geese can get aggressive: Geese are usually pretty docile. They may attack humans or other animals during breeding season or if their nest is disturbed. This is something to keep in mind if you have small children or other pets. Male geese are more aggressive than females.

  • Geese are messy: They defecate a lot and they like to swim in mud. You’ll need to clean their enclosure regularly.

  • Geese need water: Geese don’t need a large pond like ducks but they do need a pool or tub of clean water to bathe in.

12. Horses

Two horses

For the right person, horses can be a great addition to a homestead. Not only are they beautiful animals, but they can also provide a source of energy and transportation.

If you’re looking to live a more traditional lifestyle, you can use horses to perform work on your farm. They can be used to pull a wagon to move equipment and supplies around, pull a plow to plow a field, spread manure, or plow snow. If you don’t want to use modern machinery, a horse is a necessity.

Horses are also valuable if you’re planning to open up your homestead to visitors as an agrotourism business. You can use horses for hayrides during the summer or sleigh rides during the winter. You can take guests on horseback rides around your property. People also love interacting with horses.

There is also a certain romantic quality to having horses on a homestead. When people imagine living on a farm, horses come to mind. The aesthetics of having horses wander around on your property has value. It can make you feel happy and at peace. Horses are majestic creatures. They are also great for companionship.

However, horses require a lot of care and attention. They need to be brushed and exercised regularly. Their hooves need to be trimmed. But if you are prepared to put in the work, keeping horses on your homestead can be a rewarding experience.

Two running horses

Benefits of Keeping Horses on a Homestead

  • Labor: Horses can be used for tasks such as plowing fields, hauling hay, and pulling carts. Using horses for labor can save money as you will not have to purchase or operate expensive machinery.

  • Manure: Horse manure can be used as fertilizer. It is an excellent source of nutrients that can help to improve the yield of crops. Manure can also be used to compost, which is a process that helps to improve the quality of the soil.

  • Horses are beautiful creatures: Horses can add aesthetic value to a homestead. Seeing horses grazing in a field or running in a pasture can be enjoyable and calming for the homesteader and visitors.

  • You can go horseback riding: Horseback riding can be a fun activity for the whole family. It’s also a great way to explore the property and see the land in a different way.

  • Companionship: Horses are social animals that enjoy being around people. They are gentle animals and will often form strong bonds with their owners. Spending time with horses can be therapeutic and relaxing, making them the perfect addition to any homestead.

Drawbacks of Keeping Horses on a Homestead

  • Horses are expensive to keep: Horses require a lot of food. They also require regular vet visits. They need routine vaccines. It can cost anywhere from $2000-$10,000+ per year to keep a horse.

  • Keeping horses requires lots of work: Horses need to be exercised regularly. They also need to be groomed. In addition, they have their hooves trimmed regularly. This all takes time.

  • Horses can be difficult to handle: Horses are strong animals. They are also large. They can be dangerous if they aren’t treated with respect.

  • Horses are less efficient than machinery: Tractors can plow fields more quickly and easily than horses. They can also carry more weight. Additionally, tractors do not require as much care as horses do. They are also cheaper to operate.

  • Horses take up a lot of space: Horses need to have a large pasture or field in which to roam, and they also need a stable in which to sleep.

  • Difficult to keep: There is a steep learning curve to caring for horses. They aren’t ideal for beginners.

13. Insects

beekeeping

Farming insects is a great way to be more self-sufficient and reduce your impact on the environment. Insects are a great source of protein. They are also easy to care for and require very little space.

Insects are also very efficient at converting plants into food. Crickets, for example, can convert twice as much plant matter into protein as cattle. Mealworms are also a great source of protein, and they can be used as feed for chickens or fish. Bees are essential for pollinating plants, and they also produce honey, which can be used as a sweetener or sold for profit.

By farming insects on your homestead, you can reduce your reliance on processed foods and create a more sustainable system.

Benefits of Keeping Insects on a Homestead

  • Insects take up less space: Insects are much smaller than most other livestock. This is especially beneficial if you have a small homestead. You could farm insects in an apartment.

  • Insects are environmentally friendly: Insects have a lower environmental impact than other animals. They produce very little waste or greenhouse gasses. Some insects, such as bees, are actually beneficial for the environment. Bees pollinate plants.

  • They are efficient: Insects are very efficient at converting food into protein. They require fewer resources than other animals. This makes them cheaper to keep and easier to care for.

  • They reproduce quickly: Insects can produce more offspring than other animals. They can provide a steadier supply of food.

  • Good choice for those who don’t eat meat: Some people who don’t eat meat will eat insects.

Drawbacks of Keeping Insects on a Homestead

  • They’re gross: Let’s face it, insects are gross. They can be slimy and weird and they just generally creep us out. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of having insects, then keeping them on your homestead is probably not for you.

  • People don’t like eating insects: Most people don’t eat insects. If you can’t convince your family or friends to eat them, then you’re going to have a lot of wasted food.

  • They can spoil easily: Insects are susceptible to growing bacteria, mold, or fungi. If you don’t store them properly, they will spoil.

  • Toxicity: Insects can feed on toxic plants or other substances. These can be passed on to humans that eat them. This usually isn’t an issue with farmed insects. Some insects can also carry diseases.

  • Not accepted by the general public: If you tell people that you farm insects, they may think you’re weird.

  • They can be difficult to contain: Insects are small. They are escape artists.

14. Turkeys

Turkeys

Turkeys can provide you with both meat and eggs, making them a versatile addition to your homestead. They are also relatively easy to care for, and they don’t take up much space.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to add turkeys to your homestead. First, they need plenty of space to roam. Second, they can be messy, so you’ll need to make sure you have a good cleaning routine in place. Turkeys are also susceptible to blackhead disease. Finally, turkeys can be noisy, so you’ll want to make sure you have enough space between your homestead and your neighbor’s property.

A number of different turkey breeds exist. One of the best options for homesteaders is the heritage breed called Chocolate Turkey.

Benefits of Keeping Turkeys on a Homestead

  • Meat: Turkeys are a great source of meat for homesteaders. A single turkey can provide a family with several meals worth of meat. Additionally, turkey meat is relatively lean, meaning that it is a healthy option for those looking to avoid red meats.

  • Eggs: Turkeys can also be a source of eggs for homesteaders. Turkey eggs are a good source of protein and can be used in many different recipes. Turkeys lay around 100 eggs per year.

  • They can help control pests: Their strong sense of smell can help them to find and eat insects and other small animals that may damage crops.

  • Turkeys are fun to watch: In addition to all of the practical benefits of keeping turkeys on a homestead, they are also simply fun to watch. Turkeys are silly creatures with unique behaviors, and spending time observing them can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

  • Fertilizer: Turkey manure is rich in nutrients. It can help to improve crop yields.

Drawbacks of Keeping Turkeys on a Homestead

  • Susceptible to Disease: Turkeys are susceptible to a variety of diseases, which can be devastating to a homestead flock. Some of the most common diseases that affect turkeys include avian influenza, Newcastle disease, Blackhead, and fowlpox. These diseases can spread quickly and often result in death. To reduce the likelihood of disease, it’s a good idea to keep your turkeys separate from other birds, such as chickens. Also keep their coop clean.

  • Noisy: Turkeys are also quite noisy, especially when they are mating. The males will often make loud calls in an attempt to attract females. This can be very annoying for homesteaders who are trying to enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside.

  • Can be aggressive: While turkeys are generally docile creatures, they can be aggressive when they feel threatened. Males in particular can be quite aggressive during mating season. They have been known to attack humans and other animals that they perceive as a threat.

  • Attracts predators: Turkeys are also a favorite food of many predators, such as coyotes, foxes, and hawks. This can pose a serious threat to homesteaders who are trying to protect their flock.

  • Requires Special Care: Turkeys require special care and attention in order to stay healthy and thrive. They need plenty of space to roam and forage, and they must have access to clean water at all times. They aren’t quite as easy to raise as chickens or ducks.

15. Llamas or Alpacas

A llama

Llamas and alpacas are both members of the camelid family, and both animals can be used to great effect on a homestead. These versatile farm animals can be used for their wool, as pack animals, or even as guardians.

Llamas are particularly well-suited to homestead life, as they are very strong and can easily carry heavy loads. They are also very intelligent and can be trained to perform a variety of tasks.

Alpacas, on the other hand, are prized for their wool. Alpaca wool is very soft and warm, making it ideal for use in clothing and blankets.

Benefits of Keeping Llamas or Alpacas

  • Llamas and Alpacas are gentle and easy to train: They can be taught to walk on a lead. They can even be trained to pull a cart or wagon. They can even be trained to guard other farm animals, such as sheep or goats.

  • Alpacas provide high-quality wool: Their wool is soft, warm, and durable. Alpaca wool can be used to make clothing, blankets, and other textile products.

  • They can be used as pack animals: Llamas and alpacas can be used for carrying supplies on hikes or camping trips. They can also be used to transport supplies around the homestead

  • They make great pets: Llamas and alpacas are gentle and affectionate animals that bond well with their owners.

Drawbacks of Keeping Llamas or Alpacas

  • Llamas and alpacas are expensive: While llamas are not as expensive as some other livestock, they are still more expensive than most people realize. The initial cost of buying a llama can range from $500 to $1000, and then there are the ongoing costs of food, shelter, and vet care. If you are not prepared to make a significant financial investment, llamas may not be the right choice for you.

  • They require a lot of space: If you do not have a large property, llamas may not be the right animal for you. Additionally, llamas prefer to live in groups, so you will need to have enough space to accommodate multiple llamas.

  • Llamas can be difficult to handle: Llamas are large animals, and they can be difficult to handle if you are not experienced in working with them. They also have a natural tendency to spit, which can be very unpleasant (and even dangerous) for those who are not prepared for it. If you do not have experience working with large animals, llamas may not be the right choice for you.

  • Llamas and alpacas require special care: Llamas require special care and attention, and they must be shorn (have their wool cut) every year. If you are not prepared to commit the time and effort required to care for a llama properly, they may not be the right animal for you.

16. Dogs

A sheep herding dog

Dogs have been a part of homestead life for millennia. Many consider them to be essential. Different breeds have been bred to perform different jobs.

Some dogs offer protection from intruders for you and your livestock. A few good guard dogs can protect your homestead from wolves, coyotes, raccoons, and even bears.

Other breeds can be used for herding. Herding dogs are useful if you have sheep, goats, or cattle. They help keep the animals safe from predators and help them stay on your property.

Of course, all dogs make excellent companions. They can keep you company while you work. You can go on walks together. Dogs are man’s best friend.

Selecting the right breed of dog is essential to ensure that they are well-suited to life on the homestead. Breeds such as the German shepherd and the Border Collie are known for their intelligence and trainability, making them ideal for herding and security roles.

Other popular homestead dogs include the Labrador retriever and the golden retriever. Both make great companions and family pets.

When choosing a dog, consider the climate. Also, think about the jobs you want your dog to do. Whatever breed you choose, dogs will always be a welcome addition to any homestead.

17. Cats

A barn cat

Cats can be valuable members of a homesteading team. Their natural hunting instincts make them adept at catching rodents, such as mice, rats, and squirrels. In addition to helping to keep the rodent population under control, cats can also help to deter other pests, such as snakes and rabbits.

Cats require minimal care. They are independent and content to live outdoors. Barn cats aren’t completely self-sufficient. You still need to provide them with food, water, and a warm place to sleep.

If you’re lucky enough to have a friendly feline, they can also provide companionship and laughter. So whether you’re looking for a furry friend or pest control, consider keeping cats on your homestead.

Final Thoughts About The Best Farm Animals for Sel-Sufficiency

If you’re planning on raising animals on your homestead animals, be sure to do your research. There are a number of different factors to consider when choosing the type of animals to raise including the size of your land, the climate, your budget, the amount of time you have to care for your animals, and your experience raising livestock.

If you’re just getting started, consider raising chickens. They’re perfect for beginners. Rabbits, bees, and fish are also great choices for those who are just getting started. Once you have some experience, consider adding larger livestock like goats, pigs, or sheep. If you have a large piece of land, consider raising some cows. fe

With careful planning and a bit of forethought, you can choose the perfect animals for your homestead that will provide you with everything you need to be self-sufficient. Whichever animals you end up raising, I hope this guide has helped you in making your decision.

Which animals do you raise on your homestead? Share your experience in the comments below!

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