How to choose farm animals to raise when you are just starting out

How to choose farm animals to raise when you are just starting out

If you are a farmer who is new to the industry, you might be wondering what animals are the best choose to raise. You want animals that are easy and that use simple  farming equipment for sale for their needs, but you also want animals that can contribute to the sustainability of your farming endeavour. Outlined below is a list of farm animals that you can raise when you are just starting out as a farmer.

Chickens for eggs

Raising chickens is a no-brainer for any farmer, especially if you are an avid egg eater. They are hardy animals and easy to take care of, requiring little cost to set up. A small flock can easily cover all of the egg needs of a family of four and a flock of at least a dozen can create a profitable small egg business.

Hens eat food scraps and create fantastic compost for your vegetable garden or crops. One downside is that, if you live in a very rural area, they are prey for wild dogs and stray cats, so be sure to keep them very well protected in a chicken coop. You can build your own or you could look for ready-made farming equipment to suit your needs.

Goats

Goats are entertaining animals to keep, and they also provide a source of milk and meat for sustainable small farming. You can make your own goat’s milk cheese to enjoy or sell for profit, or use it for making homemade yoghurt for a healthy treat.

Goats require a medium amount of work, as you will have to ensure that they have enough room to move around in. Baby goats have boundless energy and need places to climb up on, so be sure to provide them with enough space to do so. Goats require proper feed, the belief that they will ‘eat anything’ is harmful as some people do not give them a proper diet. Look for a total mixed ration that provides your goats with enough protein, nutrients and vitamins.

Pigs

Pigs have the reputation of being dirty, smelly animals but in reality, they are quite clean and placid creatures. If you have the land to let them roam free, your feeding costs will be lower and the ‘smell factor’ will lessen due to them being in clean, open air.

If you want to raise the pigs for meat, then be sure to feed them healthy food rather than just grains and pre-mixed rations. When pigs have litters, they can have up to 11 babies, and you should raise these piglets for up to one year to get adequate meat from them. Pigs require secure fencing if you are not going to let them roam free, and they also need a warm place to sleep at night.

Pekin Ducks

Pekin ducks are easy animals to raise, requiring little work on the part of a farmer. They are a great source for meat and eggs, and because you can let them wander freely, you may not even require a duck coop.

While they eat more than chickens, they are excellent foragers and so will be able to find food easily for themselves.They will eat your weak rooted plants and keep the bugs off of your healthy ones. If you feel it is best to keep them safely in a coop, they will be happy with a medium-sized pond inside a coop to keep them hydrated and happy. Be sure to feed them a balanced feed mix so they receive all the necessary nutrients.

Rabbits

Some may think of rabbits only as children’s pets, but they are highly profitable animals to farm if you have a smallholding or a smaller piece of land to work with. They are great source of meat and do not require much room to live in, but it is better to give them a large hutch to move around in freely to avoid fighting between the rabbits.

You can feed them store-bought feed as well as vegetables. They are great for your garden because they produce amazing fertiliser and are fond of eating weeds that can destroy vegetables and flowers. They usually do need a hutch as they are prey for large birds and roaming wild dogs, with strong fencing so predators cannot easily reach them. If you prefer a free-range style of raising animals, be prepared to take precautions against hawks and dogs.

Final thoughts

As a farmer who is just starting out, raising animals can seem daunting and confusing. However, if you start with a few key farm animals such as chickens, pigs, ducks, goats and rabbits you will be able to move on to bigger animals like cows and sheep. Be sure that you have enough room for whatever animals you choose to raise and that you provide them with balanced feed. Healthy farm animals produce better meat, eggs and milk so keep them happy, healthy and well-cared for.

Authored by: mjones

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