No farm is complete without animals, don’t you think? It is great if you are a farmer primarily focused on growing vegetables, but having animals adds a different dimension to farming. While challenging and time-consuming, it is often more rewarding as the products of your labor can be felt sooner.
Now, farm animals are usually raised for something. You probably do not plan on raising chickens just because they are cute, but rather because you want the eggs or meat. This is completely fine if you will keep the products, but if you want to sell meat or any products that come from your animals, you will often need a license so do take the necessary steps to ensure your business will not be shut down even before it ever started.
This article will outline several animals which are simple to raise on a farm. This does not mean they do not require hard work, but in comparison to others which you may find on more specialized farms will give you more product for less work and will generally be simpler to deal with.
Sometimes kept as pets for their cuddliness and cuteness, rabbits can also be kept as farm animals. Used to produce meat which is comparable in taste and quality to chicken meat, rabbits are perhaps a bit unexpectedly common farm animals. Even more unexpectedly, their best sales point, besides meat, is their manure which is deemed to be among the best fertilizers for gardens that use organic manure. Additionally, you can also sell them as pets, especially if you breed the smaller varieties which are more household-friendly.
They also reproduce really fast and they grow up in a similar fashion, making them a really fast meat supply.
Farm rabbits do not require a lot of effort – give them hay and water, keep their pen clean and you are pretty much golden. Just beware – they can be very fast and you do not want to chase a rabbit around your yard to get him back in the pen.
Depending on where you live, pigs can be one of the most common farm animals. In more rural parts of Europe, pork meat is one of the most common meats and pigs are much more common than cattle perhaps are in the USA. This and inaccurate media representation has led some to believe that pigs are dirty creatures, rolling around in mud all day. This is not true, at least not to that extent. The reason why they roll around in mud is the fact that they do not have sweat glands and have to keep cool that way, but besides this, pigs are pretty clean and easy to take care of creatures. They eat basically anything – even though you will want to choose their diet according to your needs – they do not require a lot of maintenance besides cleaning their pens.
The main con to keeping pigs is definitely the fact that they can only be kept for one thing – and that is meat. While there is no denying that they will provide you with a lot of it, this one-dimensional feature of pigs may keep some farmers at bay.
These flightless birds are perhaps the most common of this whole bunch. Their meat is everywhere, and you can see them in a lot of places strutting around the owner’s front yard. Why not go for chickens then? Well, there is definitely a lot of reasons why you should. One of them is definitely just how easy it is to raise chickens. They eat literally everything, and even if you fail to feed them, they will be sure to supplement their diet with worms and whatever else they find in the ground. They also grow really fast and do not require a lot of space to do it in both coop and walking space, even though you may want to choose your chicken coop flooring carefully to avoid future problems. While they are predominantly grown for food, chickens can be grown to get eggs, meat, or even both.
The biggest problem with chickens is the fact that they require a place to walk around and cannot really be held in a coop only – yet they are completely defenseless against predators which are sure to notice a big hunk of walking meat. Therefore, it is recommended to keep them in a wired off area.
Now, this may be a bit of a stretch depending on how small or your farm is – but if you do have spare land, cattle may be the answer to your dilemma. Cattle grow fast, are pretty low maintenance, and provide the most food out of all the mentioned farm animals. If you opt for cows, you can harvest milk and enjoy or sell it.
The largest issue, both literally and figuratively, is the fact that you will need a sizeable farm to pull this off. The cattle need to walk and graze, so this may not be on your list straight away. If you are not sure about this, keep to the rest of the animals which are significantly easier to keep as a beginner.
Let’s end with a very unusual one. While you may not think of honeybees as conventional farm animals, be sure that honeybees are perhaps the easiest to keep and profit from.
Bees, as you may have assumed, require little to no maintenance. They are completely self-sufficient but manage to produce a whole bunch of honey while at the same time pollinating the local fields and orchards. You can even rent out your hives to other farmers so they can organically pollinate their own fields.
What you need to keep in mind is that honeybees are really sensitive to pesticides – so you may want to get in touch with your neighbors and ask them to stop using pesticides since your whole hive may get sick. In return, promise them better crops since they will be naturally pollinated and a bit of that delicious honey!
To sum up, there are a lot of animals you can choose from as a beginner. The most common choices for a beginner are chickens and rabbits, whereas perhaps the easiest are honeybees. If you have a bit of experience and are looking for a more meat-oriented animal, then you can choose pigs – they are simple enough to keep and grow really fast. Finally, if you have a lot of land which you do not know what to do with, perhaps cattle is not completely out of left field. Whichever you choose, be mindful of the animals’ needs and treat them with respect and you will surely succeed.