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Best three animals for a hobby farm?

 
Justin Shaw
Posts: 7
Location: SW Alberta
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Welcome Anna! Your book looks like something I need. What would be your first 3 choices on animals to get if starting up a hobby farm? I already have chickens. Thanks!
 
jason herrick
Posts: 27
Location: ocean view, hawaii
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Chickens are great...i love hanging out and watching "chicken tv" pigs are a fun animal alot like a dog and always happy to see you cause it means food...usually you can find local excess fruit to feed them good...peaches are a great pig food....im not much of a pork eater but still fun to raise them and getting them butchered puts cash in the
pocket....
Get a goat ....great mower and fun plus if you get milk goats the milk is good for you......
Also rabbits...there poop is grwat fertilizer and the poop attracts worms.
 
Anna Hess
Author
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
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Justin --- Chickens would be number one, but since you have them and want more, I'd move on to honeybees, then rabbits. If you like birds, maybe pigeons next? None of those need extensive pastures or too much care, but if you have a big grassy area, you might choose differently.
 
Justin Shaw
Posts: 7
Location: SW Alberta
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Thanks! I actually just bought a hive and am reading and You-Tubing it like crazy so I can start next spring. Do you think pigs are a big jump to try next?
 
jason herrick
Posts: 27
Location: ocean view, hawaii
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If your just raising them to slaughter and not to breed then you just need a fenced area....they do need a muddy wallow to cool off in the sun and keep the flies off them....and a hose with a licker bib on it to drink from....might take some training depending where you get them. They eat a meal type feed and you can supplement with scraps. ...if you want to breed you need a stall with a special rail in it to keep momma from rolling over on piglets...a vet close by...takes more...im not an expert.
 
jason herrick
Posts: 27
Location: ocean view, hawaii
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They also need cold weather housing....a dog house or barn stall....you can get creative....do some research....bunnies are easy and a great resource...goats are pretty easy also....but all animals require proper care.
 
Justin Shaw
Posts: 7
Location: SW Alberta
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Thanks for the info Jason. There are a lot of things I want to try so I think i will pace myself so I don't get overwhelmed.
 
John Polk
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I usually recommend going slow at first if you don't already have farm animal experience.

For example, start with a flock of hens. Once you advance enough along the learning curve that you feel comfortable, think about ducks, pigs or goats, or whatever seems to fit your goals best.

If a newbie starts with pigs, chickens, goats, some turkeys and sheep, it can quickly get out of hand trying to properly take care of it all. Their welfare is in your hands, so don't start with more than you can comfortably deal with on a daily basis. The learning curve is not too great for most critters, but if you start off with too many types, it is hard to fine tune the operation for the best of each. As taking care of one species becomes second nature, it is easy to add another species. You and the animals will fare better with such a progressive build up.

 
Dan Grogan
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I have followed the path of the above authors by starting my animal empire with a small flock of chickens and two goats - all rescue animals obtained for free (local paper has a 'giveaway' section in the want ads).
I've now added a young male pot belly pig named Max - who is indeed a happy little guy when he see's me heading towards him with a bucket of kitchen scraps ... there is very little he won't eat (goes for the chickens as well). My next step is to get a couple of female pigs and raise "BBQ porkers' .... need to keep the herd small enough to not have issues with smell. Always great to learn more from all of your postings - thanks! Dan
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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also if you have water you might consider a pair of geese or ducks..and many people keep rabbits in small hutches and they are great starters for children
 
Dan Grogan
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Agreed... the next animal we will be adding is rabbits... going to raise an endangered breed ... American Chinchilla Rabbits. I found a local breeder who is also a regional rabbit judge - she is helping get a starter pair of bunnies who meet the breed standards and help to upgrade fur and body standards. Then I need to dig a pond and get some ducks - guess I have my work cut out for me.
 
Jay Green
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Chickens, rabbits and hair sheep. No contest! You can even milk the sheep and the milk is rich like a Jersey cow..makes great cheese.
 
Dan Grogan
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which is easier raise - hair sheep or goats.... meat and milk and attitude - keeping them in a pen
 
Justin Shaw
Posts: 7
Location: SW Alberta
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Anyone have any experience with Dexter cattle?
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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this looks to be a good thread to join in on... i have no livestock yet but sheep sound great for there many marketable traits and their awesome milk (a good, creamy milk is my crack), rabbits seem great for fur, meat and ease/cost of raising, not to mention they will help attract worms as i keep hearing, and chickens give eggs, feathers for fly-tying market, and meat, of course none of this accounts for the entertainment gained watching the animals you own or the chores these various animals perform around the farm

something to ask: of the easiest animals we can think of, which trio will provide all nesacary dietary needs to substain human life?

- granted some permies may find the answer to this irrelevant as no one on this site would likely plan to live off of nothing but three animals they raise and everyone on this site would likely raise various other forms of food in vegetables and fungi, but i see it as an interesting thing anyway
 
Jay Green
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Dan Grogan wrote: which is easier raise - hair sheep or goats.... meat and milk and attitude - keeping them in a pen


Hair sheep, hands down. Meat, milk and attitude, though I could concede milk volume to the goats, depending on the breed. Hair sheep are so superior to goats for meat and ease of care that they can hardly be compared. I wouldn't keep either in a pen...just not healthy and not a good quality of life for any livestock except the rabbits, which prefer solitude and fair well in a pen. The rabbits can be raised over the chickens to create a pleasant stacking of livestock and to save space.

 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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Chickens for sure!
Ive done some research on the goats/sheep thing. I think an icelandic ewe and dwarf nigerian goat would be a good combo for both meat and milk, their food requirements overlap but dont overly compete. Bees seem like a good choice too, getting some myself.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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we started with chickens, but I tell you, if I had it to do over again, I would go with rabbits first. They take up less space, no fighting, easy to take care of, and will provide a lot of meat in a short amount of time. They are easy to butcher, reproduce without effort, and are quiet and clean. Perfect starter meat. If you have a yard, you have all the food a trio of rabbit needs.

I would start with rabbits, and then go with poultry. Muscovy ducks, guineas or chickens. If you want eggs, go for the Muscovies or chickens. If you want completely hands off, barely any feed requirements, go with muscovies and/or guineas. If you let the poultry get into the rabbit manure, then they will keep the flies under control and almost feed themselves (depending on the number of poultry vs rabbits).

Pigeons are another option, but we do rain catchment for our water, so that is out. No shit on the roof, please.

Goats are fairly easy, but they require good fencing, so if you are a beginner, go straight to electric fence. Dairy animals require a daily commitment, 24/7/365, so I don't recommend them to someone just starting out.

Pigs are easy, IMO. Give them plenty of room (electric fence), fresh water in a nipple, and some shade. They do fine pretty much on their own (feral hog population in the US is proof of that). If you are a beginner, go with a smaller breed for your first few times until you get used to butchering and everything. Buy females (guilts), not boars, so you can avoid the whole castration thing. 2 feeder guilts will keep your family in pork all year. And a family of 4 makes enough kitchen scraps to almost feed one feeder pig. So, your feed costs can be quite low. If you are close to a dairy or a bakery or a distillery, get your pig food from them, and you won't have to buy much in terms of pig feed.

Bees are great, pretty much hands off, and don't require much in terms of feed. But, they do require a good location, so you need to keep that in mind. I don't really count them as an animal, they are more of cornerstone to any homestead. If you grow anything that produces flowers, bees are the logical compliment.

So, for me, it goes rabbits, poultry, pigs, in that order (bees being optional). Once you get a few years of animal care under your belt (and butchering, birthing, etc), then go towards dairy animals.

 
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