Raising farm animals can be intimidating when you’re first starting your homestead, but it doesn’t have to be. If you choose some of these best farm animals to raise, you can start raising animals like a pro! These 5 farm animals are the easiest to raise, and will produce the most value for your family.
Some of these animals can be the best farm animals to raise for profit. If managed properly, you can make a decent income from your farm just by raising these animals. Just make sure you keep track of your income and expenses from these sources so you make sure you come out ahead!
Chickens are known as the “gateway drug” to more and more farm animals, and rightly so! They are easy to raise, and provide a great value in the way of food and possible income for your family. This is why they top my list of the best farm animals to raise when you’re starting your homestead.
You can go one of 3 routes with chickens – raising layers, raising meat birds, or raising both.
Laying chickens will of course, give your family lots of eggs to eat. You may also get so many eggs that you’ll want to consider selling them. Farm fresh eggs in my area sell for $2-3 per dozen. Which isn’t a lot to write home about, but it could help cover the cost of feed for your flock. But hang on – there’s more!
If you have a rooster in your flock, you can sell hatching eggs (which go for $10-25 a dozen in my area), or you can put eggs in an incubator and hatch chicks to sell. Depending on the breed, you can get between $3-10 per chick!
Also, if you raise dual purpose chickens, you can hatch babies to keep AND to butcher. Since they are larger-bodied chickens, you can easily process the roosters for dinner, and keep the hens to add to your laying flock.
I have lots of posts on raising chickens – from raising chicks to keeping your chickens laying in winter, we have all that you need to raise happy, healthy chickens. I also have an e-book with everything you need to know about raising chickens!
Rabbits are another easy animal to care for, and naturally fall second on my list of the best farm animals to raise. Their feed-to-meat conversion is excellent. One pair of female rabbits (and one male of course) are capable of producing up to 600 pounds of meat in a year. In comparison, most cows in that amount of time only net about 400 pounds.
Rabbits reach sexual maturity at only 6 months of age, and their gestation period is only 30 days. They are capable of breeding again right after having a litter, so you could potentially get 12 litters of rabbits out of one female in a year (though this isn’t recommended).
Although hutches cost quite a bit (especially considering the cost of lumber nowadays!), rabbits are pretty cheap to raise and feed. We have about 12 rabbits right now, and only go through 1 $17 bag of pellets per month.
Rabbits are also easy to care for, and produce lots of ready-to-use manure for your garden. The hardest part is keeping the babies alive!
With rabbits, you can sell the babies or butcher them to feed your family. Depending on the breed, you can get anywhere between $10 and $50 for young rabbits. And if you learn to tan rabbit hides of the ones you butcher, you could sell those as well (you might only get $5 each for them, however).
Ducks are another wonderful addition to any homestead, and are one of the easiest to raise. Ducks are more hardy than chickens, still provide you with eggs, and can be a great source of meat for your family.
Ducks are excellent foragers and keep bugs down without destroying your gardens and landscaping. They do tend to be a bit messy in an enclosure, though. You’ll usually have lots of mud with ducks!
Female ducks will lay eggs nearly year-round, where lots of chickens tend to stop laying in the winter. They will often happily sit on eggs and hatch out babies.
Ducks are more cold-hardy than chickens, but they need a constant supply of water that is several inches deep at least. They really are one of the easiest birds to raise, in my opinion, and that is why they deserve a spot on the list of the 5 best farm animals to raise.
Ducks tend to be a little harder to make income from, though. If you get good meat breeds, like pekins or muscovys, you can sell them at maturity (which can be as early as 17 weeks) for meat. Or, if you have a broody duck, you can let her hatch ducklings and sell the babies. We have easily gotten $5 for each duckling that we have sold.
I have another post all about raising ducks for eggs and meat, and I have an e-book in the works for my Feathered Friends book series.
Goats are hardy animals, and their size makes them manageable for almost any homestead. They do tend to be escape artists, though, so you have to have good fences in order to have goats.
Goats are friendly, docile animals that have fun personalities. Whether you decide to raise dairy goats or meat goats, you’re sure to find a breed that will fit in nicely on your farm. Just make sure you get at least two, as they are very social creatures. An only goat is a lonely goat!
If you’re going to raise dairy goats, keep in mind that to have a fairly steady supply of milk, they must be bred every year. That means you will have babies to sell or to keep and build up your herd. But check your local regulations if you want to sell your extra milk!
Meat goats are typically a better breed to raise if you want to turn an income on your farm. Meat goats mature fairly quickly, and give you lots of meat. You can usually sell meat goats for a good profit, especially if you cater to a more ethnic culture.
Turkeys are another bird that I just have to add to my list of the 5 best farm animals to raise. Turkeys are big, hardy birds that are easy to care for. With proper disease management and cleanliness, you can keep them with your chickens. They are also excellent foragers that tend to pluck rather than scratch up all your gardens and landscaping.
Most turkeys are docile, and are a great addition to any farm. They will lay eggs for you in the spring and summer, which you can hatch to sell the babies or keep yourself. And of course, there’s Thanksgiving!
With inspiration from farmers like Justin Rhodes, raising turkeys for profit (especially on pasture) is a booming trend right now. And rightly so! Turkeys have a good feed-to-meat conversion, and will give you lots of meat when they reach maturity.
If you want to start raising turkeys, I have a post on raising turkeys for beginners. I also have a great e-book specifically about raising healthy turkeys.
Which of these best farm animals to raise are you going to get?
Since I’ve shown you the easiest and best farm animals to raise, which ones are you going to start with? Any of these are great for beginners that may be intimidated by larger, more difficult animals. What cute farm animals are you going to get?