First rule of farming: Don’t name your livestock. You shouldn’t get too friendly with an animal that is going to end up on somebody’s dinner plate. Yes, the most profitable farm animals are often the ones that generate income by being sold for their meat — but not always.
It’s important to note, however, that if you’re planning on selling the meat from your livestock, it helps to make sure there is a market for what you’re selling. For example, you could raise ostriches, but if no one is buying ostrich burgers, then you’re not going to be in good shape. You also have to think about those “final stages.” Will you be doing the butchering or merely selling off the livestock?
Once you have those issues worked out, you could consider the following livestock choices that are profitable, even if you aren’t simply selling them for meat:
Chickens are probably the most popular low-maintenance farm animal. They can also generate three potential revenue streams between their eggs, meat and their poop — yes, we know, but it makes great fertilizer for vegetable gardens once it’s composted.
One chicken needs about four square feet as their own “zone” in the coop. The more space they have, the better off they’ll be — and so will you. Stress can reduce egg production.
The chickens will also need the coop to be dry, and they’ll require a fresh water supply as well as plenty of feed. Fortunately, feed for your chickens is relatively easy to come by — it can be just about anything from compost, veggie scraps or store feed.
Once the coop is up and running, your job will be to keep it clean and keep the chickens safe from predators.
A farm for bees? Why not? Once you set up the hive boxes, all you need to do is provide some water and then sit back and watch all that honey get made. Best of all, bees are free. You’ll just have to invest in the boxes as well as bee suits and honey-collecting gear, but there will be no requirements for day-to-day feeding!
The hive box you’ll set up will have sugar water to attract the bees. Once they move in, there will be no stopping their growth.
Placement of the hive is key, too — you don’t want this box right outside your kitchen. However, if you’re looking for a cost-effective, low-maintenance animal for your farm, honeybees are certainly a way to go.
A cow is going to take up a lot of room. You would also need several cows to generate any kind of decent profit. On the other hand, a few goats can prove to be profitable without eating you out of house and home. They work great as roving lawn mowers. Their milk is easier to digest, and goat cheese can be fantastic.
Ironically, though, goats themselves have tender tummies, so you have to keep an eye out for stomach problems that can quickly deteriorate. Also, make sure your fences are secure. Goats love to roam and aren’t above making a “leap” to freedom.
As you get comfortable with these low-maintenance farm animals — and bees — you’ll be able to expand your existing collections and add more variety. Of course, you can make life simple and just stick with the chickens and the bees. Note to self: Look for honey glaze chicken recipe for dinner.