Best Animals for your homestead
If one of your goals is self-sufficiency (or close to it) and you’re not a vegan, you’ll need a source of milk, eggs, and possibly meat. Even if you are a vegan, keeping animals on your homestead can provide you with natural fiber or wool to sell. Raising your own animals also gives you peace of mind — you know that your animals were raised humanely and treated with care. Here are the best animals for your homestead!
Think your homestead is too small to raise animals? Think again. Even the smallest plots can support a few carefully chosen animals. While a herd of cattle isn’t an option on a small homestead, you can certainly keep poultry, goats, and even sheep, and if space is truly in short supply, rabbits and quail can be kept in backyard cages.
Goats are one of the best animals for your homestead. They are among the most practical and versatile animals you can raise. They also have the advantage of being small and easy to handle. A single goat can produce two to four quarts of milk each day, which can be to drink or used to make goat milk cheese, butter, and soap. Angora goats and other long-haired breeds can be raised for their prized mohair, which you can sell or use to make handcrafted products. Goats can also be raised for meat! Goat meat is as healthy as chicken breast, and tastes similar to veal.
One thing to keep in mind if you choose to have goats on your homestead is that different breeds are suited to different purposes. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get mohair, milk, and meat from a single goat. Instead, decide which breed or breeds of goats to buy based on what you want to get from them. For milk, Nubian, Saanen, Dwarf Nigerians or LaMancha goats are among the best choices, and for mohair, you’ll need Angora goats. Any goat can produce meat, but Boer goats are the best suited for this purpose.
Among the best animals for your homestead – are poultry! There are many options such as chickens, ducks, geese, guineas and even turkeys if you have the space.
Chickens or ducks are the obvious choice for a small homestead because they don’t require much space and will provide your family with eggs and fresh meat. Once a hen’s or a duck’s egg production has declined, she can be a great addition to the stew pot. Believe it or not, mature chickens and ducks are far more flavorful than the rapidly-fattened youngsters sold in supermarkets. Feathers are also useful; once cleaned and dried, they can be used to stuff pillows or even old-fashioned feather mattresses. Chickens and ducks aren’t hard to care for, and young chicks or fertilized eggs are very inexpensive to buy.
Poultry are a must have on any homestead because they are great multi-purpose animal. They are a great source of eggs, meat, and feathers.
Pigs are another one of the best animals for your homestead. Pigs are another good choice for the small homesteader as well. A single pig doesn’t need much space and can provide an amazing amount of pork. Pork is perhaps the most versatile meat there is, and it’s not hard to make your own sausage, ham, and bacon. Pigs have the added advantage of doing well while eating almost anything and in less than a year can reach 200 – 300 pounds. Pig manure is also a great natural fertilizer, but it has a strong odor so you may not want to keep your pig pen close to your house.
Pigs tend to be kept as single-purpose animals, but there’s no reason you can’t tan your own pigskin. Pigs also make great choice for preparing your garden. If you prepare a fence around the space that you will use for a garden the next year and allow the pigs to be there for the current season. The pigs will “till” up the area and fertilize leaving the area pretty much prepped for the garden.
Sheep don’t take up a lot of space, and a large yard with a well-ventilated shed, barn, or carport can comfortably hold several. Obviously, if you want sheep in your yard, you’ll need more than a picket fence to hold them. Farm supply stores carry appropriate fencing, which is fairly inexpensive. Sheep are best known for producing wool, but both young and adult sheep can be used for meat, and sheep’s milk is used to make some of the world’s most prized cheeses.
Unlike goats, most breeds of sheep are dual-purpose and will provide plenty of wool and meat. Dairy breeds can be hard to find in the United States, but Dorset and Polypay sheep are generally available and will produce a reasonable amount of milk.
Another option for homesteaders who have very little room to spare is small animals. Rabbits can be raised in hutches in your backyard, and true to their reputation, reproduce frequently. As with many other animals, you’ll need to decide what you want to use the rabbits for before you choose a breed. Angora rabbits are a great source of natural fiber. New Zealand, Florida White, and Californian rabbits are good choices for meat. Don’t forget to preserve the skins of your meat rabbits; rabbit fur is incredibly soft and can be used to line boots, gloves, or make your own fur coat.
Quail are another great choice when space is limited. Coturnix (Japanese), bobwhite, or even button quail can be raised for meat, eggs, and feathers. Quail are small enough to be kept in cages and breed readily. Quail meat is very lean and has a delightful flavor when roasted; whole, dressed quail are also delicious breaded and fried. Tiny quail eggs are a gourmet treat when soft-boiled, brushed with dark sesame oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
Every homestead can benefit from having animals. Whether you are a small urban homestead or a large sprawling one, you can implement some of these animals into your homestead to start providing your family with fresh milk, cheese, eggs and meat. It is also great that you can potentially make some money for the homestead by making one of the many products from the animals as well. What are you waiting on? Look into these options today for your homestead!
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