Best Farm Animals for Beginners Who Want to Raise Livestock
When you’re starting out, the best farm animals for beginners are often the smallest ones. Especially when you know as little as I did! Seriously, I knew so little about chickens that I was scared of them. I didn’t grow up around any farm animals what-so-ever. As a beginner three years ago and now slightly seasoned homesteader, I want to tell you some information I wish I would’ve had.
#1 Best Farm Animal for Beginners: Chickens
Chickens are the best farm animals for beginners because they’re easy, they’re small, and they’re relatively inexpensive to keep. There are still ways to decrease expenses such as feed by fermenting it and sprouting fodder. You can also feed them food scraps, weeds, etc. Chickens are also the best farm animals for beginners because they’re multipurpose! They provide eggs, meat, and fertilizer for your gardens which can save money down the line.
I know I said I was scared of my chickens, earlier. I’m here to tell you that you do not need to be afraid of your chickens! When we started homesteading, we inherited a flock of fully grown chickens. I had a family friend come down to help with a few home improvement projects (and teach me how to use a screwdriver…and not be scared of that, too). That friend showed me a few things about chickens, which helped. The best advice I can give you on the farm is to be confident with your animals as a beginner. You’re the boss, and if you act like it, they’ll know it. It hurts a little to be pecked by a chicken but not too bad. Wear some long sleeves and you’ll be just fine!
Honestly, ducks weren’t an animal we originally thought of raising when we bought our homestead. We inherited them and it turns out that they’re really one of the best farm animals to raise if you’re a beginner! Ducks rarely get sick and they’re so easy going. Although they eat more than chickens, if you give them a plot of land to graze on, they won’t require too much pellet feed because they’re great foragers. Ducks, like chickens, give you eggs and meat. You can also sell duck eggs for slightly more than chicken eggs for multiple reasons. Duck eggs are BIG, Y’all!
We raise Welsh Harlequins and, not only are they beautiful, they’re naturally flightless and relatively calm birds. The meat is delicious and the eggs are the very best to bake with. Welsh Harlequins are a smaller breed of duck, so if you’re looking for more meat you could choose a Pekin. If you want to know more about raising ducks, read this post “A Quick Start Guide to Raising Ducks” by The Free Range Life.
Rabbits were the first farm animal that we independently chose to raise as beginners. Well, I guess my husband chose to raise them. In the beginning, I didn’t want anything to do with raising rabbits for meat because they were pets as a child. Eventually, my husband started working full-time and I took on the role of full-time-homesteader and find-out-how-to-do-all-this(er). With that role came the caretaker of the rabbits. Needless to say, I’ve really ended up loving our rabbits!
Rabbits are pretty easy farm animals to raise and the best introduction to raising mammals for beginners, in my opinion. With a gestation period of about a month and cull date as early as 8 weeks depending on the breed, they provide a quick meat provision. It also helps that rabbit meat is delicious! From a slightly seasoned homesteader to a beginning homesteader, mating rabbits and sexing rabbits can be quite the task. I say that mostly because determining the sex of a rabbit is rather tricky. Breeding mammals are just a different type of activity after dealing with incubating eggs for so long. Just being honest!
Don’t let this discourage you, though! Rabbits are an affordable, fun animal to raised for meat as a beginner. If you’d like to know more about raising rabbits, read my
What was your first?
What do you think are the best farm animals to raise as a beginner? I know many farmers who started with the animals above plus goats. I do believe goats to be great animals although I’ve not raised them personally yet. They’re next on my list! Our first large animal on the homestead was a pig and you can read all about that in my articles “Getting a Pig on the Homestead: The Emotional Roller Coaster” and “Getting a Pig on the Homestead: Part 2“. Happy Homesteading!