Anyone who’s strolled down the deli aisle as of late knows that meat and animal products aren’t getting any healthier or cheaper. Furthermore, labels aren’t getting any clearer. And the biggest mystery of all? Were the animals raised in humane conditions? It’s no wonder many Americans are choosing to raise their own livestock to stock their fridge and freezers.
No one said self-sufficient farm living was the easy route. But, many homesteaders agree, it’s the rewarding one. Whether you’re interested in pigs or poultry, donkeys or dairy goats, here are ideas to help you get started:
- What is your purpose for raising livestock? Do you want to raise animals for meat, eggs, dairy, fiber or other byproducts? Are you interested in caring for working animals, such as horses, mules and dogs?
- Ask yourself if you are committed and available to care for animals every day … feeding, watering, emergencies, etc.
- Do you intend to raise livestock to supply your homestead or are you interested in profiting from your herd?
- Consider how much space is available to you for raising livestock. If you have a small plot of land, perhaps raising rabbits for meat is a good fit.
- Check your local regulations to ensure you can keep livestock, especially if you are in an urban area. Most restrictions in urban areas focus on controlling noise and smell, and providing adequate living conditions.
- Do your homework. All animals come with benefits and challenges. Meeting their basic needs for housing, feed and more varies by animal, and sometimes, by breed. Read up on tutorials such as how to pick a good used livestock trailer and how to build your own rabbit hutch. Countryside has many care tutorials for the novice, like pig farming for beginners.
- If you are raising animals for meat, make sure you can go through with the big “S.” Piglets are adorable. Hefty hogs aren’t quite as cute and cuddly.
We applaud you for choosing to raise your own livestock. Enjoy the journey!