Have you ever heard of a hobby farm? It's a small-scale farm that can be as little as five acres. Most people start them just for fun. However, it does take some planning to make a hobby farm a success. This week, I have some advice on what animals to start with as you create your own hobby farm.
- Chickens: Chickens are a low-cost investment and easy to care for. Furthermore, they don't need much space. A group of chickens would be content to wander around the outside of a garden shed in a small backyard. As a general rule, each chicken needs about three square feet of space. Chicken feed is inexpensive and these birds can eat table scraps as well. A free supply of eggs is one of the greatest benefits of having chickens on your hobby farm. In addition, chickens can eat insects and other pests in your garden or yard. If you decide to get some chickens, you'll discover these little birds have their own unique personalities. It's important to note that chickens need secure protection from predators such as coyotes, dogs, cats, etc.
- Rabbits: Rabbits are inexpensive to purchase and can live in a pen set up in a small barn. They eat hay, pellets, and vegetables. You can breed the rabbits to sell for their fur or meat. Rabbit meat is in-demand in various parts of the country, so there's the option of earning money by selling it.
- Sheep: Sheep are low-maintenance animals that don't require a lot of space. In fact, a small flock (about four or five sheep) can live comfortably on one acre of land. It's best to have a small barn for your sheep where they can go in the cold weather months. Sheep eat grass in the warm weather months but require hay in the wintertime. This makes them relatively inexpensive to feed. Sheep can provide milk, wool, or meat so you have some money-making options with this hobby farm animal. Another benefit to raising sheep is \ the manure, which makes for a great soil fertilizer. Sheep are affectionate animals that can be trained to come when you call them. Next best thing to having a loyal canine!
- Goats: Goats are hardy animals that can keep the grass trimmed in your yard in the spring and summer. In the wintertime, they eat two to four pounds of hay each day. A goat needs about 200 to 400 square feet to wander around in. It's important to have strong fencing for goats because they can be escape artists. Goats can give you one to three quarts of milk each day. So, you can enjoy some of it with your family and use the rest to make cheese to sell locally. Goats are curious animals that are sure to entertain you with their barnyard antics.
- Pigs: Pigs can be affectionate and loyal animals. When it comes to pig care, each one needs 100 square feet of space to move around in. It can be expensive to feed pigs because they consume so much. You can purchase pig feed at a feed store and supplement your pigs' diet with fresh vegetables such as dark green lettuce, carrots, snow peas, kale, and zucchini. Raising pigs to sell for their meat can make some money for your hobby farm.
Operating a hobby farm can be a fun and rewarding project. Be sure to check with your local government for any ordinances related to hobby farms. I hope this information gives you a good place to start. Thanks for reading. -Alan