If you’re just thinking about starting a hobby farm, then you’re also probably wondering what the best livestock is for breeding and raising on your farm.
Certainly you may have a personal preference – maybe your grandparents raised cattle on their farm back home, or you think that goats would be a fun addition to the homestead. You also may have specific requirements for what you raise – you may only have a small plot of land to work with or your area’s climate may be too hot for certain animals.
Those restrictions and preferences are something you definitely need to consider, but let’s look at what really matters to the bottom line. You need animals that can provide you with a good income. With that in mind, we’ll run through a quick list of the 5 most profitable livestock animals!
Raising just a few heads of cattle each year can provide you with a good bonus income since beef and dairy products are always in demand.
1 - Cattle
With a massive market for beef in the U.S. and Canada, raising cattle is at the top of the list for livestock. Not only do you get a decent payout for each animal you raise, but cattle are remarkably low-maintenance. Even better, if you manage to raise them organically, you’ll tap into an even more lucrative market for your beef, milk and cheese.
- What You Sell: Beef, milk, butter, cheese
- Electric Fencing Options: Use electric poly rope for rotational grazing to cut feed costs. String high tensile fencing to secure the outer fence line boundaries of your pasture.
Whether you raise egg layers or broilers, chickens are perfect income generators for hobby farms that sell to local markets.
2 - Chickens
Even before chicken meat, the real money-maker for chickens is their eggs. That’s because eggs are so widely used in meal preparation. The constant production of eggs by hens and their breeding capabilities make chickens a fantastic income generator for a small farmer. Once again, you can boost that profit even more by focusing on the organic egg and meat market. Another helpful sales booster is adding a “locally sourced” label to your eggs and chicken meat.
- What You Sell: Eggs, chicken meat
- Electric Fencing Options: Install a wire mesh fence with an electrified line at the top and another exterior-facing electrified line, like our Zareba® Aluminized Steel Wire. Both will help deter predators.
Goats offer plenty of income opportunities for a smart hobby farmer. Not only can you sell their meat and milk, but they can also be rented out for weed and foliage control.
3 – Goats
Believe it or not, the market for goat products are on the upswing. First off, know that 65% of the red meat consumed globally is goat meat. Here in North America, goat meat is still a bit of an oddity, but it’s catching on fast and there’s a big demand from ethnic markets. Beyond that, goat milk and cheese are considered a healthy alternative to offerings from dairy cattle. Gaining organic certification for your goat products will enhance your sales even more.
A special sub-benefit of goats is that you can even rent them out to property owners. The goats will clear out heavy patches of vegetation. Yes, they’ll pay you to let your goats eat!
- What You Sell: Milk, cheese, meat, goat rentals (for foliage control), soap
- Electric Fencing Options: Goats are climbers, so you need tall, high tensile fences to keep them contained.
Honey bees offer hobby farmers a hands-off livestock that mostly takes care of itself. Rent whole hives to other farms to properly pollinate their crops.
4 – Bees
Honey bees are a valuable “livestock” that are relatively easy to develop on practically any farm. You can rent them to other farmers for help in pollination or you can use them to help your own crops. Beyond that, locally sourced honey and beeswax are important products for many consumers, especially for those people who regularly battle pollen allergies.
- What You Sell: Hive rentals, honey, bees wax
- Electric Fencing Options: It’s important to protect hives from wildlife that may exploit the honey or the bees themselves for an easy meal. These animals include bears, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, opossums and rats. A small, multi-line enclosure operated with a Zareba ® battery-powered energizer will keep most of these animals away. Be aware that bears may need a stronger deterrent than an electric fence can provide.
Rabbits are another growing market in which hobby farmers can invest. Aside from selling them as pets, their meat, manure and pelts are in demand.
5 – Rabbits
Another growing market, rabbits generate a number of sales-friendly products for small farmers. Rabbit meat, for example, is considered quite healthy since it’s full of protein while being low in calories. Rabbit pelts can be harvested and sold for use in crafts, coats and hats. For the right household, a fuzzy bunny is a welcome addition to the family – so you can create a small side business selling pet-friendly breeds. Lastly, rabbit manure is considered one of the best fertilizers for organic gardens, so don’t let that go to waste.
- What You Sell: Meat, pelts, manure, pets
- Electric Fencing Options: The best rabbit species for meat and pelts are highly attractive to predators. To protect your rabbits, install a perimeter fence to keep predators from entering your pens.
Welcome to the Life of a Livestock Producer
If you’re just starting to look into the idea of running a hobby farm, know that Woodstream is here to help you. If you have questions about specific Zareba® products, reach out to our dedicated Consumer Care Team by calling 855-5-ZAREBA. Finally, be sure to subscribe to the Zareba® eNewsletter for more articles like this one and links to new product offers!