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When you first start your homestead, getting animals might not be your immediate steps. Chickens, yes, because they’re easy, but chances are you wait until you’re ready. Then, you need to pick the best profitable farm animals for your homestead.
Not all farm animals really make a profit. Some will send you into the red, but that’s okay because you love them.
Other animals will have multiple ways for you to create a profit.
You have to look at a few factors when you pick the best farm animals for your land. This is exactly what my husband and I are doing right now as we debate how to expand our homestead.
TIP: Look at your zoning regulations before you purchase farm animals. Rules do vary from location to location, and you might have a set number of specific animals that you can raise based on our location. You might need to process at an official slaughterhouse before commercial sale.
- How to Pick the Best Profitable Farm Animals
- The 8 Best Profitable Farm Animals
- Pick the Most Profitable Farm Animals
How to Pick the Best Profitable Farm Animals
Picking the most profitable farm animals depends on the facilities and land that you currently have, your ability to raise the animals, and other factors. What is profitable for you and your homestead might not work for another.
That’s why I’m hesitant to call any animal the MOST profitable. All homesteaders are different. For me, raising chickens, bees, and ducks might yield the best return, while you have more land, so raising cattle earns you the most bang for your buck.
Let’s look at how to decide which farm animals to raise.
Space You Have Available
No matter what animal you pick to raise, they all require room to browse, shelter, and fencing. So, how much land you have determines what animals you can keep on your homestead.
Here is the recommended space needed per animal.
- Chickens: 2-3 square feet inside of the coop and 8-10 square feet in an outside run.
- Pis: 12 to 14 sows per acre
- Sheep: 1/2 an acre per animal
- Goats: 1/2 an acre per animal
- Dairy and Beef Cattle: 1-2 acres per animal
Then, let’s not forget you have to fence these animals in, otherwise who knows where they will end up.
Cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs can be pastured with woven wire and electric fences. Chickens need little fencing. You just need to keep them where you want them and keep predators out of their space.
Can You Grow The Feed?
Feed can be one of the most costly parts of raising farm animals, and to make the maximum profit, you need to keep the costs as low as possible.
Can you grow some or all of the feed that the animals need? If so, you’re going to keep your overhead costs lower, but if you have to buy ALL of your feed, take that into consideration when planning your profit margins.
Goats and sheep typically can survive on poor-quality forage and you can turn them out on land to keep the weeds away. Cattle require a higher-quality diet, and dairy cows need a high amount of nutrients to produce milk and stay healthy themselves.
Look at the feed costs per month when picking the best profitable farm animals for your homestead.
Multiple Avenues for Revenue
Is there just one way to make money from this livestock or are there multiple avenues for revenue?
I always prefer multiple streams because it lets you find what works best for you and maximizes your profits.
An example is chickens. The obvious way to make money on your homestead with chickens is by selling eggs, but did you know that you can sell those same eggs (assuming you have fertile eggs) as hatching eggs for $15-30 a dozen depending on the breed(s) of chickens you have?
Talk about maximizing your revenue!
Amount of Care Required
Do you have the time to raise animals that take a lot of time? Chickens require a daily investment of time, but not as much as other livestock.
If you work a separate job, you really need to take into consideration how much time you truly have to devote to livestock. The more that you have, the more it takes to feed, water, and care for them each and every day.
Some livestock requires less time and maintenance than others.
The Cost of Raising the Animals
I mentioned the feed costs, but that’s not everything. Animals require monthly upkeep, such as bedding and veterinarian supplies. Don’t forget vaccinations and any other cost for raising your animals.
As I said, the more costly the animals, the less profit you make OR THE MORE YOU CHARGE.
The 8 Best Profitable Farm Animals
There is no guarantee that you will make a profit with these farm animals, but these tend to be the most profitable farm animals. Profit is subjective to many factors.
The first animal that you probably think about having on your homestead is probably chickens. The real money maker is selling chicken eggs because nearly every household needs eggs. Hens produce a steady supply of eggs, and since you can use broody hens or an incubator to hatch eggs, you have an endless supply of chickens.
Homesteaders tend to pick chickens because of their low maintenance needs and low costs to raise. Plus, you have multiple revenues available.
Chickens are a profitable farm animal, especially if you focus on raising strictly organic chickens. If you can label our eggs “organic” or “locally sourced”, you can boost your sale price.
It is hard to get the official organic stamp, but you can charge more for organically fed chickens.
Expect to sell your pasture-raised eggs for $4-6 per dozen.
If you’ve yet to dive into the realm of chicken keeping, take a look at everything you need to know about adding backyard chickens by My Homestead Life. She really includes everything!
How to Make Money Raising Chickens
- Sell eggs
- Sell hatching eggs
- Raise and sell chicks
- Raise and sell pullets
- Sell chicken meat
Goats are becoming one of the most popular homesteading livestock choices. While it might seem strange to those living in the United States, around 65% of the global population eats goat meat.
Homesteaders are on a fast track to change the idea of goat meat being an oddity. Aside from goat meat, goat milk and cheese are a fantastic alternative from dairy.
If you have the ability, getting organic certification for your goat products will increase the profit margin even more.
You don’t need to purchase an entire herd of goats to make money. It’s estimated that two goats will earn you between $1,000-2,000 per year.
How to Make Money Raising Goats
- Sell goat milk and cheese
- Sell goat meat
- Rent out goats for foliage control
- Stud services
- Make and sell goat soap
Many homesteaders purchase honey bees as a hobby; they’re perfect for urban homesteaders. You can raise honey bees in many cities across the United States.
You might not consider bees livestock, but they are valuable on any farm. Bees are pollinators, so they’re needed for your garden and crops. Let’s not forget that locally sourced honey and beeswax.
Learning how to keep bees does take knowledge, so it’s best if you find a local mentor to help you. You also need to protect your hives from wildlife, such as rats, raccoons, squirrels, and opossums.
The start-up cost of bees can be high. It can cost up to $600 or even $700 to start with bees, and that can be deterring for many homesteaders. My Homestead Life shows you how to start beekeeping on a budget.
How to Make Money Raising Bees
- Hive rentals to local farmers
- Sell honey
- Sell beeswax and beeswax products
Quail is a small bird that you can raise for profit, and they breed readily. They take up very little room on your property, so they’re perfect for urban homesteaders.
Quail aren’t a typical choice, but that means you might be the only homesteader in your area that sells them. Restaurants have a demand for both quail meat and eggs.
How to Make Money Raising Quail
- Sell quail eggs
- Sell quail meat
- Raise and sell quail
- Sell quail hatching eggs
Rabbits are another choice for profitable farm animals. You don’t need a large space to raise rabbits, making them ideal for urban homesteaders.
Rabbit meat is a healthy option, and since rabbits breed so quickly, you can have an endless supply of rabbit meat for your family. A pair of rabbits can produce 6-10 bunnies each month.
Rabbit meat sells between $1-2 per pound. You need to raise the rates for 6-8 weeks before butchering. Considering how fast they reproduce, you can earn over $4,000 per year from rabbit meat with just a single pair of breeding rabbits.
Not all ways of making money raising rabbits have to be unpleasant. You can make money raising pet-friendly breeds of rabbits and selling them to families.
A standard breed rabbit sells for $20-50 as pets. If you sell 10 bunnies each month, you stand to earn $2,400-6,000 per year.
Also, rabbits tend to produce a lot of manure, and rabbit manure is highly sought after by organic gardeners. It is an excellent fertilizer, and you can sell the manure to local gardeners.
How to Make Money Raising Rabbits
- Sell rabbit meat
- Sell rabbit pelts to be used in crafts
- Breed rabbits for pets
- Sell rabbit manure
Beef cattle are considered the most profitable and easiest to raise for profit, but homesteaders with small acreage won’t be able to raise cattle. Cattle, whether you want beef or dairy cattle, require plenty of good-quality pasture, supplemental hay, fresh water, room to roam, and veterinarian care.
Canada and the United States has a large market for beef, so cattle gives you a decent profit for each head of cattle that you raise. You might be surprised that, while they do require plenty of food, cows are generally low-maintenance.
If you can raise your cattle organically, you’ll find that there is a lucrative market for organic beef, milk, and cheese. However, be sure to check your state laws for selling raw milk and raw milk cheese!
How to Make Money Raising Cows
- Sell Beef – organic or not
- Sell Milk, Butter, Cheese, Yogurt, etc.
Did you know that pigs were nicknamed “mortgage lifters” by old homesteaders due to their value? Pigs are easy to raise, put on weight until they’re ready for slaughter, and eat basically anything.
However, pigs can be dangerous. Yes, they are a bit cute (depending on the breed), but pigs can be aggressive especially for those not used to handling large animals.
The best part of raising pigs is that they eat whatever you give them, so long as its edible. You can toss all of your food waste to your pigs; they’ll e happy as can be. They also do require a clean space.
Pigs are highly intelligent, but you might not believe it. Typically, pigs need two spaces – a bathroom and a bedroom. Pigs will not mess up their sleeping space, so long as they’re separated.
If you’re breeding pigs, you can get at least 8-10 piglets every 4-5 months. Depending on the breed of pigs that you raise, some sell for more than $100 per piglet. If you plan to sell 15-20 piglets each year, that will earn you between $1,500-2,000 per year.
How to Make Money Raising Pigs
- Sell pork
- Breed and sell heritage pigs
Sheep might be profitable if you can time lambing to Easter or Ramadan. Both are times that people will pay a higher price for good-quality fresh lamb.
You might want to raise both cattle and sheep. Lambs are considered a short-term sale item because it’s such a short time between their birth and when you make a profit. Cattle take much longer, up to 18-24 months.
If you have a hilly on your property, sheep are a great choice. They handle hills perfectly, and since they eat anything, sheep are relatively low-maintenance.
How to Make Money Raising Sheep
- Sheer and sell
- Spin the wool into yarn
- Sell lamb meat
- Breed and sell lambs to local farmers
Pick the Most Profitable Farm Animals
Don’t let this list limit you. Aside from these profitable farm animals, you can also consider raising ducks, fish, horses, guinea, and more. You can even make money by selling earthworms!
Always plan carefully. Not all farm animals will be a wise choice for your homestead. You need to think about the cost of investment, the cost of feed, care required, and more. Picking the right farm animals is a hard decision.