Written by Daleen Cowgar
As you begin your homesteading journey, you will probably want to add animals at some point. But what animals are the best to have on a homestead? What should you start with? How should you start?
These are very good questions. It again goes back to your goals for your homestead and what space options you have. Do you have a city backyard? Do you have several acres? Do you have fencing or are you willing to build fencing? How much time do you want to put into this? These questions will help you decide where to start.
To help you as you think through these questions, here is some information about the most popular homesteading animals.
Chickens and ducks
Chickens are the easiest animal to begin homesteading with. They require very little work or food, they can take care of themselves (for the most part, until the predators try to make a meal out of them at night), and they produce daily eggs and give you the opportunity for meat. You only need about four or five of them to supply your family and your neighbors, and they can easily live in a small city plot.
Ducks are a little bit more difficult than chickens, but not by much. They cause a bigger mess since they love mud, water, and tracking that mud and water into their coop. If the ducks and chickens are raised together, they will be just fine living together. Duck eggs are quite delicious and they also have great meat.
Rabbits are another great small-space animal to have. They have great meat, or if you are looking for a source of income, you can raise and sell rabbits as pets. They can easily live in hutches if you don’t have much room or larger runs if you have several acres (or more). As you decide what rabbits you will choose, you need to factor in the temperature where you live, as rabbits can be very sensitive to heat or cold.
Goats are excellent animals to invest in when you have a little bit more space. They need some room to graze and do well on grass. With goats, you do need to be careful of your fences. They love to push the boundaries and, of course, the grass is always greener on the other side. They make up for their ornery attitude toward fences with delicious meat, rich milk, and a love for eating that pesky undergrowth that you want to clear out. They require a little bit more work since they need milked if you have milk goats, but they are not hard to care for.