What Animals Should I Keep On A Small Homestead?

The chicks are growing up fast and should start laying in a couple more months… Yea!

Have you always dreamed about starting your morning with farm fresh eggs and fresh milk from your own cow or goat? Even on a small homestead, you can make that a reality.

And you will be happy you did. Raising animals will not only provide a source of food and milk for your family, it will provide you with a sense of independence as well as life experiences you can pass down to your children.

Before you begin, we will help you with the questions you need to ask and the planning that goes into bringing farm animals to your homestead.

1. Can you have farm animals on your property?

For obvious reasons, this is the first question you need to go over. Earlier in the series, we talked about purchasing your homestead. And one of the questions to look into was whether you can have farm animals, or anything beyond cats and dogs, outside. But maybe you are inheriting land or want to turn your current property into a homestead.

Many cities and HOAs will have covenants against any type of farm animals on your property. Make sure you aren’t on the wrong side of the law.

2. What do you have space for?

The size of your property will limit what you can have on your homestead. While you will likely see or hear differences on how much space each animal needs, just take this in to consideration.

As you plan what you want, make sure your property can handle it.

3. What animals do you want?

After you have figured out what you have space for, consider what animals you want on your homestead. And for what purpose.

For a smaller homestead, chickens are probably the most common or popular animal, to begin with. They will provide eggs and meat. Ducks will do the same, while rabbits will provide meat.

As you expand your homestead, animals like goats and sheep will be a great addition. Not only do goats provide milk and cheese, they will also clear land for you. And sheep will provide wool as a bonus.

Cows will provide a source of milk or meat. But they will also require more space and more feed. And then there are pigs. They are more work than traditional livestock, but they are both helpful for your homestead and provide great meat.

A wildcard is bees. They are great to have around your garden and, of course, you get free honey. Just make sure you know what you are doing as bees are pretty dangerous. You can learn more about beekeeping here. (affiliate link)

4. How big should I start?

It’s easier to start with smaller animals, like chickens and ducks, before moving up to cows or goats.

We understand the urge to start as big as you can but recommend taking your time. You will likely face your biggest obstacles in the first couple years. It will just be easier to correct that with a smaller flock or herd and then build up with time.

5. How can I involve young kids?

There is just something about young children and animals. For most children, their connection to animals will be picture books or an occasional trip to the zoo. But not on the homestead.

Kids can help by collecting eggs, filling up livestock waterers, feeding the animals, cleaning the chicken coop and milking the family cow. And the bigger kids can help with processing meat. Along the way, they will learn where food comes from and the values of hard work and responsibility.

By preparing, and taking your time early on, the animals on your homestead will provide a great source of food, milk, and pleasure for you and your family for years to come.

If you want even more in-depth prepping then please check out my best selling 176-page book “How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It – Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How. It’s available in paperback and well as Amazon Kindle.

M.D. Creekmore

I've been interested in self-reliance topics for over 25 years. I’m the author of four books that you can find here. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about prepping, homesteading, and self-reliance topics through first-hand experience and now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

8 Responses

  1. Oren says:

    Originally, my wife and I had planned on goats, possibly a cow to go along with the Rhode Island Red chickens. However, with her health we felt it best to limit the number of animals. We have the Rhode Island Red’s and I have added a small flock of Speckled Sussex chickens. Very pretty and full of character. I also have added guinea hens. They have proven to be very difficult to raise to adulthood but rewarding with their comical character. My sister who is up in age, sits in a chair in the yard and feeds the chickens and guinea’s dried meal worms. She derives a lot of pleasure watching the big rooster for the Rhode Island Reds. We call him Jack. Don’t know why. I raised him from the incubator along with two hens.
    Enough rambling. Bottom line is that yes. Animals on the homestead bring more than meat, eggs and milk. They can be companions, comical and just fun to interact with. It’s comical to walk out and get spotted by Jack and then watch as he calls the old ladies and all of them come running to you. Ever watch a chicken run?

  2. mom of three says:

    I enjoyed having our cows and sheep, and a dog and cat, for what ever reason Mom and dad, did not want Chickens, or any other type of animal I’m thinking too much work for them. Dad, was the Ag, and Horticulture teacher in high school, all three of us we’re involved in FFA, and 4H, to a degree or another. I know that I’ll never have that chance again and am sorry my kids did not get that chance hubby, to much of a city boy, but does enjoy berry picking and my canning. But animals are a huge investment of time and money which I don’t have…

  3. Mrs. B says:

    My farm has had its share of finding out what works and what doesn’t. As we move the homestead out of the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest, I’ll be doing all my cost analysis again. I put most of my effort into chicken and a few heifers. I can milk them if I want, (nope) and help myself to homemade butter. I try to barter with my excess as there is always someone who is hungry out there that is willing to work. I’m in the process now of finding a handiman who will work for pork and beef. I need my fences cleaned up…

    As I age, my motivation for getting out there and putting in 14 hours wanes from time to time. I try to get my grown daughter to make decisions on this process and provide input on what she’d like to see. Farm animals are awesome. You need to make sure you are comfortable with the amount of effort and resources they take.

    • Blondie says:

      HELP!!! We have had chickens for several years. We only turn them loose in the afternoon, locking them up at dusk. Went out tonight and I’m missing about a dozen hens. Found several piles of feathers but nothing else, searched further and found one with one hip/leg down to the meat but no other damage, kept looking and found another dead but no damage except possibly a broken neck. We have the usual critters around even eagles, but have never had problems especially during daylight. Anybody got any ideas what happened???

      • Bonnie says:

        Hi Blondie – Don’t know where you live, so my idea might be off, but it sounds like either skunks or raccoons. Both come around at dusk. One time I went out to lock up the chickens & found a skunk inside, on the nest, eating the eggs. I started making sure I got out there earlier. Another time I heard a commotion & got to the chicken house in time to see a raccoon taking off with my last duck. And me with no gun. 🙁

        Raccoons are weird. One time I didn’t get home until late & found about half a dozen bodies piled up in the chicken house, most with just a few bites taken out of them.

        You might want to start setting a live trap in the evening to see what sort of critter is hanging around. Disposing of skunks is a nasty chore, but losing chickens is worse.

        Good luck!

  4. SD in TX says:

    Oren,
    I was wondering why you are having a hard time getting the Guineas to adults.
    I just got 6-5 week old Guineas, I have them in a large protected area so that they are safe for now but wondering when to release them.

  5. Cndnate says:

    A recommend a couple books for more in depth subject matter (of course only recommended after MD’s book!)

    Have more plan
    Family cow
    Small scale pig raising

    You can get them used or on amazon or direct from a small publisher in Canada

    http://www.rurallife.ca/store/

  6. patientmomma says:

    Think carefully and examine the commitment to each type of animal. Any animal that has to be milked once or twice a day is a huge commitment as it cements you to the farm. Rain or shine, sick or healthy there are no days away from the farm unless you leave a family member behind or have a hired person you trust. With chickens, ducks, rabbits or pigs you can take at least one day off, maybe two if you are well organized and have large feeders.