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Small Farms Income – Breeding Livestock

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This article will not set out to discuss how to breed livestock because there is already so much information available on-line to the prospective stock owner. What follows here is mainly a simple checklist to get your thinking going on the types of livestock you might consider.

Making an income from breeding livestock is definitely not a haphazard “leave it up to nature” process. Many people have made costly and heartbreaking mistakes assuming that all one needs for breeding is animals of the same species but opposite gender.  As a first step, you will need to carry out a great deal of research on line and from books and talking to experts, regardless of the type of animal or bird you are interested in.

You will have to understand all the hazards and risks involved in raising that specific species.  Realize that you will also need to be able to spend an appropriate amount of money on the correct type of housing and on laying in the correct food and other consumables to support this sort of livestock. Factor in vet’s bills as well as treatments with supplements and vaccines. If you have a small farm, you might also want to consider the space you have in relation to the size and space requirements of the livestock that you are considering.

If you want to investigate breeding livestock for income, one of the first decisions to make is whether you want to earn income by:

  • selling the offspring
  • selling the meat
  • selling animal by-products (e.g. feathers, wool, manure).
  • a combination of the above.

The following are some ideas to get you started in your thinking about which livestock to breed!

Breeding Conventional Farmyard Mammals

There is a very obvious list of farmyard mammals you could consider breeding – sheep, goats, pigs, cattle and horses spring to mind immediately. There are also smaller animals available, such as rabbits. Within these broad categories are all sorts of decisions to be made on the choice of specific breeds, for example there are over 300 distinct breeds of goat in the world and you need to make a breed choice based on whether you want to raise goats for milk production, for meat production or wool production and at the same time whether the goats need to survive harsh, semi-arid conditions or will be raised in lush, alpine conditions.

Depending on where you live you might want to give some thought to unusual animals such as deer – for meat, fur, hides and antlers and llamas – for wool and their young.

Breeding Heritage Livestock

With more farms moving to pasture-based systems, heritage breed livestock are increasingly in demand because these animals still have a lot of the characteristics that help them to thrive on a pasture. And if your breeding stock is registered, you can ask even more for them.

Stud services

Do you have a bull, boar, billy, or ram that you can rent out for stud services? If you do, this can be another way to make money farming. This works best when you have pure-bred studs and the papers to prove it.

Breeding Dogs

Obviously you will not want to be associated with irresponsible, indiscriminate “dog farming” but most homesteaders are animal lovers as well as finding canine help invaluable. Help spread that love to others by breeding dogs.

You can choose to breed whichever type of dog breed appeals most to you. You might want to focus on working dogs like border collies for herding sheep or livestock guardian dogs which are better at protecting the animals rather than trying to control them. You might breed (and train) dogs for hunting. Or you may want to focus on the smaller breeds that people will want as pets in the city.

Breeding Poultry

There is an almost bewilderingly large range of poultry that can be bred for eggs, live young, meat, feathers, manure, etc.

The list includes, of course, chickens, ducks and geese but also;

  • Quail
  • Peacocks
  • Ostriches
  • Pigeons
  • “Aviary” birds such as parakeets or parrots
Chickens, ducks and pigeons

Breeding mammals, birds or reptiles for supply of pet shops or petting zoos

There is a steady stream of demand for small, easily domesticated animals like:

  • Rabbits – perennial favorites for cute and cuddly pets (but do your research because there are different breeds and not all make ideal pets)
  • Guinea pigs
  • Rats or mice, white and colored – either as pets or as feed for other pets
  • Gerbils
  • Hamsters
  • Sheep and Goats
  • Chickens including bantams and fancy breeds of hen,
  • Ducks
  • Pigeons
  • Birds for pets or aviaries – parrots, cockatoos, cockatiels, budgerigars, lovebirds, etc
  • Tortoises
  • Snakes
  • Lizards

In this article we have talked about the possibilities surrounding breeding one or some of a host of different “warm-blooded” species of mammals or birds. In coming posts we will talk about breeding “cold-blooded”, invertebrate species.

Please see the Earnings Disclaimer associated with these articles.

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