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Small Farms Income – Livestock – Live Sale and Auxiliary Purposes

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Breeding “Creepy-crawlies”

In previous articles we have talked about the possibilities surrounding breeding one or some of a host of different “warm-blooded” species of mammals or birds. In this posts we will talk about breeding “cold-blooded”, invertebrate species.  Bees and fish have been separated out as being a large subject deserving their own articles!


More than $4 million worth of snails are imported into the US every year, live or frozen each year. Farmers view them as pests and in areas like California where they thrive, organic farmers are likely to welcome you collecting snails off their farms.

raising snails

Gourmet eating

Escargots (cleaned and prepared snails) is still a popular dish in many places around the world. Most large snails are edible and can be sold at a high price, but certain types are more popular than others; it mostly depends on your location so it is important to know your market.

Snail mucin (slime)

There is also a growing demand for snail slime in the cosmetics industry. Do some research and find out how you can potentially become a supplier.

Snail eggs (sold as snail caviar)

Snail caviar sells for $100 or more for a 50 gram jar, which is about 2 tablespoons worth. (Apparently snail caviar tastes like baked asparagus or mushrooms.)

Worms– meal worms and earthworms

It takes very little effort to raise worms. All you need to get started is a worm bin and some old newspaper and kitchen scraps. You can easily start a worm farm in your basement or spare room with a few bins. A good worm farm is never smelly and worms don’t make any noise. You can feed them all your leftover food scraps and garden produce, so they’re excellent for recycling, too.

Mealworms – Protein Source for Poultry

Mealworms are high in protein and a great alternative feed source for poultry. You can consider raising some and selling them to people who may want to feed them to their chickens or raise them themselves. They are also bought by pet shops for feeding their birds.

Fishing Bait

If you live near a lake or a popular fishing spot, you can sell worms to people who drive by as bait or you can supply fishing shops.

Soil improvement

Gardeners also love to add earthworms to their garden for improving garden productivity or to their compost bins to help break down their waste

Worm Compost

Worm castings are basically worm manure – vegetable matter than has been through the digestive tracts of worms. This is a very high quality, all-natural fertilizer that gardeners love and provides a great way to augment your income.

Worm Compost Tea

Compost tea is worm compost that has been steeped in water for a period of time until the nutrients from the compost are infused with the water. This water becomes a type of spray on fertilizer that is rich in nutrients and easy to apply with a sprayer. If you decide to sell compost, you could sell compost tea as well for people who would prefer a spray-on fertilizer.

Butterfly Farming

Butterflies are not as efficient pollinators as bees but still contribute significantly to the pollination of bright flowers and are also an important part of the food chain, providing food for birds, bats, and other animals. Butterfly farming involves growing plants and raising butterflies for predictable, quality output. It requires climate-controlled greenhouses or outbuildings for hatching larvae and nurturing caterpillars and reliable sources of caterpillar food such as milkweed, parsley and pawpaw.

Butterflies are in demand for sale to:

  • Zoos
  • Museums
  • Schools wanting to buy caterpillars, chrysalises and butterflies
  • Be released at weddings and funerals
  • Butterfly gardens, exhibits, or “butterfly houses,” where people can walk through large garden spaces to watch and even feed (with cotton swabs dipped in red Gatorade) thousands of butterflies.

A single butterfly can cost anywhere from 75 cents to $7 on the wholesale market, depending on the time of year and species. As a side-line one can expect make between $400 and $500 a month from about March through October from butterflies. (The average wedding order is 25-50 butterflies, costing $200-$400.)


Leeches are a popular fishing bait – but also have very serious medical uses. The slimy segmented worms can be described as “artificial veins” – doctors can hook up arteries because they are quite thick, but veins are more fragile and in serious injuries involving reattaching limbs or big chunks of flesh the chopped-off part often swells up, blood clots occur and the limb “dies”. But when a leech is attached to the damaged part it sucks blood through it and also injects natural anticoagulants that prevent the blood from clotting.

Leeches can be bought from a fish bait shop or aquarium supply store or online, or sourced in marshes and shady areas in ponds. They can be bred in a 10-gallon aquarium or tank with a lid, lined with peat mosses and filled with clean water. It needs to be kept moderately warm (but not getting any direct sunlight) and the leeches are fed with blood meal. Leeches usually lay between one and five cocoons, housing between three and thirty eggs per cocoon. When the baby leeches hatch they take about 2 years to mature.  A mature leech can sell for about $11.

Fresh-water Shrimp

Dwarf fresh-water shrimp are fairly easy to breed and take up very little space. You can start your shrimp breeding in an aquarium tank that is supplied with rocks, driftwood and Java moss which is a moss belonging to the family Hypnaceae ( to southeast Asia) and commonly used in freshwater aquariums. It attaches to rocks, roots, and driftwood and provides baby shrimp with an ideal hiding place in which to grow up. You can start with just one 20-gallon aquarium and the cost to run that one is very low. You can in fact raise shrimp, guppies and java moss in the same tank and sell all three to a local pet shops.

Many people raise shrimp at home in small or large ponds with a pump and filter system and sell them as seafood crops. There are 3 main types of shrimp suggested for the beginner breeder: Neo-caridina or cherry shrimp, Caridina and Sulawesi, but there are many other breeds to consider once you are experienced.


Note: dollar amounts mentioned are given at time of publishing and subject to change.

Please see the Earnings Disclaimer associated with these articles.

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