This article includes some ideas around raising livestock either to produce eggs or for eating (or a combination).
Eggs are one of the most nutritionally complete natural food items available in the world and there is a huge and steady market for them. Pastured and free-range eggs can have almost double the nutritional value that store-bought conventional eggs have. This means that you can ask more for eggs raised this way than eggs from a battery-raised operation.
Free-Range Duck Eggs
Duck eggs can have greater nutritional value than chicken eggs. This is especially true if they are raised on pasture and have access to a more diverse diet. They are also larger and have a more creamy taste and are excellent for baking. Some people who have trouble eating chicken eggs can eat duck eggs without problems. You can consider selling duck eggs as an additional farm revenue source.
Quail eggs are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world and are rapidly gaining popularity in cooking as a tiny and cute alternative to chicken eggs. They taste remarkably like chicken eggs but are typically just one-third the size of a standard chicken egg. They have cream-colored shells with brown splotches and deep-yellow yolks.
Grass-fed chickens produce better tasting meat and eggs than chickens that are factory farmed on a large scale. Selling pastured chicken meat on your farm can be a very profitable but is governed by very strict regulations that differ from state to state (so you need to do your homework very carefully.)
Broiler chickens grow quickly, so you’ll be able to raise, butcher, and sell them fast. But you can also combine egg and meat production. You can start off by buying day-old chicks. Or you can avoid a lot of risk of raising chicks yourself if you buy point-of-lay pullets (young hens) that are about 18 weeks old and ready to start laying eggs.
After a year, the egg production of hens starts to slow down and eventually they’ll stop laying altogether. Hens should, therefore, only be kept for one year before they are slaughtered or sold as cull hens. You can sell cull hens for about the same price as buying a new replacement pullet, with all the eggs you’ve produced over the year being your profit.
Organic or pastured poultry can bring in $25,000 on 20 acres in 6 months. (quoting PolyFace farms: https://www.polyfacefarms.com.) With a chicken tractor, you can move them around each day to offer them fresh grass. You can also move them around the garden while they grow, to help you with weeding and keeping bugs down but make sure you have protected tender young plants that you want to keep!
Pastured Duck Meat
Considered the “red meat” of the poultry world, duck meat can be a healthy alternative to other meats. It is high in iron and can be a good source for selenium and zinc. You can also raise your ducks on pasture using the same types of systems. Joel Salatin refers to this in his book Pastured Poultry Profits. Because of this, duck meat can be an additional way to make money farming.
In the U.S., selling pastured turkeys can be very lucrative because of the high demand for turkeys for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. A very seasonal market.
Mutton/lamb & chevon (goat meat)
Raising grass-fed sheep and goats for meat can be another way to make money on your farm. These meats have not been staples of the American diet but they are sought after by some people, especially in larger cities and in specialty restaurants.
Rabbit meat is lean and high in protein and is considered one of the most sustainable meats you can eat. This is because rabbits reproduce very rapidly and gain mass simply from foraging. It is not nearly as popular as, say chicken and beef, but there is a market for it.
Rabbit manure is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that plants need for healthy growth making this by-product of raising them very saleable.
Note: dollar amounts mentioned are given at time of publishing and subject to change.
Please see the Earnings Disclaimer associated with these articles.