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Whether you’re growing your own food to be more self-sufficient or to sell to farmers’ markets, grocers, and restaurants, a farm or ranch is a great way to use your land. It’s also the perfect opportunity to take part in the rich and invaluable business that is the food industry. The only question is, how exactly do you use your land?
Raising farm animals is one of the most exciting and rewarding ways to provide for yourself and make a profit with your ranch. It doesn’t have to be a daunting undertaking, either. By starting off with smaller, more self-sufficient livestock, you can learn the ropes and grow your business successfully. Learn more with this list of low-maintenance animals to raise on your ranch.
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Chickens are a classic farm animal that you can raise just about anywhere—even in the city, if local laws allow it. They’re great for insect control and can even help fertilize your garden if you let them roam. You do have to be wary of predators, though, so make sure you have a safe coop and strong fencing for your birds.
Another important thing to consider when buying chickens is the breed, which influences egg production, hardiness, temperament, and so much more. For example, Australorps and Plymouth Rock hens are excellent egg layers and have a calm, gentle temperament. Australorps also do well in smaller spaces, making them perfect for a hobby farm or other small plot of land.
Pigs are bigger than most people think, and they get a bad rap for being messy, but they’re surprisingly easy to raise if you have the space. As foraging omnivores, they’re content to eat pretty much anything, meaning their diet is easy to maintain. You can buy feed, give them grains, compost, and kitchen scraps, or let them graze or forage.
Shelter is a crucial part of keeping pigs happy, so make sure they have a place to retreat from the elements—especially during extreme temperatures. All in all, though, pigs are low-maintenance animals that can provide a lot of valuable meat for your ranch.
If you don’t have the space or time for dairy cows, sheep are a good alternative. They’re valuable for their wool, milk, and meat. Sheep are easy to take care of because they don’t take up as much room as cows, they’re docile and friendly, and they graze on grass, hay, and other nearby vegetation for their diet.
How Do You Choose the Right Animals?
When deciding which animals to start raising on your ranch, it’s important to remember that you don’t want to take on too many things at once. One of the most common mistakes ranchers make when expanding their operations is spreading themselves too thin. Taking on too much at once stretches your resources and prevents you from giving each animal the care it deserves.
Instead, consider the space you have, the crops and animals you’re already working with, and the goals you have for your business. Choose animals that fits naturally with your current operations so you can integrate them seamlessly without taking resources away from other parts of your ranch.