Raising livestock on your farm is a really rewarding, but can be a hard experience. Here’s how we suggest how to start raising livestock, try chickens first! Many people dream of pastures filled with cattle, horses, sheep or goats. But are you really prepared to take on the care that large livestock require? You may not realize beforehand all of the work that is involved with taking care of larger livestock. When you raise livestock, you must provide for all of the animal’s needs from food and water to shelter and comfort. You’ll also be responsible for making sure they are healthy and, when they aren’t, getting them back to a healthy state. If you’re interested in raising livestock and truly living the farm life, then you should ease into it. How can you do that?
Why Chickens are the Perfect Livestock for New Farmers
This may seem like a moot point, but the smaller size of chickens makes them much easier to take care of. There are a few reasons that their smaller size makes them ideal for starting farmers.
1. A smaller animal requires a smaller enclosure. When you are getting ready for chickens, you’ll need to build them a coop and a run. This is relatively small and simple compared to large barns, run in sheds and massive pastures that larger livestock need.
2. Smaller animals are easier to handle. Livestock species don’t always respond to human handling the same way that dogs or cats would. (Granted, some livestock can act like pets!) Dogs and cats crave human attention and livestock probably won’t. They may not respond to your handling, poking or prodding the way that you might expect. Chickens are small and easy to handle. Larger species, like cattle or horses, can become dangerous if you don’t know how to handle them.
3. Chickens are smaller and require less money to get started. Chickens eat much less feed than larger livestock and are cheaper to purchase than large livestock. The initial investment needed for chickens is much smaller. You can try raising chickens and see if you really want the responsibility of raising livestock before you invest a ton of money.
4. Chickens are easy to care for. When they are young, they require the most care. Just like other babies, chicks are cute and we usually don’t mind giving them the extra care when they are cute. But, when animals get older, they still require care and this might become harder once they’ve outgrown the cute phase. Chickens actually get easier to care for when they are older. They will thrive with you feeding and watering them once a day and keeping their coop clean. Horses, cattle, goats and sheep may require more frequent care than simply tossing them feed once a day.
5. Vet bills. Large livestock need frequent veterinary care. Much of it can be done by the seasoned farmer, but a new farmer will need help. Vet bills for large animals can become really expensive really fast. Chickens are pretty healthy as a whole and don’t require frequent veterinary care. With proper feeding and care, they rarely become sick.
If you’re considering adding livestock to your homestead, start with chickens! Are you looking for a good time to start raising chickens? Now in late summer and fall is the best time! Why Fall Is the best time to order chicks?