How Micro Livestock Can Be Used For Suburban and Rural Sustainability

 The “back to the land” movement that is sweeping this nation has microfarms popping up on the grid left and right.  These microfarmers are getting back to the basics and their goal is to live a more simplified lifestyle.  They live primarily in a self sufficient manner by growing their own food, caring for smaller plots of land,  and raising livestock.

The breeds that are typically chosen for homesteads and microfarms are the heritage breeds because they have a better survival rate.  However, those homesteaders that live on smaller acreage or in urban settings who cannot provide the larger areas for animals to graze have chosen micro versions of these domesticated animals.  These microbreeds are bred to not only for their stature, but how much meat is butchered; and are also raised based upon their temperament, cost of raising the animal vs. it’s price in meat, and how much land the animal will need to graze.

The Pros and Cons

Advantages of raising microlivestock

  • For those of us who are unable to keep up with constant price increases at the grocery store, raising livestock that can provide you with meat, milk, cheese and eggs will help you cut your grocery budget down significantly.
  • Raising microbreeds teaches us to be more self-reliant.
  • Is a good bartering product.
  • Smaller species tend to use less of the resources from the land.
  • Microlivestock grow faster and reach sexual maturity faster than regular sized livestock.
  • Their greatest advantage is their compact size which is a result of living in harsh environments where they had to adapt.  Therefore, they are highly adaptive to unconventional environments.
  • Some breeds of micro cattle have unusually high tolerances to disease, internal and external parasites.
  • Goats need less attention compared to other livestock breeds.
  • Breeds such as goats, chickens and ducks startle easily and can alert you to dangers in the area.
  • Micro livestock can help do work on the micro farm.  They are good foragers, and can clear parts of land that are riddled with roots and weeds, and naturally fertilize the land.

Disadvantages of raising micro livestock

  • Depending on the animal, space could be an issue.
  • The smaller the animal, the easier the prey.
  • Typically, microlivestock have a higher energy level, and may require more food.
  • Smaller breeds may not match the overall productivity of the larger breeds.
  • Like all livestock, animals can succumb to diseases if proper conditions are not met.
  • Some animals do not thrive well in hot conditions so other living areas need to be built.

List of Microlivestock Breeds

  • Cattle – Zebu Cattle, Miniature Herefords, Mini Holstein, Red Panda Cow, White Dexter, Lowline, Miniature Longhorns, Miniature Galloways, Jerseys, Ayrshires
  • Birds -turkeys, chickens, ducks, pigeons, quail and guinea fowl.
  • Goats – Terai, Nigerian dwarf, West African dwarf, Pygmy, Nubian
  • Pigs – American Guinea hog, West African dwarf, Chinese dwarf, Criollo
  • Rabbits – Cinnamons, Californias, American Chincilla, Creme D’Argents, Blanc D’Hotot, New Zealand, Palomino, Rex, Sables, Satins, Silver fox (Source)
  • Guinea Pigs – Long haired, Short hairs, all different color variations
  • Miniature Deer – mouse deer, musk deer, blue duiker antelope

What kind of micro livestock do you have on your micro farm?


For more information on starting a homestead with animals,  self sustaining micro farms, and micro livestock.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published April 8th, 2011
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  • Mrs. J

    I started looking at the pigs listed, it looks like the ‘Pigmy Hog’ is highly endangered? I’m not sure it’s even legal or where you would import one from??? LOL Anyway, I don’t know that I could find any of them besides a pot-belly from the list with any sort of availability … maybe I’m just not looking the right places online?

    Regardless, the American Guinea Hog needs to be added to the list. They are a fine little pig that thrives on grazing and forage. You do NOT want to feed them grain, or they will get too fat. They are a terrific little pig (200-300# tops) that deserve to be mentioned.

    Thank you! 🙂

  • Mrs. J —

    Thank you so much for letting me know.  I removed that type of pig and replaced with the American Guinea hog you suggested.  Seriously people, don’t go out and kill the endangered species! 

  • Hi Tess,
    Nubian goats are not a small breed.  They are quite large and often bred with Boers for meat goats.  Kinders are a cross between Nubians and Pygmies and would be more appropriate for small holdings.

  • I keep both chickens and geese. For preparedness, I now look at geese as being the best choice for several reasons:
    • Unlike chickens (and to a lesser extent, ducks), geese can live and thrive entirely by grazing on grass and weeds. When the commercial feed runs out, my chickens may still survive, but their egg production will drop to almost nothing.
    • Geese have a very well-deserved reputation for being excellent “watch dogs”. They quickly learn what and who is routine, and make a racket when something changes.
    • They are far more resilient than chickens – fewer diseases, parasites, or predators.
    • Geese can live up to thirty years, they reach eating size in less than a year, and produce large eggs in the Spring.
    • Geese have been used in commercial agriculture for weeding crops – especially crops with sensitive root structures like cotton (there is even a breed called “Cotton Goose” that excels at weeding cotton).

    For “normal times”, a flock of chickens can’t be beat for providing fresh eggs, but when life changes – radically – you’ll want geese.

  • oreandra

    Rabbits are excellent. Honestly though we’ve had much better luck with meat mutts than purbreeds. If you have just five females and one male: average litter is 8. 8×5=40×5(breedings)=200 kits. Let the 200 kits grow out to around adult size at 10 lbs each divided by half for boneless meat mass…200×5=1000lbs of meat/year! Without using pellets grow out will take about 8 months. many butcher at weaning, but it seems wasteful to me especially if you are forage feeding. The main issues are predation and housing. I feel colony housing the females and young kits cuts down on chores, allows free grazing, especially if you rotate pastures and keeps one from having to constantly make/upgrade/clean cages. In winter keeping thawed water is trouble with cages…if the colony has access to a stream it cuts that right out.

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