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Hobby Homesteading: 3 Backyard Livestock Breeds Every Home Should Have

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Given the state of our economy, many suburbanites and rural homeowners are resorting to raising their own small livestock in order to slash their budgets and provide food essentials for their family. Because of this increase in suburban homes keeping livestock, many are taking a stand against HOAs [2] to change their intolerant policies on no livestock in the neighborhood. Regardless, if prices continue to escalate on basic food necessities like eggs, meat and dairy, we will be left with no choice but to raise our own.

Getting Started

Purchasing livestock for the first time, whether you are in suburbia or are a rural homeowner is both a nerve-wracking and an exciting adventure. I prefer to start with “trouble-free” breeds that are hearty and can, for the most part, take care of themselves. Of course, when you first start raising livestock, it can be overwhelming and dare I say nerve-wrecking to say this least. When I first started caring for my chickens and rabbits, I was afraid that I would make detrimental mistakes. But, like everything in life, there is a slight learning curve, good people to help and eventually the confidence to continue on. I recommend doing ample amounts of research. Find out about shelter sizes, how many animals would be best for providing for your family, how to care of them and what supplies you will need. I highly recommend “The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! [3]” It’s a great primer for getting started and using the most of the space you have.

Favorite Breeds for Hobby Homesteaders

It goes without saying, but finding livestock that are relatively quiet and will not disturb neighbors is ideal when living in close proximity with others. Quiet livestock choices like quail, guinea pigs and rabbits are ideal in this case. As well, many backyard homesteaders choose small breeds that are easy to care for and require minimal upkeep. Micro-livestock, such as chickens, quail, guinea pigs, ducks and rabbits are, by far, the most popular livestock breeds amongst new homesteaders simply because they are the easiest to care for and require less space, and less food. In exchange, the animals provide your family with meat, eggs and rich manure for the garden.

Here are some excellent points on the great exchange small livestock provide:

There are many homesteaders who recommend goats as a beginner livestock choice, but there are some challenges [5] you will face and goats are not suited to live in smaller yards like those found in suburbia. As well, many neighborhoods frown upon pigs, even the smaller breeds like the American Guinea Hog because they destroy the yards. So I prefer to stick with the breeds below. Here are some ideal small breed choices and some future reading you can do to familiarize yourself with the breed before purchasing.

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 Chickens:

Which Kind of Chicken Breed Is Best For Your Backyard Flock? [7]

Homemade Chicken Treats [8]

10 Foods You Should Not Feed Your Chickens [9]

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Quail:

Why You Should Consider Quail For the Urban Homestead [11]

Sustainable Farming: Starting a Quail Flock [12]

Raising Quail [13]

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 Rabbits:

The Complete Guide to Raising Rabbits [15]

Expert Advice for Breeding Rabbits [16]

Raising Kits to Harvest [17]

Recently, I suggested some easy strategies to get you motivated to start a small homestead in your backyard [18]. Hobby homesteading can easily be transitioned into sprawling suburban neighborhoods provided you find livestock that are small and relatively quiet. While chickens may not conform to certain noise ordinances in neighborhoods, rabbits and quail would be a wonderful alternative.

What to Feed Livestock

To live in a self-reliant manner, you want to look at this project as a big cycle: You want to grow food to feed your animals, who in turn will provide eggs and/or meat for your family, as well as, manure for your garden. Many backyard homesteaders prefer growing their own feed so they know the animals are consuming high-quality nutrients and avoiding chemicals, pesticides, and antibiotics. Knowing some natural sources to feed your livestock [19] will need to be researched, but can drastically cut down on the animal feed bill. If you plan on growing your livestock’s food sources [20], look at this article for more direction. As well, you’d be surprised that seeds like sunflowers [21] are feed favorites for small livestock that chickens and goats.

I had a lot of success with a small flock of chickens and three rabbits. I have had a few issues with predators, but once I understood how the predators got into the cage, the issue was resolved. I have an overflowing amount of organic manure composting in my yard and should be able to use it for my spring garden. As well, when spring time comes, the eggs will be overflowing and will be able to make some foods made with eggs. I even plan on expanding these homesteading products (at the hesitancy of my husband). I love that we have livestock and feel better knowing we have fresh food sources if the economy continues to decline.

If you already have some livestock in your backyard, leave some helpful advice or tips you have learned along the way for the beginners!