When it comes to self sufficient living and creating food security for your family, raising animals for meat is hard to beat. Pasture raised animals are generally happy and healthy animals and their wonderfully diverse diet provides us with healthy and nutritious meat.
You are what you eat, and you are what you eat eats too.
In addition to providing meat for your family, you can learn techniques that enable you to make use of most parts of each animal. By taking butchering a step further you can preserve meat making it shelf stable. You can also dehydrate or smoke your meat for longer term storage. Rendering fat provides you with ample lard for baking, soap making and so many other wonderful things and even the feathers and fur can be put to good use.
Animals also give back by eating pesky bugs, mowing and tilling pastures, fertilizing your soil and helping you manage healthy and productive land. They can play a beneficial role in the overall health management of your homestead if you let them.
Here are 50+ Expert Tips to help you choose which animals are right for you.
Getting Started with Livestock
Before you bring animals home, prepare the shelter, food and fencing. You will also want to have a good understanding of the basic care that your animals require to thrive on your homestead. It’s also important that you know what sort of commitment you are getting yourself and your family into. Some animals are easier to raise than others.
I chose this life in part because I wanted to be connected to what I eat. It seemed odd to me to have the means to raise my own food and not do it (at least in part), and instead rely completely on the Magic Food Fairy that supplies the local grocery store. I wanted to know where my food came from. I wanted connection to the process. The entire process. – A Farmish Kind of Life
For the Love (and Butchering) of Animals – A Farmish Kind of Life
Farm Confessional What Butchering Your Animals Really Feels Like – Modern Farmer
Top 5 Meat Animals Best Suited for Your Backyard – Survival at Home
Choosing the Best Farm Livestock Animals to Raise – Mother Earth News
Getting started without permanent fencing – Homestead In The Holler
Putting Farm Animals to Work – Homestead In The Holler
My Pigs: A homesteaders Story – Walkerland
Prolific producers, rabbits are an extremely popular way to raise meat. They are economical to raise and require very little overall space. They produce copious amounts of manure to fertilize your garden and are one of the easiest animals to keep.
Rabbits are an inexpensive investment. Meat rabbits cost relatively little. A registered goat can easily cost $200-400 a pop, and pig and cattle certainly aren’t cheap. However, rabbits can be found for about $40-60 for a breeding pair. (We got our pair for $25, but that’s unusual!) You can also purchase a breeding trio- one buck and two does- so you can alternate breeding with two different mamas. – They’re Not Our Goats
10 Reasons to Get Meat Rabbits – They’re Not Our Goats
5 Reasons to Raise Meat Rabbits – Piwakawaka Valley
Getting Started with Meat Rabbits – Imperfectly Happy Homesteading
Things I Didn’t Know About Rabbits – They’re Not Our Goats
Breeding Meat Rabbits 101 – Imperfectly Happy Homesteading
Complete Guide: Breeding Rabbits and Raising Kits – Piwakawaka Valley
Top 10 Meat Rabbits – Imperfectly Happy Homesteading
Why having White Rabbits (NZW) is a Good Thing – Off Grid Homestead Prepper
Raising poultry is often the gateway into backyard livestock. They are one of the few creatures that will provide you with breakfast every morning. Entertaining and relatively easy to raise, chickens really do have a lot to offer. With a small investment chickens will provide your family with a long term, sustainable food source.
Meat chickens are the second most efficient animal that you can raise in your backyard for converting feed to meat, it takes between 1.6 – 2lb of feed to produce 1lb of chicken. – Survival at Home
What To Do When Your Chicks Arrive – Country Living in a Cariboo Valley
A Guide for Raising Meat Chickens – Survival at Home
Butchering Our First Rooster – April Tells All
The Chicken Coop: “Coop Deville” – Homestead In The Holler
4 Tips for the Perfect Chicken Coop – April Tells All
DIY Rustic Chicken Tunnel & Fencing – Walkerland
Keeping chickens on rotating pastures with a chickshaw and electric netting – Simple Living in Spain
Chicken Predator Control & Out of the Box Solutions – Boots & Hooves Homestead
Dealing With a Rogue Chicken – They’re Not Our Goats
Chicken Butchering Day Set Up (Video) – A Farmish Kind of Live
Ducks are surprisingly easy to keep, especially when compared to chickens. They require a basic shelter like a shed, a swimming area and room to roam. They don’t fly so they are quite easy to contain. Ducks provide nutritious eggs and are wonderful at hunting down pests. They also have a more laid back pecking order so introducing new ducks to your flock is a less time consuming and stressful endeavour that with chickens.
Ducks love and they need water readily available. Ducks love to swim and splash around in, but they also need water to swallow their food. – Boots & Hooves Homestead
Ducks VS Chickens – Boots & Hooves Homestead
Bringing Home Ducklings and Adding Them to Your Flock! – Healing Harvest Homestead
Take a Tour of my New Chicken and Duck Run– Fresh Eggs Daily
Turkeys are sociable creatures and like to be around humans. It can be a challenge to not get attached to them. They provide a hefty portion of high quality meat, and are low effort to raise. They are wonderful at keeping your bug population down and although their egg production is low, they do provide nice sized eggs.
Hens faithfully go broody every every spring and reproduce well, taking up to 21 eggs per clutch. Not only will they set in early spring, but will patiently wait the full 28 days, then proceed to care for their young. If predators appear, hens will defend their brood with a rush of outspread wings, accompanied by a warning hiss. – Hope for Better Living
Seven Lessons We Learned about Raising Turkeys in the Last Eight Months – Healing Harvest Homestead
Why Raise Heritage Turkeys? – Hope for Better Living
How to Choose the Best Turkey for Your Farm: Broads or Heritage? – Hope for Better Living
Turkeys Graduate to Pasture– The Great American Farm Tour
What to Do With an Egg-Bound Turkey Hen – Healing Harvest Homestead
How to Clip a Turkey’s Feathers – Healing Harvest Homestead
Quail are fast producers. They start laying eggs at around 6-8 weeks old and can be processed for meat at around 10 weeks. Quail eggs taste slightly richer than those of chicken and these dainty little eggs are quite a novelty. They look quite elegant when plated nicely (a quail egg on top of a steak, for example). They don’t provide a lot of meat but they are very easy to process.
Raising Quail – Backwoods Home
We’ve got Eggs! – Walkerland
Quail in an Outdoor Colony Pen Setting– (Video) fmicrofarm