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
Designing a Chicken Coop for Healthy, Happy & Safe Hens – Walkerland
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
Raising pigs is a complex experience that impacts you in innumerable ways. Pigs will charm you and entertain you. They’ll make you laugh and they’ll probably make you cry too. There is really nothing like home grown, pasture raised, heritage pork.
Pigs don’t need much more than the essentials that every human yearns for. Provide your pigs with kindness, adequate shelter, good food, clean water, a pasture and a wallow and you will be rewarded with happy pigs that stay out of trouble (most of the time). – Walkerland
The Big List of Things You Should Know About Raising Pigs – Walkerland
8 Things to Know About Raising Pigs – Lovely Greens
Butchering Pigs on our Homestead – Homestead Honey
How to Butcher a Pig at Home – A Farmish Kind of Life
How To Train Piglets To An Electric Fence – North Country Farmer
When Pigs Get Out – A Farm Drama – A Farmish Kind of Life
How to Butcher a Pig – A Farmish Kind of Life
Goats are entertaining, playful characters famous on youtube for their crazy antics. People simply love raising goats. They come in many sizes, some providing higher milk fat than others, so do your research to find the breed best suited to your needs. I always thought that goats milk was terrible “goaty” tasting stuff until we had it fresh. When goats are properly raised they produce lovely, creamy and delicious milk.
Goats are herd animals. They need to have a companion and cannot live alone. A pair is recommended. – April Tells All
Basic Baby Goat Care – Boots & Hooves Homestead
Pregnancy and Postpartum Goat Care – Boots & Hooves Homestead
Goats Gone Wild! – Homestead In The Holler
5 Things I learned the Hard Way About Raising Goats – Modern Farmer
Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Goats – April Tells All
Managing Goats for Environmental Regeneration, Not Degeneration. – Permaculture Voices
Cows are the dream animal for many homesteaders. They are beautiful creatures. Cows do cost more to raise than most other animals and they require plenty of space. Ideally you should have at least two acres of land dedicated to pasture and a good sized shelter. They provide ample manure for your gardens along with the resources to make every imaginable dairy product. Milk cows require milking on a strict schedule for their health and well-being!
In the midst of the beautiful moments of sweet cow kisses, an adorable calf, amazing butter and ice cream, and the peace of the morning milking routine, there have been some stressful times. The biggest challenge was breeding Creme Brûlée. – Homestead Honey
Can I Afford to Buy a Family Milk Cow? – Homestead Honey
What Every New Cow Owner Should Know…- Homestead Honey
Homestead Dairy Cow Basics – Homestead Honey
How to Raise Cattle on a Small Acreage – From Scratch Magazine
How To Use Calcium “Under The Skin” To Prevent Milk Fever – North Country Farmer
Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms discusses grass-fed cattle– Video
Butchering, Preserving & Storing Meat
When you raise animals for meat you have a lot to work with. Bones can be turned into broth, fat rendered into lard and then there is canning and smoking for shelf stable longer term storage. There is a lot to know and learn, and the more you know, the more value you can extract from your animals.
When we expanded our garden, I started really focusing on not taking up too much freezer space. I did some research on canning meat and what I found surprised me. It seemed too easy. Could it really be that simple? I tried it, and guess what?? It is. – Simply Canning
Butchering Pigs on our Homestead – Homestead Honey
How to Butcher a Pig at Home – A Farmish Kind of Life
How to Butcher a Pig: Cuts of Meat – A Farmish Kind of Life
Chicken Butchering Day Set Up (Video) – A Farmish Kind of Life
Canning Meat – Simply Canning
Canning Chicken or Poultry – Simply Canning
Homemade Chicken Broth – Simply Canning
Pemmican Recipes – Cornell
Dehydrating Meat – University Extension Wisconsin
How to make a smoker – bioprepper.com
How to Render Lard – Walkerland
The Benefits of Bone Broth (And a Recipe) – Boots & Hooves Homestead
Canning Beef Stock – University of Minnesota Extension
2 thoughts on “50+ Expert Tips on Raising Animals for Food”
What a resourceful post! Love all the options and ground covered. Wonderful! Thanks so much!
What a great post! You covered everything, and I’ll be returning this article over and over as we add rabbits next!!