As many of us aim to live a cleaner, more sustainable way of life, exploring unique ideas and solutions to wastefulness is becoming increasingly popular. One of the most natural and basic ways for helping to live a little more off the grid, is the addition of some useful backyard animals. If you’ve got the space and a few hours to invest then you can reap the benefits of what these animals provide:
The cost of a female, egg-laying chick is about $2-3 and the benefits of keeping a small flock are huge. You’ll have a ready supply of eggs, more than enough to meet your family’s needs as a hen at her peak will lay an egg roughly once a day. Roaming hens who are allowed to live outdoors produce incredibly tasty eggs that contain higher levels of omega-3. They will eat almost anything so you can put out your scraps for them and then harvest their droppings as fertilizer for your garden.
#2 Dwarf Goats
The smaller dwarf variety weighs only 70lbs and stands at less than 2 feet so you needn’t feel like it’s an animal you’ll struggle to control. They also require less space than bigger goats. Great things come in small packages though as, despite its small stature, the dwarf goat can produce up to 3 quarts of milk per day. These goats are perfect for first-time owners and you don’t need acres of space to keep them happy.
#3 Honey Bees
The initial cost is quite significant at between $600-800 for all the equipment needed. However, the benefits of a full capacity beehive are great with one summer’s work producing up to 100lbs of honey. Beeswax can also be harvested for use in cosmetics or candle-making. If you have an orchard or large garden then you’ll also have a ready-made army of pollinators at your disposal.
Pekin Ducks are incredibly easy to raise if you’re just starting out with the whole homestead set-up. They produce large eggs and are a useful source of meat. You’ll need to feed them more than chickens but they are good at foraging, keeping bugs away and kind to plants too. They don’t need much space, just a little house and a kid’s play pool to keep them content. Ensure that they are well-protected from predators as they are quite slow, cumbersome birds and can be an easy target.
Contrary to popular belief, pigs are very clean animals who get a bad rap. They do require a fair amount of roaming space and this also cuts down on any potential smell factor, as they only whiff if they’re cooped up too long. A fantastic meat source and they also eat practically anything so you’ll definitely cut down on your food waste. They’ll need a firm pen as they are strong animals.
Small cute and fluffy, you might only think of rabbits as pets but they are an ideal addition to any new homestead. Not only are they a good source of meat but they cost next to nothing to look after. They don’t require much space, will forage on what’s growing in the yard and only have a gestation period on one month. A rabbit can have six or more in one litter so you’ll have a constant supply of meat.
A cow is an amazing animal to have as part of any sustainable homestead but is not an easy choice for beginners. Large, requiring lots of land and potentially able to injure you quite badly, they are not recommended for the inexperienced. You will need a minimum of 2 acres, a big water source and a barn with hay for winter shelter. A wonderful source of meat and milk but should only be handled by those who have experience.
Depending on the breed of sheep you choose, you’ll be rewarded with milk, meat or wool. You’ll need to make sure they are protected from potential predators and given good quality pasture. Keeping them as near to your house as possible is recommended. If you have a fancy for making cheese then sheep’s milk is better than goat’s milk for this purpose. You’ll want to do some research on the different breeds of sheep and find the one that you think will be the best fit for your plans.