Getting started raising farm animals on your homestead is fun, raising farm animals for cheap is even more fun. Here are some farm animals and ideas for cheapily raising them on the small farming budget.
When we found our 10 acres of land, it was time to start the homesteading dream. Excited to raise as many farm animals as we could with what little money we had left we started getting creative to raise farm animals for cheap.
The property we had purchased had a chicken coop, a three stall barn with a hay loft to fit 500 square bales and 5 horse paddocks with shelter along with the fencing for each.
So we got started with as many farm animals we could raise with our cheap budget after purchasing the land. In our first January on the homestead we figured out what animals we were interested in starting with and a year later we had taken our shot at raising chickens, turkeys, meat birds, rabbits, lamb, pork and a cow or two all while both working full time at our day jobs.
Here is how we raise farm animals for cheap on our homestead, and some life lessons we’ve learned along the way.
Get started raising farm animals for cheap
- Know what you want to raise for animals. What animals are you NOT afraid of? What animals do you find cute and cuddly, do you have buildings already on your property to house them? If you plan to raise animals for meat what does your family eat the most of and would benefit from?
- Put the word out there that you are starting a farm. I luckily was able to adopt my mothers bosses flock of beautiful heritage bred chickens when he moved homes. Free chickens mean free eggs, and you can most likely find a free rooster out there to start your next generation of chickens. Check out my guide to incubating chicks or using a broody hen to raise chicks.
- Find Free Feed wherever possible. Did you know cows love pumpkins? There’s an excess on Nov. 1st! Be smart with your fields when it comes to grazing animals and field management. Contact your local restaurants and breweries. Use garden scraps. Free range your chickens. Windfall fruits make great feed and my favourite windfall chutney recipe!
- Determine what’s worth the investment. We learned that raising meat birds at the most upfront cost for feed, but was the best return on our investment as we were able to eat chicken for free for the following year! They can smell, need a large well ventilated space and proper protection. They also don’t free range well or behave like an egg laying hen so you’ll need to feed them a lot of store bought feed. Check out my guide to raising chickens for meat here.
Start Raising Farm Animals for Cheap Meat
We were able to get our hands on a relatively cheap dairy steer from a local fairy farm before he was sent off to auction. If you are thinking of starting with beef cows, we recommend starting off with two dairy steers in the spring.
Why two? Because they are herd animals and will lose their moo from loneliness by themselves. We learned this the hard way. We also had family and friends help us purchase the steers initially. They got a great deal on the meat, and we got the experience to decide if this was for us.
Plan it out so they graze longer than needing hay before going to butcher. We were able to keep a half side of beef for ourselves for very little in our first year and have now figured out how to have a half side of beef in the freezer every year for free. Read more about raising beef cattle here.
L Sweet little lambs, so many nursery rhymes are written about these cute little animals. Well there is a reason Little Bo Peep lost hers, ours constantly got out! Buying a spring lamb to raise over the summer and fall is a cheap way- they usually go for $150 or so- to let an animal graze your fields and go to the butcher in the winter.
We struggled to get our lambs to a good finishing weight that made the work worth it. I followed advice of having them solely grass fed. A few things that didn’t go right were they were scheduled to late in the season for butcher so we had to supplement with purchased hay much longer than anticipated and the field they were on wasn’t the best for hay.
Raising heritage breed Turkey’s for cheap on the farm is a great gig for selling holiday birds to customers. My thought was incubating turkey eggs to hatch and raise to full size for the holidays would be a great cheap idea. It wasn’t. I recommend raising white turkeys from day olds instead, and do your very best to protect them to ensure you don’t lose any before the big holiday.
We traded pork for beef with a fellow friend and farmer, kind of like trading lunches in the school yard. Raising pigs isn’t something we were interested in but getting free bacon was!
Here are some more posts you might enjoy about raising farm animals on your homestead for cheap and frugal ways to enjoy the most out of country life.