The idea of growing your own food on your own land can be tempting—who doesn’t want easy access to fresh produce, dairy, meat, or honey? However, as alluring as owning a hobby farm or homestead may be, the idea of raising your own livestock can also be intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t have to start your new farm with a pasture full of cows. If you’re looking for the best way to jumpstart your farming career, try testing the waters with any of these low-maintenance farm animals for beginners.
Do you want to enjoy fresh milk and cheese but don’t want to deal with an expensive herd of cows? Goats are a great first step. In addition to being great sources of milk, goats can also benefit your farm by clearing brush. The average goat produces one to three quarts of milk a day, which you can drink, sell, or use to make cheese. You’ll need a secure fence to contain your goats, but they’re usually content to live anywhere that has plenty of food and a friend or two. They also eat just about any vegetation you have on hand, making them one of the best low-maintenance farm animals for beginners.
Chickens are hardy, versatile creatures. Whether you want meat, eggs, or fertilizer for your garden, a small flock of hens can provide it. Once you have all your chicken coop essentials, you’ll be all set to maintain a healthy and happy flock. Plus, you only need a few birds to produce enough eggs to consistently feed a whole family. Your flock will also be a free-form of entertainment, as many chicken-keepers enjoy simply watching their flocks squabble through the yard.
Not many people think of honeybees when they’re looking for livestock, but that doesn’t change the fact that these insects are valuable additions to farmers of any experience level. Once you set up your colony in their hive, bees are extremely self-sustaining—they usually only require the occasional hive inspection to make sure everything is running smoothly. The main benefit of keeping honeybees is obviously the honey, but keeping a colony or two will also help your crops flourish as the bees pollinate them throughout spring and summer.