Many people in the world would love to rely on the grocery store less and not have to make as many trips. Especially when it is for one or two items that always seem to be forget (milk, meat, cheese, yogurt, eggs, etc.). However, many individuals have problems when it comes to having animals. Problems that typically arise are no room for the animals, not time to take care of them, or farm animals seem just like it would be too much work overall. This could not be more untrue.
Honestly, this is my favorite animal when it comes to being self sufficient. Some chickens can lay eggs up to 320 days out of the year. The average cost for ten hens can range from $35-$100 depending on location and breed. Having some chickens in the back yard requires very little space. A nice chicken coop for four hens can even be purchased on Amazon for $200-$300. If you have a fence they can be free range chickens and that will save cost on food as well as they can primarily fend for themselves. However, throwing some feed for them will be required occasionally. If you have a garden adding some corn and sunflowers would be good for chickens and their food.
Chickens are prone to diseases though so it is important to clean the coop, sanitize there water, and/or feeding devices once a week. A good mix for sanitization is one part bleach for every ten parts of water. A daily check however is just a quick walk through of their living quarters to ensure the chickens seem alert, collecting eggs, and topping off food and water for the feathery friends. This can take as little as 5-10 minutes a day and thirty minutes once a week.
Chickens can help people be self sufficient in a few different ways. They offer eggs frequently depending on what type of chicken it is. Additionally, they offer a good meat and protein source if needed. They also serve as insect control for your garden if they are free ranging. Finally, the feathers can be used in pillows, clothing, and jewelry as well.
For one goats are absolutely adorable. However, they are also amazing animals when it comes to being self sufficient as well. They are relatively easy to care offer, offer dairy products, and on occasion meat as well. Certain goats can also produce fibers that can be used for clothing as well.
Uses and Living Quarters: Goats can produce milk which can be used as such in additional to be used for cheese yogurt, and even soap as well. Goats can typically fend for themselves as well. If they are given enough room to roam they can remain happy and healthy. A goat can try to escape although this is way more commonplace in goats that are not happy. Happy goats typically do not try to escape their living quarters. They will need some shelter from the elements of nature though.
Time: They do require more time than chickens though. Approximately 15-20 minutes daily and probably about 30-60 minutes once every other week to clean their living quarters. Depending on how many goats you have determines what size the shelter should be.
Rabbits do not have many uses. It is pretty much one and some people shy away from it, eating them. They make the list just because how easy they are to take care of and how easily they can multiply and create a sustainable meat source for a great amount of time. There is a reason there is a saying for people doing something like rabbits.
Rabbits take up hardly any rooms as well. They can roams free or be put into a kennel type cage. Additionally, they are super easy to feed. They can be feed homemade or store bought feed mix, extra vegetables from your garden, or even weeds/grass clippings. Finally, they are good for the garden as their droppings provide great fertilizer that does not need to be compacted.
Finally, if you have a two story chicken coop the rabbits can live above in the room that chickens cannot access. Using some spare wood and a scrap metal could make a divider above the chickens roaming room to provide a home for the rabbits.
Ducks typically have the same pros as chickens. The only major difference is that ducks require slightly more and they do not lay as many eggs on average. However, when they do, there eggs are slightly larger and richer than chickens eggs. Additionally, they can provide a different meat source so that individuals and families have some variety when it comes to their meat choices. However, the female ducks can be a little louder at times.
Ducks require a shelter as well just like chickens. However, ducks also require some form of water near them as well and protection from predators. The water source can be a creek, lake, or even a kitty pool right out side of the duck shelter so they have safe access to water. This will keep your ducks happy and healthy for a great period of time. Additionally, ducks are typically less likely to be carriers of diseases. Making them ultimately a safer bet than their chicken counterpart.
5. Honey Bees
Honey bees can be benefit individuals in a few different ways. Security, honey, and pollination. They require a bit more when it comes to start up cost but can effectively be started for about $400 and keep producing honey with pretty much just the initial investment. However, they can be a horror if anyone is allergic to them.
Honey would be a blessing to have constantly as it can go on so many different things: toast, peanut butter sandwiches, biscuits, etc. and it stays good for as long as it is properly sealed. Additionally, it could create a small profit selling it to the neighbors or bartering for other products.
They can help your garden by pollinating and the specific taste of your honey could change depending on what is available to pollinate nearby meaning one could experiment with what type of plants they put nearby.
6. Guinea Fowl
This member of the poultry family has a couple different purposes. I would only keep one or even two as they do not serve as much purpose as their other poultry counterparts. However, they can be hutched with chickens as well.
They offer comfort as an alarm system. If anything unusual is in the area they are going to make it very known and very quickly. However, that can translate to many false alarms as a security system and can become annoying. The meat taste similar to chicken but with a slight difference and they do not produce as many eggs. In fact, probably about 60% off the eggs that chickens typically produce. However, if you live in an area where ticks are a serious problem. Let a couple off these go and they will no longer be as ticks are the favorite meal of this type of bird.
To learn more about some of the easier plants that can be grown on a homestead feel free to check out another writer on Low Maintenance Plant to Grow for your Homestead