Whether you’re looking to go from urban warrior to rural cowboy or just simply want to put your land to good use, farming livestock might have caught your eye. Not only is this a good way to stock the fridge, but it can also be turned into a source of income.
There are three reasons people raise livestock: fiber, food and show. Each comes with its own needs, ranging from machinery to pasture space, and utilizes specific breeds of animals. They also come with their own markets. A small farm isn’t likely to see their milk or wool in a chain store, but they can still make a profit if they focus their efforts on farmer’s markets, local restaurants and independently-owned specialty stores.
If you’re raising animals for fiber or show, you might think you’re skipping the hard parts by not raising them for meat or milk. However, no matter why you’re farming, it’s still a lot of work. Volunteering with a neighboring farm to get a taste of the experience might help in deciding if this is what you really want.
Whether your focus is on breeding for show or raising working animals, taking out equine and livestock insurance is a good idea if your farm becomes a significant investment. This will help you recover quicker in the event of a natural disaster that results in the loss of livestock.
Having a heart for farming is a good start, but you also need a head for paperwork. Your livestock may need to be vaccinated and inspected regularly, even if you don’t plan on formally going into business. If you do plan on selling beef or poultry, the processing center must be federally inspected, and if you plan on selling milk or eggs, you have to check with your local regulations to see what processes are required.
Even if all you can manage is a small “hobby farm,” it’s still rewarding. You don’t just get milk and eggs from farming, but a feeling of accomplishment.