What are the best Homesteading Animals?

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You’ve secured your homestead and are finally ready for one of the most exciting parts of homesteading – raising animals. Animals add a whole new dynamic to your homestead and your everyday life, and bring so much joy to the farm. But what are the best homesteading animals? Where should you start? Read on to find out which homesteading animals might suit your homestead best.

What is the easiest farm animal to start with?

Though there’s no black and white answer, some animals are certainly much easier than others as you begin your homestead. As you consider which animals to add first, think about the knowledge you have, how much space is available, and the needs of your family. Here are some of the best animals for starting out.


Chickens are one of the most popular homesteading animals, and for good reason! They’re fairly easy to care for, and they provide meat, eggs, and fertilizer for your garden. Chickens will be content with a small, safe coop, some outdoor space, feed, and water.

Chickens require about 4 square feet of coop space per chicken, along with around 8-10 feet of outdoor space. However, these numbers can vary depending on how much time they spend outdoors, weather conditions, and how often you clean the coop.

Chickens are prone to illness, so it’s important to keep their quarters clean. They are also susceptible to predators, such as hawks, coyotes, foxes, weasels, raccoons, and possums. For this reason, you’ll want to ensure that your chickens have secure quarters and are kept protected, especially at night.

Pekin ducks

Ducks also require little space and provide meat and large eggs. Ducks are good foragers, and will supplement their feed as they scratch around your property. They will keep the bugs off your plants, but unlike chickens, won’t scratch around and ruin your garden.

The downside of ducks is that they are slow, so they are also quite susceptible to predators. Just like your chickens, be sure to provide a safe place for your ducks to live.


Rabbits require very little space and are kept in cages or hutches. They are known for being very quick to breed and producing large litters (often 6+ babies per litter). Rabbits can be butchered after only a couple of months, and so can provide you with a lot of meat quickly. They also produce wonderful fertilizer for your garden.


Honeybees are incredibly low maintenance and provide a wonderfully sweet crop! They require very little care and only a handful of tools.

To care for your bees, you will need hive boxes with frames, a bee suit, gloves, a smoker, and a hive tool. You can purchase your own extracting equipment or find another beekeeper to do this for you (usually in exchange for some honey).


Compared to larger livestock, like cattle, sheep require only a modest amount of infrastructure and pasture space. Hearty breeds don’t require immense amounts of care or feed. They’re easy to handle, don’t need perfect pasture, and provide a great source of meat.

Which homestead animal is most profitable?

There are numerous factors that go into deciding which animal will be the most profitable for your homestead.

The amount of land and the setup of your land are perhaps the biggest factors. If you have a significant amount of acreage, you could consider beef cattle, one of the most profitable types of livestock. Cows provide a significant meat source, and you can also consider selling raw milk if it is legal in your state. However, cattle need around 2 acres per head for proper grazing.

If you have less space to work with, you may want to consider honeybees, rabbits, or poultry.

Additionally, look into what is needed in your area. Is there a high demand for eggs, or is the market saturated?

Rabbits reproduce very quickly and can be butchered after only 6-8 weeks. They are fairly easy to keep, too. If rabbit meat is in demand in your area, you could potentially make a significant profit with these quick-breeding animals.

Which farm animals have the lowest maintenance?

Some of the lowest-maintenance homesteading animals include honeybees, poultry (such as chickens and ducks), rabbits, and sheep.

Bees are perhaps the lowest-maintenance of all. They require no fencing, and you won’t need to get an animal-sitter if you leave for a few days. In fact, bees can go weeks without requiring any care.

Poultry, like ducks and chickens, are also fairly low maintenance compared to larger livestock. Birds are easy to purchase. You can buy them from your local feed store in the spring or order them online. They don’t require significant infrastructure, such as barns or large areas for feed storage. Lastly, they can be transported in small carriers in a normal vehicle.

Sheep are another livestock choice that are generally fairly easy. Heartier breeds, such as Khatadins, are especially low-maintenance. Sheep are great foragers and can get by on lower-quality pasture and hay. In the summer, when green pasture is abundant, they may need nothing more than water, a mineral block, and some shelter. If you’ve never tried lamb before, you may be surprised that these easy keepers provide wonderful-tasting meat.

Which animals are best for raising for food?

If you’re just getting started on your homestead, chickens may be the best animal for feeding your family. Depending on age, breed, and season, a hen can produce around 5 eggs per week. Hens generally start laying when they are 18-20 weeks old.

You can also raise chickens for meat in a relatively short period of time. Common meat chicken breeds include Cornish Cross, Jersey Giant, Bresse, Orpington, and Freedom Rangers, to name a few. Unlike layers, meat chickens only take 6-12 weeks to reach maturity (depending on the breed).

If you have plenty of acreage and infrastructure for large animals (such as shelter and fencing), cattle are a wonderful choice for raising food on your homestead. In general, cattle are fairly hearty and provide a significant meat source. However, it takes 1-2 years to raise a calf for meat. The amount of time will depend on the breed and feed source (grain-fed cows will be ready sooner than grass-fed).

Keep in mind, though, that cattle require more commitment and knowledge than a smaller animal such as chickens.  

Top 5 homesteading animals

As you can see, there are numerous factors that go into deciding on the best homesteading animals for your family. However, these five choices are in general some of the easiest, most profitable animals to raise when you’re beginning your homestead.

  • Chickens
  • Ducks
  • Rabbits
  • Honeybees
  • Sheep

There’s nothing like providing food for your family right from your own backyard.

Which animal are you most excited to start on your homestead?

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