If you’re getting into homesteading, you may be considering incorporating livestock. Different animals offer different benefits, and each require their own kinds of care.
What is Homesteading?
What exactly is homesteading? In simple terms, it’s a lifestyle of self-sufficiency—those who practice homesteading grow their own food, maintain their own homes, and sometimes even manage their own utilities.
Homesteaders may also produce textiles and their own clothing as well as craftwork for household use or sale. In short, homesteading is known as being completely self-sufficient where you live—or in your home.
The Most Popular Homesteading Animals
Keeping animals can be rewarding whatever your circumstances. Depending on your comfort, abilities, and beliefs, animals can provide everything from companionship as pets, to renewable resources in the form of eggs or wool, to a source of food themselves.
Chickens are multi-purpose. Raising chickens that produce fresh eggs for daily collection is a rewarding feeling, and you’ll love the taste of these eggs as you use them countless ways in the kitchen. Hens lay rich, golden-yolked eggs that you’ll wonder how you lived without them once you invest in chickens.
Chickens are also a source of meat for more advanced homesteaders. Raising chickens to eat for meat allows you to really make use of the entire bird, as you can either eat or use every part of chickens in the kitchen in some way, shape, or form.
2. Goats and Sheep
These are more than cute animals—they’re great to have in your yard. Usually, goats and sheep are friendly animals that allow you to produce milk and cheese. While attaining these foods from these particular animals surely takes some practice, as does fathering them into a fenced area as they frequently have minds of their own—worth the effort. Goats and sheep can also be used for meat, and they’re great for clearing overgrown land.
This popular homesteading animal may come as a surprise, but raising fish is actually a great option, especially for beginner homesteaders. Fish can be raised indoors or outdoors, and raising them inside allows for a good amount of control. An outdoor fish pond is another option as long as you have the space for one and the ability to protect the fish from predators. Fish are a great source of protein, making them the perfect addition to your homesteading arsenal.
Another popular homesteading animal is more of an insect: bees. Beekeeping has become more popular in recent years, which is widely attributed to the mounting fears that bees will die off entirely at some point in the future. These insects are great to have around if you have a vegetable garden, given their ability to increase production.
You’ll also reap the benefit of fresh honey from your bees. Not only is this great for consumption, but it can also be jarred and sold for money. Finally, you can use the beeswax you’ll attain from beekeeping to make items like organic soaps and candles.
Pigs are another animal better suited for more advanced homesteaders, but they're very popular for those who are comfortable around livestock. Pigs are great for assuring that none of the leftovers from your kitchen go to waste, as—true to their reputation—they’ll devour any scraps of food you give them.
They’ll also gladly consume extra milk or dairy products you want to get rid of before they expire. From there, if you master the butchering process, you can use pigs to produce your own delicious pork.
Keep in mind that pigs are a more difficult animal to control, mostly because they’re strong and smart. To many folks, these qualities make them excellent pets.