So you want to have livestock, but you don't have a lot of acreage. Not to worry. There are many options out there for you. Here is a brief list.
Wonderful eggs and meat animals. On average they are about 10 lbs so they are too heavy to fly which makes them ideal to free range. They are fast growers and at around 6-9 weeks are big enough to eat. They are fair layers and will lay an average of 140 eggs per year.
The quail is a small pretty bird. They get to be an average of 3.5 ounces. They lay small speckled eggs and are primarily table birds but you might also sell the fertilized eggs to hatch. You can have a fair amount of quail since they are so small. On one extension site I saw the recommendation of 500 quail to make a good profit.
Small and a great option for small spaces. There are many options to choose when deciding a breed. They give birth to multiple offspring and grow fast.
This is a pretty standard animal to put on this list. You can raise them for meat or eggs or both. They are very easy to care for just remember to protect them from predators.
There are many types of goats to chose from but if you don't have a lot of space you might want to consider Nigerian dwarf goats. They are small in stature, have a sweet disposition and are easy to milk. Just like all the others this is another breed that you will need to protect from predators.
There are many options for breeds of pigs. One breed in particular is Berkshire pigs. They are both small and versatile.
You can have multiple hives with the added bonus of having the help around the farm.
Cows- The miniature kind
Depending on your land miniature cows might be a good option. If you have about 2 acres or more. Miniatures need at least 2 acres to utilize rotate grazing. Since these cows are smaller, about half the size, they consume about 1/2 the amount of resources of a standard sized cow. You can use them for breeding, meat, or milk.
Animals by acreage:
As farmers and small businesses owners the bottom line is we want to have a successful business. To succeed in this competitive market we have to be creative and find and grow things that sell, pay the bills, and above all keep us doing what we love, farming!
Here is a list of 12 of the most profitable crops. They won't work for everyone but they are worth looking into for your small farm.
1.) Gourmet mushrooms:
If your climate accommodates mushrooms you could grow mushrooms outdoors and offer gourmet mushrooms to your list of items you sell. But even if you don't have the climate in your favor you can do this in a very small space indoors and control the humidity, temperature to get a profitable harvest. From gourmet food item to medicinal purposes mushrooms can get a great price at market. Oyster mushrooms, chanterelle, shiitake and reishi and all highly valued mushrooms you can produce. Not only can you sell the fresh "fruit" mushroom but you can pickle, make tea, make tinctures, dry, or make jerky out of the mushrooms (for vegetarians). Crop cycles are short at about $12 per pound you can make a profit quickly.
This one you do have to have the right climate. Lavender prefers a more mild winter and a warm sunny summer with low humidity. You can harvest 3 times a year. After cutting the flowers and stems you can sell lavender bundles for 6-15 dollars per bundle. You can dry the flowers and sell them all winter long along with teas, soaps and other smell good items.
If you are able to grow hemp in your state it may be a beneficial crop to add to your list. With the legalization of hemp in over 36 states in the US it may be time to give this crop a second look. Hemp grows very vigorously and doesn't require a lot of fertilizer, water or other amendments. It can be used as feed, bio fuel, paper, building material, textiles and the seeds and oil can be collected and used industrially and for culinary uses. The profits range from roughly $130-730 per acre.
Growing cut flowers for market can be a very profitable venture. It's almost unlimited in what you could sell. Perennial flowers from bushes like lilacs or roses or something more annual like sunflowers or cosmos. The greenery included in floral arrangements is also profitable. You could also chose to sell woody ornamental like willow, red twig dogwood, or pussy willows are also a great perennial crop that you harvest year after year.
5.) Trees and shrubs:
This is ideal for a part time or side business. Some highly sought after trees are maple trees, fruit trees, nut trees, Christmas trees, fruit bushes and roses. Just putting in a few hours per week after your initial investment you could find some reasonable profit here.
You can sell both mature roots and young shoots to other growers and make a substantial profit. Seed is selling for about $150-200 a lb and mature roots are selling for $400-500 a lb. Mature roots do take a while to cultivate - 6 years so the payoff here is an investment.
Often used as a rotation grain it is also an ancient grain along side farro, quinoa, spelt, amaranth and millet. It boasts a high amount of vitamin C, protein and iron and has been a big hit with the health conscious and gluten free crowd. It takes the award for highest profit per acre. It averages about $1,600-1,700 a lb per acre.
Microgreens pack a tiny punch in the produce world. You don't need a lot of space and can make up to $50 per pound, and depending on your space and how you set things up you could produce 20-25 crops per year.
9.) Bonsai trees:
Small trees for small spaces. If you have a small space to spare you could start growing Bonsai trees. You can sell the starts that are untrained to Bonsai enthusiasts and the trained trees. The trained trees are usually 2-3 years old so do require some time commitment. The trained trees can go for around $30-hundreds of dollars depending on the amount of time and the specimen.
It doesn't take a large amount of money or a large space to get started in garlic. And with specialty garlic being purchased in local grocery stores, depending on your market, you can find a profitable crop to sell locally. Types of specialty garlic are Romanian Red or Carpathian. A lbs of garlic seed will produce 40-60 plants depending on the variety. Profiting about $16 per lb.
11.) Bamboo, ground covers and drought tolerant plants:
Droughts and fires and dry conditions are becoming the norm. Growing bamboo, ground covers and grasses in pots and selling all over your local area or distributing online. Growing drought tolerant plants and selling them to landscapers, nurseries, and homeowners is another way to generate a profit.
Wasabi is a highly sought after root that is more like a fine wine than a horseradish. Wasabi takes about 60-80 weeks to grow to a marketable size and has highly guarded secrets on how to grow it. Wasabi also gets the award for one of the hardest plants to grow on this list or even get a hold of. It does offer a nice prize for all that effort. Wasabi root goes for around $100 a lb in Japan and $45 a lb in North America.
There are many ways to grow your farm business. I hope that this list is useful and gives you a starting point to dig in and do your own research on what crops might be best for you.