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.
In 2016, a ReFED report estimated that in the US, some 10.1 million tons of food remains unharvested at farms. That is almost 1/5 of the annual total food waste generated in the country. Those are profits you aren't making.
How do you eliminate food loss on your farm? Here are 9 ways to stop food loss and turn that into a profit.
1.) Repackage the product:
If you can't sell them, preserve them. It makes sense to take the fruit and vegetables that you have and make something with the excess; jam, jelly, salsa. You just need a little bit of elbow grease and time. Save the season and sell the products through the winter.
2.) Offer to deliver:
Deliver the unsold items to people who want them. Have a sign up on your website or have a list of customers that like specific items. Make this a VIP option! You are delivering it to their doorstep. If you have the produce already packaged up and ready to sell, why not spend some extra time and not let if go to waste.
3.) Host a farm to table dinner:
Have a farm dinner directly after your day at the market. Whatever doesn't sell, gets cooked up for dinner.
4.) Sell it online:
We've talkde about using your website to sell your products online but there are other ways as well. Companies like Full Harvest and Local Harvest are helping in this challenge. They have created a marketplace to take your unsold items and sell them online. Not a bad place to start. I'm not saying they are free market places, but they may give you options to sell to a large market.
5.) Work with local markets and restaurants:
Go to the local stores around you and ask if they would sell your items. Sometimes this can take some phone calls to get to the right person. It doesn't hurt to ask if they'll sell your items. The worst they will say is no, (probably).
6.) Sell ugly fruit, eggs and vegetables:
It doesn't have to be pretty to be delicious. Market this to your customers and give them a discount. You're still making a profit and they are getting the produce they want. Win, win!
7.) Sell expired or over-ripe items:
Hear me out here. The stores are selling expired items, maybe you can too. Bread that is hard can be used to make french toast, peaches that are overripe will make a delicious pie. If you're honest and upfront about the items being on the discount rack and your can still sell them.
8.) Animals like food too:
Sell the produce to another farmer who will use the produce to feed to their animals.
9.) Donate the items to charity:
There are many people that can't afford the produce you're throwing away, so be charitable. Rescue your food with a company like Hungry Harvest or your local food bank.
It takes all season to work the soil, plant the seeds, water and care for and harvest the produce you sell. As it turns out you don't have to throw it away, compost it or till it in. There are plenty of other options to try. As it turns out food waste can be reduced in our own fields.
Cricket granola, cricket ice cream, silkworm chips, meal worm burgers these are things that we never thought we would be eating let alone thinking of these things being gourmet and highly sought after items. Humans have been using insects for protein for a very long time. It may have been a matter of survival before but maybe it still is, but as we look for more sustainable sources of protein insects are getting high marks. It turns out farming insects is a lucrative business model as well. For any sized farm this might be a great investment to look into.
But, it's a bug. To that I say...
The chef makes the meal
One person will turn up their nose to what you find to be your favorite meal. The perfectly cooked steak could be deemed by some to be disgusting and so it really depends on who is cooking the meal and who is eating the food. Or possibly it all comes down to marketing.
Grasshoppers, termites, hornets, ants, crickets, weevil grubs, meal worms, all of these are prized in other countries for their taste. Ants are small but powerful and are actually among the highest sources of protein in the world. One type of leaf cutter ant from South America has been described as having a bacon like taste. I think we are only limited by our imaginations in coming up with delicious ways to make insects more palatable and delicious.
We already package up meal worms for our chickens but what about our other omnivorous livestock? Pigs and fish; here is an article from Agweb that talks about innovative farming opportunities.
Still can't get over the fact that it's a bug?
Bugs are nutritious and delicious too.
There is a cookbook, "On Eating Insects" by Josh Evans that describes the taste of Danish forest ants like this, "Like lemon rinds seared on the grill, with a hint of brown sugar." I don't know about you, but to me that sounds delicious and something I'd like to try.
It's estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States that 2 billion people eat bugs. That's not a bad percentage of people to market to. Athletes, health enthusiast and environmentally conscious individuals are always looking for environmentally friendly sources of lean protein, essential amino acids, and omega 3 fatty acids. For some people the thing they can't get around is that it's an insect. Maybe they should be marketed more like shrimp, clams, or other crustaceans; the insects under the sea. Just reverse it and call them, the lobsters of the land.
Bottom line; they're profitable
It takes way less to raise these little guys. In north America it's also considered a gourmet item and is imported from other countries that have been perfecting their insect recipes for hundreds of years. In Seattle at Safeco field they serve crunchy Chapulines otherwise known as Grasshoppers.
According to the research firm Global Market Insights, The American market for edible insects exceeded $55 million in 2017 and is projected to increase more than 43 percent by 2024.
Using less and getting more
Insects need 6 times less feed than cattle, 4 times less than sheep, and 2 times less than pigs to produce the same amount of protein. They also need less space and produce less waste. For that reason you can get into this business with very little overhead.
They're not going away. Bugs have been on the plant for 400 million years (way before us), represent 80% of the species on the plant, and out number us, by...a lot. There are 2,100 known types of edible insects, it might be time to look into this as a viable business model for your farm.
Here's one farm that's leading the way into this market but there is plenty of room for others there as well. Any takers?
Farmbrite releases a Free version of their software
Contact: Janine Russell President & Co-Founder
Company email: email@example.com
Longmont, CO, 9/4/2018- The makers of Farmbrite are now offering a free version of their software. This version comes with many of the high level offerings that their full version of the software provides but without the cost. Farmbrite provides farm management and record keeping software for all sized farms.
“We’re offering the free version so that the software can be available to new farmers or farms that might not otherwise be able to afford the software.” Ian Russell, Founder & CTO
The free version will provide users with the ability to gain insight into their farms’ overall activities and better understand how to make their farm more efficient and profitable.
All these features are available immediately. The company hopes that this change will help new farmers or others that cannot afford the expense be able to afford their software and be more successful. You can find out more on their website. http://www.farmbrite.com/pricing/