Disadvantages: There are hardly any! They can get smelly if you keep them in the same spot for too long.
Special Needs: A coop that has a place for them to roost. This also provides protection from foxes and other varmints, as well as shelter from extreme weather.
Labor Required: Egg collections, closing their coop at night, and cleaning it about once per week. You will also need to feed them daily unless allowing them to free range (in this case, you can put a buffet of corn, soybean, and oats - the birds will eat what they need).
Farming Skills Required: Butchering chickens (if being used for food), clipping wings to discourage flying or put up high fencing if you do not clip wings.
Possible Diseases: Worms can be a problem if the chickens remain in the same place for a long period of time. Lice and mites should be controlled. Also, chickens can get colds - their combs will change color, and there eyes puff up, along with wheezing sounds.
Making Money: Eggs can be sold from your home. Free-Range Chickens are especially in demand; if you can raise enough for yourself and have extra to sell go for it!
Advantages: They have less of a chance to get infections than chickens. A duck has a longer laying period than a chicken. Geese are good for removing weeds from pastures as they graze.
Disadvantages: You must have a pond or some other area of water. Both geese and ducks can be noisy.
Special Needs: Shelter at night for protection from extreme weather (hot and cold), and varmints.
Labor Required: Confining at night, collecting eggs, cleaning shelter.
Farming Skills Required: Much the same as for chickens.
Possible Diseases: Few problem here. Ducks and Geese are much hardier than chickens.
Making Money: Both can provide meat and eggs. Goose eggs are large and difficult to sell, but the meat from a goose is very valuable.
|Photo Credit: jpockele @ stockxchng.com|
Disadvantages: Seems to be difficult to make much money off of them. Their meat is not considered kosher.
Special Needs: Dry, draft-free location where they will be protected from weather and varmints.
Labor Required: Feeding, regular inspection.
Farming Skills Required: Be able to recognize the health of your rabbits, trimming their claws, and possibly butchering your own.
Diseases: Generally healthy animals, but you will need to check their ears regularly for mites. Also, rabbits can get colds.
Advantages: Wonderful grazers! Will provide lambs, wool, and possibly milk. Some breads fatten well on small amounts of food.
Disadvantages: They require regular attention, they are prone to many diseases, and they are known for escaping.
Special Needs: A good shepherd, and good fencing.
Labor Required: Careful, continual watching, especially for attacks. Very careful observation during lambing season.
Farming Skills Required: Shearing, foot trimming, and lambing. Also be able to understand the subtle ways.
Possible Diseases: Blowfly strike, foot rot, and many other diseases that often end in death.
Making Money: Depends on the market in your area. Could make cheese from sheep's milk.
Advantages: This animal is suited for most climates. They provide meat and milk, and some even have a valuable fleece.
Disadvantages: It not well confined they can easily destroy many things . . . including your vegetable garden.
Special Needs: Goats prefer weeds to good grass, so nice pasture is not necessary. Protection will be needed from extreme weather.
Labor Required: Milking twice per day. Much like keeping sheep.
Farming Skills Required: Milking, shearing, foot trimming, and kidding.
Possible Diseases: Goats needs a high level of minerals, otherwise they can acquire deficiencies that can cause major problems. Internal parasites must be controlled.
Making Money: Milk, cheese, and yogurt can be valuable if made well.
|Photo Credit: gloriaheid @ stockxchng.com|
Disadvantages: Can wreck good grass, and they are not considered kosher.
Special Needs: Shelter at farrowing, but other than that they can withstand much.
Labor Required: Daily feeding, if kept in the sty it must be cleaned regularly.
Farming Skills Required: You must be quick if you even hope to catch a stubborn pig.
Possible Diseases: If well fed, pigs are relatively healthy. May want to watch for mastitis after farrowing.
Making Money: Home-cured hams and bacon so good, and well sough after!
Advantages: Very gentle animals,and can feed on the grass for most of the year. They provide calves, and milk for you to drink or turn into butter, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream.
Disadvantages: Large animals, and a certain amount of strength is required when they have to be caught and handled.
Special Needs: Good grass during the nice weather months, and shelter during the cold weather months.
Labor Required: Milking twice per day (if milking). Careful watching when planning to put cows to the bull. You may want to rotate you cows daily to guarantee fresh grass.
Farming Skills Required: Milking, being able to handle cattle, helping with calving.
Possible Diseases: Mastitis when milking, mineral deficiencies when feeding calves, and foot problems if too heavy.
Making Money: Great returns from dairy products! A person can also profit from selling calves, or processing and selling beef.
Obviously there are many other animals you could raise: turkeys, llamas/alpacas, bees, etc. Those listed above are simply some common ones I've noticed. Also, keep in mind that a big concern with raising animals is what to do with them when you are gone. My husband and I stay pretty busy, and my family lives about 3 hours away. When we visit them, or travel for vacation we must find someone to take care of our animals. Having friendly neighbors who also homestead is great! They are usually willing to take care of your animals when you are away. Make sure to offer the favor in return! :)
I hope this helps! My husband and I have done quite a bit of research, but most of this information comes from the book The Practical Homestead by Paul Heiney. It is a great read! You should check it out!
If you have experience with any or all of these animals, we would love to hear your insight! Please leave your comment below!