Making money on a small hobby farm?

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by coder14, Mar 20, 2016.

  1. coder14

    coder14 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 25, 2016
    I bought a place in Missouri last August that is 2 acres. I have a career and steady income, but my wife stays home with our two daughters. Is there any side money to be had in raising chickens, rabbits, (maybe ducks or geese) on a 2 acre farm, or is it mostly just for fun and food? Are there strategies, certain breeds that play better in anyones experience?
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    There is no real money to be had with chickens. Most are happy to end with free eggs and meat. By selling chicks and point of lay pullets and any extra eggs you can pay for the feed, litter, etc. Plan on paying off the electric poultry fencing and coop too? That will take years to pay off.

    If a person was inclined to make money with rewarding hobby that actually takes little time and personal land think bees. The biggest part of bees is start up cost of hives. If you have a table saw you can easily cut the start up cost of $450 per hive to $300. If your in the country and have good forage (fields and pollen trees like locust) for 3 miles around you you can build an apiary to 30 hives. 30 hive foot print apiary is about 500 square feet. Honey yield varies per year, to conservatively forecast you go with 40lbs per hive. One strong hive in a good year can yield 200lbs but you never count on that. Where the real money in the bank can come is maintaining 15 full hives and then making 20-25 over wintered nucleus hives to sell each year. It's not constant care like livestock. You don't need to find babysitters when your away and spending a day or two a month is all the time needed for attention.

    Honey currently is $5 per pound wholesale. Nucleus 5 frame over wintered colonies go for $150-175 each. So 20 hives and 25 nucs of which you'd use some to strengthen weak hives/replace queens so say selling only 15 per year= 15*40*5+15*160= $5400 per year net for maybe up to 14 full days labor. Of course that small amount of honey you'd not sell wholesale rather locally for closer to retail.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  3. coder14

    coder14 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 25, 2016
    Thanks, I have actually thought about the honey thing. I think it is actually pretty popular where I'm at, I know several people that keep bees. I was mostly leery of the startup costs. The place I moved into was previously a sheep farm, I converted the sheering shed into a coup with an outdoor run already and am raising up 25 chicks I got from Efowl. My wife and I wanted chickens for the eggs anyway, I was just curious if anyone made any money off incubating eggs and selling. I kind of enjoy building things when the mood strikes me, so I build a rabbit run with a series of hutches on a whim. We got some cute little lops for the girls to play with, but in the meantime we had been pondering if there was money in breeding some of the show breeds of rabbits, like angoras.
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Rabbits like chickens are marketable if you have the breed people want. With chickens you'd breed to the standard of perfection and start with the best stock you can find. But then with one breed you'd flood your local market in no time and need to ship hatching eggs. Breeding to the standard and line breeding with single matings or selected trios takes a keen eye and some added pens. You'll likely not get the quality if attempting multiple breeds but one breed with several varieties is doable. Body type for breed is same so easy to work with if same breed. With both of those animals you can sell the meat too as long as your state laws are agreeable to what conditions are needed.

    If you have a small wood shop. Really only need a table saw. Here is an awesome resource for building hives and equipment (each link on page is a step by step how to build):

    BTW, your Limited on hives if others have hives in a 5 mile radius. Draw a circle on map three miles radius of you and any known apiaries in area. Shows you what overlaps and how much forage your bees have without competition excepting native pollinators. Diverse terrain is best, mono crops are horrible unless you migrate hives. Multiple trees and shrub sources that flower at different times and hay fields if they are not cut too soon (clover and flowers need to bloom for bees) is ideal. Where I am they start the spring with the early maple tree pollen and dandelion.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  5. MoonShadows

    MoonShadows The Jam Man

    Jan 23, 2013
    Pocono Mtns
    My Coop
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  6. JDShaver

    JDShaver Just Hatched

    Mar 20, 2016
    San Diego, CA
    This is a great thread, thank you!
  7. Ladybirdmama

    Ladybirdmama Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 6, 2016
    BC, Canada
    We hope to have a hobby farm in the next few years! Great question [​IMG]
    We are starting out at our current house with a few quail.
    I've heard specialty crops like garlic & mushrooms (especially gourmet or medical varieties) can be a good money maker. Another idea is running a bed & breakfast.
  8. pauleberly

    pauleberly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2016
    East TN
    Here is what I would do

    Make the largest garden you can work on. The bigger the better. Get at least 2 bee hives (never go less than 2) They will help pollinate your garden, and make extra honey money

    You could also grow hay. There will be some start up cost, but you can find a farmer and they will do all the work but they will take 3 bales to your 1

    If you raise rabbits and chickens, compost the manure or just sell it outright
  9. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 22, 2013
    Hay is not the best idea for profit(no offense). The neighbor of my 4H leader does hay. She says the equipment is outrageously priced and breaks as soon as it gets paid off. Also, you need 100+ acres to make any kind of profit.

    Bees are a great idea. If you get over the startup costs, then the bees will do all the work for you. Honey you can sell for around $10 a pound and you can get around 100 lbs of honey in a langstroth in a good year. Thats $1000 per hive. But you shouldn't harvest the first year, this would be for the second year. Subtract the start up costs and you already made a profit.

    No one will want to pay for what it really costs to produce chickens for eggs and meat....youll be lucky to break even.
  10. Flock Leader

    Flock Leader Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2012
    What people always ask us about is good laying pullets for their backyards. We have no difficulty selling whatever surplus birds we might have left at the end of the season. So while this may not be much of a profit, it does help cover costs. What I'm thinking of doing is switch to a pure-bred flock. People are willing to pay more for pure-bred, and the cost of raising them would be the same (after we make up for the original investment in the stock).

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