We want to start a hobby farm

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by CarlaS, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. CarlaS

    CarlaS Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 13, 2011
    We would like to start a hobby farm that would also bring us enough money to keep it going. We would like to have a dairy cow, pigs, turkeys, ducks, and either alpacas or goats. Along with our already existing chickens. I know quite a bite about poultry but nothing of cows, pigs, alpacas, or goats. What breeds should I try? And any other helpful ideas would be nice.

    We live in MN, so we need some cold-hardy animals. Thanks.
  2. bella1210

    bella1210 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2010
    i would try backyardherds this is a website about all of that stuff and they would help you better
  3. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Pick one new animal. Do not try to get more than one new thing at a time. Once everything is running smooth with that new animal then you can think about the next. Pigs or goats may be a good next step. Find a local that has them an see what works where you are.
  4. SarahFair

    SarahFair Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 23, 2008
    Monroe, Ga
    Yeah, dont get them all at once!
    Take time to learn the animal.. then move on.

    Start with goats.
    They are pretty easy, and fun!
  5. Talisman

    Talisman Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 25, 2011
    I agree with SaraFair. Start with goats, and see how that works for you.
  6. MaryMouse

    MaryMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 21, 2011
    I agree with the others start with one new animal at a time. Research alot about the type of animal before you get it so you have a suitable habitat for it when you do bring it home. Keep it at least a year, before moving on to the next thing, so you can learn the husbandry specific to that animal. Listen to the local farmers in your area, they can tell you hints on what works and what does not.

    Good luck:)
  7. SillyChicken

    SillyChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 12, 2010
    you should also define your needs. Do you need 1-2 gallons of milk a day or 3-5?

    I really wanted a mini cow, but decided that I don't want to be married to milking one every day. So I'm still thinking about a goat.

    Getting set up for a new animal is the most expensive part... so like everyone said, I'd take them on one at a time.
  8. OldGuy43

    OldGuy43 Chillin' With My Peeps

    As has already been mentioned; if you get a milk animal they have to be milked at pretty much the same time, twice a day, twelve hours apart, everyday! Think about that long and hard before committing to even one.
  9. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Say goodbye to any vacation you want to take away from home, not doing anything when you are sick, going out to dinner with coworkers after work..and your sanity¬Ö.


    But oh so worth it.
  10. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2011
    Quote:we milk our dairy goats once daily, but we would definitely get higher production if we milked twice daily... so it's possible to do one-a-days.

    You might check with your local extension agent to see if they have classes on the things you're looking at doing - ours has a variety of classes on farm management, goats, sheep, beef production, finances for farms, and LOTS of other things. took a great class called "Annie's Project" that's done nation wide, specifically for women with farms/ranches.

    our instructor in that class says that >70% of working farms also have off-farm income (someone works off the farm for wages)... that's because unless you've got good productive, and paid-for, land, it's *really* tough to make the farm pay for itself. making the farm pay for the land purchase too is near impossible. (not going to stop me from trying, but his point is well made.) the instructor is a farm management specialist, so he sees the numbers side of things every day. what he says is producing best $ for the cost, and best profits right now, for the small holder is sheep / goat production for meat. it's outproducing beef, and on a par with full-up diary production but without the high equipment costs.

    in addition, goats / sheep are cheaper to get into, smaller, and easier to handle for folks without experience.

    if you've got nitch markets for specialty eggs (duck) or things like duck or rabbit meat, or specialty veges and organic produce, those can do ok too, but you have to market your goods effectively. winter production (green house) of specialty produce is another area that may be productive if you've got the right local market.

    so here's our plan, maybe it'll give you some ideas.

    our first goal is sheep/goat production (because we have experience in that already) and getting our rotational grazing program working for them and our horses (who *will* be learning how to pull haying equipment). ducks / duck eggs and geese are next, because we have experience with them also. we'll be trying to build our marketing program around the duck / goose / sheep / goat base so we build our market to something semi-predictable.

    market garden next, that's also something we have some experience with.
    bees in the spring (also something we have experience with) for garden pollenation and our own honey production... probably not for market production.

    following that, we'll work on:
    incubating chicks/ducklings/etc for market sales
    planting orchard trees
    artisan cheese (sheep goat)
    pasture raised turkeys
    meat rabbits (new to us, part of our raw-feeding plan for the dogs as well as market)
    2 dairy cows and 2 beef cows (new to us, for our use + artisan cheese)
    hogs (also new to us, to till the garden beds over winter first, then meat and possibly breeding if we like them)
    off-season produce maybe with aquaponics and fish production in a greenhouse
    possibly the odd litter of LGDs or border collies... we'll see if we've got the dog genetics and performance to make them worth breeding.

    mean time, we'll be working pasture and hay, fencing etc. and possibly try some small lots of grain or corn for our own education.

    my theory is that we can build the sheep/goat part of this to the bulk of the business, and we'll see how many of the other things we love doing. those we love, we'll do with the expectation to supply our own needs, and see if we can build some market as well. some of these will *not* be worth doing (on the scale we can do them) just for market - it'll be too small to get any economy of volume, so won't be profitable.

    it's an experiment for us to find out what we love, and what we can make money at.

    over the past several years I've proven I can raise sheep that bring the top dollar at any auction we take them too... but not at a profit when you consider cost to raise them. but then, we were in CA and feed's expensive and pasture non-existant. now that I'm in MO, I'm going to see if I can raise the same outstanding quality at a profit... if I can, that'll probably be our mainstay. and I'm guessing my flock size is going to have to be north of 500 to make enough to pay the mortgage and let me quit my day job. which means bigger land. which means bigger mortgage and a hired hand or two. which means more sheep... [​IMG]

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