Every homesteader has their own unique set of goals and priorities. Some want to sell goods at a local farmer’s market, some want to be self-sufficient as much as possible, while others just want a pet for the kids. Whatever your goals may be, there is an animal out there that will meet them perfectly! In this post we’ll explore 12 animals that are best for new homesteaders based on what you’re looking for in life and how many hours you have available each day.
A great starter animal for homesteads and those that are into “self-sufficient lifestyle” because they lay eggs which can be turned into delicious omelets or given away as a present (or both!).
Chickens are a great addition to any homestead. As long as they have access to shelter from the sun and food for when you’re not around, chickens are relatively easy to care for and make it possible for families with younger children (or just don’t want anything bigger) to still enjoy some farm life.
The hens of an egg laying chicken breed will lay around one egg every day, and if the hen is healthy then there’s a good chance she’ll live for about six years. The eggs are also a great source of protein.
Chickens will also provide a good source of meat if you decide that’s what you want.
A good meat chicken breed will provide around 10 pounds of meat per bird, so they’re a great option if your family is looking to eat more chicken in place of traditional beef and pork!
Pigs are versatile animals who can be raised for meat. They’re also fun to watch as they love playing in mud puddles or rooting around for their favorite treats!
Piglets will typically grow to about 700 pounds if they’re not slaughtered before that.
It’s best if you have a good amount of space to let them roam around, as they’ll need about 8 square feet per pig.
Pigs are usually friendly creatures who love attention from their owners so it’s easy for children (or adults) to get attached quickly.
They also enjoy being able to explore the outdoors on occasion! Pigs will make an excellent option for a new homesteaders looking to raise animals for the family’s dinner table.
If you are interested, in one of my recent articles you can find Yorkshire pigs for sale from reputable breeders.
Rabbits are a great option for homesteaders who want to raise animals but don’t have much space. They grow quickly and can be slaughtered for meat at 12-16 weeks of age.
They’re cute and relatively easy to care for as long as you purchase the right breed.
Recently I have listed some reputable breeders where you can find one of the best meat rabbit breeds. Check out my article Flemish giant rabbits for sale.
Even though they are underrated for homesteading, they are perfect animals for homesteaders. A meat rabbit will usually grow around 15+ pounds while other breeds are smaller in size but just as good!
Rabbits generally do well with children.
Beekeeping is a rewarding hobby with many benefits. It can also be profitable if managed properly!
Traditional beekeepers often use less expensive wooden hives. This lends itself well to people who have less money but still want to enjoy the hobby and have a self-sufficient home.
Beekeeping is a long-term commitment, but this is one of the most rewarding homestead animals to keep. From just one hive you can get around 60 pound of honey per year.
A great option for newcomers who want fresh, healthy food but don’t have time to care for larger animals!
It’s important that your fish tank has an aerator so they can breath properly and temperature control if possible. You’ll also need to feed them consistently (but it’s not expensive).
Fish are generally easy going as well which makes them a good choice for new homesteaders with kids or no experience in raising livestock.
The other benefit of keeping fish is that they’re relatively low maintenance – you won’t spend hours each day caring for chickens or cows unless you choose this path!
This means more free time for other important responsibilities.
Goats make a great addition to any homestead because they’re easy to care for. They’ll eat almost anything and will provide milk which can be turned into cheese, yogurt or ice cream 🙂
The downside of goats is that you need more space than chickens do in order to accommodate them. You also have the option of raising dairy goats or meat goats if desired.
It’s best if you have a fence around your property line to keep the goats in! It’ll also be helpful to purchase some goat feed so they can get all of their nutritional needs.
Goats are easy enough that children will enjoy caring for them as well – it might even teach them responsibility and how animals really need personal care from humans.
They’re an excellent choice if you want kids involved with the homesteading experience but don’t know where to start.
Read more about the Pygmy goat as a pet, one of the most popular dwarf goat breeds in US.
Next on the list of best animals for homesteads and especially for self sufficient farms, are these adorable creatures. They can provide wool to make clothes, milk to drink fresh or turn into cheese or yogurt, and meat if desired.
They also require less space than other livestock options and they’re relatively easy to care for as long as they have access to shelter from cold weather.
Perfect animals for homesteaders who want to turn their homestead into a small-scale dairy farm.
They are well suited to both hot and cold climates, so they work well as livestock no matter where you live!
One of the most popular breeds of sheep is the Dorset sheep, which has a medium-sized frame that can produce good milk and tasty meat.
Sheep are usually gentle creatures and social animals that love attention from their owners. They like to spend time with people in addition to other homesteading animals.
You might want to check our article best sheep names for girls and boys.
Cows are probably the most common animals for homesteaders. You’ll need plenty of space for them – about 40 square feet per cow and you should have a well-built fence to keep animals from wandering off or predators from getting inside your property line.
You’ll also want to make sure that they’re comfortable, so provide ample shade and access to good pasture land!
Cows can be difficult beasts if not cared for properly but otherwise an excellent choice for self sufficient farms and homesteads as long as you plan ahead with their living arrangements.
You can also consider mini cattle, they are more docile, need less space and are great milk cows. You can check more about the cost in our article mini cows for sale and breeders.
If you love horses then owning one could be rewarding experience in many ways! They require more upkeep than other livestock which is why it’s recommended that newbies start out small when raising horses on their own.
Horses are social animals and need plenty of space to roam. They also enjoy companionship so you’ll want a stable full of horses in order for them to feel happy and healthy!
You will have to take care of their feed, provide water on daily basis, groom the horse regularly (or hire someone else) as well as make sure they’re comfortable with shelter from bad weather or hot sun.
Having said all that – owning a horse is an excellent experience if you love this animal already because it can be rewarding both during your time caring for them and when sharing the ride afterwards!
If you have a small farm and love miniature animals, then take a look at our Ponies and miniature horses for sale listing.
Another common animal on any homestead. Dogs require less upkeep than other livestock but do still need about 30 minutes each day to make sure they’re taken care of.
They are social animals and enjoy companionship with humans or other dogs so you’ll want to have at least one dog on your property!
Dogs will also bark if there’s an intruder, which is a helpful feature for people who live in remote locations like homesteads 🙂
Can you imagine a homestead without a cat too? Cats can be a great addition to any homestead if you are looking for something that stays out of the way and is low maintenance.
The benefits of owning a cat are that they don’t require much time when it comes to upkeep.
Cats also tend to catch pests like mice and rats for you, which can be helpful in order to ensure that your crops remain safe.
Cats are also a great option if you’re looking for an animal on a farm that stays out of site so as not to scare the other animals.
If you’re new to raising homestead animals then turkeys might not be the best choice until you learn more about them!
Benefits of raising turkeys are that they provide eggs and enough delicious meat for entire family to eat!
Keep in mind that it’s also recommended that no one with small children enter into turkey territory without supervision!
How to choose the right animal for homesteading?
This is not an exhaustive list of all animals available for homesteaders, and some great alternatives are likely left out. The goal of this post is to highlight a handful of known options that will work well for many people that are interested in the best animals for self-sufficiency.
Families with children should consider how much time will be available each day to care for these creatures before choosing their first animal for the homestead.
Keep in mind that pets require far less maintenance than farm animals do.
The next thing to consider is how much space you can provide your new animal on a daily basis.
The perfect animal for starters will be the chicken. Chickens make great additions to any homestead because they produce eggs and provide meat without needing too many resources from their owners in order to keep them happy and healthy.
As you get more experienced in homesteading then you might want to think about adding some cows, goats or other animals that require space.
Have you still not come up with an awesome name for your farm? You can use our guide to come up with a one-of-a-kind, unique ranch and farm name.