Farm Animals You Can Raise In Your Backyard
The most commonly thought of farm animals include horses, cows, chickens, pigs and turkeys. Many farms also raise flocks of sheep, goats, turkeys, geese and mules. Some of the more uncommon farm animals include llama, bees, rabbits and pheasants.Some of these animals are best left to a farmer or rancher with acres of property, but a few of these friendly barnyard animals also make excellent pets. In areas where zoning ordinances allow it, a homeowner can raise a few hens for a daily dose of fresh eggs or keep a pygmy goat for its fresh milk.
Consider Local Zoning Laws
Before you bring home a box of chicks, a wooly bundle of sheep or a hive full of bees, look into your local zoning ordinances and laws. Some areas do not allow any type of poultry or livestock within their jurisdiction. Other areas may allow poultry and livestock under certain conditions.Areas that have ordinances about keeping poultry or other types of farm animals in urban and suburban areas may typically include regulations covering the following:
- Keeping animals on the property.
- Abandoned animals.
- Situations where animal control may intervene; such as abandoned, injured, abused or diseased animals.
- Distance between dwellings and animal housing.
- Sanitation of animal housing.
- Disposal of animal waste.
Tips for Raising Farm Animals In The City
Even if your area does not have regulations regarding the keeping of farm animals, as the owner of a farm animal, you have many of the same responsibilities as the owner of a dog or other pet. Before selecting a backyard farm animal, consider the following:
- The space needed for animal housing and grazing areas based on local regulations and yard space.
- The initial cost of the animal including veterinary bills for checkups and shots.
- Designing adequate housing or cover so that the animal is warm, comfortable and dry.
- The cost of building the animal housing including feeders, fencing and special equipment.
- Cost and availability of animal feed and other supplies such as bedding material (straw or sawdust) and pest control (for mites, lice and intestinal worms).
- Amount of time required to care for the animals.
As a responsible pet owner and neighbor, keep farm animals away from areas where they may become a nuisance to the person next door. Neighbors should be subjected to as little noise as possible from your animals. And, the neighbors should never be able to catch a whiff of a smelly animal pen. Areas where farm animals sleep and play should be kept clean at all times. Not only does this make for happy neighbors, it makes for healthy animals.
Chickens are probably the most popular backyard farm animal. Gardeners and animal lovers around the country have been on a mission to petition local governments for the right to keep backyard chickens. If your area allows for a backyard flock, you will be rewarded with a bounty of fresh eggs for your breakfast table and tons of chicken manure which can be turned into rich compost for the garden.
A small flock of hens can be raised in a small space. Many areas prohibit homeowners from keeping a rooster because of the noise. Chickens will need a strong and secure coop with nest boxes to lay eggs and a roost area to sleep in at night. During the day, provide chickens with a fenced area where they can scratch, dig for bugs and enjoy the sunshine. For example, small chicken tractors are mobile pens that keep chickens in a protected and caged environment. These tractors can be moved around the yard so that chickens have fresh areas for forage. See How To Build Chicken Coops At Home and Raising Backyard Chickens: A How To Guide.
The home gardener may want to consider keeping a hive of bees hidden in a corner of the yard behind the fruit trees. The bees will keep the garden pollinated and the hive will provides tasty raw honey.
If you don’t know how to take care of a bee hive, there is an alternative. Many beekeepers will install a hive on your property and come around on a regular schedule to check on the hive. Not only will your plants be pollinated, as an added bonus, the beekeeper may share the honey harvest with you.
Goats makes great companion pets, are very intelligent and one goat can produce one gallon of milk a day. This means that dairy goats must be milked twice a day, every day for a ten month period. The miniature goats, such as the Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy goats, are preferred backyard pets and produce about half the milk. Goats require some type of contained area made of woven or net wire that is large enough for the goat to get some exercise. This area should be at least 50 square feet for two goats. There should also be a shelter where the animals can get out of the elements and stay dry.
Sheep are another farmyard animal that are quiet, odor-free and will easily stay in a penned area. Sheep prefer an area that has good grassland, but can be raised with supplemental grain. Sheep raised for their wool will need to be sheared once a year. If you do not want the sheep for the wool, but would rather have the milk, consider a hair sheep. The coat of the hair sheep is a combination of hair and wool that sheds once a year. Sheep and goats have similar shelter and exercise space needs.
If you only have a small space, consider raising rabbits. Rabbits are quiet, make a minimal mess, are odor-free and can be raised in small cages.
Raising farm animals in your backyard can be fun, rewarding and educational. Before selecting a new pet for your urban garden, explore the various types of farm animals and how well the animal will fit into your lifestyle.