You always remember the funny quote on restaurant walls: “Becoming a vegetarian is a big missed steak!” Though you haven’t considered becoming a vegan, you have seriously thought about starting a small livestock business. You want to get away from the busy city lifestyle. You’ve been in discussion with your partners in your tech firm, about assuming reduced responsibilities and more importantly to continue to work off-company premises. They have agreed.
You’ve been eyeing a small 3-acre farm in Oregon. The distance of the farm to your office headquarters in California is manageable. You’re going to call the realtor to get more information about the property. What can you farm? How big are the cattle stockyards? How stable is the telephone signal in the area? These might be some of the questions in your head.
The Big Picture
The agribusiness industry is on a downward trend, which reflects a $3 trillion revenue as of February 2019 figures. Still, that’s “trillions,” not billions! The number of businesses is on the rise, with nearly 2.86 million. These figures, however, pertain to the full gamut of services including the production, processing, and sale of agricultural products.
You don’t need vast tracts of land to do livestock farming. A three- to five-acre land is sufficient for a homesteader. The size requirement, however, will be further defined by the kind of livestock you will be raising. If your option is poultry, then you need a minimum of 3.6 square feet per chicken floor space. This is the minimum. The measurement will also vary on the type of chickens if they are a layer, dual-purpose, or meat chickens.
Animal grazing is a factor in determining the space requirement. Experts talk about the 1.5 to 2 acres rule-of-thumb, which is the space required to feed two young cows for a year.
What Animals to Raise
There are at least two primary considerations when deciding on this matter. If your goal is to earn a profit, then look for animals that will do good in the market. If you plan to consume your products, then decide on the kind of food you and your family like to eat.
Popular animals that you can choose from include ducks, rabbits, chickens, goats, pigs, cows, and honeybees.
The Market and Your Expectation
If you’re running a small farm business, understanding the market and managing your expectations are crucial in becoming successful. Time is required to allow your business to mature and achieve profitability. Starting small and slowly scaling up is critical. The skills, effort, and facilities to push 50 chickens out the door are different from selling 1,000 chickens. Take it slow, learn the ropes, and get an understanding of what your facilities are capable of.
Care for Your Land
Your land will suffer from abuse due to grazing, especially if you’re raising large animals. You will need to deal with manure, hays, heavy rainfall, and how all these affect the health of your land. Make sure that you have a plan for recovery. Sometimes, it may take as long as a year for your property to recover and for you to raise other animals on the same land.
Fencing, dealing with parasites and smells, and marketing your business are other areas of considerations. But be guided when you start your life as a homesteader.