Welcome Heather from The Homesteading Hippy today as she shares her best advice for raising meat on a small homestead. She lives on only 1/5 of an acre, yet does an amazing job of growing her own food. I’m definitely inspired!
We live on a rather small homestead…
Some may call it a “micro-farm” actually.
Our homestead is smack dab in the middle of our small town and we are about 150 steps from the exact middle of downtown. Our fence on the north side of our yard is shared by the bank, as a matter of fact. Yet, we are able to raise between 70-85% of our food each year and I would love to share with you how we raise meat for our family.
First, a caveat.
Our situation may be a bit different than yours, as we do not have any zoning laws against farm animals in our town and our neighbors are quite supportive in what we are doing. Because of this, we are able to raise:
- 75-100 meat chickens
- 6 turkeys
- 25 layer hens
- 7 ducks
- Honey Bees
- 5 rabbits
We had to decide if was more important for us to raise our own food and know where it comes from, than to have a nice manicured lawn. If you were to look in our backyard, it would NOT be pretty at all. Nearly every square inch of our yard serves a purpose, and has to be used. This gives you the view of our homestead in the early Spring, before everything has been planted and is growing.
If you can’t be a “full fledged” homesteader, with cows, chickens, or goats, please know there ARE ways you can raise quality meat, no matter where you are!
There are things you can do to feed your family. Here are some ideas to get you started, even if you have just a little bit of space and can’t have chickens.
Two Meat Options for Small Homestead
1. Meat Rabbits
Meat rabbits take up very little space, can provide some great compost for your garden, and make no noise.
Breeds: A couple of great breeds for meat rabbits are New Zealand, Flemish Giant, and California White. We also have raised French Angoras for a good dual-purpose rabbit. They are considered “meat pen” and their hair can be spun and used in crocheting and knitting.
Getting Started: To start with meat rabbits, you simply need a couple of large pens (about 3×3 feet), one for a buck (male) and one for a doe (female). You will need a water bottle for each, feeding dish, food and some high quality hay. We give our rabbits feed that we can get from the local feed mill since it’s a bit cheaper, along with weeds and grass from the yard. From time to time, they get a carrot, celery or apple as a treat. We also purchase about 2 bales of timothy hay from a local farmer once a year to feed to them as well.
Breeding: Rabbits can be bred 3-4 times a year, and gestation is only 28-31 days, with a young rabbit being ready for processing at 3 months if desired. A pair of breeding rabbits and their offspring can keep a family of 5 in protein for most of the year.
The only drawback I can see with rabbits is that they are not Kosher, so those that follow the Levitical guidelines would not be able to do this. BUT, never fear…there is another alternative.
Quail are another great way to get quality meat in a small space because the eggs are considered a delicacy and bring in more money than chicken eggs. Therefore, you can sell the eggs to help to offset the costs of feed and materials for your quail. You can also have males in your flock without annoying your neighbors, which is perfect for those of us who live on non-traditional homesteads.
Quail cost less than traditional poultry because they are smaller and use less feed and bedding. In fact, with wire bottom cages, there is no bedding to deal with, which makes them low maintenance. You can sell juvenile and adult birds for eggs, meat, or hunting dog training. They lay an egg every day from 6 weeks on (depending on breed and supplemental light).
In many cases you can have quail when you can’t have chickens (again, great for the non-traditional homesteader). The best part is they are also Kosher, so they are a great choice for everyone. My friend Jess has some great info about raising quail in detail here.
Quality protein is available for just about anyone, anywhere if you are willing to think outside the box! Enjoy!
Heather and her family live in Northern Indiana, where they strive each year to become more self sufficient and raise at least 80% of their own food. Join them in their journey, complete with successes and lots of failures at The Homesteading Hippy.