Small animals are part of my frugal living regimen. They can be a source of fun and good fresh food.
Butchering your own meat or harvesting your own eggs may put you off a bit if you haven’t done it before, but there really isn’t much to it.
All you need is a little room and a desire for fresh food.
There are any number of animals that can be raised with ease on a relatively small piece of land.
We’ll discuss animal farming on a small scale here to show you what can be done – even in the city.
Raising animals in your backyard in the city is a possibility. Even in New York City, chickens are allowed inside city limits as long as there are no roosters in the flock.
Here in Cheyenne, chickens aren’t allowed in town, but I know people that have them.
I think the idea is don’t be a nuisance to other city dwellers and the city won’t be a nuisance to you either.
That seems fair.
Why raise your own meat and eggs? Well, with all the concern about treatment of animals, you can be sure that your animals for meat and eggs are well cared for.
You can be sure that they are indeed organic and free range. It’s always nice to know what’s on and in the food you are eating.
Another reason to raise small animals is because they can also be coordinated with growing your own food. We often feed excess vegetables from the garden to our chickens and turkeys.
It is a good way to supplement free range and commercial feed. Our scraps are turned into meat and eggs.
Raising your own small animals for meat is an example of creating marketplace alternatives when the marketplace doesn’t provide what you want, how you want it, when you want it, and at a price you choose to afford.
So what is the range of possibilities on a small place? It is quite an impressive variety. Consider that the following small animals can be raised for meat and eggs in a relatively small area without much trouble:
Chickens are my favorite of small animals for meat, and you’ll love the fresh source of chicken eggs.
They are easy to care for and allowed (or tolerated) just about anywhere.
There are many chicken breeds to pick from, so you could have quite a fancy flock of egg layers.
Learn more about raising chickens and you’ll be better prepared to enjoy fresh eggs and meat from your own backyard.
And, it something you can do year round.
Chickens in the winter require little care above and beyond what you might offer them in warmer weather.
A small pen or a large yard is just fine for chickens. Fence them in and practice clipping chicken wings to keep them from flying over the fence.
Chickens are one of the favorite small animals for predators, and they’ll ruin your vegetable garden if you let them get into it, so you’ll want to cut their flight feathers to keep them safe and out of trouble.
I focus on egg laying chickens because it’s an easy supply of food that lasts a long time in the refrigerator. Here is my estimation of the shelf life of eggs.
If you’re going to accumulate eggs, you’ll need to bone up on egg storage techniques and know what to do with old eggs as well.
You’ll also want to get some plastic egg storage trays if you’re going to keep your eggs for a long time in cold storage.
Once you get your hens to lay, you’ll be busy cleaning eggs and enjoying them. And, from time to time you’ll have to deal with a broody hen.
I’m glad you inquired “What do chickens eat?” because I have the answer.
And, remember, just because you’re raising small animals like chickens doesn’t mean the cost of feed is going to be small.
Here are a couple approaches to providing cheap chicken food to your flock. And, here are some suggestions for providing some natural chicken food as well.
Keeping your small animals watered is a common concern, especially for chickens.
Here is a discussion about chicken waterers and what we can do to provide plenty of clean and fresh water to our flock without increasing the amount of work involved.
Here’s another nice site that you will enjoy. It’s all about raising chickens.
A friendly and productive animal that can provide meat and fur, and they don’t require much room at all. Keep them in pens or let them roam about. They are very quiet and easy to maintain.
Here is the place to learn more about raising rabbits for meat and fur (coming soon).
Expect a little more noise from these animals, and different behavior than chickens. They are messy with their water. They are a good source of both meat and eggs, and a good bunch of bug catchers.
cThe photo right is of baby Muscovey ducks, shortly after their 800 mile trip from Minnesota to Wyoming.
This was my first adventure with ducks, and I though they were nice animals to keep.
Muscovey ducks are a great meat bird, and nearly tame around people.
Click here to learn more about ducks as a source of meat and eggs (coming soon).
A larger animal that you might raise is a goose. Noisy and a bit aggressive, but still a meat and egg animal that you can handle and be satisfied with.
They make a mess with their water just like ducks, and are known as weeders in a mature garden.
As shown on the left, my geese were leaders among the other web-footed animals that strutted around the homestead.
These are Emden geese.
They have beautiful blue eyes, and a very long neck graced with soft and delicate feathers.
Learn more about the best two-winged long-necked watchdog you’ll ever have, right here (coming soon).
One of the more tame and curious of small animals that you might raise for meat and eggs.
They are also closely related to the chicken in terms of limited intelligence.
Turkeys peck around to find food, but they don’t scratch and tear up the ground like chickens.
The photo right shows young Bronze turkeys and a couple Giant Whites on the far right.
They are healthy eaters, and make the “gobble” sound whenever they hear strange noises or hear another “gobble” sound.
They are gentle and fascinating.
Learn more about raising turkeys for the centerpiece at your Thanksgiving dinner.
One of many underwater small animals that aren’t raised too often around the home for food, but one that can be kept in a relatively small pond or large tanks.
Some fish can be quite self-sufficient given adequate surface area and variation of water depth.
Different varieties are adapted to survive well in warm, cold, deep, shallow, still or moving water.
Also, some are bug and fish eaters, others feed on plants, and some are bottom feeders.
Learn more about fish farming and aquaculture here (coming soon).
So there you have it. Six different types of small animals that are easy to raise and provide delicious fresh meat for your table.
Four of the six provide eggs that you can fry up for breakfast. Or, if you’d rather, raise them into young birds and have a wonderful meal, or two or three.
We stew our older hens after a couple years, and make wonderful smoked turkey for when we have company during holiday meals.
You know what’s your animals have been fed and how they have been treated, so it’s good all the way around.
If you have a good size pond, ducks and geese will enjoy the surface water, and fish will enjoy the depths. You could set up an aquaculture that is relatively self-supporting if you know what you’re doing.
If you have a field or pasture, chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese will all appreciate the open space to forage for grass, weeds and bugs.
They all naturally return to “home” when it gets dark.
Rabbits should be confined with tighter fencing near their homes since they will need to be rounded up at the end of the day.
Some protection is required from predators, and some fencing will be necessary to keep the roamers from visiting with the neighbors.
Turkeys roam far and wide. Chickens stay close to home.
The area you live in will determine what type of protection your small animals will need against predators. As far as coyotes, foxes, skunks and raccoons are concerned, it’s free food.
The best way to raise small animals is to know their needs for food, water and shelter, and understand their tolerances to weather conditions.
You’ll also need to know a thing or two about predators that will find the meat and eggs you’re raising to be just as tempting as you will.
If you can raise small animals on pasture, you can cut way back on the cost of feeding them.
That should fit very well with an approach to frugal living that focuses on providing your own food sources for economy and good health.