Raising Food Animals

chickens are good food animals

Ready to raise chickens as food animals?

Considering an expansion of your home-grown food sources to include activities like hunting or raising small-food animals? You’re not alone. Even in cities, there is a growing movement for more farm-to-table ingredients – including meat.

Before you jump into raising small food animals on your property, check with your local officials to learn the rules so it’s done legally and properly. If hunting sounds like a better idea, make sure you have the necessary permits and training to do that.

Lastly, some farms sublet parcels of land to individuals or communities for farming. It’s a great way to get your feet wet without the initial upfront cost and to test your time commitment. Plus, you’ll learn a lot from the seasoned veterans.

Ready to give it a try? Here’s some food for thought.

Some Hard Questions

Expanding your sustainable food plan to include small food animals leaves you with plenty of options. Still, there are things to think about before you get in over your head.

  • your commitment to the whole process
  • the starting costs of permits, food and housing for the animals
  • how you will protect the animals from natural predators
  • how you will turn the animals into food for your family

Baby chickens and ducks maybe adorable but you’re not raising them for pets. You’re raising them for food. Whether you do the dirty work or have someone else do it for you, these animals serve a purpose. This is especially important to remember when there are small children involved. The last thing you want is to traumatize them.

Best Small Food Animals

Like a lot of the things we discuss here, the final decision is up to you. Make sure to base your decisions on what is best for you and your family. If you don’t like being around birds, raising them for food might not work for you. If you are away from home for extended periods, animals that need daily care are not a good fit for your lifestyle. Hunting might be a better choice.

Some food for thought:

  1. Catfish – Raising catfish is an inexpensive way to introduce small food animals into your plan. You don’t need a pond to nurture catfish – only a barrel. They’ll eat insects, but they’ll need to be fed twice a day. Catching them is a breeze, too. All you need is a net.
  2. Chickens – An obvious choice because they yield eggs and fresh meat. They also don’t require a ton of space and the start-up cost is relatively small.
  3. Goats – Aside from producing milk for drinking or to make butter and cheese, their milk also makes soap. Talk to a professional before purchasing goats to narrow down choices. Some are better for milk; others for meat.
  4. Hogs – Keeping a pig will produce ham, bacon, sausage (well, it’s easy enough to make your own sausage). They eat about anything, just remember to make sure the protein levels aren’t too high. In 12 months, they can easily weigh between 200 and 300 pounds.
  5. Ducks, geese and turkeys are viable options as they yield eggs and meat.


When considering small food animals remember to also consider their natural predators – including domesticated animals like cats and dogs. Cats will prey on small birds. A dog’s natural instinct is to prey on anything that moves. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – keep the dog and meticulously train him. Follow up with regular reinforcement. Cats are notoriously hard to train, so think about how you will house your birds so they will be safe.

Do your research ahead of time. You’ll find that raising small food animals can be as easy as growing a sustainable food garden.

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About Bret Smith

I am a long-time lover of all things outdoors. Whether hunting, shooting, fishing or just hiking and camping, I take every opportunity to enjoy nature and share it with others.

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