Raising animals for meat is something every new homesteader and farmer desires to do.
Not only does it provide a healthy source of food for the family, but it can also help turn your homestead become profitable. We mostly raise meat animals for our freezer, although we have raised a few to sell.
It has never been our main source of income, for knowing what we are eating is more important to us then profits.
However, not all animals are created equal when it comes to raising them for meat.
Some require more space, feed, and care than others. It’s important to take into consideration the land it takes, the time required, and feed costs.
If raising to sell, It’s also important to consider the market demand for the type of meat being produced.
While beef and pork are popular choices, other types of meat such as rabbit and chicken can also be profitable.
Whether you’re a seasoned farmer or just starting out, this article will provide valuable information to help you make an informed decision on which animals to raise for meat.
We will explore some of the best animals to raise for meat, and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each animal.
Best Animals to Raise for Meat
When it comes to raising animals for meat, there are several options to choose from. Each animal has its pros and cons.
The choice will depend on individual factors such as space, budget, and personal preference.
Raising pigs for meat is a popular choice, and one we do on our own farm. They are one of the best animals to raise for meat.
They are excellent waste-to-meat converters and can turn kitchen scraps, garden greens, grains, roots, surplus eggs, or offal from other butchered livestock into hams, pork chops, bacon, and more.
Pigs are also easy to take care of, and their meat is delicious and in high demand.
However, raising pigs requires proper fencing to keep them contained and protected from predators.
They also need a lot of space to roam and forage. Feeder pigs, which are young pigs raised for meat, are a popular choice for small-scale farmers.
They typically take around six months to reach market weight.
From a profitable point, pigs are one of the worst animals to raise to sell. If you have on-farm feed, pigs can be profitable. In our area, you can not sell them what they cost to raise if you are buying grain from a feed store.
The pigs we just purchased we got for less than $1/lb.
If you don’t have grain screenings from grain faring, it’s hard to raise them for that cheap.
If you want to raise pigs for profit, look into grass-fed pigs. They sell for a higher dollar, and they are cheaper to feed if you have forest/field to raise them on.
There are many different breeds of pigs that are suitable for meat production.
Some of the most popular breeds include Yorkshire, Duroc, Berkshire, Meishan, Landrace, Chester White, Hampshire, and Pietrain.
Each breed has its own unique characteristics, such as growth rate, meat quality, and temperament. Choose a breed that is well-suited to your specific needs and goals.
Pigs require a balanced diet in order to grow and produce quality meat.
A typical pig diet consists of a combination of grains, such as oats and barley. Farmers may also supplement their pig’s diet with hay, vegetables, and fruits.
It is important to provide pigs with clean, fresh water at all times.
Pigs require adequate housing to protect them from predators, extreme weather conditions, and disease.
Housing should be well-ventilated, clean, and dry. Pigs can be raised in a variety of housing systems, including indoor confinement or free-range systems.
They need a shelter to protect against rain, wind, and cold, but they don’t need a heated building. When building a fence, remember that most pigs like to dig.
A board fence will prevent escapees or a chain link fence.
Once pigs have reached their desired weight, they must be processed in order to produce meat. The process of butchering and processing pigs can be done on-farm or at a local butcher shop.
In conclusion, pigs are a great animal to raise for meat production.
Farmers should choose a breed that is well-suited to their specific needs and goals, provide a balanced diet and clean housing, and follow all local regulations and guidelines for processing.
Chickens are another versatile and popular option for raising animals for meat. They are easy to keep in many different places, including dense suburbs, and some have even raised chickens within cities.
Chickens are also a great source of eggs, meat, and fertilizer.
Chickens are often one of the first animals that gets added to a homestead, and for good reason. They don’t need a lot of space, and they even be profitable for farmers.
Meat chickens, also known as broilers, are bred specifically for meat production. Read here on how to raise meat birds from start to finish.
They grow quickly and can reach market weight in as little as eight weeks. However, they require a lot of care and attention, including proper feeding, housing, and butchering.
Meat birds are one of the most profitable farm animals when you can keep your feed cost down. Chicken tractors are a great way to raise them for cheap.
Because meat birds don’t take a long time to raise, you have a quick profit turnaround.
However, just like pigs, if you raise them completely on store-bought grain, the cost of raising meat birds is almost equal to buying them.
You do have the added value of knowing what you are eating, but as a profitable farm venture, you need to find a way to cut feed costs.
Breeds for Meat
The most popular breed for meat is the Cornish Cross.
These chickens are bred for commercial meat production and are known for their fast growth and large size. Other popular meat breeds include the Ranger, Dorking, Welsummer, Breese, and Crevecoeur.
Breeds for Eggs
If you’re looking to raise chickens for eggs, then you’ll want to consider breeds such as the Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, and Plymouth Rock.
These breeds are known for their large eggs and high egg production.
Dual-purpose chickens, such as the Sussex and Wyandotte, are also good options as they can be used for both meat and eggs.
To ensure your chickens grow healthy and strong, it’s important to provide them with a balanced diet. Chickens require a diet high in protein.
A local feed store can help find the right balance for you. It’s also important to provide your chickens with access to fresh water at all times.
Chickens require a safe and secure place to live. A chicken coop should be large enough to accommodate your flock and provide protection from predators.
The coop should also have good ventilation to prevent the buildup of moisture and ammonia, which can be harmful to your chickens. If raising chickens for eggs, you also need a way to heat the coop during the winter.
When it comes time to process your chickens, it’s important to do so in a humane and ethical manner.
Many people choose to hire a professional to slaughter and process their chickens, while others prefer to do it themselves.
If you choose to do it yourself, it’s important to have the proper equipment and knowledge to do so safely.
Overall, raising chickens for meat can be a profitable and rewarding venture.
With the right breeds, feeding, housing, and processing, you can produce high-quality meat for your family or for sale.
Goats are a great option for those who want to raise animals for meat but have limited space.
They are smaller than cows and pigs and require less feed and space. Goat meat is also leaner and healthier than beef or pork.
However, raising goats requires proper fencing to keep them contained and protected from predators.
They also need a varied diet, including hay, corn, and other grains.
Meat goats, such as Boer goats, are a popular choice for meat production. Another income stream can be goats milk if your area has a demand for goat milk, or goat milk soap.
Goats are a popular livestock choice for meat production due to their hardiness, adaptability, and high-quality meat. They are also a good source of milk, making them a versatile animal to raise.
However, raising goats requires careful planning and management to ensure their health and productivity.
Breeds for Meat
The Boer goat is one of the most popular goat breeds for meat production. They are hardy, fast-growing, and have a high meat-to-bone ratio.
Other popular meat breeds include the Spanish goat, Kiko goat, and Tennessee Fainting goat.
Breeds for Milk
For those interested in producing milk, the Nigerian Dwarf goat and the Pygmy goat are popular choices.
These small breeds are easy to handle and require less space and feed than larger breeds. They can be expensive to buy though, especially if they are in high demand.
Feeding goats a balanced diet is essential for their health and productivity.
Goats require a diet high in fiber, such as hay and pasture grass, as well as grains and other supplements.
Fodder systems, which allow for the production of sprouted grains, can also be a cost-effective way to feed goats.
Goats require a dry, clean, and well-ventilated shelter to protect them from the elements and predators.
Fencing is also important to keep goats contained and safe.
Heritage breeds, such as the Spanish goat, are known for their ability to thrive in harsh environments and require less intensive housing.
When it comes to processing goats for meat, it is important to follow proper slaughter and butchering procedures. This can be done on-farm or at a local processing facility.
Composting is a sustainable option for disposing of animal waste and can also be used to produce fertilizer for crops.
Overall, raising goats for meat or milk can be a profitable and rewarding venture for those interested in self-sufficiency.
However, it requires careful planning, management, and adherence to best practices to ensure the health and productivity of the animals.
Cows are a popular choice for meat production, especially in larger farms.
They are large and can produce a significant amount of meat, making them a profitable option for many farmers. In addition to meat, cows can also provide milk, which can be used for a variety of purposes.
However, raising cows can also be challenging, requiring careful management of feed, housing, and processing.
Finding a specific need that you can fill is often more profitable than trying to provide for a wide range of customers.
If you have a small farm and are looking to raise meat for yourself, cows are often one of the last homesteaders choose. They need fencing, and they take a while before they are ready to butcher.
If you don’t have on-farm hay, you need to purchase that. Hay bales can be expensive as well.
However, if you are able to buy a calf, and raise it up that way, it is still quite a bit cheaper than buying.
Breeds for Meat
There are many breeds of cows that are suitable for meat production.
Some of the most popular breeds include Angus, Hereford, and Charolais. These breeds are known for their meat quality, size, and growth rate.
However, other breeds such as Gelbvieh and Shorthorn can also produce high-quality meat. Crossbreeding with British breeds can also produce great carcasses.
Breeds for Milk
While cows are often raised for meat, they can also be raised for milk production.
Some of the most popular dairy breeds include Holstein, Jersey, and Guernsey. These breeds are known for their high milk production and can be a profitable option for farmers.
However, raising dairy cows can be more challenging than raising meat cows, requiring careful management of feed and housing.
Feeding cows is an important part of raising them for meat or milk.
Cows require a balanced diet that includes hay, grain, and other supplements. The type and amount of feed will depend on the breed, age, and weight of the cow.
It is important to provide cows with access to clean water and to monitor their feed intake to ensure they are getting enough nutrients.
Cows don’t require a lot of shelter, but they need something to protect them from wind and rain.
Some farmers prefer to raise their cows in free-range environments, while others prefer to keep them in barns or other enclosed spaces.
Fencing is also important to keep cows contained and safe.
Processing cows for meat requires careful planning and management. Slaughterhouses must be licensed and meet strict safety standards to ensure the meat is safe to consume.
If butchering yourself, you need the skills for such an undertaking. Helping a neighbor or friend butcher a couple of cows before attempting it yourself is very beneficial.
In conclusion, cows can be a profitable option for farmers looking to raise animals for meat or milk.
However, raising cows requires careful management of feed, housing, and processing. Farmers must also carefully select the right breed of cow to meet their specific needs.
With proper care and management, cows can be a valuable asset to any farm.
Turkeys are another option for raising animals for meat. They are easy to raise and require less space than cows or pigs. Turkey meat is also a lean meat, similar to chicken.
However, raising turkeys requires proper housing and feeding, including a balanced diet of grains and protein.
It’s another one of those animals that if you will feed them store-bought grain and nothing else, they are expensive to raise. Turkeys also have a longer gestation period than chickens, and it can take up to six months for them to reach market weight.
We’ve sold turkey in (2022) for $4/lb, butchered.
If you have a large fenced field, as we did, turkeys are easy to raise. The hardest part is butchering them. Handling 25+lb birds takes work.
Turkeys are a popular choice for meat production due to their large size and delicious meat. They are also relatively easy to raise and care for, making them a good choice for beginners.
Here are some of the best turkey breeds for meat production:
Broad Breasted White
The Broad Breasted White is the most common breed of turkey raised for meat production in the United States.
These turkeys are known for their large size and fast growth rate, making them a popular choice for commercial meat production.
They have a broad breast and a plump, meaty body, making them an ideal choice for roasting.
The Bronze turkey is a heritage breed that has been raised for meat production for centuries.
They have rich, flavorful meat that is darker than that of the Broad Breasted White.
They are also known for their beautiful plumage, which makes them a popular choice for ornamental purposes as well.
Beltsville Small White
The Beltsville Small White is a smaller breed of turkey that is primarily raised for meat production.
They have a tender, juicy meat that is similar in flavor to chicken. They are also known for their calm and docile temperament, making them a good choice for backyard flocks.
The Midget White is another small breed of turkey that is raised for meat production.
They have a sweet, delicate meat that is similar in flavor to wild turkey.
They are also known for their friendly and curious nature, making them a popular choice for backyard flocks.
Overall, turkeys are a great choice for meat production due to their large size and delicious meat.
Whether you are raising them for commercial purposes or for your own backyard flock, there is a turkey breed that is perfect for your needs.
Feeding and housing are two important factors to consider when raising animals for meat.
Providing the animals with a balanced diet and proper housing will help ensure their health and well-being, as well as the quality of the meat produced
Raising animals for meat can be a rewarding and profitable venture for homesteaders. However, it is important to carefully consider the needs and requirements of each animal before making a decision.
Here are some final thoughts to keep in mind:
- Costs: Raising animals for meat can be expensive, especially when you factor in feed, housing, and veterinary care. It is important to have a clear understanding of the costs involved and to budget accordingly.
- Space: Different animals have different space requirements. For example, cows and pigs require more space than chickens or rabbits. It is important to have enough space to accommodate the needs of your animals.
- Time: Raising animals for meat requires a significant time investment. It is important to be prepared to devote the necessary time to care for your animals properly.
- Slaughter: It is important to have a plan for how you will slaughter and process your animals. This may involve learning new skills or finding a local processor who can do the work for you.
- Market: Before raising animals for meat, it is important to have a plan for selling the meat. This may involve selling directly to consumers or finding a local market or processor who can purchase your animals.
In conclusion, raising animals for meat can be a fulfilling and profitable venture for homesteaders.
It is important to carefully consider the needs and requirements of each animal before making a decision. By doing so, you can ensure that you are providing your animals with the best possible care and that you are able to reap the rewards of your hard work.
The best animal to raise for meat will ultimately depend on you, your needs, as well as your farm.