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10 Low Maintenance Farm Animals For Effortless Farming

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Low maintenance farm animals are a wise choice for beginners or those with limited experience in farming. But also, caring for low maintenance animals promotes sustainable practices, as they often require fewer inputs and interventions. Overall, choosing low maintenance farm animals can provide practical benefits, enabling you to efficiently manage your homestead while also achieving your goals.

Homesteaders and farmers have different reasons for wanting low maintenance farm animals. Firstly, it offers time efficiency, as these animals require less daily care and attention. Secondly, low maintenance animals can be cost-effective. Additionally, these animals provide flexibility to farmers.

Here is my personal take on the top 10 low maintenance farm animals. I am roughly ordering these from least to most low maintenance.

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mini jersey cow and jersey calf

10. Cattle

If you have the land, cattle can be one of the best low maintenance farm animals to raise. Just remember, there is a marked difference between beef and dairy. Beef cattle are more low maintenance than dairy cows. They can get by with very basic shelter, and don’t require you to keep up with the daily task of milking.

Cows are large animals, however, if you really want a dairy cow (like I did), she may not require as much acreage as you think! We raised a miniature jersey cow on 1 acre of land. Miniature cattle breeds require less feed and can be very profitable. A dairy cow will require more attention than a beef cow, but she can provide you with fresh milk and butter, which is an obvious benefit. When you consider the price of a gallon of milk, you can see why a dairy cow has the potential to be one of the most profitable farm animals.

Most breeds of cattle are hardy and can withstand harsh weather conditions. They are grazers, which means they’ll need plenty of pasture, and hay during the winter months. You will also need to provide them with a source of water.

Fencing is also a consideration with cattle. They are actually quite simple to fence, typically only requiring a single electric wire to keep them contained.

Overall, cattle can be a great addition to your farm if you have the land and resources to sustain them. They are hardy and low maintenance, making them a great choice for self-sufficiency, if you are okay with adding larger animals to your farm.

sheep grazing in field next to barn and lake

9. Sheep

Sheep are a popular choice for low-maintenance farm animals. They are hardy and adaptable to various conditions, making them ideal for small farms. 

Sheep are grazers and foragers, which means they feed on grass, hay, and other vegetation. They are excellent at converting grass and forage into meat and/or wool. Sheep are an efficient choice for small farms, as long as they have a reliable source of clean water, and plenty of pasture and hay to graze on.

Sheep do require shelter from the elements, especially during winter. A simple barn or shed will do, as long as it provides protection from wind, rain, and snow. Make sure that their fencing is secure, as sheep are more notorious for escaping.

Sheep give birth to one or two lambs per year. They are excellent mothers. If you have the space and resources to care for the lambs as they grow, they can be lots of fun to raise.

Sheep are primarily raised for meat and wool. Different breeds can be raised for different purposes. Not all sheep breeds are wool sheep. Hair sheep are generally simpler to maintain, and they produce plenty of lean meat, making them an excellent source of food for your family or to sell. Alternatively, wool can be used or sold for clothing, blankets, and other products.

Overall, sheep are a low-maintenance and efficient choice for small farms. They provide food, fiber, and fertilizer, and will eat certain weeds that other livestock won’t. With the right care, you can raise a healthy and productive flock of sheep on your farm.

kunekune pigs in electric fence

8. Pigs/Hogs

Pigs or hogs are a great addition to your low maintenance farm. They are intelligent, friendly, and provide delicious meat. However, they can also be escape artists (ask me how I know), so your fencing should be very secure. If you use electric fencing, you will want to make sure it’s a nice, hot wire.

Pigs need shelter from the elements, especially extreme heat and cold. A small shed with a dirt floor will suffice. Make sure it’s well-ventilated and has space for your pigs to move around a bit. Although they will likely all pile on top of each other when sleeping at night anyway.

The fact that they are omnivores and will eat almost anything is another reason pigs are so low maintenance. You can feed them a diet of grains, forage, and kitchen scraps. They also love to root around in the dirt for insects and bugs. They can be overfed though, so be sure they are getting a proper, balanced amount of food. Some breeds of pigs can be grazers or foragers, which may make keeping them even easier. 

Of course, pigs need access to clean water at all times. A trough or automatic waterer works well. You may also consider providing them with a kiddie pool to cool off in, depending on the climate.

Tiny piglets are adorable, but they require quite a bit of care. If you’re trying to keep things super low maintenance, you may want to leave breeding hogs or pigs to someone else. You can easily buy them young and raise them out for meat without having to go through the farrowing process.

Raising pigs can be a great way to become more self-sufficient. They require less land than other livestock, making them a great option for a small space.

multiple busy bee hives outside

7. Bees

If you’re looking for a low maintenance farm animal that can provide you with a sweet (literally) reward, consider keeping honey bees. Beekeeping can be a rewarding hobby that doesn’t require a lot of land or resources. To start beekeeping, you’ll simply need a hive, which can be purchased or built yourself.

Bees need access to food and water, so try to place your hive near a source of fresh water and flowering plants. Bees are vital to the plant life cycle due to being pollinators, so having a hive on your homestead can greatly benefit your garden and crops.

Beekeeping can be a good moneymaker after putting down an initial investment. Both honey and beeswax can be sold for a profit. 

One of the best things about keeping bees is that they require very little maintenance once you have the hive all set up. Bees are self-sufficient and will take care of themselves as long as they have access to food and to the hive.

Overall, keeping bees is a great option for those looking for a low maintenance farm animal. With a little bit of effort and care, you can enjoy the benefits of beekeeping on your small farm or homestead.

english coonhound in cloudy weather

6. Dogs

Dogs are a good choice for a low-maintenance farm animal. They also serve as pets and protectors. 

When selecting a breed, consider breeds that are known for being independent, low-energy, and low-maintenance. Some breeds to consider include:

  • Great Pyrenees
  • Anatolian Shepherds
  • Australian Cattle Dogs
  • Border Collies

Remember, these breeds are built for farm life, and will not do well if they aren’t given a job. They also need a lot of space to roam.

If you have livestock on your farm, make sure your dog is trained to interact with them in a friendly and non-threatening way. Dogs can be trained to protect livestock, but it’s still important to supervise them to ensure that they don’t harm the animals.

Obviously, dogs need a comfortable and safe place to rest, a clean water source, and a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Dogs are arguably one of the best animals to provide both companionship and protection. They can be a very valuable addition to any farm.

woman holding black rabbit outside

5. Rabbits

Rabbits are one of the easiest and low maintenance farm animals to raise, making them a great choice for beginners. They are great for meat production, but also for hair and fertilizer. Rabbit meat is an excellent choice of protein if you’re just looking to start raising your own meat.

Rabbits can be kept in a simple wire cage or a more elaborate hutch. Just make sure the housing is well-ventilated and protected from predators. Straw, hay, or wood shavings can be used as bedding.

Rabbits are herbivores and can be fed hay, forage, and some kitchen scraps. You can also supplement their diet with grains. They should have access to clean water at all times. Just keep in mind that rabbits are prolific breeders and can produce several litters per year. They are easy to care for, but you will need space and resources to accommodate a growing population. The babies are fairly easy to sell as pets or for meat.

With proper care and attention, rabbits can be a valuable addition to homesteaders and hobby farmers alike.

quail in coop

4. Quail

Quail might be one of the best farm animals to consider if your goal is low maintenance. These tiny birds are easy to care for and require very little space. Here’s what you need to know about raising quail on your farm.

Quail can be kept in a small coop, with minimal shelter. They don’t need much space to move around and can be kept in groups of six or more. They appreciate having a nesting area and some perches to roost on.

Quail are omnivores and will eat a variety of food, including grains, seeds, insects, and kitchen scraps. You can feed them a commercial layer mash or make your own using a mix of grains. They also need access to fresh water at all times.

Quail eggs are smaller than chicken eggs, but are exceptionally nutritious. Quail meat is also considered a delicacy and is leaner and more flavorful than chicken. You can process quail for meat as early as 8-12 weeks old. 

Overall, quail are a great choice for beginners or anyone looking for low maintenance farm animals. They are easy to care for, provide eggs and meat, and can help with self-sufficiency on your farm.

low maintenance lavender orpington rooster

3. Chickens

Chickens are one of the most popular low maintenance farm animals and are a great addition to any homestead or backyard. They are easy to care for, can provide enough eggs for a family, and can also be raised for meat.

There are many different breeds of chickens to choose from, each with their own unique characteristics. Some breeds are better for egg production, while others are better for meat. Some breeds are also more docile and easier to handle. 

Chickens need a balanced diet to stay healthy and lay eggs. Our favorite feeds for our chickens are either Hearty Hen by Naturewise or New Country Organics layer feed. You can also supplement their diet with kitchen scraps. 

Make sure to keep your coop clean and dry to prevent illness. No one wants to care for a sick chicken, but it does happen from time to time. 

Letting your backyard chickens free range during the day can be valuable to your homestead, because they will fertilize the ground, control pests, and lay more eggs due to having plenty of forage. Just keep an eye out for predators. 

Overall, chickens are a great low maintenance farm animal for beginners and experienced homesteaders alike. They provide a constant supply of fresh eggs, can be raised for meat, and are easy to care for. With a little bit of effort, you can have a happy and healthy flock of chickens on your farm or homestead.

cat being low maintenance in front of barn outside

2. Cats

Although perhaps an unexpected answer, cats can be a valuable addition to your farm, providing numerous benefits while requiring relatively low maintenance.

Cats are natural hunters and have excellent hunting instincts. By introducing cats to the farm, you can effectively manage the population of rodents and other small pests that can damage crops, contaminate feed, and spread diseases. Cats will actively patrol your barns, granaries, and fields, keeping the rodent population under control without the need for chemical pesticides.

Unlike other methods of pest control, such as traps or chemical deterrents, cats require minimal financial investment. Once you provide them with basic necessities like food, water, and shelter, cats can continue their work of pest control without additional costs.

Cats are known for their independent nature and self-sufficiency. They are generally low-maintenance animals, requiring only basic care. Cats provide low-cost pest control, require minimal care, offer companionship, and reduce reliance on chemicals. They are versatile, independent predators that help maintain a balanced ecosystem and can be a valuable addition to your homestead.

low maintenance guineas flocking outside

1. Guineas

Guineas, also known as guinea fowl, are an excellent choice for farmers seeking low maintenance farm animals. These unique birds are known for their strong foraging instincts and natural pest control abilities. They require minimal care and can fend for themselves, finding their own food by foraging for insects, seeds, and plants.

Guineas are highly adaptable and can thrive in many climates.  Their independent nature, self-sufficiency, and effective pest control make guineas a low maintenance and valuable addition to any farm.

They do best on small farms or homesteads with wooded areas. Just be warned, they can be loud! However, the fact that they’re arguably the most low maintenance farm animal could make up for that.

Are goats high maintenance?

I know I’ll likely get questions about why goats aren’t included on this list. Goats aren’t necessarily hard to raise, but they are clearly not my favorite. For some homesteaders, they are an excellent choice. I find them to be very hard to contain, and require a lot of work and attention without as much benefit. But if you’re set on getting goats, don’t let me talk you out of it! You may appreciate other perspectives on goats from bloggers like Weed ‘Em and Reap or Thrifty Homesteader.

I hope this list of top 10 low maintenance farm animals inspired you! As you prepare to start your own homestead, there are many routes to take, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the animals listed here.

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  1. Ducks are also easy, even easier than chickens! Their eggs are bigger too. But they don’t lay all year, only spring through fall.