It might surprise you that there are actually quite a few small livestock options available to choose from for your smallholding. There are lots of livestock breeds, specially bred with a small breeds farm in mind and so don’t require vast amounts of acreage to house them; these include cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.
Whether you are starting from scratch or looking to add to your existing livestock, these breeds make small-scale livestock farming a breeze and you can enjoy a wide selection for your specific needs and requirements. Here are the top ten most suitable small livestock breeds for you to choose for your hobby farm.
There are quite a few miniature cattle breeds to choose from – Dexters, Miniature Jerseys, Lowlines and Miniature Herefords. Producing rich creamy milk, if you’re looking for dairy cattle then the miniature jerseys are the perfect small cattle breed for your farm. However, if it’s tender, high-quality beef that you’re after, opt for Herefords or Lowlines.
These small but characterful goats can be a great addition to your hobby farm. Whilst they don’t need acres upon acres of land, they are active and do best in small groups with plenty of space and environmental enrichment (such as mounds, platforms, branches or rocks) to keep them entertained and give them ample exercise. They are strong breeders and can bear between one and four kids each year.
Miniature Cheviot Sheep
This breed of sheep originates from the Cheviot Hills between the Scottish and English border. They are one of the hardiest breeds of miniature sheep as they can withstand and thrive in the harshest of winter weather conditions. The miniature Cheviot is primarily reared for its fleece. They are active with a wild temperament and spend their time foraging so it’s best to have a relatively large enclose so they can exhibit this natural behaviour.
The breed was developed in the early 1900s and originates from the Orpington area of Kent, hence the name! They are easy going in their nature and are a great choice for small holdings as this particular breed of duck is perfect for both egg and meat production. They typically lay around 150 to 220 eggs per year and gain weight quickly to reach up to 6 to 7 pounds.
This breed of pig, which originated from Berkshire in the 1800s, is prized for its succulent and flavourful meat. They thrive on small farms and are hardy breed with a calm temperament. They can weight up to 600 pounds with piglets growing quickly on the sow’s rich milk. They do well outside as their dark coloured skin keeps them protected from the sun.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats
If you are interested in making goats cheese, Nigerian Dwarf’s sweet, creamy milk makes the most delicious cheese. Their extremely small size and adorable chirpy and expressive personalities means they are easy to accommodate on a small farm and are very easy to handle and care for.
Like the Orpington Duck, this breed of chicken was developed by the same William Cook in Orpington in Kent. They come in many varieties and are a popular choice for small holdings due to their friendly and calm nature. They grow rapidly so are good for meat and produce an abundance of large eggs.
This breed of turkey was developed in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island and is crossed between domestic and wild turkeys. It is mainly used for its meat but they also produce large quantities of eggs. The best environment for them is pasture where they can naturally forage.
This particular breed of pig is very active and need suitable space to forage, root and wallow. Named after the village of Tamworth, they adapt well to different climates and their red colouring ensures they are protected against the effects of the sun. They are best known for their incredibly tasty and lean bacon cuts. However, they are suitable for rearing for all cuts of meat.