When you consider whether you want to get into urban farming, there’s so much you have to educate yourself on that it can be overwhelming. In regard to how many animals you can have, you must consider the acreage, if you are doing large scale farming or urban backyard farming, grazing patterns of each animal, how many you plan to purchase, how much those breeds will eat, and more. With so many forces impacting your success, you’ll need an all-in-one guide like this to steer you in the right direction!
How many animals you can have on a farm will depend on the breed you are sustaining, their grazing habits, municipality laws, and other factors such as being a small-scale backyard farm or commercial. The general rule is that each animal will require around 2-acres to consume around 3% of its body weight daily off of the land.
It is hard to generalize when there are so many different animals on these farms with different diet patterns and preferences, but having more animals that one per 2-acre per animal unit can cause infections, illness, disease in the meat, animals not getting enough nutrition, and overcrowding. Use this guide to be your comprehensive look at these varying factors, starting an urban backyard farm, and other common questions that new farmers have. In this quick read, you will rapidly become an expert and feel more confident moving forward with your livestock!
How Many Animals Can You Have on a Farm?
There is no exact equation we can offer you, unfortunately, and you’ll have to do some math on your own part. What we can offer you is a guide on the best animals for lowering grass consumption, getting the most out of your land, and the highest profit on livestock.
You must also keep in mind that different animals will need different food and often require a completely different nutritional intake than grass alone.
Research how much each breed will consume in grazing to know how many animals your farm acreage can host. Do not purchase more livestock that your land can feed, or you will have unhealthy, stressed-out animals, and lower quality meat.
We did some math to help you see how much food your livestock may require. Here are the pounds of food per day required for proper health:
- A cow that weighs 1,000-pounds should consume around 30 pounds per day
- A cow that weighs 500-pounds should consume around 15-20 pounds per day
- A horse that weighs 1,000-pounds should consume around 30 pounds per day
- An adult goat will consume around 2 to 4-pounds per day of hay
- If the goat is a Milk goat, they may require an increase of food, up to 6 to 8-pounds per day
- An adult pig should consume around 6 to 8-pounds of feed per day, not hay or grass.
You can see how this might start to add up quickly.
The real key to owning a farm, urban or rural, large or small, is having enough land for each animal to spread out a bit.
Do You Have Room for Animals in an Urban Backyard Farm?
If you live in an urban or suburban setting and are thinking about starting a micro-farm, you might be wondering whether it makes sense to grow any livestock. Or should you limit yourself to a few chickens?
As we stated earlier, there is no definitive, simple answer we can give you. The space of your yard and the ordinances of your neighborhood impact what you will and won’t have room for. Because of space limitations as well as keeping neighbors happy, many urban farmers decide that the reason to avoid having animals is less about a lack of space and more about an excess of hassles.
If that’s the case, then you will be focused on produce.
Questions to Consider When Determining How Many Animals Per Farm
Perhaps you are planning to purchase several acres in a rural area. These are questions you need to consider:
- how many acres of land you have
- will you raise livestock or focus on growing produce?
- how much food does each specific animal need to consume
- if you plan to have livestock, how many of each breed will you have?
- Multiply each breed and their personal consumption, then add together the total consumption weight and expense for every breed your farm carries.
- Consider how long the grass will take to grow back so they can graze again (usually around 2 weeks per grazing for regrowth)
- Create a budget for the animals that consume different foods than grass
- Balance all of these factors based on the size of your personal farm.
You see why there is not a clear cut answer – You will have to take some research into your own hands and consider your unique situation.
Be sure to look into your local ordinances. There might be regulations about how many animals you can have, or setbacks for fencing, or other things you might never have thought about.
Tips for Feeding Chickens
You can easily have chickens in your urban backyard or a larger-scale farm.
Not everyone agrees on the topic of making money selling eggs. Chickens can earn your farm around $2,000 per 300 birds used for laying eggs—that’s a lot of birds, way more than an urban farm can hold. Some, however, maintain that raising chickens to sell eggs is not a money-maker (source). Others argue that the math shows you can. Here’s a video showing how it might be possible to actually make money raising egg laying chickens:
Should you decide to try raising chickens, here are some tips on caring for them
- You will need around one feeder per 10 birds. Here is a recommended and top-rated chicken feed brand called Prairie’s Choice Non-GMO Backyard Chicken (click link to see on Amazon).
- One acre is equal to 43,560 sq. ft. and each chicken will require around 500 square feet to comfortably roam and thrive without negative hormones ruining the meat. This is around 87 chickens per acre. We wouldn’t recommend anything close to that. Not only will it lead to overcrowding, you could end up with some unhappy neighbors.
- If you are a beginner to urban farmer, don’t overload the coop or purchase too many chickens. Feeding chickens is only part of having them—you also have to keep them healthy and make sure they are protected from predators..
- If you are an Urban Farmer or want to create an Urban Farm in your backyard, use this guide on raising backyard chickens.
Other Animals for Urban Farms
Chickens might be your first thought when you think of animals you could raise on your micro-farm. A clutch of chickens laying organic eggs you can sell at a farmer’s market or to your neighbors. However, chickens are not the only animals to consider
- Rabbits. Yes, they are cute and no, they don’t lay eggs. But rabbits can be eaten. Breeds such as Champagne d’Argent are prized for their meat. And for a two-in-one, raise long-haired breeds such as Angora.
- Ducks. Duck eggs are a specialty trend with Foodies, which means that duck eggs can bring in a tidy profit—as long as you are in an area popular with foodies.
- Pygmy goats. Can anyone say dairy? Pygmy goats are small and can be raised for their milk as well as their meat. Or, find a dwarf long-haired goat.
Final Thoughts on Animal Units Per Farm
Running a farm is a lot of work, and it is usually passed on for generations to maintain the value of excellence. Run your farm with integrity, and that is all anyone can ask of you. Best of luck and here are some final tips on How to Become a Farmer.