10 of the Best Backyard Farm Animals

Steve Russell - March 29, 2024

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There are a lot of backyard farm animals to choose from. Here’s a list of the 10 best backyard farm animals to raise in your backyard. These animals offer diverse benefits, from providing fresh produce to assisting in natural pest control, making them valuable additions to sustainable lifestyles.

1. Chickens

As of 2023, there are nearly 34.4 billion chickens worldwide and they are on the list of 10 of the best backyard farm animals. They lay plenty of organic eggs, reducing the need for store-bought ones. You can even sell your organic eggs at local farmers’ markets or directly to neighbors for a fresh, local alternative. 

Chickens love munching on pests and weeds, keeping your backyard chemical-free. Some breeds offer eggs and meat, providing versatility for sustainable living.

Chicken droppings make an excellent fertilizer, enhancing soil for healthier plants. They’re low-maintenance and require primary care, making them perfect for beginners. 

Raising chickens is a hands-on way to teach responsibility and the food production cycle, especially for kids. They don’t require much space, making them suitable for small backyard environments.

2. Bees

Bees are natural pollinators, keeping your flowers and crops flourish by transferring pollen. They usually need minimal attention, making them a hassle-free addition to your outdoor space. You only need one hour per week to care for a bee colony.

Some bees produce honey, a delicious bonus for your backyard efforts. Bottled honey from your backyard bees can be a hit at farmers’ markets, showcasing the sweetness of homegrown goodness.

Beekeeping offers a chance to learn about these vital insects and their impact on nature. Worldwide, around 156 bee species are at risk, with 20 considered and 11 critically endangered. 

Hosting them supports a diverse ecosystem, making your backyard a thriving environment. By keeping bees, you contribute to the environment’s well-being, ensuring a healthier and happier backyard.

Backyard Beekeeping Tips

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Check rules: Verify if your local area allows beekeeping and if you need permits.
  • Hive setup: Place the hive in a sheltered spot with access to sunlight and water.
  • Keep bees healthy: Provide a diverse diet for your bees with a mix of flowering plants in your garden. 
  • Learn the basics: Attend a local beekeeping workshop or use online resources to understand beekeeping fundamentals.
  • Stay safe: Wear protective gear like a bee suit and gloves during hive inspections to avoid stings.

3. Ducks

Ducks lay many eggs, providing a consistent source of nutritious and flavorful eggs for your household. They are natural foragers and effectively control insects, slugs and other pests in your backyard, reducing the need for chemical interventions.

Ducks are hardy and adaptable to various climates, making them suitable for different regions and weather conditions. They’re generally low-maintenance animals, requiring simple shelter like a kiddie pool, primary care and access to water for their well-being. If you have a pond, ducks can help keep it clean by eating algae and unwanted vegetation.

4. Goats

Goats are natural grazers and efficiently control backyard weeds, brush and overgrown vegetation. Certain breeds provide a sustainable source of fresh milk, a valuable addition to a home-based dairy.

Goat milk contains protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin A. It has about 1% less lactose than cow milk, more fat and more calories.

Goats are more petite than larger livestock, making them well-suited for smaller backyard spaces. They are social and friendly, making them enjoyable companions in a backyard setting. 

When raising them, rotate goats through different grazing areas to prevent overgrazing and promote a varied diet. Check hooves monthly for signs of overgrowth or infection, ensuring overall hoof health.

5. Turkey

Turkeys are plentiful in your backyard because they provide a lot of meat— some breeds give meat and eggs and they help control insects. Their droppings are good fertilizer and they adapt well to different climates. Turkeys are low-maintenance and community-friendly, making them a practical backyard-farming choice.

6. Rabbits

Rabbits belong to the list of 10 of the best backyard farm animals because they breed quickly, providing a steady source of meat for those interested in homegrown protein. Female rabbits can get pregnant at three months and their pregnancies last about 30 days. A mother rabbit can become pregnant again right after giving birth, allowing her to have a new liter of babies every month.

Rabbits are generally quiet and gentle animals, making them suitable for families or individuals seeking calm backyard companionship. They’re relatively easy to care for and some breeds provide both meat and fur, adding versatility to their role in sustainable living. 

7. Quail

Quails provide plenty of small, nutritious eggs and quickly grow into a sustainable meat source. Apart from their culinary benefits, quail offers economic advantages. You can sell their fresh eggs at local markets or directly to neighbors and their feathers can be collected and sold for craft projects. 

8. Worms

Worms excel at converting kitchen scraps and organic waste into nutrient-rich compost, enhancing soil fertility. Worm bins occupy little space, making them suitable for small and large backyard environments.

Their castings, the byproduct of vermicomposting, are a valuable and natural plant fertilizer. Vermicomposting offers an educational opportunity for children and adults, teaching about the nutrient cycle and waste reduction. Worms can be active year-round, providing a continuous composting solution, even in colder climates.

9. Pigs

Pigs offer high-quality pork, making them a valuable homegrown and flavorful meat source. They efficiently convert feed into meat, requiring less food than other livestock for the same result.

Pigs are versatile animals, providing various cuts of meat and options like bacon and sausages. They are excellent foragers, helping to clear and manage vegetation in your backyard, reducing the need for additional maintenance.

10. Herding Dogs

There are about 200,000 working herding dogs in New Zealand. Herding dogs are great for your backyard farm because they’re experts at managing and gilding livestock, such as sheep and cattle. They’re intelligent, easy to train and can adapt to different farm tasks. 

These dogs also serve as guardians, protecting your animals from predators and ensuring their safety. Beyond their working roles, herding dogs become loyal companions, making them valuable additions to your backyard farm.

Top 10 of the Best Backyard Farm Animals

Choosing the best backyard farm animals depends on your goals. These animals each offer unique benefits, from fresh eggs to pest control. Choosing the right mix can create a balanced and rewarding backyard farming experience, providing homegrown produce and a deeper connection to your environment.

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About the author

Steve Russell

Steve is the Managing Editor of Environment.co and regularly contributes articles related to wildlife, biodiversity, and recycling. His passions include wildlife photography and bird watching.