Chickens inside a cage at a poultry farm

What Are the Most Profitable Livestock for Small Farms?

Jane Marsh - February 17, 2024

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The most profitable livestock for small farms are those you can easily take care of and provide multiple income sources. Whether you’re a hobby farmer or homesteader, these animals will allow you to create a steady cash flow with constant effort and a little knowledge.


Raising chickens is a great way to start any small farm or homestead. They are easy to breed and provide multiple income opportunities for hardworking farmers. Chicken eggs are a household staple and small farms can capitalize on the steady demand. Hens produce an endless supply of eggs and starting farms can maximize their egg production by investing in incubators to help grow their chicken brood.

Aside from producing eggs, chickens are also famous for their meat. Americans consume around 8 billion chickens annually, potentially making them one of the most profitable livestock for small farms. Farmers can put food on their local communities’ plates by cultivating different chicken breeds for consumption.

Raising organic chickens also creates an exciting financial opportunity for small businesses. Catering to niche markets that favor organic and locally sourced foods can boost sale prices. Other economic ventures into chicken farming include raising and selling chicks, pullets and roosters for breeding.


While goat meat may seem more of an oddity in the U.S., it is one of the most widely eaten meats in the world. Many Middle Eastern and Asian cultures enjoy goat meat for their gamey flavor and lean texture. Experienced cooks can whip up delicious dishes like curries and stews — or birria — from goat meat by braising them under low heat for hours.

Aside from raising goats for meat, small farms can also breed them for their milk. Goat milk is prized for its vitamins and minerals, making it ideal for cheese, yogurt, and smoothies. People also use goat milk for skin care products such as soaps, lotions and creams. The natural hydrating and nourishing characteristics of goat milk make it a sought-after product.

Raising goats can also lead to other profitable means, like selling goat kids to other farmers and renting a goat herd for foliage grazing. Goats can produce one to four kids annually and each can sell for a reasonable amount. Small farms can raise goats and rent them for weed and foliage control. Property owners and other farmers occasionally need help tending to overgrowth. Goats make reliable grazers that can easily chew through heavy vegetation.


Although bees are far from what farmers would classify as traditional livestock, they offer promising financial opportunities for the diligent farmer and homesteader. Small farms can set up beehives for raising bees and harvesting products like honey, beeswax and other beeswax derivatives.

Honey production can be a lucrative sideline for farmers who want to diversify their income source. Organic honey can fetch reasonable prices in local markets. Many American households favor locally sourced honey for cooking and other uses.

Another way to profit from raising bees is to rent hives for other farmers. Bees can pollinate different crops and many farmers will pay for relevant services. Fully managed hives can cover whole properties, maximizing the quantity of a crop and ensuring an excellent quality yield. Bee-pollinated crops are also fuller and have better shape than poorly pollinated crops.


Rabbits are an excellent choice for farmers with limited farm or homestead space since they require little room to raise. Aside from the small space requirements, rabbits are also great for small farms because they breed quickly. A pair of adult rabbits can produce between 1 to 12 bunnies monthly. Their rapid reproduction rate makes them ideal for starting farmers with limited budgets.

Few people know it, but rabbit meat is a great alternative for red meats like beef or pork. The low fat count and high protein content make rabbit meat leaner and healthier. Rabbit meat is also prized for its sustainability. Raising rabbits for meat requires significantly less feed and water, making them ideal for small farms and urban homesteads.

Raising rabbits also provides other profitable options, like selling their manure and breeding them as pets. Rabbits produce a lot of manure, and organic gardeners highly seek after them for their potency. Small farms can raise pet-friendly breeds and sell them to families with kids who would love to adopt a furry friend.


Cattle are among the most profitable livestock for small farms because they are easy to raise and offer multiple income opportunities. While large-scale cattle farms — which can create sustainability concerns — raise cows primarily for meat, small farms can capitalize on various products to increase their bottom line.

Dairy cows can produce milk, cheese, butter and other dairy products, which sell quickly at local markets. The average American consumption of dairy food products reached 661 pounds per person in 2021, making dairy production a potentially steady source of income for small dairy farmers.

With proper know-how, good pasture management and veterinary care, small farms can capitalize on cattle raising and depend on it for healthy profits annually. Farmers can even increase product prices by producing organic beef and milk, which often fetch higher prices in niche markets. Other ways to profit off cattle include raising bulls, herd rentals for rotational grazing and breeding calves for market.


Pigs are an excellent livestock choice for diligent farmers looking to earn extra income with a small space to spare in their farms. Pig breeding involves creating separate feeding and waste areas to raise healthy pigs as they can be conscientious creatures. Providing pigs with specific spaces for eating and defecating will lead to healthier litters and more profits in the long run.

Another reason pigs make for a promising livestock choice is their diet — they will heartily eat anything as long as it’s edible. Low-cost feed, like food scraps, can be enough to raise pigs as long as they meet daily food requirements. Pigs will also continue to gain weight until it’s time to bring them to the market, making them valuable resources for any small farm.

Aside from producing meat, pigs are also bountiful animals. They can have litters of at least 8-10 piglets every five months. Pig breeding can be a lucrative business for small farmers so long as they don’t mind cleaning muddy stalls and hearing the lively screech of multiple pigs daily.

Why Raising Livestock is Good for Small Farms

Small farms work with considerably less resources and space than large-scale farms. What they lack in size, they make up for in sustainability. They are easier to maintain and leave fewer negative impacts on the environment. Raising livestock on small farms can benefit small businesses as they diversify their income streams and positively impact local communities.

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.