When you think of farm animals, cows, pigs and horses may come to mind. While these particular farm animals are best left to farmers with plenty of room to graze, there are a handful of smaller farm animals you can keep in your yard. Many of these help with lawn maintenance and also provide useful byproducts such as eggs or milk.
Consider Local Zoning Ordinances
You may feel it’s your right to own a few chickens or sheep, but where you live determines what types of farm animals you can have. For example, some jurisdictions restrict roosters but allow hens. Others have strict rules about hoofed animals.
To ensure you don’t get in trouble for the animals you bring home, check your local zoning ordinances and determine if any of the permitted animals interest you. For the animals that are allowed, you’ll probably still need to follow specific regulations regarding:
- Where you can keep animals on your property
- Sanitation requirements, including disposal of animal waste
- Situations where animal control may intervene, including injured, abused, abandoned or diseased animals
Consider the Responsibilities of Owning Farm Animals
Owning sheep, chickens or rabbits comes with many of the same responsibilities as owning a dog. You must provide:
- A confined space for the animal to live, sleep and graze
- A regular supply of feed, bedding materials and pest control products
- Checkups and vaccinations
- Ample time caring for your animals
If you live in a suburb, your neighbor’s house is just a few feet away. Make sure your animals don’t become a nuisance to the person living next door. This means keeping noise and odor levels to a minimum.
Choose Your Farm Animals
If your area allows for backyard chickens, you’ll be rewarded with fresh eggs and an unending supply of manure you can turn into compost for your garden. Chickens require a secure coop with nest boxes to lay eggs and a roost area to sleep in. Make sure your chickens have a fenced in area to scratch around, forage for bugs and soak up some sun. To make sure you end up with chickens suited to your region, pick up birds from a local farm-supply store.
For particularly small yards, rabbits are perfect. They’re quiet, leave a relatively small mess and don’t smell. If you’re just looking for companion animals to eat the weeds in your yard, make sure you don’t put a male and female rabbit together or you’ll end up with a litter of kits running around in no time! On the other hand, if you want to raise rabbits for meat or fur, having a breeding male and female ensures your supply will never run out.
Pygmy goats make great companion animals, and they’re nature’s lawn mowers. They produce about a half-gallon of milk per day, so be prepared to milk your goats twice a day every day for at least 10 months of the year. Two goats need a total of about 50 square feet to live in, including a sheltered area to escape from the rain.
While they prefer grazing in grassland areas, you can supplement your sheep’s diet with grain. If you want sheep for their wool, you’ll need to sheer them every spring. If you’d rather just enjoy the milk, choose hair sheep, which shed naturally once a year.
Raising farm animals can be fun, educational and rewarding. Hopefully your area permits you to have one or more of the animals highlighted here. For help deciding which animals to introduce to your urban garden, please contact The Grounds Guys® today.