What is the Most Profitable Livestock For Small Farm?

To build up your business plan, it is not difficult, but you need to be careful and plan your business properly. Inherited a large land area, you would like to convert it into something beneficial with some cattle. So, what is the most profitable livestock for small farms? Could you just choose any animals that are interesting to you or should you need some specific advice?

most profitable livestock for small farm

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What you need when raising livestock?

1. Land area

Before making any investment in farming, it is highly recommended that you should make research into which livestock is the most suitable for your land. This will depend on what you already own, and how much you’re willing to spend on your farm.

Upon considering the most profitable livestock to raise on your farm, you will have to look into how large the land should be for the livestock, whether a shelter or fences are needed. Generally, the recommended area for each livestock is as below:

Animal Area needed per animal
Horse 1-2 acres
Beef cattle 1-2 acres
Dairy cattle 1-2 acres
Goat ½ acre
Sheep ½ acre
Pig 1/12 acre
Chicken 4 square feet

2. Fencing & feeding

As mentioned earlier, there are different requirements depending on the animals.

Regarding the fencing needs, the fences could be post and rail or electric fences combined with wire, while goats, sheep and pigs can be surrounded with woven wire and electric fences. For chickens, fencing is mainly to prevent predators from harming the flock.

In terms of forage, goats and sheep do not require high-quality feeding, whereas horses and dairy cows need a lot of nutrition in their diet to produce milk effectively and stay strong.

3. Others

Besides those factors above, you have to take care of the annual cost to raise the animal as well. They might be:

  • The initial cost of the animal
  • Feeding per month
  • Additional fencing or shelters that need building
  • Veterinary care

Considering all of the spending mentioned, you might draw a picture of how much you probably invest in your business.

The most profitable livestock for small farm

Based on your regions and the market values, the profit that your products bring might vary. Current market prices will define how much you’ll get for each animal.

But, according to my experience, the most profitable livestock for small farms is chickens. Well, interestingly, chickens were agreed by Bill Gates to be the best animal to raise for eradicating poverty in Africa.

chickens give most money for small farm
Chickens are easy to raise and scale

So, why are chickens my choice?

Raising chickens is low feeding cost

Chickens are believed to be able to eat almost anything. They can feed on vegetable waste, weeds, or leftovers. That’s why it doesn’t cost much to spend on food for chickens.

Chickens provide multi products

When raising chickens, owners can benefit from not only eggs but also meat produced by chickens. It will depend on what your purpose is and the market you are aiming for, which enables you to choose a good chicken type for your farm.

If you would like to be the top egg producer, you are sure to choose the top chicken egg layers. If your aim is qualified chicken meat, you have to find a great meat chicken. Or if you would like to invest in dual-purpose chickens that can produce both eggs and meat effectively, you are required to find out which breed is proper for you too.

To find what livestock makes the most money, you will also have to learn how to make a smart investment.

Chicken manure is another interesting product. It contains a high level of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, which is good for garden fertilizer.

Chicken for eggs

Commonly, hens will start their egg-laying at 3-5 months old. Some sorts of chickens can give more than 300 eggs per year. In case eggs are fertilized, which means a hen has mated with a rooster before laying an egg, the number of chickens in a flock can increase from 6 to 40 in 8-9 months.

The top 3 chicken breeds recommended are:

  • White Leghorns: Around 280 eggs per year. Energetic and easily scared.
  • Rhode Island Reds: Around 260 eggs per year. More difficult to handle because of their temper. Not recommended for beginners.
  • Golden Comet: 250-300 eggs per year. Friendly and gentle, proper for beginners.

The number of eggs produced per year also depends on the climate. The best weather for chickens to lay eggs is warm or above freezing during the year. In colder areas, you will need additional equipment to maintain an ideal temperature for your flock.

However, there are also some exceptions that some chicken breeds can resist the cold weather to give eggs during the winter. For example, Wyandotte Chickens (about 260 eggs a year), Dominick (270 eggs per year), or Australorp Chickens (300 eggs per year).

Read our related article, How Are Chicken Eggs Fertilized by a Rooster, for more on the reproductive process of chickens!

Chicken for meat

Meat chickens normally grow faster and the feed to meat ratio is lower than other regular chicken breeds. This means the money spent on feeding is less and you can sell your chickens earlier.

Meat chickens are recommended to raise in a temperate environment in the summer months. If it is too hot, chickens can gain weight very fast, so in this case, you need to have some additional equipment to adjust the temperature. Sufficient water is also required.

The 3 most popular chicken breeds invested for meat are:

  • Cornish Cross (Broiler): 8 lbs. per female and 12 lbs. per male. Fast-growing so can be harvested in 4-6 weeks.
  • Jersey Giant: 10 lbs. per male and 13 lbs. per male. Require more time to be large. Ready for harvesting after 20 weeks.
  • Bresse: 7 lbs. per chicken. More expensive meat. Ready for harvesting after 16-20 weeks.

Dual-purpose chickens

Some farmers might choose dual-purpose chickens which can bring benefits from their meat and eggs. This type of business is also popular because after collecting eggs, you can start your investment on the new flock, and sell the older chickens for meat at the same time.

Moreover, the profit might be higher if organic eggs and meat are produced, or if you have your own market for your products.

Some chicken breeds suggested for this purpose are:

  • Black Australorp: Give an egg every day in the correct condition. Produce 5-8 lbs. of meat per chicken after the laying years. Friendly characteristic.
  • Speckled Sussex: Produce eggs regularly. Give 7-9 lbs. of meat per chicken after egg laying. Protective roosters.
  • Rhode Island Red: Besides being productive in eggs, those chickens can supply 6-9 lbs of meat after their laying.

Because of those benefits chicken can bring about, they are considered the most profitable livestock to raise.

Read our related article, Why Did My Chickens Stop Laying Eggs in Summer? If laying hens are income for you, a sudden stop can be problematic. Learn more.


Having a small farm, and loving to make a business, you have a lot to consider upon what livestock makes the most money. You will need to look into what you have, the strengths of your business, and the animal breed properly for your business purpose. My advice on the most profitable livestock for small farms is chickens. If you are interested and would like to expand your farm with other animals, for example, cows, it is up to your ability.

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