What would be the best/cheapest livestock for those with a quarter acre of land and limited experience with animals?
With only a quarter acre of land, I would suggest a small poultry project initially. Because chickens are readily available, and you can easily secure a quarter acre, I recommend a half dozen laying hens for starters. Backyard chickens are fun and easy to raise, and eventually you will have a steady supply of eggs. If you let the birds roam the fenced yard during the day, they will do a number on bugs too. They will also pick weeds and scratch the garden soil, but you should not let them have direct access to your veggies, because they will poke holes in the tomatoes and eat your spinach to boot. I like to turn chickens into the garden at the end of the season to glean the leftovers and work their own manure into the soil. If you order a dozen straight-run, day-old chicks, you will receive approximately half females and half males. You can raise the males to fryer size and butcher them before they become a nuisance. In any case, be prepared to supplement your free-range chickens’ daily food intake with some grain or commercial chicken feed. For more on how to raise chickens in your backyard, take a look at www.CommunityChickens.com.
— Oscar H. Will III, editor, GRIT magazine
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