When you have a large amount of acreage at your disposal, it is easy to find space for lots of animals. Each animal might have a special purpose on your farm. For instance, you might raise two different breeds of sheep: Suffolk for meat and Merinos for wool. But what if you don’t have room for several breeds? Using dual- or even triple-purpose animals can meet the needs of homesteaders with limited space.
Check out some of the most popular choices:
1. American Guinea Hogs
American Guinea Hogs are a great addition to any farm, big or small, because of their versatility. They are a perfect introduction to raising pigs, as their smaller size (boars only get up to about 250 pounds) and docile temperaments make them a joy to work with. They fatten up nicely and convert their feed well. Their ability to till up a garden and keep a yard free from rodents and other pests adds to their charm and desirability.
Along with the obvious production of meat, American Guinea Hogs produce large amounts of lard. This, combined with their rooting and foraging abilities, led to their early popularity as a backyard or small farm pig. While their numbers have dwindled, they are experiencing a comeback due to more interest in heritage breeds as well as multi-purpose livestock.
2. American Miniature Brecknock Sheep
These personable little sheep are a favorite addition to backyards and small homesteads. Imported to America from the UK, the breed originated from the Cheviot lineage and is often mistaken for that breed. The American Miniature Brecknock is one of the smallest sheep breeds, producing excellent wool and a nice meaty carcass. Their wool colorations range from the most common white to browns and even black.
Brecknock sheep have gained popularity for several reasons, but their liveliness and personality are at the top of the list. They are also known for high productivity, easy lambing, and living long lives. Because of the sturdy lines they descend from, their hardiness is another sought-after attribute. The rams can get up to about 100 pounds, with the ewes being a little smaller.
3. Dexter Cattle
Dexter cattle are one of the best examples of a multi-purpose livestock breed. While they are excellent dairy cattle, they also provide superb cuts of beef. Many farmers use Dexters as oxen, even though they are one of the smallest natural cattle breeds in the world. They train them to the yoke and use them to pull wagons and equipment.
These versatile cattle originated in Ireland as a perfect animal for homesteaders with little to no acreage. Their ability to thrive in harsh climates with poor feed makes for a sturdy and adaptable animal. Dexters are docile cattle that are stout, easy calvers, and have a high feed-to-meat conversion rate. They are desired by those wanting superior grass-fed beef.
It is encouraging that Dexters again have become popular for small holders. This may be due to that even temperament and how easy they are to work with. They were considered a threatened breed at one point, but are making an impressive resurgence as more people discover these wonderful little cattle.
4. Faverolle Chickens
Aside from the fact these fluffy-feathered, five-toed chickens from France happen to be beautiful additions to your yard, they also are a dual-purpose bird for the farm. Known for their longer laying seasons, they are prized for their tasty meat. Faverolles are hardy in cold weather climates while still thriving in warmer temperatures. They tend to be a docile breed and are easy to handle, even for kids.
Faverolles come in standard size as well as bantam — and in several colors. The Salmon Faverolle is the most popular, with the rooster being exceptionally colorful. This attractive breed was created in the early 1800s by crossing several breeds to get the bird of today. The goal was a chicken who would provide hundreds of eggs each year as well as a nice-sized carcass for the dinner table.
5. Nubian Goats
Even though Nubian or Anglo-Nubian goats are famous for their high butterfat milk, they actually are a dual-purpose breed. Due to their large stature and the fact that they carry more weight than most breeds, they are also used for their meat.
Nubians have a very distinctive appearance, with long, floppy ears and their claim to fame – a large Roman nose. They are well-suited for warmer climates due to their Middle-Eastern ancestry but do well in most areas. This breed is now found in most parts of the world because of its adaptability and versatility.
What is your favorite dual-purpose livestock? Share your tips in the section below: