Earning some extra income from your livestock can be easy if you give some thought to it and do a little research. It can be as simple as raising an extra calf to sell, or selling your excess eggs to a neighbor.
Here are some ideas that I have used over the years — as well as observed others using — to earn a few hundred dollars from livestock on the homestead.
As with any business venture, make sure you understand any regulations that may be in place so you don’t end up finding yourself in a bad situation with local agencies, such as the board of the health or township trustees.
For this article, I’ll discuss ways to earn money from selling live animals. This is the easiest way to cash in on livestock without running into a tangled web of regulations. Let’s look at two popular livestock: pigs and chickens.
Money From Pigs
An obvious one here is raising one pig for yourself and one pig for a customer. Pigs are gregarious by nature and will grow and thrive much better with at least one other pig.
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Start with friends and family and you’ll quickly find people who would love to have you raise a pig for them to put in the freezer. I usually have more people that want me to raise them a freezer pig than I can handle.
Another great way to earn some extra cash is to purchase a couple of gilts, breed them, and sell feeder pigs. Here in the U.S., small farm feeder pigs are a scarce commodity in many areas. If you don’t want to keep a boar, use artificial insemination. It’s easy to perform and most places that sell semen will give you advice and they have video tutorials on their website.
You can also keep a few piglets and raise them for roaster pigs. A 180-200 pound pig is the optimum size for most pig roasts. Find some companies or individuals who have a hog-roasting business and supply them with a few pigs.
Time your breeding so that the pigs will be about the right size in time for graduations and other summer holidays and celebrations. May and June are huge for weddings. This will ensure you have plenty of demand and can charge premium prices.
A 10-24 pound pig is called a suckling pig. These are largely a product for the ethnic market, although many high-end chefs are now touting the suckling pig as a delicacy not to be missed. I’ve sold 15-20 pound pigs for as much as $150 each for this market.
Cash in on Your Chickens
Selling chicken eggs is one way to help offset the feed bill for your layer flock. In the spring and summer you’ll see an abundance of “eggs for sale” signs along country roads. In the winter, that’s another story. Start a new flock of pullets in the fall and you can be producing a good supply of eggs when customers are having the most trouble getting them. They sell fast and at a premium price.
Have you ever considered purchasing an incubator and selling chicks? Another option is to sell fertile eggs for others to incubate. This works especially well with a rare or specialty breeds.
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I’ve sold spent laying hens to an “all-natural feed” dog kennel several times. They come, pick them up, and take them to the processor. I collect the money and wave goodbye!
Where You’ll Find Customers
There are two kinds of customers who will purchase your livestock or homestead products — those who will pay premium prices, and those who won’t.
It makes sense, then, to focus your efforts toward the customers who are looking for premium value rather than the cheapest price.
The best prices are obtained from marketing to customers who would like to buy from a small farm or homestead rather than the local giant chain store.
Here’s a list of what these customers may be looking for:
- Locally produced.
- Supporting small or independent producers.
- Transparency – Knowing your methods and procedures for producing your products.
- Health – Products that are free from harmful additives.
- Integrity – Knowing your products are made with integrity, even if it costs more.
- Hard to find – Products that can’t be purchased at the local chain store.
While there are other reasons a customer may decide to purchase your products, these are some of the most common. Weave these messages into your marketing. Notice that this type of customer doesn’t consider price as the first criteria for purchasing.
So, where do you find this type of customer? It’s not as hard as you might think. They are looking for you! If you are remotely close to a major city, why not advertise your products in the newspaper and make sure they include your ad in the online version?
Go the Extra Mile
If you have a product that can be shipped for a reasonable cost, delivery is no problem. If you sell something that can’t be shipped easily, then have customers come and pick up their products or deliver it to them.
If you or a family member works in town, then you can set up deliveries to a central place and have several customers meet you at the same time.
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For years, I hauled various products to town every week and delivered them to co-workers. Eventually, I had several other customers meet me at the end of the workday to get their products. I supplemented my income by several hundred dollars every week — which added up to thousands for the year.
Many times the biggest obstacle for potential customers is not knowing how to purchase from you. Go the extra mile with customers who have no experience buying direct from the source. Remember, most people go the store, find what they want, and buy it. They have no idea about your process for purchasing and receiving your products.
Selling products from your small farm or homestead is an education process. Educate them on how your product compares to the mass-produced counterpart they can get anywhere. Give them a sample product, or share with them how to use it, cook it, etc.
Here’s one final tip …
Think about products you can sell around holidays. This can be pumpkins and gourds in the fall, hams and turkeys around Christmas or Thanksgiving, and flowers for Memorial Day, weddings and graduations. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.
With only a few simple advertisements and some word of mouth through friends, family and co-workers, you can earn some significant extra income doing what you love!
How do you make money on the homestead? Share your tips in the section below:
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