Free-range animal farming is becoming prevalent as society becomes increasingly health-conscious. Additionally, the welfare of farm animals is a growing concern as the traditional route doesn’t always produce a healthy environment for them.
Free-range farming is the practice of allowing animals to roam in a secure, outdoor area where they can forage for food and live a healthier lifestyle. This article will discuss the benefits and downsides as well as give you a general idea of how to start a free-range animal farm.
Benefits of Free-Range Farming
Free-range farming offers various benefits over traditional farming, making it preferable among modern-day agriculturists.
- More Cost-Effective: You’ll spend less money on food and housing since the animals spend more time roaming outside and foraging for food.
- Less Chance of Disease: Since the animals aren’t being crowded together indoors, they’re less likely to contract and spread diseases.
- Higher Profits: Free-range meat and eggs are more expensive than traditional meats, so you’ll make more while spending less simultaneously.
- Better Tasting Product: With a nutritious diet and more exercise, the animals will produce lean meat that is healthier and tastes better than meat produced from traditional farming.
While the benefits greatly outweigh the risks, there are several downsides to free-range farming that you should know about before you start.
- Damage to Crops: Since free-range animals forage for food, you may need to keep your garden and crops where they aren’t accessible. Otherwise, they’re likely to see them as food for themselves.
- It Takes Longer for the Animals to be Ready to Sell: Since you’re not using steroids or overfeeding them in a crowded space, you have to wait longer to sell them for meat.
- Higher Risk of Falling Prey to Predators: Smaller free-range animals, especially chickens, can be seen as prey to hungry wildlife nearby. It’s ideal for keeping larger animals like horses to scare off predators.
Before doing anything else, you must learn how to raise free-range animals. First, you should know their anatomy and physiology, nutrition requirements, exercise, and farming best practices. Then, once you’ve taken the time to learn everything there is to know, you should get hands-on experience working for another free-range farmer. You’ll gain valuable insights into the true hardships and benefits this way.
Free-range farming requires much less than regular farms. However, you must ensure a good foraging area, a clean water supply, and a mobile chicken coop for inclement weather. In the colder months, you should also consider adding natural immune-boosting foods to the animals’ diets, making them less likely to fall ill. You must keep their diets as natural as possible since that is the appeal of free-range meat. You will also require a farm shed to store all of your all the tools and machinery you will use on your new animal farm.
The most common free-range animals are chickens because they’re easy to care for, and they may be one of the most profitable. However, you can have a free-range farm with other animals as well. Just ensure that you check zoning laws in your area to see if you can legally own the animals you want. Plus, there’s a benefit to having chickens with another animal, such as a cow.
Chickens will often sift through cow stool to eat the maggots, which reduces the number of flies and fertilizes the soil. Large animals make good bodyguards, scaring predators away from the smaller ones. However, remember that there is a small risk of the smaller livestock being trampled, so you should choose animals that live well together.
Starting a Business
If you plan on farming for money, you must establish yourself as a legal business entity. First, you need to write a business plan. Doing so will give you a leg up if you need to apply for financing. You can register your company online with the state and get your Employer Identification Number from the IRS.
Once you’re official, you must remember to keep up with the administrative tasks that come with being a business owner. These tasks include accounting, legal upkeep, and customs paperwork. If you start to feel like you can’t keep up with everything, consider hiring a virtual assistant to manage the business side of your farm.
Staring a free-range animal farm offers many benefits, but it also requires a lot of knowledge and hard work. You need to make time to educate yourself on how to care for the animals and run a business. If you jump in before you’re fully confident, you’ll risk the animals’ lives and your finances.
As you start going through the process of establishing yourself, you should start networking with other farmers and customers in the area. Doing so will help you build rapport within the community, and you’ll see your business flourish.