I love designing backyard farms. Even if they aren’t mine.
Actually, especially if they aren’t mine. Let me tell you how to farm and then you go do the work, okay?
Sound good? Okay, let’s get started!
There are a few important things you need to remember when creating or researching backyard farm designs.
Among them are which animals can be companions, the accessibility of your animal areas, and how to simplify with sustainability practices.
Let’s start with the animals:
- Goats and sheep are buddies, but you need to make sure breeding males don’t have access to them at all times. And definitely don’t encourage cross-breeding! Ask me how I know.
- Chickens can be around cows, sheep and goats, but it’s best to allow chickens access to lots of areas (like the road! Hahahahahaha, not really). If you keep your chickens with your milking animals, the chicken poop may get around an udder, which is not good. If that udder’s providing your family’s milk, you need to look out because there’s a higher chance of campalobacter and e. coli. I’m not saying you need to freak out if you chicken roams around your milking animals. But I wouldn’t keep the chickens locked in the goat pen, if you catch my drift.
- Pigs are omnivores, which means they will hunt and eat other animals if given the chance. For this reason pigs need to be with their own kind. But if you rotate your pasture, you can give the pigs a turn in each of the various pastures.
Now on to animal containment:
- Because meat chickens are fully grown by 10-12 weeks old, for a large part of their lives you’ll be raising baby chicks. To avoid confining them to a small area that will be run down quick by all those feet (and will get filled with poop), it’s best to build a chicken tractor. This is basically a movable cage that allows you to move them to a new spot of grass everyday or so.
- Most people think meat rabbits should be kept off the ground and in small cages, but a more natural alternative is when you can raise rabbits in their natural environment. That means grass. You can make a rabbit tractor (similar to a chicken tractor) but you need to put chicken wire on the floor of it to make sure they don’t dig their way out.
Don’t forget about the environment!
- If you want to make your own compost, it would be best to put your compost pile close to your animal pens. It’s even better if your garden is close to both of them. Convenience, hellloooo.
- If your fruit trees are fully grown, then you can allow your goats and sheep to be around them. Actually, they will help trim the bottom leaves and eat the fruit that falls on the ground so it doesn’t rot. But if your fruit trees are young, watch out! Your sheep and goats will have those new fruit trees eaten up in no time.
- In any case, all your trees should have a wire or lattice covering around it. Goats, sheep and cows tend to strip the bark of the tree trunks.
You’ll need to take into consideration all of these factors when planning your backyard farm.
Now let’s get to my plans! These are all for different sizes of yards. Whether you live in a small condo/house, a house with a good sized backyard or even on a couple acres, these plans should help you in determining the best way to design your backyard farm.
1/2 – 1 Acre
Other Resources for planning your Backyard Farm/Homestead:
Contrary to popular belief, a homesteader doesn’t have to be someone who lives on hundreds of acres with the perfect red barn and a white picket fence.This book really helps you organize all of your thoughts about homesteading into one obtainable dream. Get inspired by Jill’s amazing skills!
The Backyard Homestead teaches you how to grow the vegetables and fruits your family loves. It also shows you how to keep bees, raise chickens, goats, or even a cow. When the harvest is in, you’ll learn how to cook, preserve, cure, brew, or pickle the fruits of your labor. So many lessons, so little time!
Mini-Farming, Self-Sufficiency on a 1/4 Acre is a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre. It’ll also show you how to earn $10,000 in cash annually from your farm while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require.
Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) is written by someone who has planned and run a successful small-scale farm. This book will help you decide what should be grown or raised, implementing proven sustainable techniques that will yield a maximized harvest.