Farming does not have to be a purely commercial pursuit. You can take it up as a hobby and live a sustainable life by eating the vegetables you farm and making use of the livestock for meat, milk, eggs and cheese. It is an effective way to live a more eco-friendly life too, especially if you practise organic farming.
Start off by looking for farming and livestock equipment in South Africa, and then build up a plan for what you want to farm and what methods you will be using. Below are some tips on how to start a successful hobby livestock farm.
Know your land
Before you go ahead and purchase a cow, sheep or pig, it is important that you know your land. This means that if you live on a rocky piece of land in the mountains, you will most likely not have room for cattle.
You will need to do a full assessment of your land, including testing the soil if you decide to farm your livestock organically. This is because organic livestock farming includes allowing them to graze from grass that needs to be healthy. You will also need to know how much space you have to keep your livestock on, as having too little space on your land will mean that you might not be able to keep animals.
Set goals for your farm
One important step to take when setting up your hobby farm is to set clear goals for what you want to achieve with it. It is important to remember that a hobby farm is different from a commercial farm. And a hobby farm as a business is very different from a homestead.
If you would like to farm livestock for money, you will need to look for professional livestock equipment in South Africa, and every decision you make and goal you set will have to be done from a business perspective. If you are starting a livestock hobby farm to improve your self-sufficiency, then you will need to focus on smart farming decisions rather than on simply enjoying the farm for its beauty and animals. Once you have set clear goals, you can start with the rest of your plan.
Choose your livestock
Before you can start planning your farm, you will need to choose the livestock you want to keep. An effective way to do this is to think about what naturally appeals to you. For example, if you are drawn to smaller animals, then goats, sheep or pigs might be good choices for you.
If you have fond memories of cows on farms you have visited, you should look into cattle as the choice for your farm. If your goal is to use your hobby farm as a business, this will factor into your livestock choice. Be sure to do research on the different animal types that you are interested in, as well as create a pros and cons list so you can make a decision to best suit your needs.
Plan your farm
Once you have chosen the livestock you will be farming, you can find the right livestock equipment in South Africa and start to lay your farmland out. You will need to know where your animals will be grazing, where you will be growing their feed and what your water management strategy will be.
One important part of planning is to know how you will provide water to your animals both in winter and in summer. Fencing is a vital part of any livestock farm, no matter how big the space is. You will need to choose the right fencing for the animals you will be keeping, and ensure that it is strong, durable and high enough to keep out predators. You will also need to set out where you will keep the water tanks during both warm and cold months.
Create a budget
Having a clear budget in mind will help to make the planning process easier. You will need to look at how big a farm you want to have as this will affect the amount of money you will need to spend on fencing, livestock and feed crops.
If you are purchasing the land and it is in a rural location you will need to be sure that you do not end up in over your head with costs that are disproportionate to your output. Your budget will need to include expenses that you might not have thought of when planning a farm, such as animal medication and grooming equipment. Be sure to budget. not only for animals and feed. but also for repairs, emergencies and veterinary bills.
Choose to farm sustainably
One effective way to have a thriving livestock farm is to make sustainable farming choices. This means allowing your animals to graze for the majority of the day rather than only giving them feed, using rainwater to clean their enclosures and ensuring that they are kept healthy by eating grass from healthy soil. The first step to take when starting a hobby farm is to know your land well. This will help you to set goals, choose animals and ultimately plan a farm that is a huge success.