Many people are starting to grow their own food. A garden is a great start, but you can only grow your fruits and vegetables in it. Most people need a protein source and it can be found in the chicken and in a variety of ways. Rabbits, fish, and quail can also provide a good source of protein to the small backyard farmer.
A good laying hen will generally provide her owners with one or two eggs a day. These eggs can come in a variety of sizes and colors. If you are short on space then your best option may be to get a bantam chicken which is smaller and her eggs will also be smaller. The color of your eggs will depend on the breed of hen you buy. Americana’s can lay green eggs while other breeds can lay white, brown and even chocolate colored eggs. For many backyard farmers this may be all they use their chickens for.
Others may choose to have a rooster so the eggs their hens lay are fertile. The chicks from those fertile eggs can then be raised to maturity and harvested for meat. There are a number of chicken breeds that are classified as dual purpose so the small farmer can get the best of both egg and meat production. You can fit a lot of chickens into a relatively small space which makes them great for the small backyard.
Rabbits are a great protein source for the small backyard. They grow quickly and you can breed multiple litters a year. Their size is going to be dependent on their breed. Good breeds for backyard food production include New Zealand Whites and Flemish Giants. Rabbits will thrive better when they are allowed some access to fresh grass.
A backyard aquaponics system can be costly, but you can get a pre-formed fish pond at many different stores for under two hundred dollars. They aren’t huge, but they’ll be big enough to support one type of local fish. Many of these ponds are too shallow for your fish to survive the winter, so you might have to restock in the spring. Still, you’ll have fresh fish all summer long.
Quail will take up the least amount of space of all these sources. They are tiny birds that grow very rapidly and lay a high volume of eggs. Their eggs are edible, but they are tiny. Generally, these eggs are hatched for the birds inside. Quail meat is considered a delicacy in some places. It is good, but you don’t get much meat out of each bird because of their small size.
It is definitely possible to grow your own protein at home, even in the smallest of backyards. These are just a few of the options and the creative backyard farmer is sure to come up with many more ideas. If you really want to grow your own meat consider calling some of your local meat processors and ask if they do custom processing. It may be easier on your family and yourself if you pay someone else to process your meat.