chickens eating maggotsFarming Maggots
If your first reaction to this idea is, I could never do that, it's gross, I'll tell you, I thought the same way. The problem isn't the maggot, it is just that we have come to associate them with trash and filth. If you look at it differently as a potential food source for your chickens or fish, would you consider rearing them? Many of our preconceived ideas, put up a roadblock to potentially beneficial activities and we need to stop and ask ourselves, where these notions come from and if they are true.

Let's look at some of their uses and see if they are a potential money earner for your farm.

  • Selling as fishing bait
  • Selling to hospitals
  • Animal feed


Bait for fishing

Let's start first with using them as bait. I use them here on my farm when I am fishing and the tilapia always seem to go for them. They seem to prefer the young white ones over the darker colored ones which are slightly older. The good thing about using maggots, is they're free, and they stay on the hook. Now we know why fishermen love them, ask yourself a few questions. Is selling maggots as a bait, possible for you? If you live near a lake, river, or reservoir where people fish, this is something to consider. If you would prefer to sell to a bait shop instead of the end user, that's okay. They will undoubtedly be looking for a reliable source of maggots for fish bait.


Selling Maggots to Hospitals

Hospitals are beginning to see the sense in using maggots as a way of removing rotten flesh. Although this is an ancient technique, there are hospitals which are introducing this when an infection is resistant to antibiotics. The arrangements for rearing them for hospitals would be different than rearing maggots for fish bait as the conditions, of course, would need to be sterile.


Raising Maggots for animal food.

It isn't just fish who love eating maggots, chickens do as well. They are a rich source of protein for them and as they are virtually free, make a great addition to their diet. These can not only be used for your chickens but also sold as chicken feed.  If you are a fish farmer, these are an excellent source of protein for the fish as well. Check the protein on the commercial fish feed and you will see, the higher the protein, the better the quality, and also a higher price. If you can get your foot in the door with fish farmers they will welcome you with open arms as the price to feed them a high protein food is expensive. What more could you want from a marketable product? Almost free to produce, and a welcoming market willing to pay!


The setup to raise them can be as elaborate as you want to make it. The type you choose may be determined by where you live. Things to consider are your proximity to neighbors, legal requirements, and outlets to sell them.


If you live near to a lake which is popular with fisherman or can easily transport them to an area with bait shops, this could prove to be a popular and profitable endeavor for you. Or if your farm is on the road to a popular fishing spot, put a sign up where passing traffic can see it. 


I am including a couple of video links. below to show you different ways to rear them. One of these is from Indonesia, one from Ohio (USA). For your own use it can be as simple as a bucket with guts in it to rear maggots. There are also videos for those on You Tube. 


It is true you don't want the smell or subsequent flies unless they are controlled. This is one of the reasons you need to consider your area and potential problems with the neighbors or city regulations.   


 
 
grasshoppergrasshopper

Perhaps those two words might not fit together for you in a sentence but don't discount it so easily as there are some countries where grasshoppers and other insects are a necessary and welcome protein source.

I know here on our coconut farm in Brazil, we have a problem with them, especially at the end of the wet season. Ours are bigger than some of the birds we have here on our farm. We don't use chemicals to eradicated them, we remove them manually, usually with the whip from a bamboo stick.


You too may see them only as a pest but in certain countries these are seen as a delicacy. Called Chapulines in Oaxaca Mexico. These are usually crispy fried and used as an appetizer or in Mexican dishes. They have these for sale on Amazon and you can see there is money to be made from them

In fact according to research conducted  by from the Department of Entomology at Wageningen University, 13% of the insects which are consumed around the world are grasshoppers or crickets.

Although you may not find an initial  market by selling them, people like to try unusual things. As more adventurous chefs are adding them to recipes, their popularity will increase. Also, as people are travelling more they will be experiencing these crunchy little snacks in other countries. When they return home, it is likely they will seek these out to share with friends and family. 




















The UN is pushing people towards eating a sustainable food source like insects as livestock such as cows, pigs and sheep are killing the planet

The amount of food it takes to generate a pound of meat is not sustainable. Couple this with toxic run-offs of farms into the water table and we are polluting not just the soil but our drinking water as well.




 
 
Guinea Fowl HeadRaising Guinea Fowl



You may already have chickens and considered including guinea fowl to your farm. Although some may think they are similar, I can tell you, they are different in many ways.

Before I bought our young guinea fowl, I did some research and was told, that you would always be able to sell the chicks. This was true, in fact I sold them for more than I thought I would. That is one thing in their favor.

They also eat ticks which is a bonus because we get a lot here, especially if it has been a particularly wet season.

They also scratch less than chickens which is good as chickens, can be so destructive.

Our guinea fowl are free range and they cover vast distances so it is best to only get them if you have a good relationship with your neighbors as the birds don't understand what a fence is for.

Although we have barbed wire close together, and mesh on other parts, they get through or over it.

They also are noisy. Extremely noisy. I have read that this is good because it could be used as a security system. This is not true because if you remember the story of the boy who cried wolf, it is like that. Guinea fowl will scream, if a plastic bag is floating around, if a hoe is in a different area than normal and sometimes they just scream for no reason. This of course makes you switch off to a “danger call”.

To be honest with you, I don't know how this breed of bird isn't extinct in the wild. They alert all animals around to their presence with their constant chattering and they are some of the dumbest animals I have ever met.


That said, they are entertaining.

Guinea fowl have a communal nest (usually hidden) and to be honest with you, are awful at nest management. If you have a broody hen, you are best to remove some of the eggs and put them under her. Or consider buying an incubator. The guinea fowl eggshells are hard, in fact to crack them, I have to hit them on a corner. How those chicks get through is amazing.

The chicks are much more fragile than baby chickens. The legs are weaker and can splay out. This can be corrected but it is time consuming. We have tried it as instructions are available on the internet but in the end we had to put the chick out of his misery as we never thought it would walk correctly.

Besides selling chicks you can also sell the adult birds as meat. These will command a higher price than chicken.

Also consider selling the feathers. They are beautiful and used in crafts. Places such as Ebay are ideal to sell them. Or consider making products and selling them on ETSY or at craft fairs.


 
 
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If you have an area of scrub land you may have thought of buying goats to keep it down. We did exactly that and went to buy some goats from a local farmer. Although there are specialist breeds one can buy,  we just bought what you might call mutts of the goat world. These had no specific thought put to them but they were great at eating.

When we talked to our Brazilian worker about goats, he raised an eyebrow and waved his hand. He told us that goats like to run off. This answered a question I had had. Here in Brazil I have seen goats wearing something akin to a tennis racket press. For those of you who aren't old enough to remember what that is, they were used on wooden tennis rackets to keep them from warping. They are in essence a wooden frame. This is inserted over the goats head and closed making an awkward wooden necklace for the goat. However it prevents them from passing through  fencing.









Picture
By Belinda Hankins Miller from U.S.A. - The hard part, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3590474
A few words about goats, they will eat what you don't want them to. They are not grazers like sheep, they are browsers like deer and will pretty much sample everything and destroy something which is tasty. I had a tree eaten until it was almost leaf free by our two goats. 

With their soft hooves they can climb. Think of a mountain goat perched high atop a cliff. It wasn't airlifted up there you know. They're soft hooves are cloven and grippy and allow them to get to places you wouldn't have thought they could reach. 

In the end, we use to stake out our goats on a long cord attached to a dog collar. They seemed quite okay with this arrangement. Our nanny would be eating away in grass up to her belly until she saw my husband and she would begin to cry out for attention. 
Picture
By Dpsarma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Should you get goats? 

Goats hooves are soft and need to be trimmed regularly otherwise this can cause pain for the animal. We are on soft sand so they were never going to wear down. We used a knife and this was quite quick and painless for the animal. 

In an area which needs to be cleared of scrub, goats are amazing animals. They are even being used to clear areas to prevent forest and grassland fires This is called conservation grazing!

This means they have more value to you than just on your own farm. Let's examine the usefulness of them and how you could make money from introducing goats on your small farm or homestead. 

  • Ground clearance of scrub and weeds. 
  • Renting out your goats to clear other areas. 
  • Manure: this can be gathered from their shed or pen where they sleep and used on your farm or sold. 
  • Hair: Depending on which breed you have, you could sell the hair (mohair from Angora goats). 
  • Milk: Goats milk can be sold as it is, or made into cheese or other products such as yogurt or ice cream.   In most countries there will be documentation and licenses required if you plan to sell to the public. 
  • Breeding: Choose a breed which is sought after either for its robustness or as a  specialist breed.
  • Sell the goats or the meat.  
 
 
PictureEarn With Bees
There is so much in the news about the problems surrounding the humble honeybee. The tireless worker who in essence, feeds the world by pollinating all the crops. When I was growing up in the Central Valley of California hives placed in the fields were a common site. So too were crop dusting planes which would fly low and spray pesticides.

Of course back then few people realized the long term risks from pesticides, all we knew was that it either killed insects or kept a farm virtually weed free.

I know there are many suspected reasons for CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) some of which include pesticides and also the fact that the bees are pollinating a mono-culture. I think both of these go hand in hand and yet, town bees seem to be doing better. Why? One reason, I believe is the variety of flowers they visit. If a bee only visits one type of flower, let's say those on almond trees, it is likely to suffer because of it.

Just as we are encouraged to eat a wide variety of foods, the honey bees need a wider range of flowers to visit. I will say, the chemicals do play a part but I know many urban gardeners also use some pretty toxic chemicals and yet the bees are still surviving.

I think the time has come when we need to seriously take a look at agriculture. Everyone wants 'cheap food' and this is in essence binding the farmers into producing foods which may be detrimental to bees.



So what's the answer? Farming isn't going to stop with its large swathes of mono-culture crops. Maybe they don't have to. By planting flower borders or interspersing the crop with flowers, this could create a haven for bees instead of a deathtrap. The last time I visited the Central Valley, I looked at the vast clean rows of orchards and thought, how unnatural this all looked. Every tree had the same number of branches and was virtually a clone of the one in front and behind it. 

For a small farm or homestead having hives of bees, which you can take to fields during the pollination time, could be just the thing you are looking for. Bees are in demand like never before. Almond orchards are paying $140-$160 for smaller 6-frame colonies; and between $170 - $200 for larger  8 to 10-frame colonies . Many of these bees are coming from out of state. However do not bring your hives to California in the hopes of getting a contract. Get your contract in place first before bringing  your bees. All contracts with almond growers should be in place before July.



The honey gained for the beekeepers is also a valuable commodity however, the honey produced from almond flowers is not palatable and therefore the price to almond farmers is higher. Some beekeepers are also charging a surcharge for research into the problems surrounding CCD.  


The inclusion of bee hives is something homesteaders and those with small farms should seriously consider. The stronger the bee population is, the better for everyone. 


Besides the rental of the hives, you have the addition of honey which can be sold. I have met very few people in my life who don't like honey. This can be sold locally at farmers markets as there are always customers looking for quality honey. 



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Locally Produced Honey
 
 
PictureEmu farming
Today let's look at the possibility of raising these birds are your farm. The family name for these birds is ratities. If you ask anyone who has had any of these birds the first thing they will say is fencing. This is something which is mandatory and chain link is the preferred type. Some people opt to put wire above this as well. 




Of the three, ostriches are the most aggressive and it is for this reason many people choose emus. These will take 1 ½ years to reach maturity and be ready for slaughter. This will provide you with 30 lbs of lean meat, which if you compare this with cattle, the time is about the same but the meat is much less as with a steer you are looking at about 500lbs of meat in the same time frame. 

Don't be put off by that fact though. Emu farming, was once seen as a lifeline for the struggling farmer or homesteader. Then is so often the case, many people jumped on the bandwagon and bought emus. Some of these were even venture capitalists who thought emu farming was the next 'big thing'. There were reports of a pair of breeding emus sold for $45,000 in the mid 90s. You can see that for some it looked like easy money, but we farmers know when it comes to farming, it isn't always as straight forward as it looks.  All three require space as they like to run. Take a look at the video below to see just how fast an Ostrich can run. Emus are slower at about 30mph.

It isn't just the meat which you can sell from an emu though.

  • Feathers are used for a variety of items including hats, jewelry or other items. Although the color is dull, they are double plumed which means they have two feathers growing out of the same quill. An oddity in nature.

  • Emu Oil: Around the chest of the bird there will be about 250 ounces of oil which can be extracted from a mature bird. This can be done at a refinery. The price paid is about $10 an ounce. You may have heard a lot about the oil of the emu. It is reported to cure everything from baldness to acne and other skin ailments. The oil can be used topically or taken orally and is claimed to be beneficial for menstrual cramps and cholesterol.
  • Emu meat. This is lean and healthy meat and has Omega 3. Ideally sell straight to the public or to a health food store to obtain the best price. 
  • Emu Leather: Another popular avenue for the emu farmer to explore. This can be made into boots, handbags and wallets. This can either be sold directly using places like Ebay or to a wholesaler.
  • The eggs themselves have a few different uses, of course as food but also as objects for carving. There are some very talented people who love these eggs as their chosen medium on which to carve intricate designs.
  • Sale of the young birds. Of course there is also the sale of the chicks. When you calculate the time needed to reach maturity, many people don't want to wait for a return on investment. 
  • If you have a sought after, prizing winning emu you can also sell the semen.  
 
 
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What I am going to suggest now will have some people up in arms. However, I will still include it because in many countries dog breeding is still seem as a perfectly acceptable way to earn money from a small farm.




Let me say, straight off the bat that I am not talking about a puppy mill or anything of that nature. What I am referring to is having a few dogs which you either use for breeding or ones which also work on your farm and you sell off the pups.




Firstly let's look at what breeds would suit which type of farm. What do the people in your area require? Have a look in the paper or on the internet to determine the need and the scarcity.




For example, in my area of Brazil, many people want guard dogs. So people breed and sell Rottweilers, pit bulls, German Shepherds, Dobermans, and one called a Fila Brasilero which is a Brazilian Mastiff.




This is the traditional market of dogs, however there is an emerging middle class here and people from the city want apartment dogs. These include the teacup poodles, miniature pinchers or (min pins), and Yorkshire terriers. Apartment dogs are big business where I live.


 



The upside with breeding apartment or small sized dogs is they require less food, to maintain your breeding stock. That said, dogs which are small, and I am referring to the tiny dogs, can often have problems giving birth. If this happens your profit could be spent on vet bills. 


If you are merely having them as breeding stock, kennels are the best option. No one wants 10 puppies running around their home. Purpose built kennels will show you are a business and not just breeding a few dogs to cover this month's bills. 


Where I live, puppies are sold at 2 months which, in my opinion is too early. I believe 3 months is the best option. Ensure your puppy has all its injections and that the worming is up to date. Start advertising your puppies soon after birth so you can guarantee a sale. If the buyers have to wait 3 months, they will know they are getting a healthier puppy because of it.  


The constructing of kennels doesn't have to be for only breeding dogs, you could also board them as another 
 
 
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Today we are going to be looking into getting worms into your small farm. 

Now you may think that you already have worms and that is enough. The addition of worms to any garden is beneficial and you should still encourage worms in your garden for your own benefit. 
 Okay but remember we are referring to ways to make money from these little beauties.

This is a very scalable business and you can make this as big or as little as you want. If you want to keep it just for yourself and friends, you can but understand that the potential to earn from worm farming is huge.



Below are two videos  I've  found  on You Tube. I love this first video for a few different reasons
  • It isn't a professional quality, it is just a young guy who has a great idea he wants to share. 
  • He's frugal. On small farms, wasting money is a big no-no. 
  • He gives credit both verbally and on the site to where he goes for inspiration.
  • He has a love of gardening.
  • He is concerned about the whole eco way of life and has a passion for sharing his ideas.
  • He has an  entrepreneurial (He is making a video to earn from). 
I am also including a second video with a commercial setup. Both videos, I believe, are worth watching. 

This just shows you can scale a worm farm to your time and resource level.



Let's look at the revenue streams associated with raising worms.



Selling the compost. Some of the best compost for sale and also for your farm is from worms. That rich dark compost which is left behind after these little guys have chewed their way through your fruit and veg scraps.


The term for this is vermicompost and it is not just good for the soil and environment, it can be good for your pocket, too. In Sonoma California there is a farm called Sonoma Valley Worm Farm. They produce 35,000 pounds of vermicompost a year and have client such as Oprah and Martha Stewart, among others. Think of how much money people pay for normal compost from a nursery. Now think how much they will pay for yours, a product which has been produced locally and is better than store bought and organic.


Selling worms: This has at least two streams of potential revenue coming from selling live worms. There will be those who wish to buy the worms to use in their gardens or to start their own worm compost farm.

 There are also the fishermen. I have a little story for you. When I was a kid, my cousins started a small worm farm at their home in a flower bed. They would feed it with scraps from the kitchen and when they got a call from a fisherman, they had little tubs to put the worms in. It helps if you are near a body of water such as a lake or reservoir. That said, if you produce enough you can easily deliver to various outlets such as bait shops and garden centers as shown in the second video above. 


Compost tea.


Here too can be an untapped source of revenue for you. Selling the tea you collect as runoff from the “worm juice” is an extra bonus. This is full of rich goodness and also has a value  either for your own garden or to sell as another by-product from your worm farm.


 
 
I think it is easy for people who aren't on a farm to look at animals and think that only dogs and cats have that playful spirit. For those who live on a farm,  we often see not just playfulness but also a sense of love between their offspring.

I saw a lovely video which showed a cow, just having fun on a snowy day.


So what does that have to do with you making money, you might ask. 


Consider filming and uploading videos as a way of making money from your animals. If you think that no one watches videos with animals, then you, my friend have been living under a rock. You can't get away from cat videos but if you look on You Tube, the amount of farm animals on there is immense. Those people  are all earning from those videos and so can you.  If you have a video camera or can hold your smart phone still, then all I can say is.

Lights, Camera, Action.

And it's over to you
.

 
 
It must be 30 years ago when I first read an article in The Wall Street Journal about a man in my hometown who was a snail farmer. It obviously made a lasting impression and was something I thought about frequently.

Heliculture is one of the names for the breeding of snails and there are different types of snails which one can rear. For human consumption the land snails are the ones I will be referring to in this post.

Although it is easy to think of the snail as only a pest which eats your leaves in the garden, these have been a food source in many countries for thousands of years. Even now it is still consumed in Europe and Africa and imported to the USA.

So what does it entail raising snails?

Similar things as with any livestock, an enclosure, food, and a market to sell them. I've look on the internet for various pens and other types of enclosures and there are many methods. Some people use a shallow (about 2' high ) pen. See the video below. The problem with this method is the chance of escape. Having your livestock eat your crops is counter productive, as you can imagine. Giving your snails a healthy and nutritious environment will keep the where you want them. 

Many people use a strip of copper banding across the top to keep the snails from climbing out of their enclosures.

I have also seen people who have the equivalent of a poly tunnel with snails in them.

One of my favorites is this lady in Africa in the video below. She just puts hers in plastic bowls. She says these are the perfect livestock as they don't stink and they don't make noise.
 
Take a look at  two different methods used. 




Although snails may be easy to care for and may seem like the perfect livestock, you have to have a market for them.

Where I live in Brazil, this was promoted as a viable farm options some years ago. Unfortunately what happened is people became disillusioned and gave up, releasing their snails which of course wreaked havoc on the local area.  In the USA, there is a pest problem with the giant land snail as a result of them being imported as a potential money maker. 

Every year where I live there is an annual 'Escargot Festival' which I assume was started by the French who moved here. However, the population and demand for snails isn't enough to sustain a year round production of snails.


I think to have livestock where there is a constant market for, you have to be raising something which the local population are willing to eat and pay for. This is why the woman in the video will probably make a success of her business. She is in an area where they are familiar with eating land snails and there is a need for additional protein in their diets.


Before beginning a snail farm, you need to know more about the types of snails available to you, your potential market and the soil conditions required to raise your snails to the optimum weight in the shortest possible times.  


Picture
By J. Patrick Fischer (photo selfmade) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
 

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    If you have a small farm or homestead, you're probably looking for ways to make more money from it. This is exactly what our goal is, to give you ideas for you to try. 
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