Teaching Kids to Love Homesteading Part 2: Raising Animals

This is part 2 of a series on teaching encouraging kids to embrace a homesteading lifestyle.  Part 1, on gardening, can be found HERE.

The idea of raising animals is usually pretty appealing to kids, especially when they are cute little baby animals, the hard work that comes with animals isn’t quite so appealing, here are some tips for raising animals on a kid friendly homestead.

1. Start Simple:  Start simple with some laying hens or meat rabbits.  They only require simple enclosures, food, and water.  They are generally very easy to raise and don’t come with a hefty price tag.  They are a good way to see if raising animals works for your family.

2. Be Clear and Direct: If you are planning on raising animals for meat than you need to make sure the whole family understands.  Kids can very easily become attached and will quickly consider every rabbit, chicken, or cow a member of the family.  I think its best to be honest from the beginning and explain the reasons you are choosing to raise meat animals in a clear and direct way.  That way there are no surprises later.

3. Assign Chores:  Get your kids involved with the daily care of the animals.  This is a great lesson in responsibility and will help them appreciate the animals that much more.  Collecting eggs or refilling water and food dispensers are easy chores that most young children can handle.

Our Buff Orpington laying hens are very friendly, perfect for kids


4. Do your Research: There are lots of different breeds out there and you will want to make sure you choose a breed that is on the calm and friendly side.  You don’t want a farm full of mean, grumpy animals that like to chase little kids.  Here is a great book to help. 

5. Stick with females:  We have found that female animals tend to be calmer and easier to interact with while males tend to be more aggressive and territorial.  You can always “rent” a male if you decide to breed.

6. Join a Club: Lots of towns have 4-H or FFA clubs that can help teach your kids how to properly care for animals.  They can be a great resource and also a great way for kids to make friends and get involved.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share? 

Linking up with: Homestead Barn Hop, The Modest MomFrugal Days and Sustainable WaysNatural Living Link Up

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4 thoughts on “Teaching Kids to Love Homesteading Part 2: Raising Animals

  1. I agree with all the tips that you gave. We have found that being direct with our kids on what purpose each animal will serve has kept us from having any problems come butcher time. Plus, we prepare them along the way, especially as we close in on butchering day.

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  2. I am a grandmother of 4 now. I remember being just a child, about 7-8 and learning a very hard lesson. My Uncle Don raised rabbits for 4 H club. This was the 1960's. I was a child and NO ONE told me these were not pets. I saw Don feed them and water them. I was allowed to play with them. One became very tame and I loved him so much. Then came the day; a phone call for my grandfather. I was sent from the house to the rabbit house to get grandpa for the phone. There I saw it, grandpa cut the head off MY rabbit just as I came in the door. That poor rabbit ran all over the rabbit house without a head. I broke down. Litterly I broke down and cried and cried and passed out. Latter my grandpa in a joke kind of way tried to tell me the meat on the table was chicken. NO way I believed that. I could not, would not eat it. To this day, and I am 61 almost 62 I can not eat rabbit or chicken. I can not do it.
    I wish with all my heart they had told me the truth about the rabbits. I just never understood. A short time later, my grandfather found some wild baby rabbits while mowing. He had seen the mother rabbit dead in the nest. He brought those baby rabbits up to the house and we fed those rabbits baby formula with an eye dropper for weeks. They did live. It made me feel better to help the baby rabbit.

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