Top 10 Lowest Maintenance Farm Animals to Consider

If you’re going to raise animals, you are signing up for a lot of responsibility. And responsibility is a synonym for work. That’s just the way it is.

If you want something that can basically raise itself, you need to look at plants, not animals. But even if you’ve got the gumption, we’re all limited by a certain number of hours in the day.

If you want to maximize your time for other endeavors but still want to raise livestock, you can do that if you pick smart: Some animals just don’t require that much care and attention!

Whether it’s a tendency to self-sufficiency, cleanliness, or just simple ease of care, you can keep your husbandry chores to a minimum with the following breeds.

chickens eating sliced carrot
chickens eating sliced carrot


You know them, you love them. Chickens are both the beginning and the end of the road for lots of folks who want livestock.

They’re cheap and easy to get into, and they’re so adaptable and entertaining that most people either don’t go any further or come back to them after taking care of large animals.

Chickens have a bad reputation as being noisy, neurotic, and messy, but only the first two are true as long as you know what you’re doing.

Letting your birds free-range or moving them around a larger parcel and a spacious tractor or mobile run will prevent them from mucking up the place too badly with their constant pooping.

Also, most domestic breeds tend to be quite healthy, and unless you get one that has special, fancy feathers, they even bathe themselves in dust, no bath time required from you.

If you pick a good breed and are willing to occasionally muck out the coop and put down fresh bedding, chickens really don’t need too much from you.

Shorthorns cows in the field
Shorthorns cows in the field


I know cows might seem like a strange choice at first: they are huge, heavy, expensive, and take up lots of room, right?

All of that is true, but nonetheless, most kinds of domestic cows tend to be pretty healthy overall, and so long as you’ve got lots of land, you won’t have to waste nearly as much time keeping them contained and fed.

Plus, letting them roam the pasture and graze also drastically lowers care and cleanliness requirements for picking up after them.

Obviously, this strategy is dependent on you having lots of land, and actually excess land for the amount of cows that you have. But as long as you’ve got it, you might be surprised to find that cows are a lot easier to care for than you thought.

a couple of pigs eating grass
a couple of pigs eating grass


Pigs? How can anything about pigs be considered low maintenance!? Well, surprisingly enough, pigs are pretty easy to care for and don’t require much work as long as they are kept in smaller numbers. A hobby herd of a few pigs or even one or two hogs kept for slaughter won’t require much work from you. Trouble, and workload, starts increasing when you

They have to be fed a couple of times a day, and if your fences aren’t up to the task you’ll be dealing with repairs regularly (easily mitigated by sturdy fencing in the first place) but other than that they are healthy, happy and surprisingly clean- they even tend to use the bathroom in a designated spot away from their usual feeding area!

As long as you start with a good enclosure and feed them a varied diet, your pigs will do just fine with little intervention or care from you- though they always benefit from attention and positive interactions!

two St. Croix sheep
two St. Croix sheep

Hair Sheep

Sheep are another grazer type of livestock, and there’s nothing they like more than heading out into the pasture to munch on grass all day long. This is just what they do, and as long as they’re kept safe from predators, and have shelter to retreat to when the weather gets really bad, they’ll be more than content to spend their days like this…

But, the main motivator for raising sheep also happens to be the prime consideration when it comes to upkeep: That wool! Sheep must be sheared. Periodically, and this is non-negotiable whether or not you’re ready to harvest those fleeces.

Sheep that get overgrown will suffer from poor hygiene and wool binding which can make it hard for them to move and even cover their eyes making it hard to see.

The easiest solution? Get a hair breed, or a hair wool breed. These sheep don’t have fleeces to shear, or else they will naturally shed their fleece in the warmer season. That will save you a ton of work.

two rabbits mating
two rabbits mating


Rabbits are a pretty inspired choice for livestock. They are an excellent option for raising lots of high-quality meat quickly, and their droppings make for valuable fertilizer. Their fur, as ever, is also highly valuable if you have a market for it.

Rabbits are often thought of as being delicate, fragile animals, and physically they are, but otherwise, they tend to be pretty healthy and don’t get sick very much. Most breeds also don’t have long fur that requires considerable upkeep.

They are space-efficient and can be kept in hutches that are easy to clean either by transferring the rabbits or by pulling out a tray if they have a wire floor.

As long as you’re okay with taking care of their basic requirements, you probably won’t have to go above and beyond to care for them.

six baby guinea chicks


Guineas, or guinea fowl, or I rarely seen type of poultry here in the US but they’re getting more popular.

Compared to chickens and turkeys, they are extremely self-sufficient, expert foragers, and able to survive even on marginal land that doesn’t have much to offer in the way of insects or plants.

These remarkable and gorgeous birds are also extremely hardy and adaptable, capable of surviving in hot and cold environments with very little to worry about in terms of health impacts.

Plus, they do wonderfully on more open land or in lightly wooded areas, meaning whatever kind of property you have your guineas will probably be just fine.

A word to the wise though, they are among the noisiest birds you can own, and if you got chickens or ducks were bad you haven’t seen anything yet. If you want a quiet domain, maybe skip these guys.

an emu
an emu


Emus!? How in the world can I recommend emus? These birds are huge, very literally standing about 6 feet tall and weighing upwards of 125 pounds. They hiss, run around all over the place and they are also true exotics, at least here in the US. What could be low maintenance about such a creature?

Well, actually, everything. Emus tend to be incredibly healthy, self-sufficient, and more than capable of living on relatively little land considering their gigantic size.

If you have an acre, you can easily keep between two and five emus with proper management practices. They love to forge on their own, and show extraordinary growth and gain from just a little food, meaning you won’t even have to feed them that much.

Emus are also super adaptable, and a simple shelter to get them in and out of really bad weather is all they need: emus do fine in temps all the way down to 20°F and will even sleep in deep snow with no issues! If temps go much lower and stay there, a dry barn or shelter to head into is all the protection they’ll need.

a healthy bee colony busy working
a healthy bee colony busy working


Wait a second. All of these other animals, fine, but raising bees? They’re insects; swarming, stinging insects! It takes some seriously special skills to take care of bees, and that has to be a ton of work. Right?

Actually, a whole lot less than you might think. After all, the bees know what to do and are happy to do it as long as you give them a home and occasionally take care of some problems.

They will go about the business of finding food, bringing it home, and then turning that into honey while expanding their numbers all by themselves. Not a bad deal!

You’ll need some special equipment and you’ll have to learn how to use it, but the whole process is quite enjoyable and the rewards are truly sweet.

Great Pyrenee dog
a Great Pyrenee dog


You know it doesn’t get much easier than a dog. A good dog, especially a mutt because they tend to be healthier than purebreds, needs a little food, a warm place to sleep, and the occasional bath. That’s it.

In return you get the best companion man could ask for, an early warning system and someone to watch out for your livestock- assuming that they won’t go after them in the first place! A good deal if there ever was one.

cat walking through snow
a cat walking through snow


No homestead is complete without a cat, specifically a barn cat. What’s a barn cat? It’s just a cat that lives outside and prowls around on your property, whether or not you have a barn in the first place.

They’ll wipe out mice and other pests and keep rodents under control. Your cat will only need a little bit of food from you and a reliably safe, dry, warm place to sleep.

Your cat may or may not stick around for the duration, but that’s also part of the bargain: it’s likely that the cat chose you in the first place assuming you didn’t bring one home!

low-maintenance animals pin image

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