If you are interested in starting your farm, you should begin by asking how much land do you need for a farm to understand how to get started.
Owning a farm seems scary and intimidating at first, but is ultimately a very rewarding experience; the initial cost and investment can be lessened with different financial avenues. Building a farm yourself may prove to be more frugal, and for some, easier to manage.
To start a farm you need land and the minimum amount required is 5 acres without including the house site to run a self-sufficient farm to grow crops for profit and be classified as farmland in most states in the United States. You must also generate $1,000 per year from your crops to be a farm.
The first step in determining how much land you need for a farm is to decide what animals and/or produce you want to raise/grow on your farm. You also have to think practically: are you the only one that’s going to be working on your farm? Do you have a partner going in on this venture with you? Are you planning to hire down the road? These factors will determine whether or not you’re looking to purchase ten acres of land or one hundred.
We consult already existing farms for a sense of their cost based on size and location; there are also real estate agents that can guide you for the best type of land for farming. Above all, you need to determine ahead of time how much land you are looking to purchase to suit your needs.
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How Much Land Do You Need For A Farm?
The exact amount of land you need depends on your type of farm. Some examples include chickens, cows, pigs, or produce. Naturally, a cattle farm will require a lot more land than that of a chicken farm, but that also is dependent on how many animals/how much produce you can handle.
The rule of thumb for cattle is one cow per two acres, while chickens are seventy-eighty chickens per acre, and pigs are about ten per acre. For produce, a small orchard requires a minimum of five acres, while the sky is the limit with a vegetable farm.
The answer to how much land you need for a farm is all dependent on what you are planning to raise and/or grow. We recommend aiming for at least 5 acres of land to build a self-sufficient farm.
For a mixed farm meant for the self-sufficiency of a family, ten acres is enough to provide for the family as well as provide a profit; five acres is still plenty for a family to practice self-sufficiency.
Some families build their homesteads on one acre of land, although these plans exclude owning cattle. A popular alternative is dairy goats; the milk produced by goats is unique but still a healthy drink, and the goats themselves make great pets.
Buying an existing farm can be difficult if you haven’t managed a farm before as getting into the routine may take some time.
You may also find you need more help, which doesn’t come easily or quickly, so you could be really working overtime for a while before having relief. Don’t forget: owning a farm is a 24/7 gig, there are no weekends or holidays, and farm work doesn’t take a sick day.
That’s why it’s recommended that you build your own farm to fit your lifestyle. Start small, usually with produce since it requires the least amount of attention, and begin to add larger items or more fruits/vegetables.
You’ll want to use at least one year to focus on growing various fruits and vegetables if you haven’t had much experience growing on a larger scale, such as with your mini-farm.
It’s important to slowly master tasks over time rather than to be thrown into everything at once, that way you can really give yourself a chance at succeeding. Even if you plan on having a larger farm, say, twenty acres or so, it’s still important to start slowly.
How Much Does A Farm Cost?
That greatly depends on the size and location of the farm. The average cost of an existing ranch or farm ranging from 50 to 100 acres in Upstate, NY is $693,175.00. You can compare this to the cost of just 100 acres of land without any farming equipment or buildings included is closer to $319,000.00.
On the west side, a California farm of the same caliber averages $954,000.00, and that’s often without the farm equipment included.
What Can You Do With One Acre Of Land?
Forget about owning a cow on one acre of land; that’s just not fair to a cow. Try a couple of pigs in a pen instead; piglets will be full-grown after six to eight months.
They are a lot of work, require specific housing (to keep them contained), and sometimes eat more than they are worth. The wise direction would be to allow your pigs to free-range as much as possible and recycle all your table scraps for them.
Raising pigs for profit is not profitable on a small scale; you would be raising them to provide for your own needs.
The amount of food they consume is more than the cost of selling a pig wholesale, not to mention the hard work involved in tending to pigs.
Dairy goats are a great alternative to owning a cow; not only do you gain the benefit of the milk, but you’re dealing with a much smaller animal.
If you decide to choose the Nigerian Dwarf Goats, you’ve chosen not only one of the cutest goats but also one of the easiest to maintain and they produce the highest butterfat among goat breeds.
You can accommodate six to ten goats on an acre of land, depending on the amount of space that is available for food for the goats. If you choose the Nigerian Dwarf Goats, you can have closer to twelve or fifteen, since they are so much smaller.
No matter which route you go, be sure that your goats are getting the varied diet they require, and not just eating the weeds and
Chickens are the ideal farm animal as they are easy to tend to, they provide eggs regularly, and meat at one point. There is nothing quite like farm fresh eggs!
Their poop also makes excellent fertilizer; some people will rotate their chickens’ pens in order to spread the love of the chicken poop. This method also allows for the chickens to eat a variety of foods and to have a constant supply of fresh greens with every new location.
Consider your chickens as a free weeding service too; you can create a movable cage or bird track so that the chickens have access to the outskirts of your garden, or perhaps have access to your house sides, where weeds often hide.
Chickens will eat away dandelions and pricker plants, all sorts of different weeds that plug up your garden and yard.
There is no minimum on growing fruits or vegetables; if you’re looking to grow a producing orchard, you need about five acres. Otherwise, any amount of land will do to start growing vegetables.
Most farmers don’t just grow for their family’s needs, but also to feed the rest of the farm, such as chickens and pigs.
Beekeeping has become a popular hobby among folks these days, especially with the fear of losing our little flying pollinators. Beekeeping enthusiasts are often excited to share their first jar of honey, which often took them two years to get.
Not many people realize that it takes a while for a bee colony to become established; they need to be able to regularly produce more than enough food for themselves to survive the winter, and then you can take the surplus.
It takes longers to reach that period than some people realize, and you would also benefit from having more than one hive at a time.
A unique farming method is building a mini-fishery in a small barn or large shed. There are plenty of simple tank systems you can set up in order to have room to house multiple cycles of fish going a the same time.
Rainbow trout is a popular northern fish due to its need for cold winters, which it will certainly get in some of the more northern states.
Another benefit to having fish is the wastewater; it’s the perfect fertilizer for your gardens, no matter what you are growing. You can even use the dirty fish water from your fishtanks at home!
Next time you go to clean your fish tank, dump the dirty water into some of your indoor plants if you have them. You can always dump it out in the garden but either way, don’t let it go to waste by dumping it down the drain!
Maple trees are a fun way to start the fall season; learning to clean and prepare maple syrup is an art in itself. Maple tapping is easy, and a great way for extra income if you have enough trees.
You really have to have a growing field of at least ten adult maple trees in order to reap the benefits of this sweet tree, and that’s just to fill one bottle!
The easiest of all farming hobbies can start right in your own kitchen with a herb garden. You can literally grow herbs from your window sill, although you would do well to have actual plants out in your garden.
There is just something about the fresh air and direct sunlight that really adds to the flavor. The maintenance is also much easier when compared to animals.
Microgreens are becoming a popular hobby. Enthusiasts are growing broccoli and alfalfa sprouts galore in order to reap the benefits these tiny nutrient factories pack.
Add a variety of shoots and microgreens to your salads, soups, and sandwiches, keeping them raw to gain the most out of the microgreens.
Another bird of choice is the turkey because they don’t need incredibly large living space. However, they will take up a chunk of land to graze on.
A turkey isn’t for everybody, but some people actually enjoy them as pets due to their intelligence and friendly nature. You can keep this bird around for one year or a few years, it’s all up to you.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling