Cheapest way to raise meat to eat


Queen Filksinger
Dec 3, 2009
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So what do we think it is?

I raise chickens, ducks and goats, although the goats are for milk and cheese, not meat. I'm not sure it is cheaper than meat from the store however although it is much better.

We are still buying a lot of meat at the store, we cannot even begin to keep up. We are not interested in pigs, but other than that I'm pretty open. We don't have huge pasture either to raise cattle.

I'd like to find ways of being self sufficient that actually save me money as well.

Fish in a barrel? I'm a little fussy about which type of fish I eat but I'm willing to try. Salmon, halibut and shellfish are the flavors we enjoy. I don't think you can raise any of them in a barrel.

We looked into rabbits but they seem to do a lot of burrowing and escaping so we would have to purchase food to bring to them?

Am I missing any ideas here?


Super Self-Sufficient
Sep 12, 2008
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NOT Southern, Ca. :)
First off I hove no experience raising meat for my family. Still something on my list to do.

The problem I see you having is, the meat you like you don't have room for and the meat you have room for you don't like.

I think either you will need to keep buying and bringing it in or change your eating habits.

:idunno Just my .02


I hope that did not sound to blunt!!


Almost Self-Reliant
Nov 2, 2009
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North Central Ohio
I would say find a farmer who raises the kind of meat you like and then buy from them. It won't be cheaper but it will be healthier.


Sipping Bacon Martinis
Aug 18, 2009
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yep what K said. especially if you are starting out.**

that being said...

wow we raise our pigs cheaply. but we have a ton of "free" stuff - eggs, milk, garden stuff, friends who let us glean from their orchards and fields..and all the free ranging.

we think we did ok with the meat chickens - considering a cut up chicken in the store is about $10. and we finished them cheaply the last couple weeks (on corn and milk).

we found the food value for our meat turkeys to be pretty high. but then the local grocery stores had price wars and we got several frozen 17 lbs commercially raised turks for $5!!! FIVE DOLLARS. you cant even buy a poult for $5.

you might want to see if you can get half a pig or cow from a local butcher.

and i think countryside recently had an article on farm raised fish. but no i dont think you can raise a halibut in a barrel

thats my $0.02. when we were where you are we stood in Sams Club and looked around at everything that we bought. then we went and raised that. sometimes you have to 'eat what you grow' more than 'grow what you eat' - but you'll get there. the first year we had pigs The Big Man would come home and say "whats for dinner" knowing full well i'd say "Pork!" ha!


** unless, of course, you are a type A overachiever like me then just go and get a pig and dont think about it too much and figure it out as you go. but there is a lot of swearing involved that way. most folks get frustrated if they take on too much at the beginning..which is why K and i are cautionary.


Crazy Cat Lady
Jul 13, 2008
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Ontario, Canada
Ideal situation would be either to hunt deer in a deer-plentiful area, or to have something you can barter for a side of beef or pork.

Chicken (real chicken, not cornishX) raised primarily on what they can rustle up for themselves free-ranging is also reasonably economical if you are hatching your own chicks and IF (big if) you have a fairly predatorproof or low-predation-pressure place FOR them to free range. However you have to kill/gut a LOT of chickens for the same number of meals you get offa one deer or beef :p



Mountain Sage
Jul 12, 2008
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Mountains of WV
I believe the cheapest way is to stack species, ala Salatin. If you don't have much pasture, then small herd animals are the way to go. Hair sheep are low maintenance and more proliferant than the average woolly breed. They require little feed if you go with pasture only...meaning grass in season and hay in winter.

Then you could concentrate on something that produces many offspring that matures quickly into meat....rabbits are a great way to go. Low maintenance, cheap to feed, produce rapidly and don't require butchering fees to process~easy to do at home.

You can keep your rabbits over a flock of dual purpose chickens and let the chickens give you steady protein in the form of eggs while also reproducing themselves in the form of replacement hens and extra roos.

This is the cheapest and most renewable source of meats on a small acreage. Buying a beef yields much meat...but then you have to buy another to replenish...and then another. If you want to avoid that big expense each time you could raise a cheaper species that reproduces and pays for itself over and over. And fees for butchering~all these species can be processed at home and easily canned, frozen, etc.

The dogs required to protect these animals from predators can double as home security and companions and can be fed on the scraps of your processing~heck, you could produce as many rabbits as these dogs could ever eat with a good rabbitry. The eggs also make a good supplement for their feed. These dogs can be found free or very cheap if you are looking in the right places and keep your ear to the ground.


City Biddy
Aug 6, 2008
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Missouri USA
I have developed a network of farmers over the years that believe much as I do about how to raise an animal and usually buy my meat on the hoof from them. They then deliver the animal for me to the local small butcher shop and I pay for the processing. Then I pick up nicely wrapped meat and fill my freezer. It is a good half way option. I do it primarily because of a lack of space to raise my own.

I also will second the hair sheep idea. Sheep are an under used and under valued animal in this country. If you already have goats, sheep would poise no problems.

Shiloh Acres

Lovin' The Homestead
Jun 30, 2010
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I second the breed your own free range chicken. Rabbits also a great feed conversion. I raise mine in cages tho. Otherwise I'm sure there would be escapees.

I'm also raising geese for meat. They need a little starter, but mostly they are grazers and can be raised on pasture. They also make great use of veggie scraps. They require feed in winter if you are carrying over breeders, which is the only way to make it truly economical. Goslings will be cared for by parents -- they even foster pretty well.

I also agree with buying meat someone else has raised. Cows are a freezer full and sometimes it's not hard to find someone who raised a cow who wants to split meat and processing costs. Around here it's about $1 a pound plus split processing.

Much of it doesn't save money over the cheapest grocery store prices (I know how to get meat cheap around here and stock up on it) but ... You definitely get BETTER food, and for a lower cost than that quality would cost you. I can get cheap chicken breast for $1 a pound. My chicken costs around $2 a pound to raise. Organic free range chicken costs $8 a pound though.

Mostly it's just what I WANT to do. :)


Super Self-Sufficient
Jul 21, 2008
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no big pasture for cattle
you already eat ur chickens and ducks
you haven't processed a goat yet --would you eat a sheep you raise?

not interested in hogs? you don't eat pork? cause one hog to raise is very easy and a short time to get to slaughter time and puts ALOT of meats in the freezer.

no fish in a barrel lol

hunt and fish is the option
share 1/2 a beef with someone and stock the freezer
many custom processors can easily make accomdations for you---just call and see how they work and what options to purchase beef is available

other types of birds? quail etc?

caged rabbits? they are delish and is more costly to buy hay and feed for them until processing. you gotta love rabbit lol

Tony is dove hunting right now. Musket season is opening in a week and he just got a new musket and is itching to try it out lol

most the meat u buy is beef probably. the option is to find that 1/2 beef and stock the freezer I guess

nah, not many options available lol