Pigs and chickens have their place but if you only have room for a few animals, why not try something different?
Here are some of the most adorable — and still productive — options out there.
Swiss Valais Blacknose Sheep
Otherwise known as “the cutest sheep in the world”, the Swiss Valais Blacknose sheep has a black head and knees, long spiral horns, and curly white fur.
Sheep come from the mountains of Valais (France) or Wallis (Germany) in Switzerland and are known as a tough mountain breed.
The Valais Blacknose is a lamb that is easy to breed and is capable of producing fast growing sheep all year round.
Used for its meat and wool, adult Valais Blacknose sheep produce coarse carpet grade wool, with an average fiber of 38 microns in adult sheep.
Sheep produce wool between 28 and 30 microns, only slightly coarser than merino-cross sheep, which produce wool between 25 and 30 microns.
Male rams can range from 80kg to 130kg and up to 83cm tall, while ewes range from 70kg to 90kg and up to 78cm.
Like other sheep, the Valais Blacknose is prone to problems such as foot rot in wet climates and fly infestation in warmer areas. Their black boots also mean they tend to sweat between their toes.
Unlike some other species, however, they have a goat-like diet and, if given the choice, will often prefer the types of plants and herbs found in the mountains above the grass.
This “hard, furry, happy” organic breed hails from the Deep South, though its roots are unmistakably Scottish.
Southland organic farmer and cattle rancher Tim Gow spent 20 years perfecting the types of highland cattle he surveyed (hornless) suitable for modern times.
Native to Scotland, Highland cattle are famous for their “Harley Davidson” handlebar-shaped horns, which, despite their docile nature, make them unwelcome at the vet, on haul trucks or even at the meat processing plant.
With the help of his late uncle, Scott Dolling, a geneticist from South Australia, Gow bred horns from his highland herds.
Tufty’s trademark, rare organic cattle produce restaurant-quality beef, colorful skin and make gentle and friendly pets, according to Gow.
With very high natural immunity to parasites and disease, they are perfect for organic farming and a good choice for rough suburbs.
Alpacas and llamas
Native to South America, both alpacas and llamas are domesticated animals with a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.
Alpacas grow between 48 kilograms and 84kg while llamas are larger, weighing between 130kg and 200kg.
Alpaca fur is in great demand for use in the manufacture of luxury clothing. The fiber is soft, lightweight and low in lanolin, making it more hypoallergenic than other wools.
Alpacas need to be sheared annually and each animal can produce three to five kilograms of fiber per year.
Llamas also produce fleece, but lack the consistency and fine texture of alpaca fiber.
Alpacas and llamas are social animals, so you should get at least two to get started. Keep in mind that unneutered males are more likely to fight, and it’s best not to keep them together.
Both species can cope with dry cold weather, but neither will thrive in wet and windy areas. Even in warmer parts of the country, they will need erected trees for shelter from wind and sun, and in areas prone to snowfall, they will need sheds.