Where I currently live there aren't many restrictions on types of animals one can raise for food in the city. I don't think I could practically have cattle, but smaller animals are not a problem.

Leaving aside questions of zoning laws and the like, what sorts of animals should I be considering, assuming I can find a sustainable source of feed?


Aquaponics seems to be popular lately. The idea is to grow both vegetables and fish, using the nitrogen-rich fish water for the vegetables. This can be done very small scale and with very limited resources and has the great advantage of using the waste water for something useful. You can build the fish tanks wherever you like, around corners, up on a shelf, whatever. The bigger and intricate, the happier your fish will be. (Travis Hughey's "Barrel-Ponics" should get you going. There is a free PDF with instructions and pictures available via the linked website.)

Chicken, I would say need a garden. Rabbits and guinea pigs don't as much, but are happier with a small garden. Goats are free-minded and like to move a lot, hence need an even bigger garden, I would say.

I think it really all depends on the type of property you have available.

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    What does it take to get into aquaponics? A few good references would improve this answer – user141 Feb 6 '13 at 19:03
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    Found a reference: have a look at Travis Hughey's barrel ponics (free PDF available on the link). – Earthliŋ Feb 6 '13 at 23:09

Rabbits are a good choice if you have a garden, as most leafy vegetable greens can be fed to the rabbits. With this approach, much of the unused part of the plant can be recycled as treats/food for the rabbit. This is also true for dandelions, clover, thistles, and many other weeds that tend to pop up in gardens. You'll need to do research on this because rabbit digestive systems are sensitive and feeding them the wrong food can sometimes be fatal even if the food is not poisonous. Avoid foods that are "gassy" foods like broccoli, as rabbits do not pass gas easily and this can be an uncomfortable, sometimes fatal condition.

You can create a worm farm with their droppings. The worms will speed the composting of the droppings and provide a harvest-able and sustainable crop of earthworms as well as providing an excellent top-soil/fertilizer for your garden. The droppings can also be applied directly to your garden as fertilizer as well.

Rabbit food is relatively inexpensive and a small herd can reproduce and grow fast enough to supplement a good portion the meat needs of a small family. It is important to choose the right breed for your climate. Some rabbits do not tolerate heat well at all. Most rabbits tolerate cold so long as their water does not freeze.

The American Rabbit Breeders Association(ARBA) is a group dedicated to the promotion of domestic rabbit breeding in the US. They have many good sources of information as well as local clubs that can be a resource. While the ARBA is primarily a show rabbit organization many breeders also raise for meat and can help you get started.


poultry. if you and your family eat animal protein the rewards might be worth it.

  • I was considering this, as well as rabbits, guinea pigs, and/or goats. – Chris Travers Feb 6 '13 at 6:10
  • @ChrisTravers - Goats are hooved animals which often makes them prohibited in Urban areas. – user141 Feb 6 '13 at 16:23
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    What about expanding your answer? It's too 'dietetic'. – Peter Ivan Feb 6 '13 at 17:08
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    How is this a sustainable choice? – user141 Feb 6 '13 at 19:01
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    @DanielBingham - I never said it wasnt... but from the answer I am not sure how it is either. – user141 Feb 6 '13 at 20:18

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