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pet trade - fad animals

 
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has anyone considered the possiblity of raising more exotic, unique or "fad"pets to supplement their income? I am talking about things that are a little more high dollar then rodents or small birds. maybe parrots, exotic or endangered rare farm animals etc.....
 
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Rare but functionally worthwhile farm animals that are used for various purposes
food, lot clearance, manure, draft animal or just cool to look at and don't bite or kick
(stay away from burros and llamas)

Good breeds of chickens for eggs or meat - people buy hordes of these birds, in season, each and every year,
many for urban chicken raising...
 
steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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In reading the biography of Sepp Holzer I get the impression there was a point in time that he raised a lot of very interesting animals so that his land was something of a zoo.
 
                          
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Location: Northern California
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I wish I could have sugar gliders in California. I know they eat fruit, but let's face it, the little buggers are easy prey for hawks and owls and they don't breed that quickly--there's no way they'll become the next medfly or light brown apple moth!
 
pollinator
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Useful, functional farm animals rarely bring the high dollar prices.  In order to get that kind of money, you have to have top-quality animals, and be a VERY good salesman.

There are some chicken breeds that sell for quite a bit, but they tend to run in cycles, or waves.  Everyone will jump on one rare breed for a while, like the Blue-laced Red Wyandottes or the Black Copper Marans, and the prices will go sky-high for maybe two or three years until there's enough stock to meet demand, then the prices drop.  The only way to make money on something like that is to catch the wave as it starts to go up and get off it just after it peaks.  Sounds like the stock market, no?

Kathleen
 
Leah Sattler
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the key would certainly be catching and riding the trend or finding something that is rather difficult or intensive to raise and has therefore not been taken up as a business venture by every tom dick and harry.

some animals that have already gone through the trends...

pot bellied pigs
pygmy goats
various reptiles

I don't know what the status is now on hand raised parrots. For a time they were quite expensive(at a time when I had some involvment in the pet trade). they are very needy and you must adhere to strict care guidlines so not everyone is willing to invest in them and a reputable breeder had no problem finding homes for them (once again this was years ago). If I were to raise parrots I would raise pionus. They quickly became my favorite.  more quiet and sweet and low energyhttp://www.pionusparrot.com/
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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You know, one thing I should have said in my previous post:  with the economy sour and getting worse (and the possibility of total economic collapse at some point very real), I would have to say that fad livestock or pets would probably not be a really good investment at this time.  If you had been at it for a while, had good animals, and a top-notch reputation, you might be able to continue an existing business in luxury animals, because no matter what happens there will probably always be at least a few who keep their money and can afford luxury items.  But in this current economic climate, it might be better to anticipate what people are going to be NEEDING in a year or two or three, and begin raising that.  You might never make luxury prices, but you probably (if you can keep your stock from being stolen) will at least never starve, as you'd be able to trade your animals, or their produce, for other things that you'll need.  And if you can't, then you'll still never starve because you'll be able to utilize the produce of your animals yourself. 

That's my practical, common-sense answer.  I'm following my own advice, building up a stock of hardy dual-purpose chickens who haven't had all the broodiness bred out of them, and keeping my goats (I can't keep many goats because we have so little land).  Sheep, other poultry, cattle, work horses/mules/donkeys would all also be good choices.  Working dogs are not a bad choice, either, but in order for them to have much value they need to be well-bred and well-trained.  (Actually, the same could be said about the equines.)

Kathleen
 
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Location: Midwest zone 6
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Emus and alpacas... need I say more? 

Whenever the price of females is significantly higher than the price of males, a bubble is forming. 
 
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Location: Alaska
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If you want to make money you should get together with a few other farmers in other areas and pick and animal that has not had a bubble and make one. You'd need a good web designer to make a professional looking organizational page, and an investor to buy some space in the backs of magazines and google ads and then breed up a stock of these animals (don't sell them yet) and then advertise and sell for a few seasons, then move on to the next animal.
 
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Mini cows, particularly the milking kind or super toy kind are for some people  the preferred pet. Prices can be almost exhorbitant but $700 to 1000 is not unusual for a prime specimen. Mini micro pigs are a pretty intereststing pet and can go anywhere from $100 to $700 on the average..Muntjac deer, which are a tiny deer with big incisors are kept by pets as some people, $750 is not an unusual price for them---parrots are very labor intensive and not for people with respiratory problems. Get used to dusting for fleas and mites....there are various breeds of small african cat mixes and mixes with SE Asian leopard-cats. They are not considered big cats, though they are big compaired to a housecat.  There are all kinds of rodentia from Africa and South America out there, not my cup of tea but who knows one of them might catch on.....to my mind, a toy size pig, or even a dozen of them look to me like a bunch of little bulldozers that provide fertilizing as they go...you know you can get them to plow up your yard pretty good by taking a sharp spike, stabbing the lawn and throwing feed down the holes. They will seriously plow up your yard and you know I find them very intelligent and friendly.....cant make a chihuahua do that can you???
 
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Location: rainier OR
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one of the reasons I picked nigerian dwarfs as my dairy critters is that even my oversize cull kids will be well within Portland city regs that now allow "pet" goats so I have access to a growing fad market for my weathers and culls.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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brice Moss wrote:
one of the reasons I picked nigerian dwarfs as my dairy critters is that even my oversize cull kids will be well within Portland city regs that now allow "pet" goats so I have access to a growing fad market for my weathers and culls.



I will no longer sell goat kids to people who only want them for pets.  Far too often, they don't have a clue how to take care of goats.  They see an animal that is cute and will be about the same size as a dog, so they think that it will be as easy to care for as a dog.  NOT!!!  In the end, most of them end up neglected at the newness wears off, and often they die because of worms, or being fed inappropriately.  I'd much rather put my culls and excess male kids in my own freezer humanely than sell them to be treated like that.

Kathleen
 
Brice Moss
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yeah I'm bound to spend extra time selling my culls cause I'll be picky about the good home bit but spreading the love of goats is worth it
 
                                            
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Midwestherbalist wrote:
102.50 US$ for 6 eggs anyone...
Silver Sussex
http://cgi.ebay.com/6-PURE-SILVER-SUSSEX-HATCHING-EGGS-VERY-RARE-/330493540198?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4cf2f33766




they went for 159.06

I love sussex
 
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Location: West Virginia/ Dominican Republic
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I was looking at the Muntjac as a means of creating a meat on the hoof situation. In WV a non-native deer species can be sold for food and this seems like a reasonable micro livestock.  I am sure there is more money in selling as pets but I think this is a good mini livestock for small plots.
I do not know the flavor of the species but a small ruminant in a permaculture situation with possible sprouted barley as a supplement might be an option.
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I would tend to think along the lines of farm/utility animals vs pets.
PETA doesn't have enough clout (yet) to stomp you into bankruptcy.
As the economy falters, exotic pets will be in less demand, but a bread winner on the homestead will stay viable.  I have already seen an increase in draft animal sales, and a few more dollars per gallon for gas, will probably help boost their sales even more.

 
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Location: Manitoba Canada
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I have bred Ball Pythons for several years. (They are among the smallest of all pythons, and even the largest of them couldn't constrict a newborn human) They are quiet and easy to handle, so they are among the most popular reptiles on the market. A normal ball python will sell for around $50-$100, but there are many morphs, both color and pattern that sell for much more. I've sold a single hatchling for $1200. That said, they breed once a year (sometimes every other year) and have small clutches compared to other snakes. (4-12 eggs, eight being average)
The great thing is, in this economy, people are spending more time at work when they can, and need lower maintenance pets. Ball Pythons fit the bill since they only eat once a week, and cleaning is extremely quick and easy. Also, we live in an "apartment society" and most do not allow cats and dogs. People are learning that they can have an aquarium pet that they can interact with and is more interesting than a guppy!
I've never made a huge profit, but it is a hobby I love, and it pays for itself with a couple thousand extra bucks in my pocket each year.

Snakes aren't for everyone, but those that love them REALLY love them!
 
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Location: Jamberoo, NSW, Australia
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Chickens probably fit the bill, as well as some varieties of duck (e.g. Indian runners). By offering heritage breeds, you can market them as a bit of a status symbol over the run-of-the-mill production hybrids. They can be beautiful, come in lots of different shapes and sizes, and people can feel good about helping to preserve older breeds. Plus you get a steady meat supply from the young roosters that nobody wants to buy.

Rabbits and guinea pigs might also fit the bill, and there are certainly fad varieties of these. Once again, if nobody's buying you've at least got meat.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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GreenChange wrote:
Chickens probably fit the bill, as well as some varieties of duck (e.g. Indian runners). By offering heritage breeds, you can market them as a bit of a status symbol over the run-of-the-mill production hybrids. They can be beautiful, come in lots of different shapes and sizes, and people can feel good about helping to preserve older breeds. Plus you get a steady meat supply from the young roosters that nobody wants to buy.

Rabbits and guinea pigs might also fit the bill, and there are certainly fad varieties of these. Once again, if nobody's buying you've at least got meat.



I hadn't thought of them as 'fad' animals, but I'm starting to raise Mille Fleur Leghorns (chickens).  They are gorgeous and should be decent layers.  They are also a little larger than White Leghorns, so the young roosters will make okay meat birds -- will have to raise quite a few to maturity to pick out the best ones for breeding. 

Kathleen
 
                  
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Location: South Carolina Zone 8
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The whole thing with raising animals for profit is usually there is not one or at least not as much as one might think. The reason is it takes a lot of feed to keep parent animals much less raise young ones to the point of them being of a size to sell. Even with raising all your feed it is a lot of work per critter sold.

Now this does not mean that you can't catch trends on the upswing and make quite a bit however I have found trends in animals can be as fleeting as trends in clothing. To me instead of cashing in on a trend that next year (or even month) will be over I prefer to think long term steady income. The whole trick with animals pet or not is to find a niche market that is steady where you are. Here locally it seems "cottontail" rabbits (basically a domestic wild rabbit) are a steady seller and you know you can sell every one you raise for a certain price regardless. However a couple years ago "dwarf" rabbit breeds went through a trend where you could get 4-5 times as much for them so lots of folks switched to raising them. A year or so later the market was flooded and you can't give them away but cottontails still sell for the same price they were and still are selling for. The question you need to ask yourself is can I find an animal that I can get a steady income from raising them in the area where I live. Let's use another example more in the exotic pet line. I am sure everyone has heard of sugar gliders if not look them up. They were the hottest thing a while back with young ones selling for ridiculous amounts and now (at least here locally) I frequently see them free on Craigslist. The same thing happened with ferrets as well.

There have been a lot of good suggestions on animals to raise and make money off of. Keep in mind though no one knows your area better than you and those around you. Take a little time and hit a few animal auctions, check out Craigslist and your local newspaper, if there is a local pet shop stop in and see what they are selling, also don't forget the flea markets (some do not allow animal sales while others do). Do not say well this animal got a high price or sells for a high price and immediately go for it because it could have been a one time thing or the store could have had that animal for a while and need that much just to break even. Visit these places several times and look for a trend. Also talk with the people selling animals some may be tight lipped about them and others might even be interested in letting you know what they need supplied to them and you may be able to discover what to raise and sell by knowing what is needed or in demand. 
 
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