Dogs and cats are the most common pets we usually keep at home and give access to our garden. This year, our garden experts are encouraging home gardeners to consider other animals that mostly enjoy life outdoors.
From geese and chickens to goats and even bees, these animals — both domestic and wild — are great to consider for keeping outdoors.
In fact, domestic animals such as rabbits and beneficial insects like bees can help combat pests and keep your garden healthy. Moreover, keeping chickens and goats on your property can be very rewarding, particularly when they start to produce eggs or milk.
Our garden experts have researched the top five animals that are worthy of a spot in your garden space.
Top Five Animals You Can Keep in Your Garden
Each of the animals we’ve identified can be kept in suitably sized gardens with some form of shelter like a shed. But always do your research and make sure you can provide adequate care before bringing any animals home.
Now, let’s get started!
Though geese are renowned as excellent watchdogs, certain breeds can actually be quite affectionate. No wonder why many geese owners get attached to them.
Fun fact: the majority of a goose’s diet is grass, which makes them a great addition to your garden — keeping your lawn well-trimmed.
A quarter of an acre of grass would be enough to provide for a pair of geese. In addition, they don’t require expensive accommodation, e.g. nest boxes, barricade with added electric fence wires or perches built-in. So an old shed will do, providing it has ventilation.
There’s no need to build a pond for them either as they only spend around 10% of their time in the water. A plastic tub or child’s sandpit tub will suffice.
Often referred to as the “gateway livestock”, chickens are small and easy to care for, making them ideal for beginners.
Keeping them in your yard will also supply you with fresh eggs. Their manure can be composted, making it an excellent fertilizer for your garden, flowers, trees, shrubs, and lawns.
They also combat pests like ticks, too! Moreover, they polish off kitchen scraps on the ground, making them perfect for waste control.
You can keep a flock of three hens in a small 5-foot x 8-foot space, providing your family with at least a dozen eggs a week. As for the maintenance, simply make sure they have enough fresh water, food and clean shelter.
But keep in mind that predators such as foxes can be a big threat to your poultry. So provide them with a secure and robust house for the night-time, surrounded by a high fence that is buried approximately 46cm/18 in.
After the initial investment of the hive and other beekeeping equipment, bees are actually cheaper to keep than most other animals. Typically, all you’ll have to provide is sugar water as a back-up food source for them.
They’re low maintenance too as they only require a couple of monthly hive checks and a few in-depth inspections per year.
Bonus: from just one hive, you can expect about 20-30 pounds of honey a year. And at the same time, bees will spend most of their time pollinating the flowers in your garden. Win-win!
Pygmy and dwarf goats are perfectly packaged for backyard living. Although they only grow to about half the size of a normal goat breed, the good thing is you don’t have to set up a massive area for them. A 15-foot x 25-foot space is more than enough for a pair of mini goats.
They are a little cheeky and adventurous though, so make sure to build solid fencing to keep them in. During rainy days and cold months, it is also important to keep them warm and safe. Getting them an outdoor building will do the work.
Note: It’s also worth noting that they eat anything and everything, therefore should be kept well out of reach of prized plants.
Setting up an aviary outdoors is an excellent option if you don’t have enough space to let chickens or geese roam around your yard space.
Lovebirds, budgies, finches and quails are some of the variety of species that can live your aviary quite happily together. At the same time, they will benefit from colossal space, fresh air and sunlight.
But keep in mind that some bird species can be aggressive or over-stressed when the aviary is overcrowded. This is why the size of your bird sanctuary should only depend on the maximum number of birds you can accommodate. Usually, you need at least 12cm of aviary length per finch, with a width measuring at least half the distance.
A perfect alternative for setting up a bird room is a shed or any type of garden building that can give the dual advantage of a dedicated space for them, and a reasonable degree of protection from the weather.