Overview

Small farms can have as little land as one acre for specialty farms. Small livestock farms will have fewer animals and less grazing land. Many of these farms have family that run the farm, but they may also hire seasonal employees for their busy times.

An illustrated farmer holds a basket of vegetables including carrots, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Small farms may be as small as one acre for a specialty farm.

Farming Practices

Small farms have to do things on a smaller scale than large farms. They typically cannot afford to buy the most advanced technology or hire a lot of employees. They have to plan and save for major equipment purchases and hire employees during their busiest seasons. Sometimes this means that certain tasks take longer for smaller farms because their methods include a lot of manual labour and equipment that may be a bit dated.

A small farm that has livestock will be busy with calving around February and March. This means that the farmer will be checking on the cows multiple times during the day and night to see if any of them require assistance while they are in labour. Other livestock chores are done everyday such as feeding the livestock, checking their water supply, and making sure they have a clean environment to live in.

An illustrated farmer shines a flashlight into the cow pen at nighttime.

This farmer is checking cows during the night to see if any cows are in labour and needing assistance.

In the spring, farmers plant the crops, which is sometimes done by hand if it is a specialty crop that there is not equipment for. They may have equipment for common field crops in Saskatchewan that work for seasonal farms as well. Seasonal employees are hired for the busy seasons, which often includes spring seeding.

A woman wearing a hat, jeans, and work boots kneels and pulls plants through black plastic so that weeds can’t come up around the plants.

Seeding time is busy on many small farms, so seasonal employees are often required.

In the summer, farmers are busy with weeding or spraying for weeds and monitoring for pests, such as insects and diseases. If this is a slower time for the farm, seasonal employees may not be working during this time. Feed for livestock is grown over the summer to feed to the animals in the winter.

A green tractor is pulling a baler that is completing and kicking a bale out into the field.

Bales are made during the summer to feed to livestock in the winter.

Winter is the time for selling and hauling grain, caring for the livestock, and planning for next year.

An illustrated green tractor with a front-end loader is being used to haul a bale out to a feeder that is in a snowy pasture with a brown cow standing next to it.

This farmer is feeding livestock during the winter using a tractor and front-end loader.

An illustrated young farmer is standing in front of his herd of cows.

Small farms in Canada are on the rise, partly due to the large amount of capital it takes to get into large-scale farming. These small farms have the flexibility to sell unique products that large farms aren’t selling.