Livestock/farm animals

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by perennial, May 20, 2005.

  1. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

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    What farm animals/livestock do you think are most significant to a HS. We
    bought land, (restrictions don't say anything about livestock). I was
    thinking that have a couple of chickens and a goat someday would be good.

    You can laugh at this questions, but here goes:

    How many eggs to chickens lay a day? Do you have to have a rooster if you
    don't want any baby chickens (is there a purpose for a rooster besides that)?

    What benefits are there to have a goat? I know milk - any others? I would
    definitely get some goat milk localy to make sure my brood would drink it.

    I'll probably start with the chickens and see how i do and what the upkeep
    is like, etc. - i'm thinking about doing this perhaps in a two years.

    I'll have my garden to start next year and am going to devote my time to that
    since it will have to be started from "scratch".

    I'm going to start with one project and finish it before beginning the next.
     
  2. trixiwick

    trixiwick bunny slave

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    I'll start you off with my two cents, but I'm sure you'll get lots of input. We love to talk about our animals on this site!

    Chickens are a good start. If you get a dual-purpose breed (eggs and meat) like the Buff Orpington, you should be able to get an egg a day out of hens of the right age, and eat any roosters or non-productive hens you have. Chickens will lay regularly in the warmer/lighter months and slow down some in the winter unless you give them artificial lighting. You don't need a rooster at all unless you want babies.

    Goats are delightful, and there are plenty of breeds that will give your family enough milk to live on. You will probably want to get two, though, since goats are very social animals that need companionship. If you really don't need the milk of two does (females), you can buy a wether (a neutered male) as a companion and pet. Goats are tons of fun, and your kids will love them.

    You will, however, need to breed the female goat in order to get milk. They can be made to continue milking for a long time, but they need to have babies in order to get them to produce milk in the first place.

    If these are milk goats, you probably won't want to eat them, which is the other use. Like chickens, there are dual-purpose breeds of goat which are also good for meat, if you decide you'd like that. Then when you breed your doe, you can keep the female kids for milk and use the male ones for meat.

    If you find you like taking care of the chickens, you might want to branch out into other kinds of poultry which require similar care, like turkeys. It sounds like you're going step by step and asking the right questions. I hope you get lots more help from the folks here! Good luck.
     

  3. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    Chickens are a great way to start!
    You don't have to have a lot of them either. You can learn all you need to know by getting 3 or 4 and keeping them in a small, moveable pen.

    Remember, when you get chicks, it takes about six months before they start laying...
    Different breeds lay at different rates. If I had a hen that laid an egg a day, she would be Golden!! Mine never laid that often.

    You don't need a roo to get eggs. They say the hens are happier with one in residence. They ALSO say hens can be badgered by the rooster. So who knows? If you accidently get one among your chicks, keep him around for awhile and see for yourself.
    If you enjoy having chickens, you might be glad to have your hen raise some chicks for the next year.
     
  4. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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    Better give some thought to animal housing.

    While chickens can live outside and roost anywhere, you probably don't want them to. Mine tried to colonize the front porch, which made for some interesting moments. The goats will need a way to get out of the wind and rain.

    When it gets down to around zero, both need a place that will let their body heat keep them warm. You can build a modest barn for $500.00 or less.

    We get dual purpose out our birds. They give us the best eggs around and poop on the wheat straw, which gets recycled into the garden.

    Got dogs? You may need a fence. Our great pyrenees guards the chickens, but our huskie is just too fast to let her run free.
     
  5. trixiwick

    trixiwick bunny slave

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    Since mysticokra brought up the subject of animal housing, I thought I shouldn't be remiss by failing to also bring up the subject of fencing. Be sure you have excellent fences up before you get goats, because they love to escape!
     
  6. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Generally, if you want to have fruit trees, you can't have goats, as goats will probably get out of the fencing to eat the buds and new growth on the fruit trees. You may be able to build good enough fences to prevent this, but it may take a few years of painful experience to figure out how.

    Jim
     
  7. trixiwick

    trixiwick bunny slave

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    We do have both, and fortunately the goats have never gotten to the fruit trees. For some reason, the goats only escape when we're home, and then they just come up to the house to find us :no: . The fencing that works for us (after much trial and error) is 4" square wire fencing + electric tape inside that. It ain't cheap, but it works. And it's worth it, because I love my little orchard!

    Also, I second mysticokra on "dual purpose" also meaning using animal poop as fertilizer. Nothing beats rabbit berries!
     
  8. GoldenMom

    GoldenMom Well-Known Member

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    Like everyone said, you don't NEED a rooster for eggs, but there is nothing that sounds so "homesteady" as a crowing rooster. BTW they will crow at all hours of the day and night. Also if you only have 4-6 hens, they will get too much "use" from the rooster and you will end up with bare-backed chickens.
     
  9. leaping leon

    leaping leon Well-Known Member

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    Another factor is how much land you have. If you have less than an acre I would look at the miniature milk goat; the Nigerian Dwarf. You also might want to check out some bantamn chickens...

    The rooster situation is a gamble, sort of. We've had some roosters who took care of their hens, and some that beat up on them. Since we were breeding them and allowing our hens to raise the chicks (saves the cost of an incubator) we kept roosters. When we were in a suburb we brought our rooster in at night and kept him in a large Rubbermaid box that had about a hundred holes drilled in it, in a closet - so he wouldn't crow and wake up the neigbors (and us!) at 5:00 a.m. Roosters can be mean to people too. Mean roosters love to pick on small children, and there is a remote chance of them really hurting a child.

    I have only a little experience in goats, but she was a problem to keep penned...I finally had to tie her out on a chain, like you would a dog. Our fence presented was not even a challenge! If you do some online searching, and search the goats forum here you can find some good suggestions as to how to tie out goats and not risk them choking themselves. (I had no problem with the goat, but I had a dog that would inevitably tangle/twist/break his chain or rope and nearly hang himself. Of course, Murphy's law would decree that he would be a chicken killer, so we absolutely had to keep him tied up.)

    You might also want to consider some breeds of ducks...I believe a duck holds the record for laying the most eggs in a year.

    Which brings to mind, depending on where you're living, plan on building some predator-proof cages and figure out how to protect you goat(s) from dogs. There's hardly anything sadder than losing good layers or milkers, or chicks and kid goats to predators or dogs. One of our worst predators was our neighbor's pit bull...he could go through chicken wire in no time at all...we wrapped the chicken pen with three-foot dog-type fencing, and then he CLIMBED up and chewed through above the three-foot fence and killed four more birds! Fortunately they have moved...

    If you're looking a raising you own meat, you might want to consider raising meat-type rabbits. They're quiet and they require about the same care as chickens and live better in confinement. The only problem is that some of us get attached to them (children are worse)...but it's easier to keep that from happening if you start out with adults who are not friendly to people.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
     
  10. perennial

    perennial Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the input - i'm going to concentrate on the house first, garden
    and then maybe take a breather and learn more about what it means to have animals. Since i'm coming from a suburb, i'll see how well i can do keeping
    my cats in one piece in the country (in at night for sure)! I may find keeping
    the deer out of the garden a big enough challenge without extra animals. But i do see myself with chickens in 2-3 years.

    Thanks again.
     
  11. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

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    Perennial,
    I put human hair in the garden to keep the deer out. Chickens are fun to have . Mine freerange, but be prepared to loose some to hawks and other critters. have a coop built or a shelter for them to go in the night. Try to make it critter proof.Chickens can lay 2 or 3 eggs a day depending on breed. How many eggs do you want daily or want to eat?Roosters are good for defense purposes. they alert the hens when danger is close.
    Goats are fun to own. have a good fence. woven fence or horse fence are great. Shelter is a big thing about owning goats. they are very susecptable to drafts and cold.
    tnborn
     
  12. ThreeJane

    ThreeJane Me Love Your Face

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    Humph, just like a man. :haha:

    Perennial - I made my move a year ago, and just started out with 15 chicks, who are wildly growing beyond all bounds in the basement and hopefully (if the pen is built this weekend, in the rain), will be moved out to the yard and their coop (old metal shed).

    I'm thinking next year I"ll do the garden and possibly goats, since I'm 7 months pregnant too. :)
     
  13. Cygnet

    Cygnet Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would reccomend chickens as probably the most useful and low-cost homestead animal. Chickens need:

    1. Protection from predators. For my roosters intended for the pot, this is simply a chicken-friendly guard dog. I obtained my guard dog from the pound, but I had extensive experience with dogs and knew exactly the sort of dog I was getting before I brought him home. This won't work for everyone -- for one, it's hard finding a good dog like that. A coop may be a more practical solution. Also, chickens are messy.

    2. Protection from extremes of climate -- chickens can get frostbitten combs in cold weather and they can die in extreme heat. What sort of protection they need varies -- if you're in desert Arizona or interior Alaska, they'll need a more elaborate coop than if you're in Hawaii ...

    3. Proper nutrition. I figure it costs about $2/month to feed a chicken appropriately.

    Give them that, and protect them from disease exposure, and you have an animal that will provide meat and eggs fairly simply. On a good heritage breed (I like marans, buff orps as someone else reccomended are good also), the hens lay at about 6 months -- usually between 20 and 30 eggs a month, depending on breed, age, etc. They'll continue to lay for a few years and can be eaten when they get too old. Roosters from heritage breeds can be butchered at between five months and a year, depending on breed -- that's for dual purpose breeds, a true layer breed like a leghorn may never get enough meat on the roos for being worth butchering.

    Some breeds and some lines within some breeds are better at hatching their own chicks than others, just FYI.
    Leva
     
  14. akmyilee

    akmyilee Well-Known Member

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    I just want to say that I love posts like this, ya'll are so knowledgable. I am printing and saving and learning all the time........

    Personally I am still at the buying land stage so I have a long way to go, but it is SO exciting to learn :)