Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by beginnerfarmer, Jan 4, 2006.
I am wondering what would be a better animal, for a small farm?
I guess that depends on what small is for one thing.
Also, is this just for your own use or do you want to raise livestock for sale?
I know that the pig was considered the most useful animal for homesteads in the pioneer days, but that was because it could fatten on what was available in the woods, etc and it was a certain supply of meat to feed the family.
Sheep have to be shorn every year, so that is something to factor in.
Which kind of goat? Meat breed or dairy?
Personally, if I ever get around to turning our family's farm into a homestead once I figure out what I'm doing with college, my dream is to raise Icelandic Sheep. They are a triple-purpose animal - wool, meat, and dairy. Of course, I would also want to raise either a smaller breed of pig or just a handful of the larger pigs, as I am a fanatic when it comes to really any sort of pig meat - ham and bacon are never safe from me.
I've never worked directly with Icelandics, but what I've read has really interested me. Perhaps you could do a web search?
The drawback with sheep, is the shearing. The wool hardly will pay to have them shorn. Goats are much more loveable and will give you milk and meat. If you don't use lard or eat meat with fat, the hog isn't much help unless you raise them to sell. That could raise you some pocket money. When you get the homestead you need to try them all eventualy so you can get a full scope on farm life. Chickens are the first thing to start with. Easy to handle, and everything tastes like chicken anyway.
When it comes to sheep, you don't have to get a wool breed, there's hair breeds as well that don't require shearing. Dorpers and Katahdins are wonderful breeds, very easy to care for and the meat is excellent.
It all depends on how small, how close other folks are to you, what type of meat you like. Would you even drink goat milk?
J D Belanger had a homestead on one acre at one time and you would be amaized what he grew there. I believe he even raised his own wheat to make his bread there.
I miss that nieve, idealistic young couple. I'll bet he does too.
I am blessed to have many of his earlier mags published right on that little one acre homestead. He was Jerry then. Deep sigh! The city sprawl pushed him out and then I think he bit off more than he could chew. He went from one acre to 80 or more ruined land and I don't think he was able to bring that land quite up to snuff. I have some missing years there so I don't know what happened exactly. Maybe the mag's success dragged him back to the sidewalks.
In my opinion it would be a goat. They are wonderful for meat, milk, and companionship. They are hardy and easy to raise. You can eat dairy goats too, you don't have to have a meat goat. Yup, goats are wonderful!!
Never had sheep, but think that goats would be your best bet. Pigs stink!, so if you have a small place, you might have others around that wouldn't really appreciate the sweet swine smell. Goats can be raised to sell, eat, and/or milk. I agree with the previous person about the chickens too, don't take up much room and will give you meat and eggs.
While we raise feeder pigs every winter, I'd never raise pigs. They get too big, and are omnivores (and the meat doesn't have to be dead when they first see it).
I agree with the hair sheep. We have a small flock of Blackbellys with a Doper / Katahdin ram. I also agree with chickens (and ducks).
I really agree with Gene Logsdon's philosophy a little of many things (and not to put all your eggs in one basket). If you have room, a couple of sheep and a couple of at least feeder calves (if not a couple of cows). I'd also add guineas to the list of p poultry. Our birds free range, and are our only insecticide. Guineas are great for ticks and chiggers, the chickens and ducks keep the fly problem down to almost like living in town.
How big a homestead do you have, and do you or your significant other have farming experience? If not, I'd suggest the poultry first, and maybe either feeder pigs or feeder calves. Start small, learn and expand when you are ready for a different animal. If you like lamb, expand into sheep, only expand into something that is something y'all will use (not something just because there appears to be a market for it or it's something everybody else has).
You also don't say what your fencing is like. Other than the poultry you'll need good fencing (or with the feeder pigs you can build a small luggable pig tractor and use them in the garden).
Another point is what ever you start with or expand into, always remember all farm animals are herd animals... you need at least 2 or 3 of something (even if you try feeders). In poultry I'd go with a minimum of 10 of what ever birds you decide to try first. (and you should eat all the males except 2 for breeding purposes)
Pigs taste the best!
I forgot to add for either sheep or goats, I'd suggest at least 3 dogs too. 2 Livestock Guardian Dogs (one already instincts reinforced or as most people would say trained, the other you will have to reinforce but like I said earlier, things do better in twos and threes - plus you can have one on duty during the day, and the other with them at night) and a herding dog. You will need help in moving the sheep (and probably the goats) where you want them. A herding dog (I prefer Border Collies) is invaluable. You might be able to get by with only the LGD's if you decide on goats (I've never had goats but they seem more tractable than sheep when I see them). Without LGD's you will lose animals (if only to "packs" of your neighbors dogs).
Pig's doin't stink, thats the smell of money. But seriously...pastured pigs smell a tiny bit (no different than a big dog) but give great meat, sausage, hams, etc. I have chickens (meat and egg layers)..very easy to manage. Pigs..easy but you need to have good confinement (i.e. electric fence). I'm looking at goats (dairy) and maybe a cow. I agree with th e others in having a few and see what you like. I like sausage and pork, so I'm willing to put up with abit until butchering time. Kids will eat fried chicken faster than I can raise it. Just my .02 worth.
I can tell you what we've done.
First, I'd start with chickens. They're cheap, easy to care for, give a great return on investment with eggs and meat. They're a good animal to "learn" with because they're pretty forgiving and if you do lose a couple you're not out a whole lot a money.
If you can put up a good fence, I would move to dairy goats next. Choose a breed that can also give a decent carcass weight and you can put the cull animals in your freezer, so dual purpose again.
After you're comfortable with the goats, then maybe move on to pigs. They're pretty good moneymakers. You can raise a few a year, sell some of the meat, keep some of the meat. What you make on the sales will pay for their upkeep, so you'll have gotten your meat for free.
Sheep... ok, not to upset the sheep people, but I'd put them at the bottom of the list. They're less hardy then goats. They're difficult birthers. They're dumb. And their products don't sell all that well without some serious effort. Wool is pretty much a losing proposition, unless you spin and can do some kind of value-added operation. The spring lambs could make a little money, if you're lucky. But I personally don't want to sleep in the barn during February lambing season.
But honestly, what it comes down to is what do you want? What do you like to eat? Does your family drink a lot of milk? Eat eggs? If you're going to sell stuff, what does the market around you want? And diversify. Try them all, eventually.
Depends on use:
Poultry would be the best to start = eggs and meat with minimal care, small area needed. Bonus: They eat ticks!
For meat, a feeder pig is great, yes they smell, but they are very useful. You can put them in an area to till it up and fertilize at the same time. They clean up all leftovers/scraps--nothing is wasted when you have a pig. Another benefit of a feeder pig is in 6 months you put them in your freezer and are done with them.
Goats need good fencing, hoof care, worming, vaccinations and other care. They are very personable, though. They eat mostly browse so would be good for cleaning up an over grown area. Get = milk, meat, fiber depending on breed, and brush cleanup.
I know nothing about sheep but assume they are similar to goats but more skitish (we did have a Jacobs sheep for awhile and he was easily freaked-out). They are grazers by nature. A friend of mine just got some hair sheep, so you wouldn't have to sheer if you did not want to. Get = milk, meat, fiber, and lawn mower.
Rabbits are a good source of meat, but not everyone can do the deed. They need good cages/area to keep them in and preditors out. Care is minimal but I find they take the longest time due to individual cages. Get = meat and possibly fur/pelts. Also, very good fertilizer.
This is true..we are not sure of the breed..we just call them 'woolless' sheep.
We have two..as pets..never have to shear them..in winter their wool stays shorter than the goat hair..and then sheds itself in the spring.
Chickens and pigs have worked well for us - jury's still out on the goats. With pigs, I think it's important to know how to fully utilize their talents - JAS touched on this with the tilling/fertilizing. Time the slaughter for late November and you can use them to clean out and till your garden. Dig some 3" wide 12" deep holes around those tree stumps and they'll dig 'em out for you. And if managed properly, you won't have any strong odor from pigs. Pigs, however, once they grow out of that cute 40-100 lb range become very powerful and occasionally aggressive animals; so if you have small children they will have to always be supervised when around pigs.
Get a copy of "Small-Scale Livestock Farming" - Carol Ekarius. She explains the advantages and disadvantages of different livestock - health issues, compatability, land useage, fencing, routine daily management, being prepared for weather events and seasonal changes, pretty much all aspects of keeping and raising livestock. Her management is all pasture-based, so she also covers forages and pasture management. It's a pretty quick read and will let you sort out some of the issues that you hadn't thought about or understand fully.
I am looking at a 10 to 15 acre homesteading. I love the boar goats, I dont know much about sheep or pig breeds. I would like to raise some chickens for the meat and eggs.
If you want milk from your goats too, you can keep a few Boer/Dairy crosses. They make an excellent meat animal and give more milk than the straight Boers. I have a Boer/Oberhasli that milks like a cow. Lamancha, Saanen, Nubian....They all cross excellent with Boer. The kids grow fast and chunky, and you can milk the does if you fee like it, but you don't have too. The best of both worlds......
All of them would be great and some poultry too.If you had to choose just one of them I would go with goats for meat and milk.Or sheep if you could get some of the breeds that you can milk ,I have found them easier to keep fenced in than goats.
I like poultry & sheep myself; upkeep on sheep varies dramatically, depending on if you get 1 of the modern "improved" breeds, or an old fashioned type - a lot of the modern types have been "improved" to the extent that they have lambing difficulties, mothering difficulties, the brains selected right out of them, & fleeces are often nothing interesting. The old fashioned types are generally easy lambers, good mothers, often have unusual, in-demand type fleeces (if kept clean - don't let them get full of burrs or something), & have lively, goat-like personalities. Meat flavor varies a lot too - some breeds are quite strong tasting, others very mild - I'd try to sample some before you make up your mind. Plus, many of them can be milked, although the lactation period is not as long as goats - milk solids are higher, & sheep milk can be frozen, both good traits for cheese making. Shearing isn't a big deal - I hand shear my small flock.