small livestock farm layout

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by shadowfax, May 17, 2004.

  1. shadowfax

    shadowfax Member

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    I am starting a small farm for myself (expecting enough excess to get a little cash) on a small island of Washington in the San Juans without electricity or running water. It is about 40 wooded acres. I have a big one-room cabin with propane a propane stove and refrigerator/freezer. We have a fairly new and productive well on our property, and there is a natural spring running through it too. The contours of the land slope some but aren't steep, and covering the ground is Salal, stinging nettles, and a little grass.
    I do not wish to clear more than 1 or 2 acres of land for the following animals: Dairy Cow (only one but will have a calf every year), Icelandic Sheep (2 ewes, 1 ram), Geese (5 or 6), Ducks (5 or six), Chickens (5 laying (Leghorn) 10 meat (Orpington)) , 5-10 Pheasant (Chinese Ringneck), 5-10 Purple Guinees, Rabbits (room for around 10 New Zealand does and bucks), and one male and one female Belgian Landrace pigs.
    I gather Icelandic Sheep will graze on underbrush just as happily as grass, so I think they could have a fenced grazing area that extends into the woods. I will be possible to dig a small pond for the waterfowl which, with a dividing fence, could also be the water source for the cows, swine, and/or sheep. I think the Cow (a Dexter) would not be allowed much grazing.
    So! What are people's suggestions for the layout of this operation? Which animals can mix? Which would most benefit from roaming, which could be caged?
     
  2. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    Get John Seymour's "The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It." There's a wonderful illustration spread in there that is just what you're looking for. He has both a one acre model and a 5 acre model. Think of it as a blueprint.
    The book's about $35 new, but it's one of the best investments you can make for brainstorming and getting excited about your homestead.
     

  3. well how do you plan to get your cow bred every year.You should plan on getting a bull ,some people are wary to breed other peoples cows due to certain health risks.Pinkeye,VD to name a few.I have Dexters and i didnt really plan for the breeding of them when i purchased them.One of the main reason we have dexters is because of calving ease and to put a bigger bull on one can upset that valuable trait.Good luck.
     
  4. CJ

    CJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I love the farm layout plans in the old "Have More" book. If we were starting from scratch I'd model very close to it!
     
  5. snoozy

    snoozy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Which island? (We're over north of Poulsbo on the Kitsap Penninsula.)
     
  6. shadowfax

    shadowfax Member

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    Waldron Island
     
  7. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    i think you might want to think about A. I. for the hogs that way you can get 2 sows and on the cow if you use A. I. you can pick your bull for less than about $50.00 each breeding, thats cheaper than carrying a male to breed 1 animal.
     
  8. shadowfax

    shadowfax Member

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    It is a good point about corrupting the small and gentle Dexter with a different breed Bull. A.I. intriques me. Can you pick which breed and other specs of the male donor? I'd be curious to the websites of suppliers or general information on the subject for both pigs and cows.
     
  9. If you are the only one on the island and it is only 40 acres, I'd fence out rather than fence in and let them roam. A whole lot less fencing that way, just fence out of the garden
     
  10. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

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    The sheep will eat the salal, but not the fresh nettles. However, they will eat the nettles if you pull them out and hang them on a field fence to dry. Very nutritious for them as well! DH and I just bought a large chunk of land near Quilcene and will be off the grid when we move there too! However, we'll have more predators to worry about than you. :rolleyes: We're working on designing our layout as well, but plan to have more land cleared for more pasture as we have about 20 sheep and hope to get a few dexters and some horses as well.
     
  11. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    All those animals will turn your pond into muck in short order. Cows wade, pigs wallow and I'm not sure what sheep do. Waterfowl also muck up ponds.

    Check on how many ducks/geese per acre of pond surface and plan accordingly. Dig a small finger for the other animals to access the water (fence off the rest), but you will have to re-dig it often to keep it half way clean. Rip-rap on the banks will help alot.

    If there's no grass for your cow, do you plan on feeding hay or other feeds? It would seem that getting hay to an island would be rather expensive, but I have no idea :)

    Jena
     
  12. Gercarson

    Gercarson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    shadowfax - talk to your county extension agent about AI - imho it is the only way to go at this point. Yes, you will have many options and your "bull" (ai guy) will/should be a major source of information concerning the appropriate breed for your livestock. You got some good advice from James.
     
  13. My luck with getting an A.I. Tech has not been good most dont want to run all over the place for 2 or 3 cows.Also if i am correct you have to use some kind of drug to induce heat when using A.I.
    I drive past hundreds of cows every day but have not been able to find someone to do A.I. at this point.If i am correct you mentioned an island,and while i dont know anything about that location i suspect it would be even harder to locate someone to do A.I.
     
  14. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    AI for sheep is a tech's, well paid job but if you can rent a ram, do so or buy a ram lamb and butcher him after he's bred the ewes. James is right the males of the operation are all expense. (BTW the sheep will avoid your wet spots as if they were acid pits) The sheep will browse but only after they have eaten the best forage first, your cow may starve if penned in close proximity on limited range with the sheep. I would think on an island your layout will center on the arrival/departure point, and all relavent points will be as short a distance as possible from there. For example it makes sence to position your clean drinking water in a central location close to that area, so the animals collect near the loading dock. You'll want to feed there too so the hauling of feed and suppliment is limited. That said locate your house upwind and on higher ground than the livestock area. Try to imagine how much walking you'll have to do to get things done.
     
  15. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just a thought to consider. I have had Orphingtons for years and they are fantantic egg layers. Mine lay all winter, even at 20 below, and they are wonderful setters/mothers that will guarentee you more chicks every year if you need/want. Just cull out the roosters for the freezer, but keep the biggest, gentlest as the "daddy". That way you wouldn't have to buy meat chickens every year, nor egg layers. Another thought is that goats love nettles, will eat underbrush before grass, produce milk, cheese, and meat, and are funner than sheep. If you are looking at producing fiber from the sheep you can get fiber goats for an additional bonus to the food. then you wouldn't need the cow/calf/bull situation. I second the recommendation concerning Seymour's book. It's fantastic. You might be able to get a copy on e-bay. Also. if you don't have really good grass pasture 1-2 acres will hardly do for a cow/calf and you will need some sort of sheltered area/building to use for milking. No fun doing it twice a day in the rain - it dilutes the milk not to mention making your fingers cold and stiff, and animals produce lots better with shelter from really bad, rough weather especially in the rainy, chilly, windy winters. Cuts down on illness and feed waste.
     
  16. SueD

    SueD Well-Known Member

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    I have another book idea, and I found it at the library, so maybe your's has a copy or can get one... Its called "Country Life: A Handbook for Realists and Dreamers" by Paul Heiney, DK Publishing, 1998.

    It was a fun, fast read, with lots of photos, ideas, and a layout for several sized places. Written by a Brit, transplanted to somewhere in the US. Also gives some info on mechanized versus horse and hand farming.

    BEFORE you clear the land..... Check with some herb places, like San Fransisco Herbs about those nettles. You might have a cash crop there - better to get paid to get rid of it than to just dump it all!! (I can't stand them, myself, but it would still be better to be paid depending on what they want you to do with it before they would buy it... can't hurt to check.)

    Sue
     
  17. jassytoo

    jassytoo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We live on the Whatcom- Skagit county border. Waldon is very pretty but quite cut off if I remember rightly. If you are interested in finding out about AI try calling All West-Select Sires in Burlington. The address is 450 N.Hill Blvd., Burlington. Tel. 360-757-0928. Its probably about the closest AI place to you unless there is one on the peninsular thats nearer. They are not far from the ferry terminal in Anacortes. How come so many rabbits? Are you planing on selling them? 2 does and 1 buck will produce more than enough meat for the average family.
     
  18. Zuiko

    Zuiko Well-Known Member

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    Buying a calf each year would be another possibility. Are you the only person on the island? Is their a bridge their, I assume their would be but...? I havent done it but if you have nice pasture, a lot of people say if it can feed a cow, it can feed a cow and a sheep. Also if you were to have goats, as somebody suggested, they could slowly expand your pasture. I also read somewhere that goats, pigs, sheep, and cows make a good team and making/managing grass land. I am planning on doing this at our place. Does anybody know how much lamb meat is like gyro meat? I love gyro meat, but I havent had lamb besides that, atleast not that I remember. Also, Is goat meat similar? More like pork maybe? I want goats, mostly for satisfaction of raising animals, but also it seems many people use them for meat. Are their people who custom process them, or would pig/cow people do that?
     
  19. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To my taste buds goat meat (chevron) is a lot like pork in texture. Most processors will do goats, but you may have to make an appointment ahead of time. It's not hard to do it yourself if you do deer or elk. Same process, same cuts of meat. Dairy goats are not really good to eat as they are primarily built for milk production. There are several breeds of meat goats now available and you do get a goodly amount of meat from them, usually 1/3 or more than from a daily goat. Best bet is get a dairy/meat cross. I prefer Boer/Nubian cross myself. There is an Amish group in the eastern part of SD that sells chevron at $10/pound! I love being able to eat gourmet at very little cost!!