suggestions for livestock for small farm

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by shoofly, May 25, 2005.

  1. shoofly

    shoofly Active Member

    May 25, 2005
    my husband and i have moved onto an old family farm that has about a five acre pasture. there have been no animals in the pasture for quite some time, and parts of it are now overrun by trees and briars.

    we are hoping over the next few years to clear the land and restore it to it's original pasture status, and are trying to figure out what type of animals might be best to put in the pasture after it is cleared. we are relatively new to raising livestock, and are trying to learn as much as we can right now. ideally, we would like animals that are:

    - relatively easy for less-experienced people to keep

    - good around kids

    - possibly something that could generate at least a small income

    we plan to start out with a small number of whatever animal we decide on, and as we learn more and become more experienced decide whether or not to increase their numbers.

    any suggestions/ideas? thanks so much!
  2. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 3, 2004
    Hill Country, Texas

  3. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    got a good fence get some goats in there help clear it
  4. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
    Where are you? Are predators a problem? Are neighors a problem? Are dogs a problem? Do you have any shelter? Is water accessible? Is noise a problem? Do you have adequate fencing? Is the potential smell a problem? Will the livestock have daily supervision? Are you prepared for the "worst case scenario"-losing your livestock investment to theft, predation, attrition, acts of God, bad luck, etc, having to part with them when their uselfulness is up, having to kill them when butchering is necessary, having to incur vet bills to keep them healthy or when they get sick, having to dispose of their carcasses if necessary?

    These are but a few of the questions you should ask yourself before committing to livestock. Livestock aren't just cheap lawnmowers, ask anyone whose had 'em.

    Anything from geese, ducks, free range chickens. hogs, goats, sheep, cattle, etc may fit your needs and fulfill your requirements.
  5. papaw

    papaw Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2005
    Start with brush goats and then move into meat goats ...
  6. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 23, 2003
    Pros: Mail order, very self sufficient, easily handled, can be marketed, tasty.
    Cons: Predators, not always friendly, marketing.

    Pros: Inexpensive, tasty, can be marketed, somewhat self sufficient.
    Cons: Marketing, sheltering, shearing, transporting, predators

    Pros: Very self sufficient, easily marketed, tasty.
    Cons: Fencing, transporting, possibly cost.

    Pros: Predator-proof, easily fenced, marketable, tasty.
    Cons: Size, cost.

    Small poultry
    Pros: Cheap, tasty, easily handled.
    Cons: Predators, fencing, shelter, marketing.

    Pros: Varies
    Cons: Marketing, cost.
  7. shoofly

    shoofly Active Member

    May 25, 2005
    thanks so much for your suggestions so far! and thanks for the list of questions to consider - here is a little more info about our property, if it helps:

    we are in the northeast, and have a small barn and small chickenhouse in pretty good condition. when i was young, there were cows and later horses in the pasture (though it was about fifteen acres at that time - horses live on the additional acreage now, which we do not own). there is a fence now, but it is in bad shape and we will have to redo it regardless of the livestock we put in there. there is a natural spring that has always provided water for the livestock.

    hope this helps with the suggestions, and thanks again!!!!
  8. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 24, 2003
    My Nubian goats have recovered a 1/2 acre pasture from not being able to see the fence on the far side to what some people call more suitable to a cow or sheep.
    And my youngest child has played in the barn/pasture since she could walk with no problems. A 10 yo child can actually take care of a small herd of goats and be taught to milk and shovel poop given enough motivation :haha:
    Chickens can also be taken care of quite easily.

    Rabbits...meat and pets.

    Keep it fun, dont overburden yourself with chores and realize animals are a daily committment.
  9. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    A couple of goats and a couple of sheep. See how you like them before buying more. If there is a market for spinning fleece, get some sheep with real nice wool, otherwise, look into a hair breed so you don't have to worry about shearing. Wool sheep do not need shelter in the winter, but they do need shade in the summer. You can buy baby meat goats and meat sheep, run them on pasture all summer, then butcher them when it's time to buy hay. Generally, you can put six sheep or goats to an acre, but since you have all that brush, you will need to have fewer. Look into rotational grazing.

    You will need a few chickens for bug patrol and eggs. You may even like to raise your own meat birds. At night, the chickens (ducks, turkeys) will need to be behind electric fencing. In some areas, they need to be behind el fencing all day as well.
  10. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Some states, like Texas, have available and reliable markets for goats. Others, like Iowa, you cannot GIVE them away!

    But, since goats LOVE the tender young shoots of trees, you might look into the goat market in your area. Goats really enjoy a brushy pasture.

    Bees are ALSO a good choice for a small acrage, but there should be a fence between the hives and the livestock. On hot days, livestock have been known to use hives as scratching posts. Even a good tempered hive will resent having its home tipped over and stepped on by a large, hairy item. :no: