Livestock can be a great deal of work and care for the livestock will be crucial in determining nutritious food or fodder for family pets.
The type of animal you choose should be based on your ability to care for the animal, to be able to breed the animal in a safe environment and will be the gold standard for your commitment to homesteading. Urban livestock is going to be a significant problem. Most cities have zoning ordinances that prohibits any type of livestock whatsoever.
Check with your local government to identify the parameters. Some of the more “low maintenance” animals (mind you, “low maintenance” does not mean “no maintenance”) for your homestead can include, but are not limited to:
Containment for rabbits can be cumbersome, particularly in regions where predatory wildlife inhabit. Once the containment and “coop” of sorts is built for the rabbits, they will consume 5lbs of feed per week – not including the fresh vegetables you feed them.
Rabbits will reproduce easily (the axiom applies) and will be a good source of food and fur for the cold winter months – which will call into question your hide tanning experience. The learning curve may be sharp, but once mastered, it will be a resource that you can use for yourself and use to barter with other homesteaders, preppers.
Building the containment area for rabbits and/or ducks will be only marginally time consuming and if the revenue is available, prefabricated shelters for poultry can be purchased and installed easily. For about a dozen ducks or chickens, the cost for feed will range from $11 to $16 per week.
One of the very unique advantages of chicken or duck on your homestead is that many of the nuisance insects can be eaten up by the fowl. In addition, well cared-for ducks and chickens can produce a significant number of eggs pretty much all year – and eggs are a very good source of protein, though the cholesterol may be a problem.
Goats are good for milk and their fibers excellent for clothing. After the initial expense of the animals themselves, a containment area on a larger scale will be necessary. Goats prefer to graze in open ranges, which will lower feed and hay costs, but the average cost per animal per week for feed and hay will be $8 to $12.
This, of course, does not include vitamin supplements, increased feed and hay costs during the colder winter months and the care required for breeding. Goats will often serve as a willing companion to a solitary horse on the property and surprisingly, can be a deterrent to some predators because of the sounds and their almost constant movement.
Other typical animals for homesteading include horses (for transport, work, etc.), cows (milk, meat), and pigs (delicious bacon and other meats and are the least expensive of the larger animals).
Cows require a great deal of space and are much higher maintenance and the feed costs can be astronomical if you don’t have large, expansive pastures for them to graze.
Pigs can be a good resource for meat and they will eat up table scraps with great joy, but care for the pigs is equally important as they are not known for being the most hygienic of livestock. Butchering a pig for meat is, however, pretty simple. Pigs will breed up to three times a year, yielding anywhere from three to six piglets. In other words, they can be quite a successful renewable resource.
Animals require much more time and if not cared for properly, they can spread disease. However, they can be a great resource. For example, a flock of well cared for chickens can keep you in eggs year ‘round and provide for a good family dinner too. During the winter months, however, they produce fewer eggs and require more feed.
Originally posted 2020-09-04 17:05:53.