A move to the country means many things to different people. One advantage to living out where the pavement ends is the ability – and freedom – to add livestock to your homesteading plans. With GRIT's latest special issue, the 2015 GRIT's Guide to Raising Farm Animals, you'll have all the information at your fingertips to help you select the right animals for your place.
Looking at poultry? Consider chickens or ducks, and how to protect them from predators. Wondering about feeding a particular type of livestock? Read more on rotational grazing, selecting hay, and making silage from lawn clippings.
Can't make up your mind? Discover the pros and cons of raising sheep, goats, pigs, dairy cattle, rabbits, and alpacas. Considering a guard animal to help protect your investment? Find reader testimonials on dogs, donkeys and llamas as guardians.
Need a shelter for your animals? Look no further; we have articles on small livestock shelters and what you'll need for a flock of sheep. The 2015 GRIT's Guide to Raising Farm Animals offers tips on keeping your animals safe during summer's heat, building the right type of fencing, and how to choose a livestock trailer. Pick up a copy of the 2015 GRIT's Guide to Raising Farm Animals today.
Click here to order.
Your slice of heaven may seem a bit too quiet after you've moved in, planted the garden, and done myriad chores around the homeplace. So you've decided to add a few furry or feathered friends to the barnyard. Consider ducks. Well-suited to the small homestead, the quack pack offers a versatile set of skills that serve multiple aspects on the family farm.
Author David Holderread lists more than a few good reasons to purchase a few of these easy-to-raise fowls: They are resistant to most diseases; adapt well to most weather conditions; and eat up a wide range of nasty pests so you won't need to resort to yucky pesticides. Read "Reasons for Raising Ducks" for more info.
Environmentalist/organic farmer/author Joel Salatin has been refining his rotational grazing methods for 30 years on his farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. He recommends a pasture management style that mimics the natural migratory-herds-on-prairie ecosystem, and offers a few guidelines in his article "Get the Lowdown on Rotational Grazing." Salatin is a frequent contributor to GRIT and our sister publication Mother Earth News, and can often be found at the Mother Earth News Fairs around the country.
The decision has been made to add a few pigs to your place. So now what do you do? For starters, read this excerpt from Philip Hasheider's book "How to Raise Pigs" and learn about all the whys and wherefores before committing to this big step.
The author takes a closer look at what you'll need: land, buildings, animals and equipment. You'll also need to take into consideration whether you'll buy or rent, and what location and size of a farm you'll need to raise pigs. Then how do you go about purchasing pigs? A lot to consider for an experienced farmer, let alone a novice. That's where Raising Pigs on Your Farm comes in. Learn more from this excerpt.
When your homestead is also home to any type of animal – poultry, sheep, goats, cattle, even horses – predators can be a problem. Consider adding another critter to the mix: Guardian animals, such as dogs, donkeys or llama, may be the answer. Certain breeds of dogs are excellent at keeping your flocks safe, and a couple of donkeys or a llama or two can accomplish the same end result. Author Vicki Mattern shares stories from readers about their homestead companions patrolling pastures and keeping predators at bay. Click here for the article.
Šarplaninacs, the dog breed shown above, are smart, strong-willed guardians requiring plenty of exercise and firm, confident masters. BELOW LEFT: With their sizable ears, donkeys have outstanding hearing for detecting disturbances. Also, like other equines, they have an acute sense of smell. BELOW RIGHT: While not as aggressive as dogs, guardian llamas have many advantages. Llamas don’t bark or jump fences, usually bond quickly with livestock, and don’t require specialized foods, because they graze on pasture.
With livestock comes the need for extras like fencing, troughs, barns, stalls. Trailers? Oh, yes, trailers. Find the right livestock trailer for all your needs with the information found in Faith Schlabach's article "Livestock Trailers: How to Choose." Her personal experience with different types of trailers for hauling her horses provides insight into the world of hauling animals. For instance, would you have considered the wind drag on a potential trailer? Faith and her husband didn't on the second trailer they purchased. Keep that in mind when you start your search. Learn more here.