Planning for Animals on the Homestead


| 12/31/2010 7:21:09 AM


MeatChickensAs we move from Odom's Idle Acres in Barnesville, Georgia to Pink Hill, North Carolina and our own little plot of dirt, the one thing that we intend on intensifying (even while downsizing) is our goal of self-sufficiency. We're not vegans or even vegetarians so we have to think about our source for milk, eggs, and meat. Even if we were vegan though, keeping animals on our homestead would allow us natural fibers or wool to sell. Basic animal husbandry would also allow us the peace of knowing our animals were raised humanely and treated with care and and every day.

Goats 

From what I gather goats are among the most practical and versatile animals we could raise. They are small and relatively easy to handle. In fact, a single goat can produce two to four quarts of milk each day, which can simply be drunk or used to make cheese, butter, and soap. Angora goats and other long-hairs can be bred for mohair and fiber which can easily be sold or used for crafts. Did I mention goats can be raised for meat? It may sound odd if you've never tried "cabrito" or goat meat but it really is as healthy as a chicken breast with a taste like that of veal.

One thing we have to read up on is what breed is best for what use. I am not aware of a breed that produces fiber, milk, and meat. For milk we will probably look to Nubian, Saanen, or LaMancha goats while if we decided to cultivate fiber we will want to look in the Angora direction.  And while any goat can produce meat, Boer and Myotonic ("fainting") goats are the best suited for this purpose.

Poultry 



We're pretty versed in poultry since we currently raise 4 layers of chickens; hatchlings/broilers/layers/meat. And like for many neo-homesteaders, chickens are an obvious choice for us because they don't require much space and provide us with eggs and fresh meat. Once a hen's egg production has declined, she can be a great addition to the stew pot. Believe it or not (which I am sure you will if you are reading this blog), mature chickens are far more flavorful than the rapidly-fattened youngsters sold in supermarkets. Chickens aren't hard to care for, and young chicks or fertilized eggs are very inexpensive to buy.

anotherkindofdrew
1/7/2011 12:23:08 PM

@Paula - I don't name any of the animals unless I intend to keep them for the duration of their lives. I am pretty sure all of my chickens like being called "Chicky." hahahahahaha


Paula Maloney
1/7/2011 12:08:56 PM

Don't name the food, but naming the "keepers," the production moms or dads worked well for us as kids when Dad raised rabbits for food. Same for chickens, name only the ones not destined to be table food. Or just get real hard-nosed in the first place, as our ancestors did. Remember, both a goat or cow requires daily milking, and that can be a LOT of milk, even for just a goat. Can't skip even once, poor beast is uncomfortable otherwise, and production will start to drop off. I had a goat I milked for a couple of years, only break was right at kidding time, she was great. A lot of the excess became pig and chicken food (both of which will eat almost anything even spoiled to the max:)! My hands gave up before she did, tho.


Pauline Chambers
1/7/2011 10:23:53 AM

If you haven't already heard this, Nubian Boer crosses have hybrid vigor and a nice meat carcass. Get some Nubian milkers and breed them Boer. You will be surprised at how meaty they are. There are lots of Boer breeders that will let you breed your Nubians to their buck and you won't have to have a buck around.