Food Self-Sufficiency System Pt.4: Livestock Options

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Livestock-option

Living off the grid on your homestead or bug out home can come with many challenges. Along with these challenges, there can be some piece of mind when you can adapt to the challenges. Livestock creates an ongoing protein food source for survival. In this article you will learn which are the most popular homestead livestock options.

Cattle

The first thing that you need to decide is whether you are going to raise dairy cattle or beef cattle. The difference is significant. Dairy cows are raised for milk and beef cows are raised for meat. Both types of cows will eat 3 to 6 percent of their body weight a day depending on if they are lactating.

If you have a healthy pasture, cattle can graze from late spring to late fall. If the field runs short of grass, you can feed them hay, grains of corn, oats wheat and barley. However, you must carefully plan to grow these winter feeding options or plan to spend significant money to buy it. Extra vitamins are also necessary to maintain the health of your herd and are also costly.

You may decide to have a few beef cows and a couple of dairy cows. With both, you can have the benefits of milk, cheese, and meat. If you decide on a dairy cow, you must be dedicated to milking her every single day, without exceptions. Investing in a proper milking machine will help you be consistent.

Each cow will need two to five acres and a sturdy six-foot-high fence. So, if your homestead is small, you may consider raising goats as an alternative.

Goats

Goats-option

Goats can be a great source of milk when you’re strapped for space. However, they are highly sensitive to wind and water quality and need shade available at all times. As with dairy cattle, dairy goats must be milked once a day, no matter what.

Goats should be fed a similar diet to cows, grazing the pasture, hay, and vitamins. They will eat two to four pounds of their body weight a day. They will drink up to three gallons of water per day unless they are grazing. If they are grazing, they are getting most of their water from the grass they eat.

They will need at least a 36 to 70 square foot covered stall. If you have more than one, which is suggested, a 70 square foot stall will be needed. Goats may take up less space than cattle, but they are very sensitive creatures.

They are also highly sensitive to poisonous plants like allspice, poppy, parsnip, hemp, stagger grass, and buckwheat. If you choose to have them as livestock, you will need to allow additional time in your schedule to care for them.

Chickens

Chickens-option

Chickens provide a good protein source. If raising chickens for eggs, you should have a steady flow of one egg each day per chicken. If you allow the chickens to roam free will help you cut down on weeds and help fertilize your garden at the same time.

However, if you want to raise chickens you’ll need to know how to build a chicken coop.

Pigs

Pigs-option

A full-grown pig can give you a hearty meat supply for sale, trade, or to feed your family. Pigs will grow fast when feeding them a steady supply of table scraps, lots of corn, extra vegetables, and fruit. While they are chomping down the 6 lbs of food required a day they will create 1.5lb of waste. You should save manure for your garden and crops.

When building your pig pen, keep in mind that it should be twice as long as it is wide, each pig needs 50 square feet. Keep their water at the opposite end of the pen from their food. They usually defecate near their water supply.

The pen should also be partially sheltered because pigs can burn easily. You will also want them to be able to find shelter if bad weather comes in. Consider a mud wallow as pigs have a hard time regulating their temperature.

As the pig grows older, you will want to keep an extra eye on its weight. Some pigs will stop gaining weight no matter how much you feed. This is the first sign they are ready for the table. Once the pigs are 280lbs or more, you can take them to the butcher.

Turkeys

You should buy your baby turkey from a reputable breeder. A good breeder will cut down on possible illnesses. At a cost of less than a dollar each, their additional needs are more expensive.

Turkeys are extremely sensitive animals at the start of their life. You will more than likely lose a few from your flock in the first few weeks. Before you get your pouts, you will need to clean the battery for raising turkeys. Completely disinfect the entire unit. You will also need to purchase a 100-150 watt clamp-style lamp. This will help keep their nest around 100 degrees in the first week.

After they survive the first week, you will gradually lower the heat each week. When you make it to week ten, they won’t need an extra heat source. When you are feeding your pouts, provide plenty of feed mash and fresh water.

Once the turkeys reach the maturity of fourteen weeks, they are ready for your table. A grown turkey will weigh in around 35lb to 45lbs making a few good meals for you and your neighbors.

Tilapia Farming

The simplest way to raise tilapia is by building a cage that will stay in your pond. With some plastic piping, sturdy netting, and some fingerlings you have a great fish farm to help you survive year round.

Buying them from a notable fishery gives you the peace of mind that the fish you are receiving are top quality. This means disease free. You will also be able to get the right male to female ratio for mating.

Beekeeping

Beekeeping-option

These little guys will not only help you satisfy your sweet tooth with honey, but they will also pollinate your garden.

The easiest and fastest way to get started is to get a basic bee starter kit. Your kit should include hive tool, smoker, frames and foundation, feeders, hive body, hive stand, queen excluder, inner/outer cover, honey supers, cotton/poly overalls with attached zipper veil, mesh helmet and vented leather gloves.

Next, locate where you would like your hive to be located. If you put your hive within a quarter mile of your garden, the bees will happily pollinate your fruits and vegetables.

Now, pick your bee! There are many races of bees, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. So do your research before you decide which honey bee will be best for you. Once you pick your bee, you’re ready to get started.

Raising Rabbits

Before you start buying rabbits get some rabbit hutches ready. Rabbits are notorious escape artists so make sure your hutches are 100% secure with no gaps or holes. The one pro with raising rabbits is they are relatively easy to breed compared to other livestock. They also don’t take up much space. So this means you can raise a lot of rabbits quickly in very little space.

However, the downside of raising rabbits is the equipment necessary to get started can be pretty expensive. Also, rabbits are not meat that is currently widely consumed in our culture in mass. In survival turmoil tho, rabbit meat would become a major source of protein, widely accepted and enjoyed.