Raising livestock yourself isn’t always easy, isn’t always lucrative. The potential, however, for a healthier diet and acquiring a new appreciation for all living creatures, is life changing.
Raising Dairy or Meat Goats
Raising goats is, if nothing else, an exercise in laughter and stories to tell the grandchildren for years to come.
Often they’ll touch your heart in ways you never thought an animal could.
They’ll also drive you nuts in ways even your own children can’t. You can read some of my goat experiences here.
Goats are valuable for their meat, milk, hair and companionship (this can be annoying if they are not penned in as they will follow you all over the property and try to eat their way into your house).
If you’re thinking of raising livestock, goats are an easy care animal. Your largest investment will be in fencing – and re-fencing, and then some fencing repairs, followed by purchasing and installing even better fencing. You get the drift.
If money is tight, once the fencing is done you’ll want to invest in hoof snips, tattoo kits, milk strainers, dehorning and perhaps a castration kit.
This, of course, can all come later and is completely dependent on how you’ll be raising your goats.
Raising Cows or Cattle
Raising cattle is not for the faint hearted – they require a gentle hand and thrive on punctuality and routine.
Both dairy and beef cattle can be challenging and are equally rewarding.
Most of my family who farm are raising beef cattle and the word is that there’s a lot less money, but a lot less work, in beef cattle.
Dairy cattle farmers fare better if they have access to cheap labor (their own children with great work ethics?) or high priced supplies in the barn.
Money and hard work aside, it simply makes sense to raise your own beef if you have the room and a love for the animal (research proves that an animal owned and treated with kindness will fare better and produce a higher quality product for his or her owners).
Cows are gentle creatures who deserve great respect for their patience and sacrifices to humans.
If you are raising cattle for meat, milk, or market you’ll find that the cow, calf or bull that is raised with care is the one who’ll produce the most valuable end product.
Meet a pig’s basic needs and you’ll seldom have a problem with them.
I grow mine outside and they always do well. Of course they have a roofed and 3 1/2 sided ‘house’ to get out of the elements, and lots of room to roam.
But my friend Shelley (just down the road from us), lets her pigs run free with the cows and donkey. Sometimes they’re seen in the sheep pen but the llama usually chases them out in short order!
Shelley’s pigs have never run away, squeezed out of the fence (which would be really easy to do), and they cost her next to nothing to feed this way. Of course they don’t grow as fast as my pigs but 90% of what they eat is 100% natural – which, in the long run, is better for healthy human consumption.
However you decide to raise pigs, you’ll find they’re easy to keep. Provide them with some protection from the hot midday sun, a place to muck about, dry land, and food and water (water always available especially in summer). We’ve always had nice friendly pigs who at times seem more like pets than a future food supply.
When the day comes to send your pig to the freezer I suggest getting a professional to do the dirty work – you’d be surprised how often even the toughest farmer realizes he has grown fond of a pig when kill day rolls around.
Plus, the work is messy to carry out yourself and some health restrictions in your area might not allow you to complete the task even if your family is the only consumer of the pork.
Feel free to drop me a line below for help or advice in these matters.