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Saving Money Raising Livestock

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.

Farming: LivestockGoats 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.

Milking Equipment for small farms don't need to be expensive.

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.

You can read more about my personal experiences raising cows here if you’re interested.

Raising Pigs

Meet a pig’s basic needs and you’ll seldom have a problem with them.

A singing pig? No, she's just yawning, but I'm keen on farmyard photos with mouth shots.

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.

You can read how to keep pigs in a barn here.

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.

About Laura Childs

Country Living enthusiast Laura Childs was a downtown city girl for many years before heading to the hills to live a sustainable lifestyle, raise her daughter, get back to the land, and learn the time tested traditions of a simpler era. Throughout her farm life adventures of raising animals, working from home, home schooling her daughter, and being more green, Laura Childs has been sharing on the GoodByeCityLife website through articles and personal musings since 1998.

9 comments

  1. A friend whose family raised pigs tells me that they are as smart as, if not smarter, than dogs. Others have also said this. Some smaller breeds of pigs are kept as pets. How can you kill creature who have come to trust you? This is not ethical in my view.

    and most human beings do not need to eat flesh

    Bonnie

  2. Can raising beef cattle pay the bills as a primary income?

  3. BJK– one might be inclined to greet the pig with a daily “good work pig, grow well, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” That way, you’re at least giving it the straight talk, and at night they can be thankful for the day they got to have. 😛

  4. Funny you have a picture of a sheep as the first photo, yet you don’t have any info about sheep…

    • I just haven’t written about them on the website yet Jessica but I have authored a book on raising farm animals – 1/5 of which is about raising sheep. You’ll find it here: https://www.goodbyecitylife.com/farm-animals

      • Why does the Federal government even price milk at all? That is not the inntdeed role of government as outlined in our founding documents. Why can’t I say to my surrounding processors, “Hey, I produce six tons of milk a day, 110,000 SCC, 4.1% BF, 3.2% Pro and I want $28.00 for it.” Isn’t that free market? Why can’t farmers have a shake at the free market? The only role the government was ever supposed to have in the private sector is making sure interstate commerce remains open. The federal government should be protecting our domestic markets from the intrusion of foreign products, which they are not. I can’t help but think of Ronald Reagan saying, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” I think we as an industry are foolish if we look to the government or a politician to solve our problems. Renee

  5. Justin, in most cases, no. With experience and a fair bit of networking or marketing cattle ranching could be profitable. Raising any type of livestock holds so many variables, so many opportunities to ‘lose the farm’ or your shirt. If I was heading into this venue I’d explore the organic or grass-fed beef market and spend every available hour learning about and promoting my end market product.

  6. I didn’t see a place where I could ask this question but here goes. How did you get the funds/start up for your 17 acres? I’m not being nose-y. I’m just trying to get to the farm or land myself. I’m female, single, 55 and thinking I’m too old and may never get there even on one acre. I use to make $25 an hr and was going to buy one, but I fell, got hurt, and now I struggle from low end job to the next. Any tips or ideas?

    • Hi Vicky. It’s okay, that’s a valid question that I don’t mind answering for you. First off, I did get a great deal on my property. It was overgrown and the house and barn were run down. I also purchased it without the help of a real estate agent which saved the previous owners over $7,000.

      I took a gamble when I financed it. I cashed out an RRSP to buy the property that gave me the security I needed. A place to grow our own food. A place that didn’t cost much to run. I had to make a lot of hard decisions along the way too about the use of our home budget.

      I don’t know where you live, current mortgage rates, your savings or retirement savings, or your strengths but all of these factors add up to what is or is not possible for you in your current situation. As examples: (1) Do grants exist in your area? (2) Do you watch the foreclosure listings on property in the areas you might like to farm on? (3) You are obviously articulate…have you ever thought of earning an income from home and financing your ideal farm property that way vs. going to menial jobs?

      You are obviously dreaming of saying “GoodByeCityLife” so I am urging you to keep dreaming, hunting down answers, and finding the solution to get you into the perfect country property. Please don’t hesitate to ask any more questions. If my journey can help another realize their dream, then I’m happy to answer.

      Cheers, Laura Childs