Raising livestock is fundamental to our homestead. We have invested more money over the years on livestock than we would like to know. From organic feed and hay to fences and barns, the investment is much more than the purchase of animals. In fact, that is the affordable part of it. Small livestock are reasonably priced and very available. If we knew then what we know now, it would have helped but regardless the infrastructure is expensive.
Tips on starting out
- Do your research. Get books from the library, research online, talk to experienced people, visit other farms and homesteads.
- Consider the inputs of each animal. What does the animal need to live a healthy, happy life?
- Consider the outputs of each animal. What will the animal produce, from manure to meat? Keep in mind that excess nutrient creates pollution.
- Don’t get the cart before the horse. Or don’t get the animals before the infrastructure (housing and fencing) is in place. It sounds obvious but it happens all the time. We have done it. Design animals into your system, think about placement.
- Start out small. It is much easier to feed and overwinter 6 chickens than 20. Bigger is not always better.
- What will you feed them? Finding good quality hay and feed may be difficult and expensive depending on where you live. Consider growing as much of your feed as is reasonable on your land. There may not be room for a hay field but how about a few caragana bushes and some comfrey? Designing the homestead to provide for the needs of the two legged and the four legged is the goal.