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Posts Tagged ‘farming’

postheadericon Small Livestock for Small Spaces

Urban and small space homesteaders are learning they don’t have to limit themselves to plants in their endeavors to be self-sufficient. With the rising popularity of small livestock who are thriftier and multi-purposed, it is becoming more common to find chickens or even goats in backyards as well as barnyards.

 

Finding the right small livestock for small spaces doesn’t have to be hard. Match your needs and goals with the right animals and everyone wins.

Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces redbarnblueskies.com

Small Livestock

If you’re considering adding animals to your homesteading project or you just want some smaller livestock to work with, here are some suggestions that may suit your needs.

Chickens

Chickens are the obvious first choice when it comes to livestock that can be kept in a smaller area. They’re the most popular and the easiest animal to get started with. And as we’ve discussed before, they are the gateway livestock for new farmers.

 

Before you even go look at the chicks at the feed store, determine what you want them for. Are you after daily eggs and a chicken in the pot for every Sunday dinner? Then you’ll want a breed like the Plymouth Barred Rock. They’re multi-purpose birds bred for heavy egg production combined with a tasty, meaty carcass.

Plymouth Barred Rock Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces

If you’re wanting to fill your freezer fast with great tasting chicken, raise a bunch of Cornish cross meat chickens. They’re bred to bulk up fast and provide a meaty 4-pound broiler carcass in only 7-8 weeks.

 

If you’re wanting a fluffy piece of yard art that wanders around your garden for comic relief, you might look at some of the exotic breeds such as a Cochin or Polish hen. Figuring out why you want chickens can help you choose the right breed or breeds for you.

 

Although the breeds are all different, the basic care is the same. They need food, water, shelter, and a place to lay their eggs. While the food and water stay the same, you can be as simple or elaborate as you like with the shelter and nest box areas. As long as the chickens have a safe, dry, draft-free area to roost at night, they’ll be content.

Goat Trio at Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces redbarnblueskies.com

 

Goats

Goats are available in many breeds and come in full sizes and miniatures. Which breed or size you choose should depend on many factors. These include but aren’t limited to:

 

     ~ Available space – As with everything else, smaller animals require less space (and feed). If you are very limited in the area you can allot to goats, you may consider some of the minis. Several of the breeds are heavy milk producers in spite of their petite size.

     ~ Purpose – Goats have been used for multiple purposes over the centuries. Milk, meat, fiber, and hide are the physical resources they provide. The different breeds have been designed to excel in one or more of these aspects. Goats are also tasked with pulling carts, carrying packs, and being used for weed abatement and control. They are a multi-purpose creature that can definitely pay their own way.

     ~ Containment – Goats are notorious escape artists. Until you are prepared with a securely fenced area to house them, you might want to reconsider goats – large or small. They will get out and wander the neighborhood, leaving destruction in their path. Your neighbors won’t appreciate your goats eating their rosebushes and patio chairs.

     ~ Time – With their extremely high intelligence level, goats need attention and stimulation. They love company and get bored easily. Plan on spending quality time with your goats. It is well worth it as they are very affectionate and entertaining animals.

Quail at Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces redbarnblueskies.com

Quail

Aside from their beauty and compact size, quail are another type of poultry that can be a delight to have. They are industrious little birds that lay eggs on a regular, daily basis – more routinely than chickens. Of course, their eggs are on the small size, but they make up for that in quantity. Pickled quail eggs are a true delight that everyone should try at least once.

 

Quail are easy to care for and have very basic needs. Compared to chickens which need 3-4 square feet each, quail only require one. They can be kept in hutches up off the ground, similar to those of rabbits. They can also be kept in pens or coops, but not in with the chickens. Chickens carry diseases that can be deadly to quail. As long as they are in pens that are separated by at least several feet, they will be fine.

 

 

One thing that most beginning quail keepers aren’t ready for is how violent quail can be toward each other. The males can over breed and scalp the females if there isn’t a large enough girl to boy ratio or a large enough space to provide escape routes. The males become quite aggressive and can kill or seriously wound the other birds if not monitored and allowed room to roam. Provide lots of hiding places, overturned flower pots are ideal.

 

Because the quail are so fertile and prolific, they are an economical and even profitable source of meat and eggs. Selling quail eggs and meat to fancy restaurants is something to consider if you are looking into raising them on a larger scale.

Rabbit at Red Barn Blue Skies Small Animals for Small Spaces redbarnblueskies.com

Rabbits

Rabbits have always been a popular choice for those with limited space, in the city or the country. They can be kept in hutches, pens, and even in your backyard running around on the lawn. It is easy to keep their pens clean. Their droppings (pellets) are great for fertilizing your garden as they’re not “hot” like chicken manure. Their diet is simple with a heavy emphasis on greens. Which rabbits you decide to raise will depend on what your goal is – breeding, fur, or meat.

 

Most rabbit breeds are known for having large litters so they tend to be a good investment that multiplies quickly. You must keep a close eye on the mothers/does, especially if it is their first litter, as rabbits can be cannibalistic and eat their young. Keeping them as stress-free as possible will help deter this, but it can be an issue with some breeds or individual rabbits.

 

Because rabbits are a great project for beginners, they are a top choice for 4-H and FFA members just getting started. They are an easy to handle type of small livestock and non-threatening for young children. They’re an easy animal to get into financially as there are not a lot of large expenses initially and the returns can be considerable in a short amount of time.

 

So do you have small livestock? What kind of animals do you prefer?

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postheadericon The Stork aka Dork Brought Us Chickens

Look what showed up at MoonCat Farms yesterday:

Baby Chicks!!  18 of them….
I need to put this out there so people won’t think that besides being a crazy cat lady, I am also a crazy chicken lady.  I planned on starting our chicken farming experience with SIX hens/pullets.  As in 1/2 of a dozen, at least half-grown.  THE MAN aka. Mr. MoonCat is the CRAZY one who brought 18 (actually 19) baby chicks home for his wife to raise.  Gotta love the big guy..
The Midge
We need to note that these will end up being pets with names as we are raising them for eggs, not meat.  From the captions on some of the photos, you can see we’ve already started with the process.
Thelma or Louise
Baby Chook
from l-r: Ameraucana, Rhode Island Red (2), White Leghorn, Plymouth Barred Rock

I was originally getting Ameraucanas, Rhode Island Reds, and BROWN Leghorns.  All three of these lay different colored eggs:  Ameraucanas blue/green/pink eggs, Rhode Island Reds brown eggs, and the Leghorns lay white or creamy eggs.  Mr. MoonCat got 2 of the 3 right.

Actually the main reason I wanted any color but WHITE Leghorns is because the white chickens tend to be easy targets for predators.  Since we have a cover over the entire chicken run and coop area, that shouldn’t be an issue (we hope).  The Plymouth Barred Rock weren’t in the running and I think those are our “free” birds.

Aren’t they cute? (for now)
Now, I’ll tell you why it is actually 19 chicks not 18 as we thought or have pictured, but before PETA or some other organization attacks – the hubby had no idea how many chicks were in the box – this was an accident and he was horrified.
My dad’s friend runs the feed store and stashed a bunch of extra (as in, unknown number of) chicks in with hubby’s 10 chicks that he bought.  Great, except that Chick #19 was found under the backseat of the pickup today.  She’d apparently got out of the box in transit and stowed away.  She was alone in the HOT truck from early yesterday afternoon until late today.  Mr MoonCat called me frantically from the gas station to tell me he had a baby chick that needed immediate attention.  He’d heard a strange chirping over the radio and couldn’t figure out what it was until he stopped for gas!
So, #19 now known as HeartyGirl was rushed home to mama where I gave her sugar water and fussed over the tiny little thing for a few hours.  As soon as I got her pecking at the water dish and taking little drinks, she seemed to revive pretty quickly.  When I placed her in the pen she happily started pecking around with the others.  I made sure she found the water before I left her to it.  When I went out to put the babies in the coop for the night, she seemed to be doing well.
Hopefully she will have a complete recovery from her ordeal.  I don’t know about poor Mr. MoonCat though as he has called three times to check on her since he left the house.   The big softie actually thought he could raise these babies for meat as well as eggs 🙂
enjoying the outside pen