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Posts Tagged ‘goats’

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 Greta Does Goat Parkour Like a Jedi

It is never a good sign when you find one of your animals in an unexpected or unwanted place. It is even worse when you can’t figure out how they’ve done it.

 

Goat parkour with Greta at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

Two days ago I finally learned just how Greta the (baby) goat was getting out – she is a master of goat parkour at only 5 weeks old! Or she’s a Jedi – I can’t decide exactly how she rolls, jumps or flies. Whichever way it is, the Force is obviously strong in this little one. Fortunately, just like her mama Nibbles, Greta can be bribed with goat treats and head scratches.

 

Goat Parkour with Greta at redbarnblueskies.com

 

You met Greta and the rest of the goats a few weeks ago. Well, despite everything we “thought” we could do to keep them contained, we failed. We knew we’d have to eventually relocate the bantam chicken coops to the other side of the runs/pens, but Greta forced us to do it a little sooner than planned.

 

Greta started bouncing off one of the chicken wire covered panels with all four feet when she was about two weeks old. We didn’t think anything of it except that it was cute and very acrobatic. That is until she figured out how to use the rebound from the panel to throw herself against the side of the coop and right up on top of it! She obviously saw someone doing the sport of parkour in another life and decided to turn it into to her own brand of goat parkour.

 

Greta the Goat demonstrates goat parkour at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

What Is It?

(People) parkour has its roots in military training exercises. The aim of parkour is to get from one point to another in the quickest and most efficient manner using only your body and elements in the environment such as walls, rocks, rails, etc.  Jumping, rolling, crawling, bouncing, swinging or just about any other movement that can propel you is used in parkour. It is most often seen in more urban settings, but parkour can be practiced anywhere.

 

Goat Parkour

Greta’s goat parkour is definitely not being performed in an urban environment and hopefully isn’t militant in nature. When not being performed with the intent of escape, I think it may be more reminiscent of Stuart from MADtv when he exclaims “Look what I can do!” right before doing something goofy.

 

Goat Parkour post with Stuart from MadTV

 

Practice, Practice, Practice

Greta practices her moves daily in our temporary goat pen using the fence, the coops, her mother, and anything she can bounce a hoof off of. She tries to coerce her twin brother, Groot into joining her, but he’s much more mellow than she is. (It may have to do a bit with a small procedure he underwent recently. More on that later.)

 

Once we determined exactly how she put her moves to use to get OUT of the pen, we decided to do some redecorating. The photos below show Greta and Groot supervising the hubby as he removes the two bantam chicken coops from the area. Hopefully, having one less level to rebound off of and on to will keep Greta’s four little feet mostly on the ground.

 

Groot and Greta Goat supervising coop removal at Red Barn Blue Skies for goat parkour

 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that they can’t crawl into the coop and do chicken impressions.

 

Goat parkour in the Chicken Coop with Groot and Greta at Red Barn Blue Skies

“Bawk, Bawk”

 

postheadericon The Goats Have Landed – Our Lives Will Never Be Boring Again

For many years the hubby told me that he didn’t care what type of animals we had, as long as there weren’t any goats. He had apparently been traumatized in the past by a little pygmy billy goat that had it in for him.

 

The hubby claims that the guilty-until-proven-innocent little goat ate parts of his Jeep. He supposedly broke the windshield on his other car by using it as a goat parkour springboard. I advised him that if there aren’t photos or a chewed up Jeep as proof, it didn’t happen.

 

Goat with tilted head at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

So I went along with this edict without complaining, much. After all, we have horses, cattle, turkeys, chickens, dogs and cats. HE even had a Red-tailed Boa Constrictor as a pet snake for a while. It’s not like we are missing out on too many things.

 

But, anyone who is online these days knows the internet is overflowing with videos of baby goats. These kids are shown bouncing around and bringing joy to the lives of those who own them. You know I wanted to be one of those happy people. When hubby told me NO for the 500th time, I sounded just like my nephew at age 3. We had to tell him the pink Hello Kitty purse was his sister’s and not for him, “But I neeeeeeeeeeed it!”

 

(And before anyone protests that he should have been able to have a pink Hello Kitty purse if he wanted one, his sister was wanting to use her purse at that particular moment. We offered to get him his own, but he was immediately off and running to his next interest and adventure.)

 

Lawn mowing at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

I used the fact that our spring has been one of the wettest in decades. We are overrun with tall grass and lots of weeds. My husband didn’t fall for my logic that if we had goats, he wouldn’t have to mow every few days. He couldn’t be swayed by the cute and bouncy videos I kept sending to his phone.

 

I reminded him that I would have access to fresh goat milk instead of canned for making cheese and soaps, he still said no.

 

 

 

Goat in Tree at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

I know these things are true, but….. Then one magical day, he just gave up. My persistence/pestering/pleading paid off. A good friend of ours needed to sell her two pet does. She had to find someone she trusted to care for them like she would. The hubby graciously caved and told me I could get the two girls. I made the deal.

 

Of course, I sorta forgot to mention that one of them was pregnant, very very pregnant, but he’s a good sport. “In for a penny, in for a pound” or in this case, “What’s one more little goat?” OK, so I may have also forgotten to let him know that she had twin bucklings her first time…

 

Goats Cookie and Nibbles at Red Barn Blue Skies

 

So without further ado and fanfare, meet The Goats aka The Goots.

 

The Goats

Cookie is a Toggenburg doe who is just over a year old.

redbarnblueskies.com Cookie the Toggenburg Goat

 

Nibbles is a LaMancha doe around two years old.

redbarnblueskies.com NIbbles the LaMancha Goat

 

And then, we have the kids: Groot (mostly black) and Greta (mostly white) are the bouncing baby goats (called kids) born to Nibbles on March 27th. Their father is a wandering Kinder buck so they are half Kinder/half LaMancha. They obviously didn’t inherit the itty-bitty ears of their mama.

 

redbarnblueskies.com Groot and Greta goats

 

The hubby won’t admit it, but he is smitten by all of our newest additions. The very first night they were here he ended up sitting in the pen with them until after dark. He has also admitted to looking forward to some of my goat milk cheese with herbs in the near future..

 

I am so blessed to have married a man who is just as big of an animal lover as I am – even when he pretends otherwise. Our life is full of love.

 

Please join us again soon as we continue to share the adventures of Groot and Greta along with the rest of our menagerie.

 

By the way, have you ever seen those darling little miniature donkeys?