Livestock that Live in Homesteads
Living in a homestead can be more fulfilling if you have animals around you. Livestock can make you self-sufficient by supplying you with food and keeping your family healthy. Animals also make good companions for isolated living and will alert you to dangers nearby. Several animals are better suited for homestead living than others, and in this article, we shall take a look at some of them:
1.Rabbits – There are many advantages to having rabbits in your homestead. Rabbits usually feed on leafy weeds and grass and require lower maintenance than chickens. They are productive in nature and cheaper to feed than many animals. Rabbit meat is also widely consumed, and it is said that a rabbit produces up to 1000% of his body weight each year in food.
Some rabbits like the Angora shed their coats many times a year. Their fur produces a soft and fine fiber which is used to make accents on hats and coats. The fiber can also be used to spin a soft yarn named angora after the rabbit it is derived from.
It is recommended that rabbits receive regular brushing so that you do not lose spinning fodder or have an untidy cage. You can brush your rabbit’s coat and add the fur to the pile to be spun for yarn. If you have a rabbit that does not shed fur, you could shear them or remove the loose fibers by hand.
Because of their size and structure, rabbits are often the targets of predators. Care should be taken such that larger cats and dogs are not threatening their existence. Confining their movement is crucial, and many owners suggest building outdoor rabbit houses called hutches. These are secured shelter places that are built above the ground to prevent threats like raccoon, fox, or dogs.
Hutches can be made by using a wired mesh that would allow your rabbit to defecate outside the cage. You can also incorporate wood into the cage so that your animals are adequately protected from harsh climatic conditions. Straw and other comfortable materials can be provided inside the cage for warmth. Keep your hutches inside protected areas like fences or a sheltered corner inside the house so that predators are unable to come near your rabbit.
2. Cows – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that cattle make up 1.4 billion of the world’s total livestock. Most cows live in Brazil and India. However, cow farming is popular in most regions of the world with most American and European dairies raising cows that produce A1 milk.
Cows give us milk and other dairy products which help with brain development among children, increasing HDL cholesterol, improvement with digestion, better absorption of vitamins, and strengthening of bones and teeth. They also help with promoting cardiovascular health and preventing illnesses like diabetes, acidity, peptic ulcer, and cancer. Cow milk products help boost the immune system and are considered great natural antioxidants.
In many countries, cows also help with various agricultural activities. These include transportation of goods and people. Cows provide medicines for allergies, vaccines, first-aid creams, respiratory inhalers and protect our crops from fungus, insects, and pests.
Cows also have a symbiotic relationship with trees wherein the cow acts a fertilizer while the tree provides the cow with shade and nourishment. Some cow types are better at foraging than others. You need to determine which breed would best suit you depending on your milk availability, meat production, foraging, and other needs.
3. Goats – Goats are one of the most practical animals that can be raised on a homestead. Self-reliant and affectionate, goats were raised as farm animals more than 10,000 years ago. Having goats allows homesteaders to become self-sufficient individuals due to several reasons.
Just like with cows, goat milk saves you the trouble of buying cheese or milk. Once you raise dairy goats and they produce children, you can get goat milk for the entire year and until three years without breeding your goat again. Or you can opt to have milk supply for up to one year. A standard sized dairy goat can provide nearly 6-8 pounds or 3-4 quarts of milk per day. Based on the butterfat content of the milk, you may also acquire one pound of cheese for each gallon of milk.
Goat is also used for meat production since it is more affordable, uses fewer resources, and is a protein source. Goat meat is also digestible and has low fat content. The taste of goat meat, more than a cow’s, reflects the animal’s diet and the medication she received while you were raising her.
If you have fiber goats, you can spin the fiber and make clothes and various accessories. Upon shearing, you could also sell the fiber to a clothing company. Goats such as the Angora are bred for their long-haired coats.
Goats are extremely efficient in clearing bushes, junk trees and weeds. Many goat owners rent out their herds to clean areas that are populated with weeds and bushes. Since goats tend to escape secluded areas, it is recommended that they are kept within strong and protective boundaries. Metal fences or chain links are often used for this purpose.
Habitat requirements for a goat include a clean and sheltered place to eat and stay. You could use a portion of your stable or garage and provide warm bedding materials for your goat. When you are deciding to bring home a goat, always ensure you bring more than one animal. Goats are herd creatures and will refuse to adapt to living by themselves.
4. Poultry – Statistics report that chicken is the most popular breed of farm animal with almost 19 billion chickens in existence globally. Chickens have low maintenance needs and provide you with eggs and meat. Roosters serve as an alarm by waking people up early in the morning.
Further, chicken feathers, when dried and cleaned, may be used to stuff pillows, blankets, and cushions. They are also used in making dusters. Chicken manure is used as a compost in gardens for enriching the soil.
In addition to chicken, you could also raise geese and ducks in your homestead. A goose is a hardy animal and are not as susceptible to diseases as other poultry. They act as foragers by eating weeds and keeping your surroundings clean. Feathers of a goose can provide insulation.
Ducks are mainly raised for their eggs and meat, both of which are tastier and more nutritious than those of chicken.
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Ducks require low maintenance, consume bugs, and can scare away predators from your property. Ducks are less aggressive than other animals, healthier and more tolerant toward extreme climatic conditions.
If you are planning to keep a variety of poultry in your homestead, it is useful to have separate plans for raising each animal. Chicks need to consume medicated food to avoid diseases, while ducklings and goslings should not eat such food because they are sensitive to antibiotics. You can feed high protein food to all three types of birds while adding special mixes for the ducklings.
It is important to know that geese are aggressive animals and can chase strangers or first-time visitors who step into their territory. They can defend themselves against large predators and will keep squawking until all signs of danger are gone. By comparison, ducks are smaller in structure and may not be able to defend themselves against huge predators. For safety reasons, it is recommended that poultry are stored within warm, dry, and tightly enclosed spaces such as inside the house.
5. Dogs – Including farm dogs in your homestead shall give you an added layer of comfort, security, and peace of mind. Farm dogs protect other farm animals from predators. Farm dogs also help with herding livestock, pulling objects, protecting the home, carrying packs, and recovering quarry.
When looking for a homestead dog, it is crucial to understand the kind of dog that would best suit your purpose. For a homestead, you would want to have a dog that has durable, slick, fur coats instead of fluffy hair. This is because dogs with hair could be hypo-allergenic but not field-friendly. Dogs that are field friendly and have fur coats would be useful for keeping at a homestead. Examples of such dogs include Pointers, Great Pyrenees, and Spanish Mountain Mastiff.
A dog that can shed water without needing regular baths is ideal for homesteads. You may also look for a dog that stays close to your property and does not wander off. Dogs that are good at staying near their homes are Great Pyrenees, Chihuahuas, Labradors, Pugs, Mastiffs, Spaniels, sheepdogs, Corgis, and Golden Retrievers.
Ultimately, ensure that your dog is not one who would kill livestock, and stays out of restricted areas when asked to do so. Your dog should be able to protect the herd and be gentle with friends, family and visitors with good intentions.