Friday, June 10, 2016

Farm Plan - Livestock

Currently the homestead has a diverse livestock roll call. Each has something to contribute to the big picture. But I openly admit, the main reason for having such a diverse group is that I like having them. I'm having a good time learning about the various farm animals.  

Livestock aren't mandatory for a homestead farm, but my own plan includes them for a variety of reasons. They provide services, resources, food. They provide an intangible asset -- they are good company and give me lots of pleasure. 

Present roll call............


number: hovers around 50 birds, more or less
Chickens easily fit into my homestead scheme. They produce food -- eggs & meat. The excess eggs are a popular trade item.They are a significant fertilizer source for the gardens. While free-foraging, they clean up excess bugs and satisfy their need for grit on their own (meaning that I don't have to buy it). And a good portion of their food comes from green waste harvested from on the farm --- grass clippings, weeds, crop residue (leaves, stems, trimmings from veggies & fruits grown or human food), and some fodder crops. I also collect foraged foods-- neglected fruits from others' trees, kitchen waste from friends, grass clippings from others' land. Extra protein comes from slaughter waste, roadkill, and vermin. At this point of time the flock also gets 4 to 6 cups of purchased mash a day and free choice coral sand. The reason for the mash? To soak up the processing juices from cooking the "mom's famous slop & glop". 


number: 2 bucks, 14 does
Rabbits are also a very easy fit into my homestead scheme. They produce meat. Excess rabbits are a popular trade item. And are a significant and valuable manure source for the gardens. A major amount  of their food comes from the farm in the form of green chop (grasses, weeds, tree & brush trimmings), crop residues, and fodder crops. Foraged fruits top off the greens. Purchased grains currently supplement their diet. 

number: 2 rams, 7 ewes
My third favorite homestead farm animal recommendation. Sheep are easy homestead livestock. They have fit into my homestead scheme from the beginning. Sheep give the farm meat for people and manure for the pastures. Slaughter waste goes to feed chickens and pigs. Plus the excess lambs are a good trade item. They have done an excellent job at brush clearing and grass trimming. All of their food except for 2 cups of sweet grains daily is farm produced. I use the grain to keep them friendly. 


number: normally 1 or 2
Pigs have come to be farm members but are not permanent year around residents. They contribute to the farm by providing meat and individual resales. And they process a lot of farm waste, getting fed much like the chickens do. A neat service they also provide is ground clearing. They will eat off the grasses and snuffle up the ground surface making it easier for me to open up new areas for gardens. And they add fertilizer to the ground as they snuffle along. 

Number: fluctuates
Keeping bees alive and residing on my farm I find to be very difficult. With commercial beehives coming & going on the big macnut farm above me, my bees constantly have to battle new influxes of hive beetle and varroa mite. As a result, I frequently lose hives to swarming when a new influx of hive pests arrive. But I believe they are worth the effort to try to keep them here on the farm. They do contribute a valuable service by pollinating the vegetables and trees. My strongest hives occasionally provide a bit of honey. 

Incidental Animals 
Donkey (1): flock guardian. Manure source for gardens. 
Goat (1): brush control. And he makes us laugh. 
Duck (1): eggs, slug eating.
Fish tilapia (4): mosquito control. And they add nutrients into the irrigation water tank. 
Fish - goldfish, koi, mosquito fish (hundreds): mosquito control in the various ponds.
Dogs (5): farm protection
Cats (14): vermin control

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this farm plan series.
    I have found it very interesting and informative.
    I have been thinking and reading a lot about keeping meat rabbits.
    Hopefully one day soon ...