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newb question

Discussion in 'Natural and Organic Husbandry' started by Tea Chick, Sep 5, 2014.

  1. Sep 5, 2014
    Tea Chick

    Tea Chick Ridin' The Range

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    Hi!
    My family and I wanted natural, truly organic eggs, so we got some chickens. Now, we're thinking about doing the same thing with our milk.
    We need an animal that's going to want to stay on property pretty much. There's old pasture fence almost all the way around the property; we can't afford to finish fencing in the property.
    So, something that's going to be very easy to take care of and not run off all the time and forage well. We have about 2 acres.
    What do you think?

    Edited for clarity and to add:
    We use about two to three gallons of milk a week.
    I'm beginning to think that goats are too smart. lol So, I'm thinking about a cow (b/c we can repair the fence and finish enough fencing enough land to make a good pasture/meadow, about 1-1.5 acres).
    I'm also thinking that a sheep could keep the cow company. Cows are herd animals, so one cow would want a little herd of something larger than chickens, right? And I'd like to make cheese from the milk from the sheep.
    So, now I need more input/advice, please.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
  2. Sep 6, 2014
    Bossroo

    Bossroo Loving the herd life

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    The chickens will stick around where food is plentiful, that is not the issue ... since you say that you " can't afford to finish fencing in the property " the chickens will stay on your property then will start to wander as the food supply starts to get leaner or just want to cross the road to see what is on the other side. However what is to prevent any and all predators and the neighbors' or your own dogs to kill and eat the chickens at every turn, organic or not ??? They are a prey animal afterall ! :caf
     
  3. Sep 6, 2014
    Sumi

    Sumi True BYH Addict Administrator

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    We had 9.2 acres of good pasture, divided in 4 plots, with year round luserne (alfalfa), grass, clover etc. First we had 5 cows on there. We rotated them between pastures, supplemented their food in winter, etc. They frequently moved themselves into the next pasture, before we decided it's time. I also vividly remember spending about an hour one evening chasing them around the neighbours' property after they broke through the (sturdy) fence between us. Heaven knows why they did that.

    Years later I kept a flock of chickens on that property. They spent as much time at the neighbours' than at home. Every time we fixed a gap in the fence, they'd find another. And the eating on our side was much better?

    Bottom line is: If an animal wants to go explore, it will. Unless it's tethered, or you have GOOD fences up, it's going to wander off at some point.

    I think in your situation I'd keep a goat or 3 and tether them for part of the day, so they can graze a bit and keep them penned up the rest of the time. Or build a decent pen for them to stay in full time.
     
  4. Sep 6, 2014
    Tea Chick

    Tea Chick Ridin' The Range

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    I'll edit my question to be more clear. I did not mean what do you think in general, I meant to be asking for advice on what kind of milk animal to get and how to keep them on the property.

    My chickens, BTW, are well fed and do not wander into the yards of my neighbors. The only daytime predators to speak of here are hawks and eagles.

    Thank you for your input. :)
     
  5. Sep 6, 2014
    Tea Chick

    Tea Chick Ridin' The Range

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    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and advice. We want to fence in the property properly and we probably will one day. Currently, I appreciate the advice that's applicable to the situation that I'm currently in.
    We will probably do both, build a fairly large corral for them and then also tether them out when we're home to look after them.
     
  6. Sep 6, 2014
    doxiemoxie

    doxiemoxie Overrun with beasties

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    It's a bad idea to tether goats. Really, the best thing to do is get your structures built first. To feed a dairy animal off of two acres you'll need to plant good forage, otherwise you'll be buying most of its food. Research with your local ag specialist about the best hays/legumes to grow and how much water it will need. (I'm in California, everything depends on the water!) Get a good little meadow established and then get your goats or, if you'll consume enough, a cow.
     
  7. Sep 27, 2014
    Tea Chick

    Tea Chick Ridin' The Range

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    Thank you. I'm in the Deep South, so water isn't an issue; we're more than able to keep water available to the animals.
    We'll get something built for the mini-flock we're thinking about. I'll have to see if I can find a "local ag specialist" here.
    I'm beginning to think that goats are too smart, and we've tried the milk before (DH reminded me that neither of us liked it). I'm thinking a small cow (if there is such a thing) and maybe a sheep to keep the cow company and for cheese.
     
  8. Sep 27, 2014
    doxiemoxie

    doxiemoxie Overrun with beasties

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    there are small cow breeds; my favorite is the dexter. Also you can get a regular size, such as American short horn, or some other cross, and keep the calf on it part time until the next calf comes along and then sell the older one or slaughter it. I say cross because dairy breeds such as holsteins and jerseys aren't the best for beef.

    I LOVE your avatar!
     
  9. Sep 27, 2014
    goatgurl

    goatgurl True BYH Addict

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    maybe you should try goats milk again before you decide. i don't know who you got milk from but the handling of milk can make a huge difference in the taste as can what a goat eats or even the breed of goat. there are pros and cons for both goats and cows. look into breeds like mini jersey and doxiemoxie is right dexter cattle are a good choice too. one thing to consider is that a mini cow will have to be bred to a mini bull to prevent birthing problems. just remember that a cow is just as likely to go thru an inadequate fence as a goat and will take her friend the sheep with her.
     
  10. Sep 27, 2014
    Tea Chick

    Tea Chick Ridin' The Range

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    Thank you. I did an image search for "dexter cow" and there were black, brown, and a color that looked like a cross between black and brown.
    How should I start with a cow? Is this an instance where I should get a young one and bottle feed it and train it up like a goat or could I get a pregnant cow and just take over milking it as the calf(ves) wean?
    I'll look up Dexter cows and American short horn.
    I only just started butchering my own chickens this summer. I might be prepared to butcher something as large as a cow by the time that time comes, but I'm not sure.

    Thanks! I did an image search (I do that a lot) for "goat tea cup" and about four different colors of goats, cups, and ribbons came up. I liked this one best (b/c I like green and purple) so I chose it. :)