What should i get?

Ilovemy5chicks08

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Sorry if i posted this in the wrong spot. We will be moving within the next 1-2 years, and when we move we will be buying land to raise animals on and live on. I have chickens and a dog right now what other animals can i get. Some info that would help is there are lots of coyotes where we will move to. I have looked into goats and would possibly get some, but i dont want sheep because of the wool. I have also looked into cows, but dont want dairy cows. What breeds would you reccomend for goats and cows or other animals?
 

animalmom

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Well you just opened a delightful can of worms! We can populate your acreage with just about anything you can think of, and be thrilled to do so.

I have Dwarf Nigerian goats and recommend them without reservation, but you might be interested in hair sheep which don't have wool. Goats will need copper which means you need to feed them a mineral with that in it in a right amount... sheep won't want copper as it can kill them. Just a thought.

Good fencing is a must. Stay away from welded wire fencing as you will have to replace it over time as the welds break.

Oh, and would you please, please, please put your general location in your information as that is helpful in suggesting animals, or helping with a problem... as in what works in Texas may not work well for you.

What are your overall goals? Are you looking for meat and milk to go with your eggs? Have you considered raising rabbits for meat? Rabbits are not very demanding time-wise, their poop can go right into your garden as it is not considered "hot" like chicken poop.

Keep us posted on your plans. We might be able to point out some pitfalls, and we'd love to give you all the encouragement we can.
 

Baymule

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I joined BYH 5 years before we finally moved out of town. I used that time to read the forums and study them. I narrowed it down to goats or sheep. I chose sheep, then studied wool breeds and hair breeds. We moved to 8 acres with no fence, no barn, only a double wide mobile home and land that needed lots of everything. I now have a flock of Katahdin hair sheep and 2 Anatolian Livestock Guard Dogs, on 25 acres and another double wide. I’m getting to be quite the Double Wide Diva. LOL Going to grow my flock and get a couple more dogs. I am afflicted.

Pick an animal and study the forums. Ask questions, we will be glad to answer. Each animal has their own requirements for grazing, forage, fencing, shelter, how many acres per animal, what kind of hay and feed. Also something to consider is what equipment do you need to care for that animal, cattle need strong corrals, a chute to load them on a trailer, a head gate to secure them for worming and shots. If you feed round bales of hay, you will need at the very least a 55 horse power tractor with front end loader and hay forks to move the hay bales.

If you choose sheep or goats, study meat goats versus dairy goats, hair sheep versus wool sheep. Fencing should be sheep and goat wire with 4”x4” holes. If you choose a small breed, you might need non climb wire which has 2”x4” holes. Gates should be a minimum of 12’ but 16’ is better, giving room to take a truck and trailer through it, or a tractor with implements.

For my sheep, I have Premiere1 guillotine (spelling?) gates with hog panels for the race, an end gate and a sorting gate. Look up Premiere1 sheep and goat equipment to get an idea of what I’m talking about. I started out with cow panels T-posted to make a chute, with pallet ends, barely better than chasing and a flying tackle. LOL

Shelter, a barn needs to be tall enough to drive your tractor into. I’ve had both tall and just tall enough to walk into,, and being able to scrape up the winter deep litter with a front end bucket is much preferable to digging it out with pitch fork and shovel.

How many acres are y’all going to buy? Wooded, good grass, good soil or rocks? What the land can produce to help feed the animals can affect what and how many of whatever you choose.

You are wise to use your time to learn all you can, it will certainly help you make better decisions.
 

Ridgetop

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Reading this back it looks like I am trying to discourage you from keeping any animals. I am not. When we moved to our current home we made a lot of beginner's mistakes and I hope to help others avoid those mistakes.

So first things first -
1. How much land are you getting? - number of acres. Size of property will help determine type and number of animals/livestock. You always need more acres than you think just looking at the property. Check with the local county extension sgt too, they can give you a good idea of what sort of pasture you have and how many animal units ne acre can support. Daepending on the area n animal unit is a cow with a nursing calf, or lbs. of grazing animals.

2. Where is it located? - the climate and seasons will often dictate type of livestock. Are you in a town? Are you zoned for larger livestock? Always check zoning regulations - they can change without your knowledge making it illegal to keep livestock. (Ask me how I know - :mad:

3.
FENCING! This is crucial to your ranch and your relationships with surrounding neighbors. Is the land fenced now? Remember that you will need different fencing for different species - how much land is currently fenced? What type of fence and what condition is it in? How much will you have to install? You need to survey before putting up your perimeter fence. You don't want to spend money and time fencing only to have your neighbor tear it down because you accidently put it on his land. Don't use chain link for animals - they break the posts, rub on the fence, and stretch out the fence wire causing the bottom of the fence to curl up allowing your animals to escape. (Ask me how I know - :he)

FYI: If you don't have good, well-maintained fencing for whatever animals you keep, your animals can get out and wander. If your cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, etc. get hit by cars YOU are responsible for the person's injuries and damages. You need to make sure that your fences are in good repair. If your dogs get out and run loose, they can legally be shot by neighbors who have livestock since loose dogs kill and injure livestock. Even a loving family pet will enjoy chasing sheep, goats and cattle if it is not confined. Not to mention being hit by traffic. Oh, and did I mentioned that you will be fined and be liable for any damage or death to the livestock. Good fencing is a must.

4. Availability of water - this is crucial since without water you are very limited to what you can raise. This includes watering your garden or any fruit trees you plan to plant too. Each animal enclosure will need a water source. Even buckets need filling with a hose from a spigot. In some areas you are limited to a certain number of gallons per day.

5. Topography of your property? - Is it flat vs steep hills and gullies? Is there grass pasture, forest land, brush forage, or empty desert? - Type and amount of forage will determine type and number of livestock. Beautiful views from a steep hilltop may convince you to buy but will determine the type of livestock you can house. Not to mention fencing problems. (Ask me how I know LOL)

6. Animal housing - Does the new property have any barns, sheds, shelters? If you plan to build them always build twice as large as you think you will need and figure the cost as double what you anticipate. Remember that shelters are not only needed for severe winter weather, but also for shade in hot summers. And you will need feed and equipment storage.

7. TIME & $$$! How much time do you have to put in running the fencing, installing water lines, and building the shelters for your livestock? This is hard work. If you can afford to hire this done, it will make a big difference but will be costly. (Fence wire cost has doubled in the past 6 months - ask me how I know :hit ) How much $$$ do you have to invest in the fencing shelters, water, etc.? Don't post the answer here, but you need to be honest with yourselves in answering it. When you estimate the cost, double it.

8. What is your physical ability? Old, young, health problems? Do you have young children to assist in livestock chores and enjoy the animals? There are good youth programs for youngsters raising livestock. If you have physical or age limitations stay away from large livestock.

9. Why do you want livestock? Are you interested in feeding your family or mainly as pets? How many people will you be feeding? Do you plan to raise more than you need to either give away or sell? Depending on the answers to the above questions, you might have as much fun with planting fruit trees, a large vegetable garden, raising meat rabbits, poultry (eggs), and 2 dairy goats (milk). You could raise a pig, lamb, or steer for meat. Or it might be cheaper and more enjoyable to just buy them from your neighbors. ;)

10. Do you enjoy traveling? Do you normally go on trips for work or to visit relatives or friends? Some types of livestock will need 24/7 care (dairy animals - where you milk every 12 hours), others on pasture can be left with someone to check on them. Keeping livestock means no travelling without someone remaining on the property to care for the animals. Dairy goats and cows require milking every 12 hours. If you are dry lotting you Will need to feed and water every day. Even if your animals are on good pasture their water supply will need to be checked every day.

11. One last note: If this will be a working operation you need to know that you will not make any profit for about 2-3 years while you are getting set up. You will need enough cash to carry you through those first few years if you are planning on the animals making you $$$.


The answers to these questions will help you figure out what type of animals you want to raise, and how fast you can move into keeping them. Be very honest about the financial one since most people (ourselves included) underestimate the amount of $$$ your new dream ranch is going to eat up just to get started. Before you even consider getting your animals.

In the past 50 years we have gone from a large home on 1/3 acre in a suburb, to 6 acres on the outskirts in the foothills of southern California. We have been keeping large and small livestock for 35 years on our current property. On our previous property we kept chickens, rabbits, raised a huge vegetable garden and fruit trees. I canned everything we produced, and I fed our family of 6 and 4 daycare children year-round on those fruits and vegetables.

We made a lot of mistakes - starting with buying a home on a steep ridge top so our children could have horses. We fell in love with the view. Big mistake since a steep 35-40 degrees slope is not good for large livestock and horses! We built a 24' x 36' barn for my husband's rabbitry. Over the years the children preempted it for their dairy goats and sheep, etc. We have re-fenced, re-housed, and rebuilt all our animal keeping area several times since we had no idea what we were doing at first.

DS3 raised several replacement heifers. We kept 5-6 horses. We raised a lot of calves on our dairy goat milk (eventually milking 12 goats am and pm = 12-15 gallons of milk daily). We found that our steep hillsides were goat and sheep friendly since we fed and watered on the small level areas on top. Unless a sheep lambed in the gully. It is wea scientific fact that an 8 lb. lamb born in a deep gully increases to 20 lbs. by the time you carry it up the slope. :gig

No big vegetable garden here since the PH factor of our clay and shale hilltop is a 9! Another mistake not to check the soil. After years of digging out the soil and replacing it with compost and purchased topsoil, I was able to finally raise summer squash and tomatoes for several years- until the invasion of the ground squirrels.

:somad

Hope this will give you some information to go on when deciding what animals you would like to keep.
 

Ilovemy5chicks08

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I live in southwestern Wisconsin. We will have 1-2 thousand dollars to spend on animals. We have some fencing right now, not a lot though. We plan on buying 10 plus acres and building a house and barn by ourselves. Where we live now has lots of clay but we plan on moving out of the clay area. I will look into some different animals. I would love to raise jersey cows, and highlander cows. But we aren't looking at making much money off them. Thank you for all the helpful info!
 

Baymule

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For small acreage and small cattle herd, consider using AI, especially since Jersey bulls are notorious for being the meanest and most dangerous. It makes more sense to AI rather than keep a bull year around and always having to watch your back.

What a wonderful adventure! On building your own home, look up cordwood homes.
 

Ilovemy5chicks08

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For small acreage and small cattle herd, consider using AI, especially since Jersey bulls are notorious for being the meanest and most dangerous. It makes more sense to AI rather than keep a bull year around and always having to watch your back.

What a wonderful adventure! On building your own home, look up cordwood homes.
Thank you, and i will look up cordwood homes. We have a few land choices available but we dont like any of them because they are under 5 acres.
 

Ilovemy5chicks08

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Reading this back it looks like I am trying to discourage you from keeping any animals. I am not. When we moved to our current home we made a lot of beginner's mistakes and I hope to help others avoid those mistakes.

So first things first -
1. How much land are you getting? - number of acres. Size of property will help determine type and number of animals/livestock. You always need more acres than you think just looking at the property. Check with the local county extension sgt too, they can give you a good idea of what sort of pasture you have and how many animal units ne acre can support. Daepending on the area n animal unit is a cow with a nursing calf, or lbs. of grazing animals.

2. Where is it located? - the climate and seasons will often dictate type of livestock. Are you in a town? Are you zoned for larger livestock? Always check zoning regulations - they can change without your knowledge making it illegal to keep livestock. (Ask me how I know - :mad:

3.
FENCING! This is crucial to your ranch and your relationships with surrounding neighbors. Is the land fenced now? Remember that you will need different fencing for different species - how much land is currently fenced? What type of fence and what condition is it in? How much will you have to install? You need to survey before putting up your perimeter fence. You don't want to spend money and time fencing only to have your neighbor tear it down because you accidently put it on his land. Don't use chain link for animals - they break the posts, rub on the fence, and stretch out the fence wire causing the bottom of the fence to curl up allowing your animals to escape. (Ask me how I know - :he)

FYI: If you don't have good, well-maintained fencing for whatever animals you keep, your animals can get out and wander. If your cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, etc. get hit by cars YOU are responsible for the person's injuries and damages. You need to make sure that your fences are in good repair. If your dogs get out and run loose, they can legally be shot by neighbors who have livestock since loose dogs kill and injure livestock. Even a loving family pet will enjoy chasing sheep, goats and cattle if it is not confined. Not to mention being hit by traffic. Oh, and did I mentioned that you will be fined and be liable for any damage or death to the livestock. Good fencing is a must.

4. Availability of water - this is crucial since without water you are very limited to what you can raise. This includes watering your garden or any fruit trees you plan to plant too. Each animal enclosure will need a water source. Even buckets need filling with a hose from a spigot. In some areas you are limited to a certain number of gallons per day.

5. Topography of your property? - Is it flat vs steep hills and gullies? Is there grass pasture, forest land, brush forage, or empty desert? - Type and amount of forage will determine type and number of livestock. Beautiful views from a steep hilltop may convince you to buy but will determine the type of livestock you can house. Not to mention fencing problems. (Ask me how I know LOL)

6. Animal housing - Does the new property have any barns, sheds, shelters? If you plan to build them always build twice as large as you think you will need and figure the cost as double what you anticipate. Remember that shelters are not only needed for severe winter weather, but also for shade in hot summers. And you will need feed and equipment storage.

7. TIME & $$$! How much time do you have to put in running the fencing, installing water lines, and building the shelters for your livestock? This is hard work. If you can afford to hire this done, it will make a big difference but will be costly. (Fence wire cost has doubled in the past 6 months - ask me how I know :hit ) How much $$$ do you have to invest in the fencing shelters, water, etc.? Don't post the answer here, but you need to be honest with yourselves in answering it. When you estimate the cost, double it.

8. What is your physical ability? Old, young, health problems? Do you have young children to assist in livestock chores and enjoy the animals? There are good youth programs for youngsters raising livestock. If you have physical or age limitations stay away from large livestock.

9. Why do you want livestock? Are you interested in feeding your family or mainly as pets? How many people will you be feeding? Do you plan to raise more than you need to either give away or sell? Depending on the answers to the above questions, you might have as much fun with planting fruit trees, a large vegetable garden, raising meat rabbits, poultry (eggs), and 2 dairy goats (milk). You could raise a pig, lamb, or steer for meat. Or it might be cheaper and more enjoyable to just buy them from your neighbors. ;)

10. Do you enjoy traveling? Do you normally go on trips for work or to visit relatives or friends? Some types of livestock will need 24/7 care (dairy animals - where you milk every 12 hours), others on pasture can be left with someone to check on them. Keeping livestock means no travelling without someone remaining on the property to care for the animals. Dairy goats and cows require milking every 12 hours. If you are dry lotting you Will need to feed and water every day. Even if your animals are on good pasture their water supply will need to be checked every day.

11. One last note: If this will be a working operation you need to know that you will not make any profit for about 2-3 years while you are getting set up. You will need enough cash to carry you through those first few years if you are planning on the animals making you $$$.


The answers to these questions will help you figure out what type of animals you want to raise, and how fast you can move into keeping them. Be very honest about the financial one since most people (ourselves included) underestimate the amount of $$$ your new dream ranch is going to eat up just to get started. Before you even consider getting your animals.

In the past 50 years we have gone from a large home on 1/3 acre in a suburb, to 6 acres on the outskirts in the foothills of southern California. We have been keeping large and small livestock for 35 years on our current property. On our previous property we kept chickens, rabbits, raised a huge vegetable garden and fruit trees. I canned everything we produced, and I fed our family of 6 and 4 daycare children year-round on those fruits and vegetables.

We made a lot of mistakes - starting with buying a home on a steep ridge top so our children could have horses. We fell in love with the view. Big mistake since a steep 35-40 degrees slope is not good for large livestock and horses! We built a 24' x 36' barn for my husband's rabbitry. Over the years the children preempted it for their dairy goats and sheep, etc. We have re-fenced, re-housed, and rebuilt all our animal keeping area several times since we had no idea what we were doing at first.

DS3 raised several replacement heifers. We kept 5-6 horses. We raised a lot of calves on our dairy goat milk (eventually milking 12 goats am and pm = 12-15 gallons of milk daily). We found that our steep hillsides were goat and sheep friendly since we fed and watered on the small level areas on top. Unless a sheep lambed in the gully. It is wea scientific fact that an 8 lb. lamb born in a deep gully increases to 20 lbs. by the time you carry it up the slope. :gig

No big vegetable garden here since the PH factor of our clay and shale hilltop is a 9! Another mistake not to check the soil. After years of digging out the soil and replacing it with compost and purchased topsoil, I was able to finally raise summer squash and tomatoes for several years- until the invasion of the ground squirrels.

:somad

Hope this will give you some information to go on when deciding what animals you would like to keep.
To answer a few other questions. I am younger and have kids in my family that will show the animals. We already have a apple tree and some chickens, the apple tree still isnt prodycing after 5 years. We are loking for flat land with not amany hills. And i would easily be able to install water sources myself. Our garden is never big either because of the clay. Thank you all again!
 

Ridgetop

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With a limited number of acres, smaller livestock would be best.

I suggest you start with a small rabbitry for meat. If your children join local youth programs, and showing animals at the local fair, rabbit meat pens will be their best money maker. Rabbits are easy to keep in wire cages hung over "worm pits". Worm pits are 2" x 12" boards edging the space under the cages where the manure falls. This rich manure pit encourages red worm proliferations and taking this manure and tilling it into your heavy clay soil will lighten the clay and is fabulous for vegetables. There is no odor to rabbit manure and it can be applied directly to the vegetables without having to age it like other manure. It won't burn your plants. If you have access to fine sawdust or shavings, those can be applied on top of the manure every couple of weeks to increase the soil improving capabilities of the rabbit manure. Buy a meat breed. DH started with New Zealands, but after about 10 years we got a trio (2 does and a buck) of Californians. We have decided we like them better. Calmer temperament, faster growth to butcher age. When buying your rabbits, get your wire cages online. A 36" wide x 30" deep all wire cage with babysaver wire 6" up is best. Many companies make them and you can order online for delivery. They come flat pack so you will need a bag of cage clips and a cage clip pliers. Buy 12" wide wire screen bottom "J" feeders. With a J feeder you can feed from outside the cage which is a real timesaver. 12" feeders are the size needed for a doe and her litter. Since there is very little difference in price between a smaller feeder for the buck I only buy 12" feeders. This will give you more flexibility in moving rabbits around.

I suggest you buy a trio to start with. A trio is one buck and 2 does. If you are really interested in producing more meat, you can buy 3 does to start with. Yu may have acquaintances that want t buy rabbit meat from you. To avoid problems with licensing regulations, sell your rabbits live. As a favor you can butcher for the buyers or they can butcher themselves. A rabbit will be ready to breed around 6 months old. Do NOT buy any doe over 10 months old that has not been bred since once does are that old they can be difficult or impossible to breed. The gestation time is 30 days, the doe will then raise the kits for 8 weeks at which time they should each weigh about 5 lbs. and be ready to butcher. The doe should be bred back 8 weeks after kindling for a new litter. The trick to a successful rabbit program is constant production. A rabbit will produce litters for about 4 -5 years if kept in constant production. If you only breed 1 or 2 litters a year does tend to get lazy and refuse to breed. When you buy your rabbits, rabbits are not registered like other breeds. You only need a 3 generation pedigree showing that the rabbit is purebred to register a rabbit with ARBA.

Next, although Jersey cows are also my favorite breed (love those sweet dish faces) you probably won't have enough grass pasture to support a cow on your small acreage. Even a small cow will give you too much milk for your household. A milking cow will require a LOT of grain to keep her milk coming if you follow the pound for pound ratio of grain to milk. I would suggest that you look into standard size dairy goats. A dairy goat will produce about 1 gallon of milk per day. To keep the milk production up you weigh the milk produced from each goat at each milking. Liquid milk weighs 8 lbs. per gallon. You feed grain in a ratio of l lb. grain for l lb. milk. You will want to have 2 does since they are a herd animal and will not be happy alone. Also breeding them to kid several months apart will ensure that you have milk all year. You will need to pull the kids and bottle fed them so you can keep the milk production high for the 10 months you want to milk each doe. Dry them off 2 months before they are due to kid again and the process starts over. Your children will love bottle feeding the kids. Make sure to buy registered stock and register the goats to the children. That way they will be able to show their dairy does and the doe kids in youth shows. I prefer standard size dairy goas because I don't like crouching over to lead them around.

Nubian milk is the richest and most like cow milk. Toggenburg milk is horrible! We bought a Togg for our first house milker. They next day we learned that the milk tastes bad. :sick Our favorite milk to drink out of all the breeds (we had all of them at one time or another) was Nubian and La Mancha. Whichever breed you decide to get, buy a doe in milk, try miking her and taste the milk before you buy her. Some goats are easier to milk and some, no matter the breed, have nasty tasting milk. Be sure to see the registration papers, ask for CAE testing, and milk records. A dairy animal will give a lot of milk the first couple of months after giving birth but without milk records there is no guarantee that the animal will continue a long lactation.

With a small area of pasture, these would be the 2 species I would get for a home farm. Together with your chickens, a garden and fruit trees, you should have a great start on feeding your family year-round. And with poultry, rabbits and dairy goats your children will have a great time both raising the animals and showing them. Once you are in your forever place, you can add more animals if your children want to show and auction at the fair.

Your family will have a wonderful time! Ours did! Our children (aged 44 through 28 now) still treasure those memories and many stories of crazy happenings have become stories to hand down to their kids.
Have fun! :hugs

DGD1 Elizabeth with month old lamb
(eldest daughter's daughter) - she is my junior shepherdess

IMG_6582 (1).JPG IMG_5538 (1).jpg
DGS6 Robert with newborn lamb - learning to be a shepherd
 

SageHill

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Everyone has given you FABULOUS info.
I'll add in - check the prices now of things you'll need for food and possibly bedding (shavings, etc). Then figure out from what has been said here how much you'll need every week. Do the math - it can be an eye opener, at least give you an idea I what to expect. I've got sheep and chickens. Last year alfalfa hay was $15/bale. This year it's $27. At that rate I decided to forgo the horse I wanted to add in.
And as others have said - go with the woven wire fencing (not welded). I've got 2x4 , 5ft woven wire.
 
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