Help on future breeds, management

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by punk-a-doodle, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2011
    I'll take any tips people can give me. My husband and I would like to get a sort of in-between house next. So far, we've only rented in fairly urban areas, and one day, we'd like 100 acres or so to do small-scale farming (for ourselves and foster kids) and some habitat protection on, so it would be nice to transition more slowly to that huge jump. When we move, it will be because my husband will have finished certification for a line of work in computers, so we'll have a bit more options open to us than we have in the past money wise. We're thinking of 5-8 acres. I hear you can have about 2 miniature cattle per 10 acres. Would 5-8 acres be enough for one dairy sheep, one dairy goat, and one miniature dairy cow? Would it be enough land to do rotational grazing on? Would it be enough land to raise those three animals as grass fed animals? Would one of each be a lonely and miserable experience for herd animals (granted, the type of sheep I'm most interested right now lacks herd instinct, and this breed will scatter when alarmed rather than flock)? The time and schedule of milking is not an issue to us. We're already happy to not vacation if we have projects and animals at home, and we have never had an issue with pets on strict schedules (meds, feeding for baby birds, etc.) before. We're home bodies.

    I have so many questions. It sounds like we should start with a goat, then a sheep, then a cow when we are comfortable with the other species? I am thinking of a mini Jersey for the cow, because my husband just loves jerseys, and we both like how their milk tastes. I love nubians, and my husband just adores all goats. I like how some nubians are prone to having precocious udders, and I have heard of people milking them through their life without ever needing them to kid. Seems Americans mainly say, 'don't milk that udder!', but that it is more common to milk precocial udders in other countries. Any info to add to that? The sheep breed, I'm not decided on yet. I have kind of a crazy idea on that one, that I don't know how logical it is. If owning one of the rare dairy breeds that people say you should only own if contributing to the breeding pool...would it be possible to do something like exchange stud service for whatever lambs are produced by our ewe? That may be a completely stupid or illogical idea. Is there a comprable idea that you could recommend to someone not wanting to expand their own dairy stock?

    We will have more dairy than we will need for ourselves, but hope to give the extra ricotta, feta, etc to friends and family. How do others get rid of their excess dairy? I'm not opposed to getting the proper licenses to sell it, as that will help us get our feet wet for when we expand.

    Other than that, we are only looking at chickens, and I'm pretty set on what I want for those, another cattle dog (already own one), and any purely inside pets like the ones we already have.

    Hope to hear a lot from you experienced folks, and to figure out what is doable for us and any animals we might own. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    5 acres can provide lots of space for self sufficiency. Large livestock ups that number. It depends on your use and how much of it is in pasture.
    Trees provide wood and sometimes fruit and nuts but limit sunlight for pasture and gardening.
    On excellent pasture 1 cow/calf unit require about 2 to 4 acres unless you go with something small like Dexter cattle. That's only during growing season. In winter you'll need hay.
    I would go with goats for milk/meat, sheep for wool/meat/milk, and maybe Dexters which are good for meat/milk.
     
  3. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    Kudos to your plans to live out in the country. The only advise I have is, that I wish I would have started up slower. I did things too fast, introduced too many different species to the farm with only a few of them profitable or at least earning their keep, and it has been 3 years and I am still catching up to things I did wrong in year 1. It takes a while to become comfortable with any animal. You can read up on them as best as possible, ask many questions, but experiences comes only over time, and mistakes that you make. Don’t overwhelm yourself. I would start with bees. They are easy keepers, a good return on investment (pollination, honey, propolis, colonies you can split and sell) and you don’t have to manage them daily. Just my limited experience.
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    St. Louis, MO
    Quote:X2
    I was going to mention bees (I have 2 hives), but that would only have gotten me started on so many other topics.[​IMG]
     
  5. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    Meat rabbits might be a good idea too although I like chickens better since they also lay eggs and produce meat. If you are limited on land and want to have a large animal, you will have to deal with rotational grazing, lots of pest control, manure management, etc. Can be quite the pain.
     
  6. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the input so far guys! Unfortunately, meat rabbits are out for us. For whatever reason, they are the one meat animal I just can not do, and my husband is the same way on them. I'm not sure why we can only see them as pets, but that is just how they are for us...even, if not especially, the large meat breeds. [​IMG]

    Bees however, are something we really want to try. I know absolutely nothing about bee keeping, but I think they have a ton of great resource books for it at our library. We are a big honey state. I wonder if I might even be able to be an apprentice under someone locally? I'd have to learn a ton in that area though.

    Thankfully, on chickens and avians I feel pretty confident starting out on those, as I worked at an aviary from incubation to hand feeding to medical care on things from finches to eagles to our stinkers of emus. X)

    And very true about experience Avalon. It's nerve wracking trying to get your feet wet!
     
  7. MaryMouse

    MaryMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are on limited acerage, taking care of the land is important. Regardless of what you decide to do The land is your starting point. If you do set up a pasture rotation program look into seeding your feilds/pasture. One very inavasive easy method if you have snow is to sow at the end of winter begining of spring on the last snow in the late evening. This is a no till method. This is the difference between good pasture and not. So thats one of the things I would research. Also manure management. Look into biodynamic farming. You dont have to do everything that way but lots of good ideas and starting points. I say this because it sounds like you have already given it some thought, and there might be some useful info on these avenues. [​IMG]
     
  8. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    Quote:X2. There are some great resources on rotational grazing and Manure management available online. Unfortunately I have only dealt with horses so far but even with those guys it is important to keep the manure picked up and pastures fertilized and not overgrazed.

    Maybe put an ad out looking for local bee keepers on CL and see if somebody is willing to teach you. I had one help me this year when we got our bees for the first time and it helped a lot. I didn’t even know how to put the hive together and now I am teaching myself how to split hives, nucs and all that good stuff. There is still a ton to learn about bees but at least you won’t have to call into work saying you cannot make it because animal X is having X disease and you are waiting for the vet to come out. Luckily I have understanding coworkers. [​IMG]
     
  9. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the info on land management! Is there some kind of real go-to resource for land management basics that anyone can recommend? Biodynamic farming is now on my google reading list for the night. [​IMG]

    There is still a ton to learn about bees but at least you won’t have to call into work saying you cannot make it because animal X is having X disease and you are waiting for the vet to come out. Luckily I have understanding coworkers.

    *snort* XD​
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  10. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    Quote:*snort* XD

    I gathered my knowledge mainly from horse books and talking to local farmers. What type of soil you have will hugely impact the way you treat your land and use the animals on it, for example, we are 1/2mi away from Lake Michigan. We have sandy soil and a lot of hard pan. Hard pan doesn’t drain worth a darn and sandy soil causes sand colics in horses if they ingest too much. We rotate as long as the grass is 4in long, after that they need to leave and stay in the dirt paddocks. We feed on rubber mats so that the horses don’t eat off the ground and ingest sand. Our horse diet is in huge huge parts fiber to make sure that even if they ingest some sand, it comes out. What type of soil you have will also tell you what type of grass/weeds you will be dealing with. Our best friends are Weed B Gone and Scotts Turfbuilder. We fertilize each holiday. Our horses have made the ground very firm so now we are working on figuring out how to aerate the ground.

    Like I said, I only have horsey experience in the land management part but I would think it is the same with other livestock. Learn what plants your desired animals can eat and which ones are poisonous. If you keep the weeds under control you’ll do good. Weeds choke out grass. Weeds must die. [​IMG] Many weeds will also come in the form of your hay farmer whose hay your animals will be eating and pooping seeds into your pasture, so constant upkeep is needed or you’ll have a weed field.
     

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