Let's talk MINI-HOMESTEAD/RANCH... (rabbits, quail, chicken, goat?)


11 Years
12 Years
Jan 25, 2008
Alrighty, I want to play the "what-if" game/zombie plan game. This is the scenario and give me your advice, I have experience with chickens and quail, but the others I don't. I know these scenarios aren't ideal, because face it, if we could we would let all our animals have huge amounts of ample space and all the foraging their little hearts desire, but stick to the scenario. Free-ranging is not an option, closest thing is tethered foraging under immediate supervision.

Scenario: You're living in a tent or pickup truck with a partner, so two people.. Then to exercise that homesteading spirit and frugal living, what would the most economical "livestock" be.

I was thinking a couple of chickens, because two hens don't take up much space. Space and feed wise, chickens are really an economical meat source. So two hens.. Letting them live in a small tractor. Since space and mobility is an issue, maybe a large wire dog kennel? Take the plastic floor out and let them have access to the grass through the bottom. It won't keep them safe from anything that will reach through the bars, but it's more protection than tethering.

I've kept quail before and I know that they are EXTREMELY economical, a small wire cage and they have plenty of room to live and breed. Providing eggs, that will hatch in 17 days and in a few more weeks provide meat. ((I love my quail))

Rabbits. I've heard rabbits are economical and a good source of meat. Hearing the quote somewhere that a pair or two of rabbits will provide more meat in a year than a cow. How much space do rabbits need? If I were to try this experiment in the backyard(with the animals not me in a tent or truck. LOL), how many rabbit cages do I need? I have 3 wire mesh cages that were designed for rabbits. Buck and doe have to live seperate, correct? Does the doe need a specific cage to give birth in? I know she needs a whelping box, but can one of those fit in a wire rabbit cage? How long do the young stay with her or at what age do I seperate them out into I guess the third cage? If I designed a rack to hold the three cages in a vertical manner, one on top of the other, would that be sufficient for a breeding pair and their young?

Now for the question of a goat. I am very, very skeptical on this one. How much space of a single goat? I would look into a dwarf nubian scrub goat for this project. There is a breeder down the street who has a few does that are lower quality then she wants, so she was thinking of rehoming them for scrub goats. They may not be good for breeders, but I figure they'd be fine as milk goats. If I were to have a dog house, in a small chainlink dog kennel, would it be sufficient for a mini-milk goat? Supervised tether foraging at times of course. Good quality grain and hay provided. Ideally she'd produce a single kid, when bred to an outside buck. Milk the doe when needed and then allow the rest to her kid. Once the kid was weaned, it could be sold or eaten. Since two goats would be unideal in this situation. ((I know they prefer to be in groups, but you didn't see homesteaders keeping two family milk cows just because they'd get lonely)) Also, since it's a dwarf breed, I have to stick to a dwarf/mini stud, correct? I'd be asking for trouble if I bred a dwarf nigerian to a boer or nubian or other standard breed goat, correct?

Then the almight question! Is it cheaper to keep a couple of hens, 4-5 quail, a MINI-milk goat, and a pair of rabbits and their brood(until eaten obviously) or is it cheaper to just buy eggs(*gag*), meat, and milk from the store?

Again, please stick with the scenario. No free-ranging, supervised tethering only. No more than a single goat. No permanent structures, animals must stay in moveable pens only. Hay and proper grains will be provided. Have fun, no fighting! If I'm missing a possible farming food source, let me know what it is. No large livestock, space is limited.
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The only flaw I see is that goats are herd animals, so you need at least 2.

I do all the others: chickens, quail and meat rabbits. Out of all those, I like quail meat the best and are fastest to get to butchering weight, easiest to process. I don't care for the eggs, though. They're a pain to crack open and it takes like 5 to equal a hen's egg. So I would probably do the quail, hatching all the eggs and raising the babies for meat and a few hens for table eggs.

Don't forget a container garden!
I know I said concentrate on the plants, but I have never seen a container garden really work. My FIL watched us till up a garden in the yard last year and continue to water and weed. The tomatoes that popped out were amazing, so he decided to show us who's who and popped a half grown tomato plant into a pot, sit it next to an auto waterer, and watch it struggle on, producing maybe a single tomato. Then this year he watched us do the same, and he put a couple of holes in a couple of five gallon buckets, hang them upside down and try to grow a couple of tomatoes that way, they died and he ended up raiding our garden. LOL

I've seen strawberries do pretty decent, and herbs do well in pots. I guess I've just never done the research into a potted garden outside flowers, ornamentals, and herbs. Can you do veggies and fruits from containers and have them do well?
If you've got the space, the ground is best! The only time I tried tomato plants in containers, I killed them, but that was entirely an operator error.
I get good results in the ground and I'm the laziest gardner you'll ever meet.
I'd do:

2-3 hens for eggs in a tractor, just make the roosting area secure at night (mine use a ramp to go from the top coop into the yard below, at night, back up and the ramp raises like a drawbridge). Quail for fast meat, poultry wise, rabbits for fast red meat. Goats I know nothing about hands-on.
Rabbits you'll want 2 does, 1 buck which means 3 cages. the doe is brought to the buck's cage to do thier things, then back to her cage, in her cage she'll need a small nesting box, maybe just big enouh for 2 full sized bunnies, with some soft material for nest building when it's time. You'll want to stagger breeding so that you don't have 20 babies all on one day. Now I've not done rabbits other than pets since my 1st husband, who bred them for 4H kids, don't know how to process, but MEN has plenty on the topic.

Container gardens, use the 5 gallon buckets. go to the square foot gardening site, and each bucket counts as 1 sqft, so you can do 1 tomato, 2 bell peppers, 4 cucumbers, etc.

Can we get approx how much room you're talking? I can send you pics and plans for my modular quail cages, I've scanned them, but they don't reduce well.

Oh yes, the cheaper question, depends on cost of feed there, how much groceries are at the market and how well your stock does. So long as feed's reasonable, and you've room to process and use the parts, home grown can be low cost.
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Rabbits are actually all white meat, the front legs are darker meat, but it all looks and tastes very similar to chicken. Nothing like red meat.
Wouldn't you need a way to hatch the quail?
You could double up on the veggies in 5 gal. buckets if you grew those listed upside down and planted lettuce or herbs on top.
Thank you belle, Mr. Saddi the 1st had a rather odd ranch, they wouldn't process anything, so he'd breed animals for the 4H, and after fair he'd get a bunch of returned animals that sat in a barn in tiny cages to wait till they passed. Rather depressing. I managed to get some adopted out as pets, but he was worried how the animals would be treated.

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