Noob Farmer/Rancher

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Utard, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. Utard

    Utard Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hey all

    I need some help

    Is this a good site for questions about other farm animals other than chickens? Or is there another site anyone could recommend?

    So here is my dilemma. I have been a city boy all my life. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah right now. But I just bought a large farm/ranch in Nyssa, Oregon.

    So.......I need lots of help with information about livestock and such. I have purchased a bunch of books but there is always stuff you can't learn in a book. I have a 30 acre irrigated pasture and 45 acres native ground that I want to have an assortment of animals. Some for food and some to make money off of. I basically know NOTHING about those types of animals. Animals I am thinking on having/getting. Cattle, Goats, Chickens, Sheep, Pigs, turkey, rabbits. Right now I have 7 chickens. I started those mid summer last year. Those I will be moving up with me. But as for the rest? I just don't know the rudimentary things like what animals you can and can't have together in the same area? Do some need to be penned or prefer to roam around? The one thing I do know is the pasture has supported up to 22 pair (cow/calf) cattle, 3 horses and 2 donkeys. The native area has never really had live stock fenced in on it.

    Any help would be appreciated thanks
  2. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I think that there is a Backyardherds site.

    I don't know where you are located...but the first steps to go through are the following:

    call you local extension agent. They usually, for FREE, will walk your land for you, give you pointers and some free information.

    Just because the place had a bunch of animals on it in the past, doesn't mean that it SHOULD have had that many animals on it.

    You can ask your extension agent for a list of the most common plants on your area, you really only need to memorize ten from that list. But also memorize any poisonous plants or problem plants that your extension agent says might be around.

    OK, back to the ten plants you need to memorize...

    Short lesson as to WHY you want to memorize them.

    Any bit of land can have all of their plants listed under three headings: 1. decreasers 2. increasers and 3. invaders

    The decreaser plants are like the ice cream. Animals are going to eat those first. And yes, different animals have different preferences, but there is a big amount of commonality. Since the 'ice cream' plants are first, those are the first plants to decrease in abundance if your grazing and/or browsing pressure is too high.

    The increaser plants are there in an 'ideal' landscape, but they aren't as tasty as the decreasers, so they start greatly increasing in number when the decreasers start dieing out. If the grazing and browsing pressure is very strong, then after that initial increase the increasers start to decline.

    The invaders are usually all sorts of nasties that take over the landscape as first the decreasers die out and then the increasers die out.

    If you memorize just a few of the most common from those three groups (increasers, decreasers, and invaders) you can walk across your land and take note of what plant is at the point of your boot after each step. This will give you an idea of where you land stands, how you are doing with your land management, and how to get to where you want to go.

    If that wasn't clear, ask questions.

    Oh, and yep, you can raise lots of different livestock at the same time... different livestock tend to prefer different food, so they can work together to take full advantage of what you have.

    Best way to manage well though is investing in lots of fences, but you can shift grazing pressure around by other means too, live salt blocks and water.
  3. Utard

    Utard Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the info so far.

    What exactly is an extension agent? One of the books I got mentions one also (Raising cattle for dummies). I did get about 12 books on cattle and small farming and other homesteader info.

    I think for the most part the previous owner did a good job at managing the pasture? It really looks about in between a golf course fairway and rough. I think he was a little chemical happy? I would like to stay away from chemicals if at all possible. But he would do round up all around at the bottom of the fences. He said that really helped keep the cows from messing with the fence trying to get grass. He also said he used 2,4D a few times a year for the whole place. You could really tell because if LOOKED good but I don't know if that means it is good. I am guessing it might be good to get some clovers growing in a few places because it basically looked like only grass.

    His method of letting everything free roam around seemed to work good. The main pasture area is 29 acres with 7 separated from the other 22. He did mention that he would have to put in horses in the 7 acre area sometimes to keep them from eating all the cattles hay.

    But a few things is I really want to try to stay from the chemicals as much as possible. If it is possible. But I am not afraid to use them if really needed. And I really want to stay away from tons of fences everywhere. I am not looking to try to be a millionaire from growing cattle. I don't want to exceed what the land can handle on its own.

    Another thing is I want to stay away from feed also. I feel there should be enough food in the pasture in the summer with a little hay supplement and of course lots of hay in the winter. But if you know what I mean just mostly grass fed animals no bags of feed.

    So from what you are saying it will most likely be a problem to have cattle, sheep and goats all roaming around together in the same pasture? And I would think the chickens roaming around also wouldn't be an issue? I plan on putting the coop outside of the pasture area but have it so they can have access to it once or twice a week.
  4. Utard

    Utard Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here are a few photo's from last year.

  5. ocap

    ocap Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 1, 2013
    Smithville, Missouri
    I learned a lot searching youtube for the animal I was interested in acquiring next.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    1. an extension agent is a government worker who gets our tax dollars specifically so that he can help people be better stewards of their land.

    I just typed in "list of extension agents in Wyoming" (since your photos looked a bit Wyoming like)

    From that website you can go to your country and get your local office, numbers and email addresses etc.

    2. chemicals: you usually don't need chemicals of any sort (there are a few exceptions). In general, those chemicals are used to make up for poor management and/or running way more livestock than a place can naturally carry. Remember how I went over 'decreasers', 'increasers' and 'invaders'? Well, if you graze gently on the landscape, your decreasers and increasers have healthy robust populations that continue even under grazing pressure. However, if you are overgrazing, then the invaders (the undesirable plants) start to come in and out compete the plants you want to keep. With chemicals, and fertilizers you can force the pasture to stay how you want it (within certain limits of course).

    Even in a completely man-made irrigated pasture, it works the same way. Proper management, and it can stay beautiful without chemicals etc. but if you keep overgrazing you will have to do more to keep the system the way you want it.

    3. Same with having to feed hay or feed or pellets. With a well managed place, you can set aside some pasture to be your winter pasture. This winter pasture would have grass that dries and pretty much is 'standing hay'. For a winter pasture, even for grazers like cattle, you want some brush to help round out their nutrition. With the dry country that you are in, 'standing hay' is actually highly nutritious since there isn't the high rainfall that washes out the nutrition from the dried grass. So, in dry country you can have a winter pasture, and have your livestock feed completely off of what is there, and they will have high nutrition and be very healthy (as long as you don't get such deep snow that they can't find the grass). However, this means that you need FEWER animals, since you are now feeding the animals only from the land.

    4. Your place looks pretty heavily grazed. It is hard to tell since I can't actually see what kind of plants the green stuff is composed of..... But I would guess that if you don't graze at all for a year, and use no chemicals of any kind, that that entire pasture will turn into solid weedy stuff. (So mostly invaders, the stuff you don't want). Don't bother with getting a better picture of the plants, I am not at all familiar with the plants up in that part of the world, and would just be guessing. You could however, pull up a few of whatever is most commonly growing there, and bring it to your extension agent.

    5. Some perspective..... I would be exceedingly surprised if even very well managed native land in that part of the country was any better than 20 acres for ONE cow. Now, with an irrigated pasture, it is going to be a great deal better...... but for that I couldn't guess since that depends on what is planted there, how much it is irrigated, etc.
    1 person likes this.
  7. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Oh, sheep, cattle, and goats are fine running together.

    You do need to watch a bit more carefully for some parasites, but the nice thing is that goats and cattle have little overlap as to what they like to eat. So, running the two together is actually very nice, since you then use more of the available plants.

    Sheep and cattle eat very similar things, not exactly the same, but pretty close, so running sheep would definitely reduce the number of cattle you can run, and visa verse. With goats and cattle or goats and sheep there is a much smaller overlap, so adding one more goat doesn't mean you have to get rid of a cow or sheep.

    Was that clear?
  8. Stacykins

    Stacykins Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 19, 2011
    Escanaba, MI
    There is a slight problem with running sheep with cattle and goats, and that problem is with the nutritional differences. Goats and cattle, in order to be healthy, require amounts of copper in their diet that is toxic to sheep. So to make sure the sheep don't die of copper toxicity, a mineral appropriate to sheep would need to be offered. As a result, the goats and cattle will likely become copper deficient, which leads to severe health problems in both animals. Kind of a lose/lose situation, unless the sheep are kept completely separate so all animals can be given appropriate feed and mineral.

    Here is an article published by Oregon State University on copper deficiency in cattle.

    Here is an article on copper deficiency in goats.

    Here is an article on copper toxicity in sheep. Not the best one, but I'm kinda tired so my article hunting skills aren't as keen at the moment.
    1 person likes this.
  9. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

  10. Utard

    Utard Chillin' With My Peeps

    So I just talked to the Extension Agent for my area. I will meet with him in about 30 days. If I have any other questions after that I will get back to ya'll.

    Thanks for the information so far.

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