Your Meat, Egg, and Milk Garden: How to Raise Small Livestock in Your Own Backyard

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Read this guide if you want to know all about raising ducks :.

Rabbits are great additions to any homestead. They are a great meat source, cost very little to feed, and take up very little space. They can be fed store bought feed, fodder, extra veggies from the garden, weeds and grass clippings, and hay. Rabbits are also great for your garden because they produce some of the most amazing fertilizer.

5 Tips to Raising Livestock for Food

Rabbits do usually require hutches. They can be built for very little cost or purchased. Some choose to let their rabbits free range in a bunny tractor for protection. You may also choose to raise your rabbits in a colony setting.


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Their housing obviously has many options that can cost as little or as much as you choose. Read this guide if you are interested in raising rabbits :. Chickens are commonly raised farm animals because they are multipurpose animals. They are a great source of eggs, meat, and fertilizer. Chickens require about 4 square feet of space per hen in the coop. Chickens require a covered area to stay dry, fresh water, and a place to nest and lay their eggs. Chickens will eat almost anything. You can feed them compost, weeds, leftovers from the garden, or store bought feed. Breed will depend upon how many eggs you will get a day and will also determine their temperament.

They are susceptible to predators such as hawks as well but having good fencing around their coop and a good rooster will help in protecting your hens. Cleanliness in their coop must be a priority in order to keep healthy chickens. Where chickens roost in such tight quarters and have weak respiratory systems, if one falls ill usually they all will.

You must also be aware of using proper bedding in order to deter lice and mites. They are great at clearing brush, a meat source, and also great for dairy. Some choose to leave their goats out to pasture. If your goats are in a smaller space it is good to give them a covered place to stay dry when it rains. They will appreciate it. Goats are very susceptible to illness. When a goat has a stomach issue it can be a matter of life or death in only a few hours.

It is important to worm them a few times a year.

Backyard Livestock 101: Chickens, Turkeys, Goats, and Rabbits

You can choose to use store-bought medication or feed them pumpkin or pine trees. If you notice they have a stomach problem start treating them immediately. Goats are also escape artists.


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The only true way to keep them fenced in is to keep them happy, and consider getting proper goat fencing for this. They are social farm animals so it is important to have more than one. If you keep them well fed and give them a buddy, they should stay happy and want to stay right where they are. We have a whole section on Goat care, and here is a good post to start with:.

Pigs have a bad reputation for smell and messiness. In reality, pigs are clean farm animals. If you have the land available to allow them to free range then your feeding expense will be a lot lower. When pigs have babies their litters can often consist of as many as 11 piglets.

Backyard Farm Animals: Sheeps, Lambs, Hens

They are obviously a great meat source, but you must raise the babies for a year to get an adequate amount of meat from them. They eat compost, corn, other grains, milk, bread, fodder, and practically anything else you feed them. However, being such large animals they do require a lot of food which can get expensive if they are not free ranged. They require a pin with strong fencing. They are very strong farm animals and can escape if they put their mind to it. Here is a great guide on getting started with raising feeder pigs :. Cows are a large animal and, therefore, require a large amount of space.


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  8. One cow needs around an acre to graze. You must technically have at least 2 acres for it so you can rotate pastures. They are a great source for milk and meat. However, because of the amount of space they take up, it is fair to say that a cow is not right for everyone. They need a large water source, a barn for winter with a large supply of hay to keep them fed, and shade for hot summer days while they are out in the pasture. If you are keen on owning a cow, have a look at these cow breeds :. While most people somehow do not consider raising honeybees on their homestead, they're actually magnificent creatures and require very little maintenance.

    You need hive boxes to get started and a small water source where they can rest and drink. Their water source can be a bird bath with little rocks in it to keep them from drowning or something as large as a pond.

    Backyard Livestock Chickens, Turkeys, Goats, and Rabbits - Modern Farmer

    They swarm a lot in the spring and are very gentle when they do. You will need a bee suit, gloves, and some sugar water to catch them but once you do, you have a free hive. One of our neighbors customarily raises 6 to 12 turkeys a year right next to the hen house, in a pen about 5 feet wide, 12 feet long and about 2 feet high. The entire sunporch is raised about 3 feet off the ground.

    Ready to get started?

    About half of the pen is roofed over to protect the birds from rain and direct sunlight, and roosts are provided. Each bird requires about 5 square feet of space. Supports made of wire attached to turnbuckles can be kept taut and will prevent the floor from sagging. In fact, if you have more old lumber than wire or money laying around, as most of us homesteaders do, the sides as well as the floor can be constructed of wood by making these of vertical lath spaced one inch apart.

    You can use regular poultry fountains for a source of drinking water when raising backyard turkeys. The fountain will have to be placed inside the pen and removed for filling and cleaning. A simpler method for providing water for a few birds is to cut a hole in the side of the pen large enough for any pan you might have, and fence it in with heavy gauge wire spaced three inches apart at the bottom. The wires are brought together at the top and fastened to the side of the pen so the arrangement looks like half a bird cage.

    This way, the pan can be filled and cleaned from the outside. Feeders for your turkeys can be regular chicken feeders that will fit inside the pen, or a simply constructed wooden trough that can be filled from outside.

    Raising Backyard Turkeys for Meat - Backyard Poultry

    Obviously, the feed should be protected from rain. Two inches of feeding space per bird is recommended. It takes about four pounds of feed to grow a pound of turkey. For the home flock, so little feed will be used that it will hardly pay to mix the meat scraps, minerals, and other ingredients needed for a balanced ration.

    It will be more economical to buy prepared feed. Pellets for feeding turkeys are available from several companies, but read the label carefully as many of these feeds are medicated. Corn tops the list of grains fed to turkeys for fattening. Oats can also be fed, especially if cannibalism or feather picking is a problem, since the high fiber content of this grain is generally recognized as one means of reducing feather picking in chickens as well as in turkeys.

    Other grains, notably sunflower seeds, are also good for turkeys. In addition, you will want to use liberal amounts of green feed. In fact, if possible, turkeys can be raised on range with a great saving in feed. Among the best greens that can be grown on the small place for turkeys, or chickens for that matter, is Swiss chard, and it will continue to grow until hard frost. Rape and alfalfa, as well as lettuce, cabbage, and most any other garden greens, all provide good food for turkeys.

    As much as 25 percent of the ration can be greens, which can enable you to compete price-wise with the commercial grower. The turkey pen is another place to make good use of excess milk from your goat herd. Whole goat milk, skim milk, or whey should be used to moisten mash.

    Growing Mushrooms

    Be careful not to provide too much mash and clean up promptly, as anything leftover will ferment in the feeders, attracting flies and becoming generally unsanitary. Turkeys grow most rapidly during about the first 24 weeks. If feed prices are high, it becomes less profitable to hold them much beyond this age when keeping turkeys for meat. Domestic turkey breeds are notoriously disease-prone, particularly to Blackhead. This is an organism hosted by the small roundworm of the chicken.