Tips For Raising Livestock
You can stockpile all of the long lasting and non-perishable foods that you want, but you will still always be faced with the possibility that that stockpile runs out if the grid down scenario lasts long enough. That’s why it’s always a good idea to be self-sufficient so that you have a steady supply of food on a long-term basis.
One way to become self-sufficient is to grow your own garden of crops, but another way is to raise livestock. Yes, raising livestock is a serious commitment, but it’s also one that can pay off because in the aftermath of a disaster scenario you’ll have a steady stream of meat and protein.
If you are only able to raise one livestock animal, chickens should be your first choice. Chickens are great because they require very little space, are extremely easy to take care of (all you really need is a draft-free coop, space for them to scratch and exercise, some food and water) and they yield you a lot of eggs and meat.
If you add a rooster into the mix, chickens will double their number annually and hens can produce five to six eggs every week. This means if you have four or five hens in your coop, you can have enough eggs for your family’s breakfast each morning.
The coop does not have to be very sturdy for the purpose of keeping the chickens in, but it should be designed to keep local predators such as coyotes, foxes, and owls from entering. It needs to have a roof and dry, private nesting spaces.
As far as food as concerned, you can obviously use chicken feed but chickens are not picky eaters at all. They will eat many foodstuffs from your dinner leftovers to weeds to insects, so in a disaster scenario when your chicken feed supply runs out, you will still be capable of feeding them.
Before you consider goats as an option, check that keeping them is not prohibited (or limited) by your local zoning laws.
Goats require much more space than chickens and their fencing needs to be tougher and with zero gaps — consider the impossible places goats can reach in the wild — but they are still a very useful survival animal.
They are the best dairy animal where space is limited, such as on a homestead, and their milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk. Milk once or twice daily, just make it regular.
Two does will be sufficient to supply your family with milk year-round, provided you stagger their breeding. This means you will be looking at one, or more, kids per doe approximately every 15 months, potentially giving you a steady supply of meat or income after each weaning.
A good milking doe will yield up to three quarts each day, but the amount your ladies produce will slowly drop after every refresh of their cycle.
Of course, to be truly self-sufficient, you may want to also keep a healthy buck to breed from, or make a shared arrangement with neighbours as bucks can be more challenging to manage.
They are foragers (like deer) rather than grazers (like sheep), and will happily tuck into all kinds of food. So be careful where they are able to roam! While goats can get by fine on low-grade fodder, milk quality in part depends on food quality.
Also, goats are thirsty animals when lactating so never let water supply be restricted. Another benefit to owning goats is that they can clear land out for you by eating small trees, shrubs, wood fibers, twigs, leaves, branches, stems, and vines.
As well as just drinking the goats milk, it can be turned into cheese, butter, yogurt, even ice-cream or goat milk soap.
One thing to bear in mind with pigs is that they can grow to be big, heavy creatures (some pigs can grow to weigh over two hundred pounds). That said, there is a wide range of breeds to choose from.
They are also very intelligent and are great at preparing ground that needs clearing for crops — which will also benefit from your pig manure compost. Like goats, they can be destructive if allowed to get into your crop beds or orchard, so fencing should be robust.
So long as you are up for cleaning their pen out regularly as well as visiting and feeding them twice daily, pigs are an excellent livestock animal to keep.
Like hens, they like a dry and draft free bed. Intensive farming has proved that you can raise a pig inside a pen not much bigger than the beast, but these are creatures who like plenty of space. They also eat anything from grains to roots to your kitchen leftovers.
The best part of raising pigs as livestock animals is that there is very little of them that isn’t edible.
Easily the quietest livestock animal on this list is the rabbit. There are some survivalists and preppers who consider rabbits to be a better livestock animal to keep than chickens.
Rabbits only require a pen and some shelter to be kept in and provided you clean out their manure, this pen will be odor free.
It’s important that their pen and shelter have suitable ventilation, because rabbits do not tolerate excessively hot temperatures very well and they will need a place to cool down. They also must have plenty of water in order to thrive as well.
The best food to give rabbits is hay, but if you run out of hay, they aren’t picky eaters and can also dine upon bread, roots, and carrots.
The reason why you would want to consider rabbits as a livestock animal for prepping is because of the great quantity of meat that they provide. One buck and two does can provide you over fifty rabbits every year, which can then be eaten when they turn seven months old.
Chickens, goats, pigs, and rabbits are your four best options for raising livestock as preparation for a grid down scenario.
Each of these animals require relatively little space, can eat almost everything that you give them, are easy to take care of, and will provide you with plenty of meat and protein. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t stockpile food in addition to raising livestock, but being self-sustaining for food is important and raising livestock is one of the best ways that you can do that.