Homesteading Livestock: Choosing the Right Livestock for Your Needs

Once you have decided to take the livestock plunge, it is time to get down to the serious business of choosing what type or types of stock you will raise. Some of this decision making will be dictated to you by circumstances.

For instance, if you are stuck in the burbs, an Angus bull is probably not a practical choice. In this situation, rabbits, chickens, or a pond with tilapia would probably be wiser choices.

In an urban setting you will be more limited, but even a pair of rabbits on a porch can provide a significant source of protein in a prolonged crisis. If you are fortunate enough to have some land in a rural area, that Angus bull might actually work for you.

Homesteading Livestock and Foragers

On our homestead, we have two classes of livestock. We have our normal times stock and our SHTF stock. There is quite a bit of crossover, but certain livestock won’t be around for long in a crisis situation. Normal times only stock are very feed dependent.

Chickens and Turkeys as Homesteading Livestock

For example, we maintain several chicken-tractors full of Cornish Cross chickens through 75% of the year. They are fast growers and we raise a couple thousand a year. They are practically worthless as foragers and we throw large quantities of very expensive GMO-free feed at them non-stop.

Heritage turkeys as livestock

Heritage turkeys are slow growers but cheap to feed.

If (when) feed becomes an issue we will rapidly transition from the Cornish Cross chickens to heritage breeds of turkeys.

Although the turkeys are slower growers, they are phenomenal foragers, and therefore require much less feed to produce the same quantity of meat. Our laying hens are also awesome foragers, there are months of the year when we feed them little or nothing and the eggs keep right on coming.

Laying hens are one of the easiest forms of homesteading livestock to keep, although they do require feed, determined by the foraging environment you provide them with. Chickens can be legally raised in many municipalities these days, and small backyard coops are readily available on the commercial market. There are also an abundance of coop plans out there for the DIY types.

Homesteading Livestock

Goats are great foragers and provide milk and meat for very little expense.

Goats for Homesteading Livestock

If you have the land available, goats and sheep are by far the best producers for the money. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and are cheap or free to feed. Either can provide you with milk and dairy products as well as meat.

They are as low maintenance as it gets in the world of homesteading livestock. They require only fresh water and a source of vegetation of almost any quality, and they will thrive and feed your family through any times.

Ducks are another source of meat and eggs, particularly if you have a pond available. They also require very little feed much of the year and very little care in general.

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