Which Livestock is Best for 3.5 Acres
I researched this long and hard. There are so many pros and cons to having certain livestock, but it boils down to two things: 1.) We only have about 2-3 acres to fence. and 2.) We are broke.
When I researched feed, space, and resources I knew chickens would be beneficial. Chickens are able to be kept in enclosed areas and need roosting areas for eggs. They require about 1 square foot per chicken. Their feed is fairly cheap considering other livestock and they come with a lot of resource ideas. They produce eggs, meat, new chicks, and great compost. I would like to be able to utilize a chicken for every aspect. My husband and I determined if we rotate hens with a rooster we can have a new set of chicks per hen (4-6 hens).
There are different resources online which include how to rotate out roosters to make sure birth defects cannot happen and we have healthy chicks. Some say to buy a new rooster and sell the previous, eat the previous or rotate the hens. It all depends on how the cards unfold.
This seemed like a LOT of work for someone with a beginner homesteading resume. Cattle are very expensive, but their payout with meat for yourself or to sell. A single cow can last a family of 4 for a LONG time. With that said they need 1.5-2 acres per cow along with enough feed to keep them healthy. Cows produce milk when they have given birth, but getting the cow inseminated can be costly. You may have to find a farmer with a bull he is willing to stud or try to let nature run it’s course. That means more land for that bull. This, my friends, was an easy no.
Of course, as soon as you cross off that pretty Black Angus, an article pops up about miniature cows. Yes, miniature cows. This had my interest until I saw the prices again. Moving right along.
This idea seemed fun. Not the kind of fun as in Field Day, but fun to learn all about a cute animal. When breaking down the feed, space and resources goats seem high on my list for homesteading.
My husband served 4 years in the Army and did a tour in Afghanistan. Surely, you would think he tried goat meat overseas. No, at a cookout in 9th grade. Silly me for jumping to conclusions, but who actually eats these cute little animals?
Ideally, goats serve a lot of purpose when it comes to homesteading. Depending upon the breed, goats can produce sufficient amounts of milk, meat, other dairy products, and sold based on their bloodlines. When looking through the long list of these adorable livestock I came across the Nigerian Dwarf Goat.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats stand at only 23″ in height. That’s about a 1/3 smaller than your average goat. They have a lifespan of 8-12 years and can be bred all year-round. Their milk has a high butterfat content which is perfect for cheese, butter, ice cream, soap, you name it! They can also produce 1-2 quarts of milk a day compared to a cow’s 8 gallons a day. Yikes! So, for this beginner homesteader they seem to have what I’m looking for.
Now, before you say anything just hear me out. Donkeys are excellent guardians to livestock. We have coyotes out here and the neighbors have lost livestock to them from time to time. They require 1.5 acres which may be cramped depending on how many goats we acquire. I am going to hold off on our donkey friend for a little while and keep the goats in the barn at night.
Now that I have all of these ideas in my head I can’t go buy a goat from Walmart and tie him to my tree. I need a fence or two.
I researched having at least a 4-foot high, tightly strung fence with small spacing to keep them from climbing and getting their heads stuck. Some blogs call for a 5 foot fence, but Lowe’s does not carry enough to make this cost effective. Once we have our garden up and running we will start buying our supplies for this big project. That blog post will come later.
And lastly, a barn. I have researched barns and frankly I am in no position to buy a $35,000 barn. I found some websites with financing options, but that number put a lump in my throat.
Since goats only need 10-20 square feet (based on their outside area) you can fit 6 goats in a 10×12 pen. So, looking for a 12×24 barn would have 2 decent sized pens, a loft for feed and a gated area for vaccines, manicuring tools, etc. This will be my NEXT summer’s project.
So, here it is. Day 1 of my Teacher to Homesteader project in the works. In 3 weeks my monthly paycheck will arrive and some will go towards my garden plans that will be clearly laid out in this blog. I will also have fun canning recipes to follow along with Suzy-homemaker recipes to try out when you just don’t feel like buying bread!
For any advice to this Millennial Homesteader comment below!