Livestock - which are worth the effort (or not)?

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11 years 1 month ago #34648 by lookingtosettle
Hello all - in my research on starting our LSB I would like to get your opinions on what livestock you think is worth having vs not being worth the trouble. This could be because they are too much work, too expensive, or just because they weren't what you expected when you first started with them.

We had envisioned to have on our farm as much variety as possible - inclusive of: ducks (meat/egg), chickens (meat/eggs), goats (meat/milk), cows (primarily beef), pigs, and sheep (meat).

If there are others you think are worth investigating, please let me know. Likewise if you feel in your experience one or more of the above list is not ideal - and the reasons why.

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11 years 1 month ago #455992 by Akzle
sheep. i dislike sheep with a passion.

they're stupid, require heaps of drench etc, are too fussy with footrot and eczema etc.

llamas. get llamas.

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11 years 1 month ago #455995 by Sue
My experiences re cattle.
Started with 13 acres of reasonable pasture, and leased it out to the grazier who was already leasing the land for a few months after purchase. We both had outside jobs so this was convenient while we were establishing a garden and preparing a house site.

After 6 months we decided we would graze our own cattle and got an agent to purchase 10 yearlings for us-mixed beef/dairy cross-6 heifers and 4 steers as it turned out. No real work apart from moving them around, ideal with us both working, living off site and a young family-aged 2 and 5.

Six 'yearling' heifers turned out to be pregnant, and 6 more calves arrived! Easy multiplication without buying-ah ha!

After 3 years of fattening and selling we decided to go for quality to improve the income per animal-which entailed buying pedigree stock and phasing out the mongrels!

So after building yards, slightly more work with recording and weighing, more enjoyment and satisfaction-and yes, buying/leasing/borrowing more land and more cows, we are 36 years further down the track and now have 50 acres and lease 25 more!

We get real satisfaction from developing and improving our herd, one of us still works full time, we have meat in the freezer, around 66 head of cattle-and hopefully 33 more on the way! We don't make a huge profit, but they do break even and with a creative accountant get a bit of tax back from the day jobs!

If lifestyle is what you are after, plus a small income, or at least not a money pit, then cattle are probably the easiest and less work intensive lifestock to start with-but don't start with calf rearing and DO ensure you have yards/facilities to handle them safely!

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.

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11 years 1 month ago #456004 by cowvet

Akzle;457173 wrote: sheep. i dislike sheep with a passion.

they're stupid, require heaps of drench etc, are too fussy with footrot and eczema etc.

llamas. get llamas.


really - what to llamas actually do if you want anything from them other than entertainment...aka something to spend money on and eat grass

Sheep - don't require heaps of drench if you use your brain...nor is footrot an issue (again you have to use your brain and stick to a prevention/management plan), nor facial excema (that's very much a location thing)

Sheep provide a real income for my family and put food on the table...haven't yet met a llama farmer that could say the same!
Whilst they both start with ''e'' there is a big difference between ''enjoyment'' and ''economics'' with regard to animals


I love animals...they're delicious

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11 years 1 month ago #456010 by cowvet

lookingtosettle;457169 wrote: Hello all - in my research on starting our LSB I would like to get your opinions on what livestock you think is worth having vs not being worth the trouble. This could be because they are too much work, too expensive, or just because they weren't what you expected when you first started with them.

We had envisioned to have on our farm as much variety as possible - inclusive of: ducks (meat/egg), chickens (meat/eggs), goats (meat/milk), cows (primarily beef), pigs, and sheep (meat).

If there are others you think are worth investigating, please let me know. Likewise if you feel in your experience one or more of the above list is not ideal - and the reasons why.


my only advice is not to spread yourself too thin by trying to do it all with a menagerie...that is a recipe for a big money sinkhole. Do a couple of things really well...make some money off them/or barter to get the rest. I am under no illusion that my current bird fetish is nothing but an economic no win situation. when the enjoyment is not worth the feed i buy is time I pull the pin


I love animals...they're delicious

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11 years 1 month ago #456012 by hilldweller
Sheep are great. You just need to get the right ones.

hilldweller

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11 years 1 month ago #456014 by Akzle
i've never owned sheep. and wouldn't for the reasons listed above. they're high maintenance, and stupid, like, very unintelligent.

i was half kidding about the llamas, i don't know much about them, except they don't have hoofs and so cause less ground compaction, they're also fussy eating.

but they're still so cool.

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11 years 1 month ago #456015 by muri
all animals are high maintenance and hard work

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11 years 1 month ago #456022 by kindajojo
I find sheep are easy to manage, very little work, quite smart...well at least on par with those that don't complete census forms

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11 years 1 month ago #456024 by RaeM1
If you mix up the animals and birds too much you get problems with disease, so its a good idea if you have birds keep them well away from the other areas, so that they dont foul the grass etc.Any animal requires good yards, so build them before you get anything, and make sure that they are good and strong, with a loading race.

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11 years 1 month ago #456028 by oskatd
We have sheep, a couple of romney, a couple of suffolk, couple of dorper/romney crosses and a wilti ram. The Romneys are the easiest to keep in terms of feed, however they require shearing twice a year and are more prone to flystrike, the suffolks and dorper crosses have little wool. Nothing gets drenched here unless it has a mucky bum, the ram is the dumbest, but the lowest maintenance, in that he needs no shearing, he still limps occasionally. We also have dexter cattle that are very low maintenance, the occasional scratch behind the ear! Same with the Kunekune pig. I have horses, if you want high maintenance, get horses! The neighbours have alpacas that are more fussy with grass than horses, made weird noises and smell bad. I am not sure of the point of them, but they seem to love them so I guess that is all that matters. Apparently you have to tie them to a table to shear. Go figure. Our pig is least maintenance, but she is very much a pet and garbage disposal. Sheep and cows are nice to eat! Good luck on making a decision....

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11 years 1 month ago #456029 by griev
get a few sheep, be very selective about the breed, a few cattle, chooks definitely, and of course bees!

Our sheep are great, easy to handle some are worn resistant so no drench, no other issues but in saying that, we selected them based on our location as one breed may not work well in a different location,

get a Geese or two - great guard birds

The cattle well cheap dog food after you have taken out the prime cuts - just dont get too attached lol

As cowvet states yummy animals!

Let the sun shine on my solar panels[:)]

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11 years 1 month ago #456037 by Andrea1
Keep in mind you can't really graze sheep and goats together. Goats never get a resistance to a wormload, and sheep generally do. SHeep graze close to the ground, goats, if pushed to do so, will have massive wormloads, needing a regular drenching program, which leads inevitably to drench resistant worms. So have either sheep or goats, but not both, unless you have enough land to be able to graze them separately. Goat tastes similar to sheep meat, just less fatty. Can't abide sheep meat myself because it's so fatty (compared with goat meat, which we love).

We have on our ten acres - goats (milk, cheese, meat), cattle (meat, butter and cream, as well as feed for the pigs), pigs (meat), ducks, turkeys, chooks (eggs and meat), rabbits (meat). Except for the rabbits, everyone runs together. But we buy in most of the feed. Crunched the numbers a few years ago, and to replace with the same quality and variety of meat, eggs, milk and cheeses would cost about the same as the upkeep of the animals providing it. A worthwhile trade-off for us.

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11 years 1 month ago #456040 by Mich

Akzle;457199 wrote: i've never owned sheep. and wouldn't for the reasons listed above. they're high maintenance, and stupid, like, very unintelligent.QUOTE]

I can understand that YOU might dislike sheep, but until you own and farm them, how can you say that they're high maintenance, stupid and very unintelligent, Akzle? Many of us find the exact opposite, but perhaps that's because we treat our animals with respect and get trust back in return, which makes for easy handling in my experience.

Aside from the fact that I really enjoy my sheep, maintenance isn't much of a hassle really, especially with a small flock. As Muri said, all animals require maintenance and I think shearing a sheep is less of a problem than shearing a llama or alpaca :D . Sure, you can get problems like flystrike like I had recently, but that's the risk I take when I choose to breed sheep with fine, dense fleece during a particularly testing summer. Flystrike doesn't happen every year and treatment is relatively easy. Most animals have the potential for worm problems, not just sheep. You can do a lot of 'maintenance' all at the one time and sheep don't pug damp paddocks to the same extent as horses and cattle do. Their size makes them easier for a female to handle and they provide both meat, wool and pasture control - a bargain I would have thought. [;)]

I thought that Griev put it well - if you're new to sheep, then go for a breed that suits the environment that you live in. Asking neighbours that keep them will usually give you a good idea of what works in a particular area. But whatever animal you decide on, try and buy from a reputable breeder and purchase the very best animals you can afford. While not foolproof, it should get you off to a good start, rather than buying someone else's problems, which can happen if disreputable people see a newbie coming.

Cheers, Mich.


Good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help someone up. Anon.

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11 years 1 month ago #456044 by LongRidge
I would not bother with pigs again, unless I could get a free supply of food. Also they need to be kept away from all other animals, or they will injure big ones and eat little ones. They also carry nasty bugs that cattle can get. All pigfood must be cooked immediately before feeding it, except pellets.
I would not bother with goats again, especially Boers. They are too soft, much too much work, and should never be in with sheep. Cattle and goats go well together.
I would not bother with poultry, they are too expensive to feed. Similarly ducks. Also, the stock dogs chase and kill them. Also, they get into the garden and dig it up and mess it up.
I would not do donkeys again. There is no meat market for the ones that don't make the grade as pets.
I like cattle but they need lots of water.
I run sheep on the places that do not have enough water for cattle, but would prefer not to be bothered with them - too much work.
I would not try American Bison. They are so stroppy that special handling facilities are needed, and a slaughter plant on the property is needed.
If I were starting again, and had flattish to moderately steep ground, and plenty of water in summer, I would run yearling and two year old cattle. Sell the 2 yr olds as soon as they are big enough, and replace them with quality calves. So half 2yo and half calves.
What you are able to run depends on the soil conditions, the fertility, how many hours per day you want to be involved (I spend about 8 hrs per day 365 days per year running our few animals), and what fertiliser and animal health inputs you want to deal with.
Most animals have a 10 year profitability cycle in that 2 years very good, 3 years decreasing profit, 2 years very bad, 3 years improving profits.
Remember that it is absolutely illegal to sell homekilled meat. All meat for sale or gifts must be processed in an approved facility with the correct inspection personelle.

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