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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Basic Animals On The Homestead

Basic Animals On The Homestead

Before buying animals, learn as much as you can about them, but don’t expect to become an expert just by reading. When you get your animals you will need to also listen to them, watch them and notice their behaviors because they can tell you a lot.

Note: Do not give growth-stimulating hormones and medicated feed, because this may have long-term side effects that are as yet unknown. If medicine needs to be given for some reason do not eat, or drink anything from that animal for at lest two weeks.

1. Chickens

Most chickens are bred to produce either eggs or meat. There are a number of dual-purpose breeds that provide plenty of eggs as well as meat. My favorites being Plymouth Rock and Rhode Island Reds.

You should buy your chickens at about four months old. Their eggs will be small at first but soon they will be laying full sized eggs.

The number of birds you need depends upon the number of eggs you want. A good layer will produce an egg almost every day. You should let some of your chickens lay on their eggs butchering the males for meat when they become full grown at about 5 to 6 pounds live weight and the females that you don’t need come winter time when there egg production is low.

Feeding: Mash can be purchased as well as corn feed, but you can save money by feeding them with food scraps like: left over vegetables, fruits, and breads. The best in addition to this is letting your chickens range freely to get their protein from bugs and grass.

To supplement calcium in their diet feed chickens ground up egg or oyster shells, make sure the shells are completely dry and grind the egg shells almost into a powder to prevent egg cannibalism.

Weather you are using a shack or new building you will want a chicken house that is warm, dry, and easy to clean. You also want to make sure your chicken house is secure enough to keep the chickens safe from predators. This building should have at least 3 square feet of floor space per bird. If you are free ranging then it will help to have it on wheels so that you can transport it easily from one area to the next.

I have found that by putting a light (60 watt) bulb on a timer in the fall for an extra 3 hours can increase your egg laying season if needed.

2. Ducks

Ducks are extremely hardy and will forage for most of their food they need. You can supplement with the same food as chickens if needed. We buy young birds-ducks about 4 weeks old to start with. Two males and six females is a good number to start with. I think the Peking ducks are the best breed for meat, they are fast growing and taste the best, bigger then most other breeds and do not need any care. They lay 1 egg every other day and their eggs are great for baking cookies, cakes, pastry’s.

Duck eggs are larger then chicken eggs and have a stronger taste but can be treated and used the same way. Peking ducks are ready to butcher at about 8 to 10 pounds live weight.

3. Rabbits

They are excellent animals to raise for meat. Not only are they delicious and hardy but they are also inexpensive to feed.

Rabbit pellets do provide the best diet, but food can be supplemented with hay, fresh grass, vegetables, fruits, and leaves.

My favorite breed is the New Zealand white. They have a good weight of about 5 pounds and when the rabbits are about 12 weeks old, they can be butchered as fryers.

If breading; a small box with a hole should be in the cage and you will need to put a male into your females cage for breading but after about two weeks or so he should be removed.

Note: Rabbits will need plenty of clean water and a small salt lick in the summer heat should be used.

4. Dairy Goats

Goats make ideal dairy animals for a small farm or homestead. They are easy-to-handle, and excellent foraging ability’s. Their milk if fully comparable in flavor and in some ways it is superior. It is naturally homogenized-the fat particles are so small, they do not separate from the milk and this makes it easier to digest. The breed I like are Nubians.

Goats will forage for most of there food but you should include well-cured hay at times and additional mixed-grain in their diet. Do not overfeed them with grain, since this can lead to bloat. To prevent overeating, feed grain only after they have eaten plenty of grass or hay and only enough for that moment. Make sure your goat area is free of buttercups. If ingested they will get sick and lethargic and will require you to inject them with a shot of vitamin B complex.

Note: You must have 2 goats minimum, if not they will get lonely and become to stressed.

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North Dakota Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. North Dakota Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.