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Animals for a Self Sufficient Farm

Animals Overview Geese Ducks Goats Hogs Sheep Cows
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Animals Overview:

Animals are the primary source of essential B12 and an important source of B6 and biotin. Forage fed animals have twice the level of DHA / EPA / ALA as grain fed cattle. Only mature animals should be consumed since it is not until they are mature that they contain high levels of calcitonin.

If you are trying to become self-sufficient with limited resources, it is important to start with the animals that have the most efficient FCR ratings as listed below. Factors such as weed control, disease control, labor, and ease of management are also important.

All the animals listed below are able to thrive on mostly forage and perennial crops. Historically, in times of extreme climate change, forage and perennials grow better than most other feed sources. Grains are also too expensive in terms of fuel use and soil erosion.

To reduce soil erosion and reduce the use of fuels, we need to eat more forage fed meat. And we need to eat a greater variety of forage fed meats. If farmers could sell a greater variety, they would be able to produce more protein without the use of fuel and without causing soil erosion.


Virginia Tech - fossil fuel usage in grain fed animals
ALBC - conservation status
Earth Policy - feed conversion ratio
Feed Conversion Ratio
Humane Society - feeding grains to animals is not sustainable.
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Geese:

Advantage: Grass eater and weeder Egg production Low labor input Rapid reproduction. Very cold and wet tolerant. Tolerates cold wet weather much better than chicken, rabbit, or guinea pig. Good source of essential oils. Can feed hay with nuts, grain, and fruit in winter. Not tolerant of freezing below 20 F. Small bones are an important source of calcium / magnesium for humans. Keep away from ponds to prevent mucky flavors. Disadvantages: Better suited to large fields. Noisy. FCR around 3:1 through 6:1. Marketable mostly on holidays. Guide: Egg Production University of Missouri Celtic Oaks Journey to Forever Processing / Marketing: U.C. Davis - geese FAO - goose production Debrecen University - feather production New South Wales - marketing geese Breeds: Chinese Geese Chinese Geese - American Livestock Raise mostly on pasture, great weeder, good egg layers, broody, leaner meat than most geese, eat fallen fruit, tolerant to 20 F, FCR 3.5:1, and alarm honkers. Pilgrim Pilgrim - American Livestock good grazer, good meat, and low fat Embden quiet, good forager, and meat
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Ducks:

Advantage: FCR between 2:1 through 6:1 depending on breed. Some breeds are good egg layers. Rapid reproduction. Very cold and wet tolerant. Tolerates cold wet weather much better than chicken, rabbit, or guinea pig. Good at eating slugs, insects, and fallen fruit. Very disease resistant. Omnivorous. Keep away from ponds to prevent mucky flavors. Disadvantage: Not as good at grass eating as geese. Feed: Mostly grass, forbs, grains, roots, insects, fish, frogs, meat, etc. Some foods may need to be ground or mashed. North Carolina Extension Service Wikipedia Outdoor Life Parasite treatment: Natural Chicken - cayenne and garlic Poultry Keeper - garlic Garlic - anti-biotic Shelter: Duck Health Duck Tractor Mother Earth News Appropedia Breeds: For cold weather regions, the Swedish, Khaki Cambell, and Cayuga are good choices. For foraging ability, the Runners, Khaki Cambell, Dutch Hookbill, Cayuga, Aylesbury, and Swedish are good choices. Muscovy is the best at foraging but is not as tolerant of cold weather. For egg laying, the Khaki Cambell is a standout. The Runners are also good egg layers. But new lines of other breeds of egg layers are also being developed. The Khahki Cambell is a cross between the Runner, Rouen, and Mallard breeds. Big Picture Agriculture - breeds Metzer Farms Micro Farm Life - breeds Journey to Forever - breeds Poulvet - FCR McMurray Hatchery Muscovy duck for warmer climates Information: Duck and goose were much more popular before government support of grain production. This is because they need far less grain than chicken or hog and are therefore more sustainable. Local Harvest - sustainable duck Hobby Farms - raising ducks Popular duck breeds Diet of Mallards - heavy meat eaters
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Goats:

nutrition: moderate purine levels nutrient rich red meat Advantage: capable of browsing on shrubs, forbes, etc. low labor input FCR slightly better than 2:1 High in B vitamins. Often raised with sheep (shared diseases). Can even get some nutrition out of over mature hay. Some breeds have twins every year. Disadvantage: not very docile, best kept far from human habitation. requires a very good fence. Management: Utah State - goat management Goat World - nutrition pasture management for goats Breeds: Oklahoma State Goat Breeds North Carolina State University Fias Co Farm Cornell University Manageable Goats: These goats are easier to manage in vineyards and orchards. Pygmy Goat Myotonic - adds muscle Myotonic - adds muscle Cold Climate Meat Breeds: Kiko - low maintenance, parasite resistant Extension.org - Kiko Warm Climate Meat Breeds: Spanish Goat - low maintenance Boer Goat - large commercial kids, insufficient mothers Savannah - heat and drought tolerant Hybrid Meat Breeds: Genemaster - Boer / Kiko hybrid Dairy Breeds: Goat milk compares favorably to human milk. Much depends on goat breed and diet and environment. A low protein breed, such as Toggenburg only on forage, would be ideal for baby formula. Add some egg yolk to increase B12, B6, B7, B9, and DHA. Make sure your goats get adequate minerals and sunlight. Always include a small amount of high vitamin E sources like sunflower or safflower in their diet. High vitamin C fruits are also good since sometimes their own production can drop. Add a small amount of flax or chia to the goat diet to also increase the omega-3 content. Culture with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Penn State - dairy goat production Redwood Hill - excellant examples of top dairy goat breeds. Excellent discussion of dairy goat temperament. UC Davis - goat milk composition Wellness Mama - milk comparison National Center for Biotechnology Information Breeding: Cornell - goat breeding out of season The Free Range Life - goat breeding Information: Meat Goat Selection Meat Goat Marketing Vanguard Meat Goats - excellant practical guidance, direct marketing Lookout Point Ranch Video Lookout Point Ranch Web Page
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Hogs:

(Sus scrofa domesticus) Advantage: Hogs are often raised with cattle since they share few diseases and they speed decomposition of manure, and therefore interrupt the parasite cycle. This works well if the hog will eat grass, clover, forbs, etc. A grain fed hog is not very sustainable. If you feed grain, they will not eat the less desirable foods. Can be used to eat fallen fruit to interrupt insect pest cycles. Allow to grub for curculio in fall. They can utilize crop residues after harvest, and dig up weeds after harvest. Historically, the hog has been the farmers safety valve for production which could not be sold. FCR around 2:1. Can have several large litters every year. Also used as a copraphagic animal following cattle to increase the efficiency of cattle. Coprophagia increases nutrition. FAO - copraphagia Disadvantage: Dig up pastures. These animals will not be profitable if fed grain. Feed: Forage, okra seed, flax, squash seed, fallen fruit, orchard insects, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, tree legumes, nuts, seeds, ginkgo nut, feathers, meat, ginko nut, manure. Last two month finishing: pecan, peanut, apple, cherry, mulberry, persimmon, hazelnut, fig, acorn, chestnut, honey, etc. In the US, you need a commercial license to prepare these feedstuffs unless they are eatin directly by hogs. Processing requires a temperature of at least 212 degrees for a period of at least 30 minutes. Guidebook to Hog Production - Pastured Hog Production Hog - non-grain feeding stalls Breeds: The best foragers are Kunekune, Guinea, Large Black, Gloucestershire Old Spot, and Tamworth. Oklahoma State Heritage Breeds Genetic Diversity Ideal Pig Features Livestock Conservancy Pure foragers that root less: Oklahoma State - Kune Kune Kune Kune - bred to grow largely on grass American Kune Kune Breeders - bred to grow largely on grass Will eat forage but requires some other food sources: Large Black Hog - semi-forager, short fiber pink/red meat, cold hearty Large Black Hog - multi-continent history, developed for foraging Hobby Farms - Large Black American Livestock Breeds Conservancy - Gloucestershire Old Spot Gloucestershire Old Spot - red meat, cold hearty, good-natured Oklahoma State - Gloucestershire Old Spot Old Spot - extra fat so ultra cold tolerant and succulent. The Old Spot was historically used primarily to eat fallen fruit and convert farm leftovers by small holders. Mangalitsa - wooly, cold tolerant Mangalitsa breeder More active rooters: American Guinea Hog - bred to forage in forests, heat tolerant Tamworth Hog - cold hearty, semi-forager, red meat Minzhu - small, cold hearty
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Sheep:

Nutrition: moderate purine levels nutrient rich red meat Advantage: Very docile grass and forage eater. Good for controlling weeds, eating stubble, on farm consumption, etc. Will eat weeds lower than other animals, thereby helping to control them. For commercial use, best in cold climates too cold for other animals Marbles easily. Disadvantages: FCR of 8:1 Becomes too greasy if overfed. Need a guard dog, llama, or donkey. If used to control forage in orchards, fruit may become contaminated. Many farmers are minimizing risk by never harvesting off the orchard floor, use of dung beetles, fly control barrels, and never using antibiotics. Many commercial orchards are required to remove animals 30-90 days before harvest. Fruit may require cooking before consumption. General Information: Sheep 101 Sheep - Oklahoma State Hair sheep for mutton: Katahdins - parasite resistant. Mutton Wool Breeds: Iceland Sheep - gourmet meat Southdown - good mutton North Country Cheviot - hardy, tasty mutton Scottish Blackface - hardy, tasty mutton, parasite resistant Commercial Breeds: Suffolk - large lambs, good mutton Dorset - prolific lambing
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Cows:

(Bos taurus primigenius) Advantage: forage eater High in B vitamins. High market demand. Brains, eyes, and marrow are an extremely rich source of DHA. Disadvantages: FCR of 7:1 or 6:1 for the mid-sized breeds. Because each cow only bears one offspring per year, not an ideal animal. Information: Usually, the smaller they are, the more efficient they are. Mini-breeds have an FCR approaching 5:1. The push for bigger cattle is driven by the desire for more profits at the slaughterhouse. Larger animals produce more meat per slaughter time than small animals. It is the opposite of what is more profitable for the farmer. Smaller animals are more efficient and produce more meat per input. In other words, the tail is wagging the dog. The breeds listed below are the most efficient and more cold tolerant. Mid-sized breeds(very docile): Galloway American Galloway Breeders Association Very Docile, polled, medium small sized, cold climate, finish on forage, easy birth, very cold hearty. Highland Bairnsley Highland Sires Lea White Farms Highland Sires Bairnsley - foot trimming Highland Cattle USA - health Hobby Farms - Highland Cattle Very docile. Ideal in harsh cold climates and rough rocky terrain. If on soft soil, they require hoof trimming. Can be used as an ox. easy birth;o need for calf pulling. Low infant mortality. Will eat more like a goat so no need for bush hogging. Some smaller and mini breeds are very efficient; approaching 5:1. Cattle Today - smaller cattle are more efficient Beef Magazine - smaller quicker maturing best on grass Hobby Farms - Miniature Cows Big Picture Agriculture - Miniature Cows
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