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Animals for a Self Sufficient Farm

Animals Overview Sheep Rabbit Guinea Pig Goats Cows Geese Turkey Hogs

Be sure to also see:

Regenerative Pasture Animal Management

Agroforestry - forage supplement

Animals Overview:

To be efficient, it is important to raise animals that have a good feed conversion ratio. Factors such as speed of reproduction, disease control, shelter, and labor requirements are also important. Local male services vs artificial insemination is also a big factor.

All the animals listed below are able to thrive on mostly forage and perennial crops. Historically, in times of climate extremes, forage and perennials grow better than most other feed sources. Acorn, Honey Locust Bean, Chestnut, Hazelnut, etc. are ideal cold climate perennial animal feed crops since the human market for these crops is low. Soak, ferment, cook, and roll feeds to improve nutrient absorption. Add honey and fruit for finishing to improve meat flavor.

Cornell - feed more people with forage fed animals
Earth Policy - feed conversion ratio
Feed Conversion Ratio


Advantage: 95% forage Very docile. Best in cold climates too cold for other animals. Disadvantages: FCR of 8:1 Need a guard dog, llama, or donkey. General Information: Sheep 101 Sheep - Oklahoma State Hair sheep for mutton: Katahdins - parasite resistant. Sheep in orchards: Shropshire - do not eat fruit trees Shropshire - wool and weed control Mutton & Wool Breeds: Iceland Sheep - gourmet meat Southdown - good mutton North Country Cheviot - hardy, tasty mutton Commercial Breeds: Suffolk - large lambs, good mutton Dorset - prolific lambing Milking: Cornell - Northland Sheep Dairy Cornell - cheese


Advantages: 100% forage FCR around 3:1 Coprophagic - makes them efficient Small bones are an important source of calcium / magnesium for humans. Disadvantages: Requires high labor input If properly fed, good source fats Feed: Rabbit Diet Rabbit Diet Breeds: New Zealand White, Californian, Chinchilla DebMark Rabbit Education Resource Rudolph's Rabbit Ranch Housing: Winter Protection: Winter Protection

Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus):

Advantages: 100% forage Good source of essential fatty acids. Small bones are a great source of calcium / magnesium. Disadvantages: Requires high labor input Feed: Hay Links: Wikipedia Food Security Info


Advantage: 95% forage capable of browsing on shrubs and low nutrient browse. FCR slightly better than 2:1 Some breeds have twins every year. Disadvantage: not easily controlled. best kept far from human habitation. requires a very good fence. Management: pasture management for goats Goat World - nutrition Breeds: Oklahoma State Goat Breeds North Carolina State University Fias Co Farm Manageable Goats: These goats are easier to manage in vineyards and orchards (Pygmy / Myotonic). Myotonic - adds muscle Myotonic - adds muscle Cold Climate Meat Breeds: Kiko - low maintenance, parasite resistant Warm Climate Meat Breeds: Spanish Goat - low maintenance Boer Goat - large commercial kids, insufficient mothers Savannah - heat and drought tolerant Hybrid Meat Breeds: Boer / Kiko hybrid Dairy Breeds: It may be usefull to seperate the whey from the casein. Penn State - dairy goat production 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 - direct marketing Lookout Point Ranch Video Lookout Point Ranch Web Page


(Bos taurus primigenius) Advantage: 95% forage Brains, eyes, and marrow are an extremely rich source of DHA. Disadvantages: FCR of around 7:1 for the mid-sized breeds. Because each cow only bears one offspring per year, not an ideal farm 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 slaughter house. Larger animals produce more meat per slaughter time than small animals. It is the opposite of what is more profitable for the farmer. To maximize profits, farmers and ranchers must own their own slaughter houses so they can switch to more efficient smaller breeds. Most of the breeds listed below are cold tolerant and all are efficient on grass. Ease of obtaining bull services Is also an important consideration. Water vs Fence: Move water instead of fence Mid-sized breeds(very docile): Galloway American Galloway Breeders Association Very Docile, polled, medium small sized, ultra cold hearty, finish on forage, easy birth. Highland Bairnsley Highland Sires Lea White Farms Highland Sires Bairnsley - foot trimming Highland Cattle USA - health 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; no need for calf pulling. Low infant mortality. Will eat more like a goat so no need for bush hogging. Good for milk, meat, and fiber. Highland Cattle fiber Highland Cattle for clothing South Poll history Greg Judy - South Poll South Poll association South Poll are ideal on grass in warm humid regions. ********************************************* Some smaller and mini breeds are very efficient; approaching 5:1. Small animals are also less likely to be stolen. Extremely small cattle may have health problems. Cattle Today - smaller cattle are more efficient Beef Magazine - smaller quicker maturing best on grass Low Line Angus in Wessex History of Low Line Angus
Although some forms of casein may be easier
to digest, all forms of casein present some
difficulty. If problems occur, the best strategy 
may be to separate the whey from the casein, 
and consume only the whey. If you are not 
sensitive to yeast, then you can use a kefir 
ferment to enhance the whey. And milk is 
one of the best sources of  nicotinamide 

Medium sized, pasture based, cold tolerant, 
healthy, good disposition, calving ease

      OK State
      Homestead on the Range
      The Dairy Site

Brown Swiss:
Rugged, docile, cold tolerant, 
pasture based, medium sized

      OK State
      The Dairy Site

Small, docile, pasture based, easy calving, 
betacarotene in the milk, large teats, rare

      OK State
      Homestead on the Range
      The Dairy Site
      World Guernsey

Cold tolerant, pasture based, rare, docile, small

      OK State
      The Dairy Site


      MotoTecha - pasture based milking
      Lely Astronaut - pasture based milking

The animals listed below will eat a substantial amount of forage and they are important elements of animal diversity. But they will either not eat dry forage during the winter or these animals will need at least some additional source of carbohydrates. These animals should only be raised once your permaculture sources of carbohydrates are established.


Advantage: 95% forage FCR around 3:1 through 6:1. Rapid reproduction. Tolerates cold wet weather Disadvantages: Some breeds are noisy. Not tolerant of freezing below 20 F. Will not eat dry hay. Breeds: Embden Quiet, good for meat Pilgrim Pilgrim - American Livestock Good for meat, low fat Chinese Weeder Geese Chinese Weeder Geese - American Livestock Alarm honkers. Rapid reproduction. FCR 3.5:1 Guide: University of Missouri Journey to Forever Processing / Marketing: FAO - goose production "


Advantage: Up to 80% forage Omnivorous winter hardy animal FCR of slightly over 2:1 Disadvantges: Heritage turkeys are not easily marketed. Tend to range far from home. Heritage Breeds: Cackle Hatchery


(Sus scrofa domesticus) 75% forage for Mangalitsa 75% forage for the Kune Kune Used as a copraphagic animal following cattle to increase the efficiency of forage usage. FAO - copraphagia Can be used to eat fallen fruit to interrupt insect pest cycles, especially curculio. Can be used to clear weeds and Turn compost. Convert excess leftovers to meat. Foragers: Mangalitsa - wooly, cold tolerant Mangalitsa breeder Bakers - Mangalitsa foraging Oklahoma State - Kune Kune Kune Kune - bred to grow largely on grass American Kune Kune Breeders - bred to grow largely on grass
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