Livestock is a farm animal kept for pleasure and products such as meat, milk, wool, hide, or even power. As an off-gridder, you surely need these animals for the same reasons.
In this article, we will be discussing the 5 best livestock for off-grid living, including how to care for them. If you keep livestock for the products, you need to learn how to harvest and use them. We will be talking about everything off-grid livestock.
Benefits Of Animals For Off-Grid Living
Living off the grid, in itself, has many advantages that we will not talk about today. But if you want it to be more thrilling and fulfilling, then raising homestead animals is the best thing to do. But how does raising livestock complement your off-grid lifestyle?
By choosing the right livestock to rear in your new homestead, you can enjoy the following benefits:
- Fresh and healthy milk, meat, and eggs – no chemicals
- You can make your own dairy products such as cheese and butter – you become more self-reliant
- You get great companions from your livestock – you do not feel lonely
- Natural way of keeping your lawn mowed
- Livestock droppings are a source of organic fertilizer
- Enhanced food security – livestock multiply
The 5 Best Livestock For Off-Grid Living
Choosing the right type of livestock to keep on your homestead is an overwhelming task because of the many options available. Even if you managed it, you still have to face the task of looking for the appropriate breed for your location and purpose.
Here are the best five livestock and possible breeds you can keep for their various products:
Chickens or poultry are the most common type of livestock for off-grid living. Almost every homestead has some chicken breeds, and that is because they are super easy to keep and take care of. They also require a small starting capital. In fact, you can even borrow from a friend.
Reasons for keeping chickens
Chickens in your homestead can be for meat, egg, pest control, gardening, companion, and composting. Let us talk about each one of these.
- Eggs – The backyard chickens are mainly kept for eggs. You can expect your birds to start laying eggs at around 18-20 weeks, depending on the breed you have on your homestead. You can rely on the poultry eggs to make a balanced diet full of proteins.
- Meat – Homegrown chicken is ready for slaughter, usually after 10 weeks, but this varies based on your needs. Meat from your homestead poultry is healthier than the one sourced from a butchery.
- Pest Control – If you have pest problems in your flower garden, the natural way to deal with them is by introducing chicken. They prey on almost every insect.
- Gardening – Chicken can till the garden by scratching on the ground and sand-bathing. Their droppings can also be used to fertilize the flowers or garden vegetables.
- Companion – Some off-gridders keep poultry as pets. Choose the right breed for this purpose.
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How to raise chickens for meat
You have to prepare for your poultry way before they arrive at your property. Build the chicken coup, buy feeders and drinkers, formulate a feeding plan, and provide a source of heat if you will be starting with chicks.
Medication is also a necessity that should be part of your plan.
Also, make nesting boxes for layers and learn some techniques of slaughtering a chicken for meat. Keeping the backyard chickens is easy, but success depends on proper preparation to raise chickens.
Rabbits are also great additions to any homestead. They are easy to raise and require less capital to acquire. But why would you keep a rabbit for off-grid living?
Reasons for keeping rabbits
- Meat – Rabbits are a great source of meat. This is considered lean, healthy, and easily digestible. Additionally, rabbit meat is delicious and nutritious.
- Fiber – Certain breeds of rabbits have reliable pelts. If knitting and other related hobbies are your things, then keeping rabbits may not just be for meat but also a way of earning a living. You can sell your arts or use them to decorate your off-grid shelter.
- Fertilizer – Rabbit droppings are ready for use immediately. You do not have to wait for them to decompose or mature, but that is recommended agriculturally.
- Companion – Rabbits are attractive and pleasurable to look at. You can find some curdling breeds to stay by your side or the hopping type to enjoy in your garden.
Raising Meat Rabbits
Choosing the right rabbit breed is necessary for your success. Unlike other livestock you can keep in your homestead, caring for rabbits is relatively simple.
You can sustain them on a low budget because they mainly feed on greens, including vegetable stalks.
When you feed and care for rabbits as expected, you can have a steady supply of meat. One breeding doe can give birth to four to five litters every year. Rabbits will be ready for slaughter after about 10-12 weeks.
If you have no experience in raising rabbits, then you can start with the New Zealand breed. The resilience of this breed has made it popular among off-gridders. Others that you can consider for meat include the following:
- Champagne D’Argent
Rabbits also need proper housing, feeding, and medical care. Learn more about raising rabbits to avoid any mistakes and possible losses.
Goats are a perfect choice of livestock for off-grid living because of their small size. Despite the size, they are still the best option for milk, meat, and fiber. They give you more products than any other livestock we have discussed in this post.
Reasons for keeping goats
- Milk – Dairy goats are more manageable, making them a perfect choice for new homesteaders. One goat can produce just enough milk for a whole family if an appropriate breed is chosen. You can consider Saanen, Alpine, Anglo-Nubian, Toggenburg, and American Lamancha goat breeds for milk.
- Meat – Goats can provide enough meat for your family. Given the large size compared to poultry and rabbits, it might be helpful to master some meat preservation techniques. Meat from a goat can be a meal for many months. Boer is the most popular meat goat, but other breeds can also provide meat.
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Raising Meat Goats
It is easy to feed goats because they often forage on plants. However, they can destroy your garden if not careful. As with all other livestock, you will require shelter, clean water, a feeding plan, and medication.
Before deciding to keep goats, learn about goat behavior and how to raise goats. This will prepare you psychologically for what you are just about to get into.
Pigs are also a good choice of homestead animals but are harder to keep. They need a lot of food and are difficult to control. This means you have to be prepared for them by creating the space they need.
Pigs are kept primarily for meat. However, you should first find out if your religion allows believers to eat pork.
Pigs also take a long time to mature, usually ready after about 9-10 months from birth. But the good news is that you get plenty of meat for the entire family.
How To Raise Pigs For Meat
Pigs are stubborn livestock that need a proper containment plan. Construct an appropriate enclosure to keep them, bearing in mind that they will take any opportunity to escape. A structurally strong pen is, therefore, crucial in pig keeping.
As mentioned, pigs need a lot of food. If you were to buy all their feeds, then they might not be economically viable.
Luckily, pigs can be fed leftovers and any other waste food around the homestead, but not meat scraps.
Ducks and geese are the perfect alternatives to keeping backyard chickens if you live in dumpy or cold regions. This is because they are more resistant to cold and enjoy an environment with pools of water.
Waterfowls are kept for both meat and eggs. A waterfowl can lay an egg a day, just like the backyard chickens. The best breed for this is the Khaki Campbell ducks, which are hardier to low temperatures outside.
You can also slaughter waterfowls for meat, just like chickens. Their meat is dark, juicy, flavorful, and highly nutritious.
How to Raise Waterfowl For Meat
Waterfowls are much easier to keep than chickens. That is because they can forage on plants and look for worms, thereby reducing the feed costs.
However, it is a good idea to supplement it with some food you can find around the house.
Waterfowls also need supplemental heat and light to encourage egg laying during cold seasons of the winter. The heat required by geese and ducks is way much less than that required by chickens.
You also need proper housing and laying nests. Learn how to raise homestead ducks and geese for maximum yields.
Top 4 Things For Livestock
Now that you have known the type of livestock you need for off-grid living, there are a few things you also have to know.
Keeping livestock and gaining from it is not a walk in the park as many people might think. Prepare for this by doing the following:
A Plan For Livestock
The first milestone in livestock rearing is identifying the type of animal you want to keep and plan for it. If it is the backyard chicken or rabbits, find out the food they need to formulate a feeding plan.
Another part of the plan is budgeting. How much do you want to invest in livestock farming?
The response and space you have in your homestead will help size the flock. You also need to plan your time because you have to attend to your livestock.
Learn How To-Livestock
After you have planned and decided on the type of livestock to keep, you need to learn how to raise it.
In this, understand the feeding habits, behavior, parasites and diseases control, and proper housing. You need to give your livestock the appropriate food.
Remember, the feeding plan and health care vary from one type of homestead animal to the next. Familiarize yourself with the breed specifics.
Learn How To Harvest
This is where you get returns from your investments. If you keep backyard chicken, then you need to build recommended nests where you will collect eggs. Learning how to slaughter a chicken will also go along the way for meat poultry.
If your livestock is a rabbit, goat, or pig, learn how to slaughter and prepare the meat. The techniques vary from one animal to the other, and some methods are preferred over others.
This means you need to know how to get the product you need from your animal.
Learn How To Cook
The products such as milk, meat, and eggs cannot be eaten raw, right from the animal. Learn how to cook eggs and meat for the dish you wanted to prepare.
You can get these recipes online. If you are producing milk, then learn the basics of making cheese, butter, and yogurt.
In many cases, you might not have to cook all the meat or eggs from the livestock. Learn how you can preserve or process your food for future use. There are ways of extending the shelf lives of meats, eggs, milk, and other livestock products.
Just raising livestock is not enough for off-grid life. Your farm and your animals also take some time to develop. Don’t forget to stock up on food in advance. Consider these 32 Foods with Long Shelf Life For Your Pantry.
You also need more vitamins and green vegetables. Refer to building a garden of your own. Learn more on How To Grow Your Own Survival Garden.
Like any other investment that takes time to give returns, you also have to wait for your livestock to mature.
There is the right time to harvest and get rewarded for your work. In addition, the above are the 5 livestock types to raise. Depending on your ability, you can develop more.
As always, thank you for caring for ”Em offgrid” in your life! If you are reading this article of ours, thank you, and we hope you have found the information useful.