Hobby Farming, Choosing Heritage Breeds

Please forgive the increase in posts related to hobby farming. My dogs are all happy and fit, except Ike has had a bought of painful acne/folliculitis on his chin that I noticed late overnight when he was rubbing his muzzle with his hand. It’s probably from the puppies always licking his mouth as an appeasement gesture. Poor guy is really embarrassed by it and he gets a quick trip to the vet in the morning. Also, Farrah has graduated Level 1 puppy class, and will be trying for her CGC soon.

Back to hobby farming, I’m laying out some landscaping options and I see that I definitely have enough space for 2 pigs for meat, a calf for meat, and 2 goats for milk based on their recommended space requirements. I think the ideal setup is having 1-2 meat animals each year, and keeping a smaller milk producing animal that will not be used for meat. Here is a good livestock guide for hobby farms. This will involve more time and management to keep things clean and in order, and there will be extra cost for vetting and feed, so this will take some time to actualize.

They should all be hardy and thrifty enough to survive outdoors. Size is important. It would also be ideal if these animals can all share the same paddock, which will make it easier on my electric bill this coming winter so I don’t have to heat 3 separate outdoor areas. However, after further reading, I don’t think swine are the safest animal to run with goats or chickens. They may eat them if not attended.

Here are some animals I am considering: Berkshire pigs, the Mulefoot Hog, the smaller, but much rarer Guinea Hog, and another smaller hog, the Ossabaw Island Hog. I think the Berkshire, although much larger, will be the easiest to find. I really like these little Dexter cattle, and here are some heritage goat breeds good for rural homesteaders, along with additional reasons for choosing heritage breeds. I like the Nigerian dwarf, which is a good milker.

8 thoughts on “Hobby Farming, Choosing Heritage Breeds

  1. The Dexter cattle are great looking! There are tons of goats on craigslist near me, I always check it out for when I'm ready, I'll know whats out there. Have you ever checked out Sugar Mountain Farm's blog? He's like a pig authority or something: http://flashweb.com/

  2. Hmm – I don't think meat would be cost effective. You can buy a whole dairy calf for $25! But a milk goat might be. the heritage breeds would be cool, for genetic preservation reasons.the wetnss might be a problem. Goats are basically desert/arid animals, and we live in a rain forest. Foot care might be an issue.I knew a hobby farmer who raised milk goats. The worst part about it was the billy. Male goats are PITA's, aggressive, and dangerous to dogs. You also only need them once a year. After a few years, he kept only the nannies, and took them to a neighbor with a billy to be bred. So, I suggest a heritage goat from a local "goatery", or whatever they are called!Sounds like fun. Can I milk a goat once in a while?

  3. I wouldn't raise hogs in the same areas with chickens or herbivores. There is the manure factor, the smell factor, the difference in feed, and health. Goats and sheep have easier clean up/composting options and also wool harvest depending on breed. The milk from the goats can be used for cheese, feeding calves, and yes you can butcher and bbq the male kids and have the equivalent of lamb with less fat. Since the does have to be bred each season there will be extra goats most likely. I would hesitate to keep bucks around since they smell and you really don't want them to run with does. As far as sheep, rams can be pretty darned feisty. In any case look to your local extension service for community farmers or goat breed club for prospects in breeding. If you plan to sell anything for consumption make absolutely sure you know the local health dept. laws and Dept. of Ag regs. "How to Raise Goats" By Carol Amundson (2009) is a good starter guide to investigate if there is interest in goats.

  4. Sounds cool, but I'd imagine that this would cost a pretty penny to set up and maintain, and more than buying commercial meat. But raising your own meat is more than just the costs, but the joys of self reliance and knowing what goes into the animals, etc. Even though we just bought the place, we're already making plans to move to another state and get more land for the same reasons. Would love to raise up meat and grow enough veggies to last the year. Oh, if you are planning to grow potatoes, check out the tire method. Supposedly a great way to get a lot of pounds will minimal space. Gonna try it with a few this year and see what happens.

  5. I think it will be expensive, and it will probably be at least 2-3 years before construction for this begins.Pam- I want to section off the area on the right of the property on my bedroom side, from the bamboo fence all the way back to the shop. The area directly off my bedroom is boggy and would make a good wallow. The portion near the shop is driest and would be for 1-2 goats.Jen-the Dexter are super cute aren't they? The poo is probably going to be an issue and I know I don't have enough pasture that I want to sacrifice for a cow as that is the dogs big play run. Pam, can't beat that $25 calf!I was looking at Blue Moon Goat rescue, and Craigslist. I would be happy to find a dairy goat that way of any smaller breed. I don't want a billy at all. I also don't want to have anything to do with killing or eating a goat. They were my pets growing up, and were like dogs, so, that's more of why I am looking at hogs. I want to have either a hog or a calf for meat, but not both. I am definately under no illusion that feeding a couple pigs up to slaughter will be spendy. Fuzzy, you are definately right about keeping them seperate. I was reading that they will eat chickens and chew on udders of cows or goats, so swine will have to be carefully planned out. There isn't enough natural forage to rely on totally. If I plan things out well enough though, once the gardens and beds are established, there should be quite a bit of garden leftovers (I want to raise more than we will eat) to specifically feed the hogs, chickens, and or diary goat. This all completely depends on my parents moving on to my unused parcel which was the prior owners garden patch. My mom is an avid and experienced gardner, so I really think if they are here (Mom are you reading this?), we can really hammer out a very functional productive space efficient garden. The big critter additions will have to wait until that feature has been established. I may get 6-7 more hens next season tho. They earned their first $10 yesterday by selling a few dozen eggs 🙂 Up till now I have been gifting the eggs, but the extra cash will definately cover their expenses.Thanks for the blog and the book links. Fuzzy-I really want to try making a cheese (in all my spare time 😉 I made yogurt the other day and it was really good, so I can hardly wait to try that with fresh goat milk.Crazy-I like the tire idea, as potato will definately be a staple crop here. Let me know how it works for you (and take pictures!)

  6. Oh so informative post and comments. Joy. I talked to the home owners here about acquiring a goat (I grew up around them, too) and they say that goats are the best escape artists. Some blogs seem to suggest the same. I don't remember my neighbors' goats getting out often when I was young, but kids miss things. Anyone have problems with goat-proofing enclosures? The home owners pushed for a pig because of their brush clearing ability and the fact that this place is way overgrown, but I'm aware that I don't have the gusto for slaughter'butchering…yet, maybe some day (in admiration, still, of Lindsay's butchering skills, I have troubled carving a turkey!)Yay for egg sales! I hope to be there soon- working on a proposition to let me keep chickens in the barn until the coop is done, fingers crossed for earlier chicken arrival!

  7. @ Liz, our goats did fine with 5 foot fences, but they had a strong herd instinct and they had lots of space (2 acres). It was not so much going over the fences, it was going through them. They ALWAYS got their horns stuck in the fences trying to graze on the other side. The fencing was the wrong sort, mule fence, so I will use the no climb fence.Get some chickens! Their needs are modest (my favorite thing to say about them), and they are a delightful addition, lending an instant "farm" feel no matter where.

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