You have your land, beautiful grass growing, and even some fencing up, and now you find yourself asking the question all new homesteaders ask – What livestock should I raise?
If you want to be as self sufficient as possible, producing your own families food with as few outside inputs as possible we are going to help you select the right type of livestock and how many you should purchase.
Before you select your livestock you need to focus on the goal for your homestead. Is your number one goal to feed your family the best quality food you can? Is the goal to run a totally self sufficient homestead, one that you produce all your own feed, forage, etc for your animals, do all your own breeding?
Today’s video answers a question from a Youtube Viewer Evie who asks
“Could you do a video on how many of each animal you suggest that a large homesteading family have to be as self sufficient as possible food wise?”
Before we can properly answer this questions we need to define “Self Sufficiency”, so we can understand the goal we are striving towards.
- needing no outside help in satisfying one’s basic needs, especially with regard to the production of food.
So to help answer Evie and any other of you viewers or readers who are focused on Self Sufficiency, we have a list of livestock that require the most minimal inputs from outside sources that will help feed your family, even when times get tough.
In part 2 of this series we will add a few more livestock options that will help you feed your family, but require more outside inputs and so are less self sufficient.
- Sheep – An animal that can produce both milk and meat from just grass, sheep are on the top of the list for the self sufficient homesteader. If you have good quality pasture and live in a warm climate you could raise a small flock of sheep to provide your family food from without purchasing much from outside sources. For a large family I suggest starting with 2 Ewes and a Ram, and eventually growing to 4 Ewes. A Ram is a necessity if your family is focused on self sufficiency as you will need to breed your sheep each year for more milk and meat.
- Goats – Goats almost magically turn weeds into delicious milk and meat too. Let these hedge trimmers loose on your homestead (well not completely loose, some sort of fencing will be needed) and watch them turn weeds and brambles into food. We like Nubian goats for their tasty high butterfat milk. If your does have buck kids you can raise those for meat, as Nubians can grow quite large. For a large family who want to be self sufficient start with 2 Does and 1 Buck and grow to 4 does.
- Chickens – Depending on the breed chickens can be master foragers. Living outside they can find bugs and plants to munch on all day. They will still need some feed, but their diet can be supplemented with scraps from your own family or from your garden, or even with bugs raised to feed them, such as Black Solider Fly Larvae. Each morning you can enjoy harvesting farm fresh eggs, and when it is time to cull birds you will have hens or extra roosters to put in the stew pot or pot pies.
- Ducks – Ducks actually out perform chickens in many categories. They are better foragers, produce more eggs, produce bigger eggs, and are more hardy in bad weather. Instead of raising all chickens, add some ducks to your flock. They can live with your chickens and make your homestead even more self sufficient.
- Bees – Bees are not right for everyone, but if you like the idea of working with these little guys flying around you, they are one of the most self sufficient animals you can bring onto your homestead. Once you build their initial infrastructure they require almost nothing from you as far as feed goes. Sometimes you will need to supply them with something to help them last the winter, but all spring, summer and fall bees will forage the flowers of your farm, meanwhile creating one of natures most amazing treats.
- Fish – If you have water on your property, or a place that would work for installing a pond, you can enjoy another self sufficient system that will help feed your family and provide you with some fun too. A small pond can become completely self sufficient, when properly manage and initially stocked. Watch as bugs, reptiles, birds and of course more fish begin making your pond home, and when you want to take an hour or two to relax load up on pan fish and have a good old fish fry!
These are the BEST livestock for self sufficiency focused homesteaders.
But some very important livestock are missing from this list that I think all homesteaders looking to feed their families should have.
In part 2 of this series we will add to this list a few more animals that you will want if you are more focused on feeding your family, and less worried about ABSOLUTE self sufficiency.