• Blog

    The Pros & Cons Of Raising Smaller Livestock

    Tips for choosing what animals to raise given your goals & the space you have available
    by Samantha Biggers

    Monday, March 22, 2021, 6:00 AM

A lot of people who are interested in raising farm animals feel daunted by the task, especially if they don’t have a lot of acreage. But there are plenty of livestock options out there for those with limited space.

In this article, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of raising various smaller types of livestock.

Raising livestock is not a decision that should be made without any significant consideration. Animals require regular care and attention. Above all else, you want to be humane in how they are treated and in giving them acceptable quality of life — which takes devoted care and attention. It can be a challenge to find someone to care for your animals the way you do should you have to go away on business or want to take a vacation with your family.

Chickens

backyard chickens

Pros

  • Easy to get started (Adam calls them the “gateway drug” to backyard animals)
  • Provide meat (broilers) and eggs (layers)
  • A natural solution for processing most of your family’s food scraps
  • Eat a lot of insect and worm pests that can cause trouble in your garden
  • Kids can easily care for them
  • Provide valuable protein on little feed
  • Their manure can be used (with care) as fertilizer

Cons

  • Have to be contained unless you are okay with them scratching up gardens and flower beds. Movable bottomless pens are often the solution.
  • Roosters are loud and sometimes aggressive.
  • Egg production decreases in winter and after three years of production.

Ducks

backyard geese

Pros

  • Like chickens, they eat a lot of insect and worm pests that can cause trouble in your garden
  • Fun to be around, and they make great pets
  • Less likely to hurt you even if they do get mad. A peck from a duckbills hurts less than one from a chicken beak.
  • Very friendly and good with other birds
  • Provide meat and eggs

Cons

  • Need substantial amounts of fresh and clean water daily to avoid health issues
  • Defecate a lot. Duck feces can be a big problem if you confine ducks in a small space.
  • Will eat small fish larvae, frog eggs, etc. If you have a pond, you may need to keep ducks out of it at crucial times if you want a large population of frogs or toads.
  • Prone to predation. Ducks are very slow, and domestic ducks cannot fly well enough to get out of danger.
  • Ducs can be very loud, especially at night and during the mating season.

Geese

geese

Pros

  • Produce larger eggs than chickens and ducks
  • More meat on a dressed bird than a chicken or duck
  • Excellent at weeding pastures and yards.
  • Can survive on mostly grass with very little feed during the growing season.
  • Large enough to defend themselves or get away from some predators

Cons

  • Very prone to predators when sitting on nests.
  • Crows love to attack their nests when they leave them briefly.
  • More aggressive than other birds. Males can be particularly hostile during the breeding season.
  • Large enough to hurt adults and children. If you have small children, you need to be with them when around geese.
  • Tend to bully other birds more. Ducks learn to hang out but avoid physical contact. Chickens usually get picked on more.
  • Very loud when disturbed or being fed. Geese will likely lead to noise complaints if you live in a place with neighbors close by. There is no way to train a goose to be quiet.

Quail

quail

Pros

  • Small and very quiet.
  • They are kept in cages. Quail will leave if they get loose. You can keep a lot of quail in a small space.
  • Provide gourmet small eggs and meat for your table.
  • Eggs and meat fetch a high price at farmer markets and specialty shops.
  • Manageable for those that work outside the home.
  • Raising quail is an excellent way to utilize a small space on your property.

Cons

  • You have to buy all of their food. It is not feasible to sustain them without a lot of outside inputs.
  • Need cages with very fine mesh. Quail can escape through mesh openings that chickens can’t.
  • Cages must be managed well so that waste is not an issue.
  • You have to butcher a lot of small birds, which can be time-consuming, for the amount of meat you get.

Goats

goats

Pros

  • Will eat practically anything. They are great for clearing out areas that seem impassable to humans.
  • Hardy. Goats do well at a variety of temperatures. For hot climates, they are a better choice than sheep.
  • Produce a lot of offspring.
  • Delicious meat. If you like venison, you will like goat. A lot of people have a hard time telling the difference when it is cooked similarly.
  • Easy to butcher and dress out.

Cons

  • Very difficult to keep in a fence. An excellent fence is a must if you want to keep goats.
  • Most goats are naturally horned. Horns can be dangerous. They like to use their horns to assert themselves.
  • Smart enough to cause a lot of trouble.
  • Aggressive at feeding time. Goats are very pushy.
  • Love to escape if the pasture is greener on the other side of the fence. The harder forage is to get to, the more attractive it seems to them.

Sheep

sheep

Pros

  • Can be very docile.
  • Less mischievous than goats.
  • Not as food aggressive.
  • Very good at foraging and finding things to eat during the winter months.
  • Do well in colder climates.
  • Provide meat and fiber.
  • Easy to sell as pets
  • Females are hornless. There are some breeds where the males are naturally hornless too.

Cons

  • Lambs are not as hardy as baby goats.
  • More vulnerable to predators due to lack of horns.
  • Most sheep have to be sheared once a year.
  • Raw wool does not fetch a good price, and the market for processed yarn is very competitive.
  • Shearing costs a lot if you don’t do it yourself. It is very time-consuming for a beginner.

Rabbits

rabbits

Pros

  • Produce a lot of meat in a short time.
  • Require little space.
  • You can supplement their diet with garden waste and household vegetable scraps.
  • Can be raised in cages that have wire on the bottom that grass can poke through. This is known as a rabbit tractor.
  • Provide meat, fur, and they can be sold as pets.

Cons

  • Will dig out of cages that are not adequately made or secured.
  • They can scratch you a lot. They have incredible strength in their back legs.
  • Very vulnerable to predators. Skunks and opossums are a big problem in rural and urban areas.
  • Some people have a more challenging time butchering rabbits than other animals because they are considered very cute.

Mini livestock and small heritage breeds are not the same things.

Some breeds are naturally small, and others have been bred down to a smaller size. A lot of mini livestock carries an actual dwarf gene. This can actually cause problems in many cases.

A significant disadvantage of mini cows, for example, is that you can only breed them to another mini. The cost for minis is much higher than a full-sized or naturally small breed of cattle. Artificial insemination services can take care of breeding for you, but the fees can add up. There is no guarantee that artificial insemination will work the first time. You have to buy semen and pay a professional to store it and come out when your cow is in season.

Some older or rarer breeds of livestock are naturally smaller. The Dexter cow is an excellent example of this. Of course, rarer means costlier.

Sometimes you may read a breed description only to find it is very misleading. Unfortunately, in the United States, breeders have not maintained acceptable breed standards. The result is livestock that gets to be much larger than what you would expect.

My husband and I used to raise Dexter cattle. The breed standard for a bull is under 1,000 lbs. It was not uncommon to see people winning prizes at shows for bulls that weighed as much as 1,500 lbs. Female Dexter’s are supposed to be under 750 lbs. I am not saying that no good stock exists, merely that you must be very careful when choosing your breeder.

Angus cattle, perhaps a better-known breed these days, used to be on the smaller side. But they have been bred up to a much larger size, too.

Avoid animal fads. They can cost you a lot of money and time.

Every once in a while, an animal fad takes off.

Animals that are meant to be pets are particularly susceptible to being a market loss. This is at least in part due to the fact that they have no value as productive meat or egg animals. If a fad breed can at least be used to provide food, then you have more protection. But you still might experience a large loss.

Animal fads operate a lot like pyramid schemes. Those that win big with fad animals tend to be a select few breeders that get in and get out of the market fast  Market saturation is a major factor.

Mini horses are an excellent example of this. At one point, these cute little horses were selling for $1,000 each to people that thought they could never have a horse or provide one as a pet to their child. Not long after that, you couldn’t sell one for $100. Plenty of people bought breeding stock and lost a lot of money finding out that people wouldn’t buy them for a price that came anywhere close to covering the expenses of keeping their breeders.

Mini pigs are a more recent fad animal. Small pigs have been popular in other countries for many years since they can be raised in small spaces and still provide a lot of meat for the table. Unfortunately, what’s sold as a ‘mini’ pig in the US gets much larger than what people realize. Pigs are generally big animals, so the term ‘mini’ can be quite misleading. The pig you think will top off at 100 lbs will likely be 200 lbs or more.

How many animals can your property support?

Stocking rates for livestock depend on a lot of factors and there’s no one-size-fits-all guidance that works for everyone’s situation.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine how many animals you can support on your property.

Remember that it’s best to start on the lower end of what you think you’ll be comfortable with until you gain some experience and see how things actually go on your property:

  • How much supplemental feed are you willing to buy? If you’re not relying entirely on your own pastures and grassy areas and purchasing more feed, then you can support more. But your overall expenses will be higher.
  • How much time do you have to dedicate to care? Will you butcher and process meat at home or will you be paying someone else to do at least part of the butchering and processing?
  • What is the size of the spaces you are willing to dedicate to livestock? Do you still want to have a medium to large yard? Do you need space for gardens?
  • How good of a fence are you willing to invest in? What is your plan for maintaining your fences?
  • Does your property have a lot of high-quality forage? Pastures can be improved over time if they’re not overgrazed. So even if you start out with lower quality grasses and forage, you may be able to support more animals later on.

Butchering

You will inevitably have extra animals to sell or butcher at some point unless you’re just keeping female animals (e.g. hens).

Selling your male livestock is an option. But it doesn’t always work out. You’re usually better off butchering at least a few.

Getting over the squeamishness of taking an animal’s life yourself and breaking the carcass down is more challenging for some people than others. The key is to take your time and not be too hard on yourself if you gag a little the first few times.

Some animals smell worse than others when you are butchering. I would rather butcher out an 800 lb hog than 20 chickens. Believe it or not, chickens are smellier if you raise your pigs in a clean environment.

It helps to have someone that is experienced help you butcher the first few times. In some areas, some farms offer classes on basic butchering. YouTube is a treasure trove of “how to” videos on this, too.

Over the years, my husband and I have shown a few people how to butcher. One of the biggest challenges is getting people to realize that they won’t be good at it right away. Guess what? No one is!

The first time Matt and I butchered chickens, it took us all day to get six done. After some improvements in equipment and butchering a few more times, we could process up to 40 in about 5 hours.

Set small goals for the first time. Don’t expect to get a whole pig done in 3 hours the first time.

Emotions

Some folks get very emotional about taking the life of an animal. If you butcher enough, you get more hardened.

I think it helps realize that if you eat meat, someone else has been doing this for you for a long time. You may be playing a more distant role, but you are a player in taking an animal life regardless. In most cases, the animals you raise are going to have led a much better life than those in factory farms and feedlots, and they will meet a swifter end.

When we butcher pigs, they never know what is coming. I cannot say that for industrial agriculture, where things are mechanized and animals can sense something, is very wrong.

Be realistic about the cost of food and housing for your livestock.

The cost of feeding your livestock will vary a lot based on how much you can provide from your property, how many animals you keep per acre, and the quality of the feed. Another main factor is your regional climate. If you have a short growing season, you will have to feed more to compensate for long winters.

Some animals can live mostly on grass if they have enough of it, while others like chickens and quail need practically all their food bought.

Storage of feed is another factor to consider. You need a space that protects from moisture and varmints like opossums, raccoons, squirrels, and rodents.

Livestock need shelter but perhaps not as much as you think. It is easy to overbuild barns for animals. In the mountains of western North Carolina, barns are well ventilated. Part of the reason is to provide a cooler and shadier spot in the Spring and Summer. The other reason is that animals in barns with poor ventilation can develop respiratory problems, including pneumonia. A good three-sided loafing shed is about right. Perhaps half the front closed in if you want a stall or more protected area for very young animals.

Some old breeds of livestock like Shetland sheep will barely use a barn unless it is very rainy or snowy.

Take a look around your area and see what other people use for livestock so you can budget appropriately.

Don’t forget that you can use large dog houses for shelter for a goat or sheep. If you are keeping two goats, it may be more cost-effective than a larger structure, and you get the advantage of moving the houses quickly, unlike a permanent structure.

What is best for you may change over time.

When we were in our 20s, we had as many as 17 head of cattle at a time, raised some giant hogs, and had a horned bull. Now we have sheep and chickens, and we’re adding geese. For us, having smaller animals makes more sense for the 13 acres of property we have.

Sheep are easier to handle. Chasing cattle and dealing with their health needs is a lot more dangerous than hornless sheep.

When it comes to farm animals, you need to be flexible and realistic about your expectations of yourself. But, man, is it rewarding.

Do you have any livestock? If not, are you thinking about starting? Please share your positive or negative experiences in the Comments section below, and I’ll do my best to answer any questions folks ask.

~ Samantha

Related content
» More

40 Comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 7:20am

    #1
    ironpuppy12345

    ironpuppy12345

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Jan 12 2021

    Posts: 29

    12

    Do cost benefit analysis

    I currently live on a farm and now looking to move to suburbs as hobby farming costs more than it saves.  While I enjoy it, at the same time, I’m missing out on doing my passions in life

    Before venturing into this homestead, do a cost benefit analysis between buying a slaughtered animal straight from a farmer (or meat from store) for rest of your life  versus raising it yourself (cost of land, mortgage interest/taxes on land, equipment, buildings, feed, fencing).  Your Age has a factor in this analysis, as the younger you are the more likely raising animals yourself will payoff). Also, homesteading requires  demand on your time and lifestyle. Vacations/outings will be less, hassles more often.  When the animal’s water heater fails (they do frequently),  you are out $60. Constantly keep track of weather and pray for rain, resolve predator issues, resolve animal fights, resolve aggressive rooster issue, losing your entire fruit tree crop due to a late spring freeze (happened last year), etc.... If you are doing it for economic collapse, it may be better to spend less money on food supply and security for a smaller place. The homesteads will be very vulnerable to theft during a collapse and you can lose your heard overnight.  I’ve seen it.

    I don’t mean to be negative about the homestead lifestyle.  It was fun and developed a lot of skills, I like animals.  But be sure to think it through thoroughly and read other’s experiences.  Don’t romanticize the experience by idealistic thinking, be realistic.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 7:28am

    #2

    LesPhelps

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 678

    5

    Pros and Cons

    The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, found poor diet to be the leading cause of morbidity and mortality.

    Put health issues associated with eating meat and dairy in the cons column.

    Read a book by Nathan Pritkin, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. T. Collin Campbell, Dr. Neal Bernard, or Dr. Caldwelll B. Esselstyn for details, or watch a documentary like “Forks Over Knives,” or “The Game Changers.”

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 7:50am

    #3

    roosterrancher

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 16 2010

    Posts: 127

    12

    Doing the deed ain't easy

    I have hunted and fished most of my life and in turn, processed a lot of meat.

    It is different when you harvest one of the critters that you have scratched behind the ears for a couple of years. It is a deep dive into what ethical food really means, a real inner journey. Doing the deed ain't easy.

    For me it is a spiritual time of life and death, one that I need to gird my self for with a state of gratitude. Most of the time it goes well, sometimes it doesn't and it is hard on the animal and particularly hard on me.

    We can buy chicken way cheaper than we can grow it, what we grow has far better flavor, and is very high in Omega 3, it is the healthiest meat we can produce.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 8:05am

    ironpuppy12345

    ironpuppy12345

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Jan 12 2021

    Posts: 29

    9

    ironpuppy12345 said:

    And also put the health benefits of eating meat in the pro column (I can provide many)

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 10:02am

    #5
    MarkM

    MarkM

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jul 22 2008

    Posts: 529

    8

    Sheep

    Being a dedicated healthy meat eater, we have sheep as a component of our regenerative ag based farm. We also have meat chickens and cattle. All on pasture.

    If you are interested in sheep, think hair sheep over wool sheep. No shearing, milder meat. We have a large cross bred sheep flock. They are very parasite resistant, very low maintenance. No hoof trimming. Very hearty in hot and cold weather. Southeastern Oklahoma sees 100 degrees in the summer and, this winter, several days of 0 degrees. We have no barns/shelters. Trees for shade in the summer. We select for these hearty, low maintenance qualities. We also select both males and females for twin offspring.

    The economics of sheep are very favorable. Sheep will have offspring at one year of age and those offspring will be ready for processing in a year, give or take. We sell meat direct to consumer as well as seedstock for those wishing to build their own flock. We enjoy our sheep and, properly managed, will contribute to the financial well being/personal resilience of your farm.

    Predators? We have several livestock guard dogs that make quick work of predators. Except the 2 legged variety, but that is another story.

    It is true that the sheep do well on winter stockpiled forage and they are easier to handle than large ruminants.

    Fencing. Get it right or you will be frustrated.

    @robshepler - Yes, butchering is a bittersweet affair. We have only butchered chickens on the farm. Hundreds. I am sure that butchering a larger animal is a different day as far as killing goes. Like you, I have a reverent mindset about that. On our farm, the animals have a great life and a bad day. A day that every living thing will face. All of our animals are treated humanely in life and death.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 10:44am

    #6
    Kate

    Kate

    Status: Member

    Joined: Apr 28 2017

    Posts: 36

    5

    We have Shetland Sheep in North Central Washington state

    We keep 24 ewes for fine wool production and an occasional carcass of meat.  We don't breed them as we are getting older and that's just too much for us, especially working with a ram and all night lambing sessions.   I'd like to add my recommendation for having Shetlands, if you have a small holding, or would like to have smaller sheep for easier handling and less purchased feed.  If you are into fiber for yourself or for sale, and if you love natural colors, this is a great breed.  Yes, we bring in an experienced shearer every year, who knows how to get the clip right on Shetlands and how to handle them during the shearing.  It costs $8/sheep, but can include hoof trimming, confinement while I give vaccinations and drench for worms and bots, plus an occasional tooth removal.  He can help to assess the condition and health of your flock and fleeces, and has tons of experience with what to do if there is a problem.  Save your back and hire a pro and keep him happy.

    We have our fleeces made into six or seven different natural, colors of yarns, on cones, and I make about 200 skeins for sale in local shops.  Plus I keep the rest for my weaving and a little knitting.  The sales pay for the processing for the yarns we sell and those that I use. Eventually, I'll be selling hand woven wraps and simple garments in our local co-op.   We have tons of tourist traffic here, mostly from the Seattle area on the west side of mountains from here.  Still plenty of disposable income from them and a keen interest in fine yarns, handmade and locally produced products.

    We have sheep also to help bring the old abandoned hayfields that came with our house into productive permanent pastures.  All on gravity fed irrigation thru the local ditch group.  My husband makes tons of great compost for the gardens and fields from the manure and waste hay.  All on five acres, including a house, farm yards and barns, and a 1/4 acre garden and orchard.

    Samantha, wondered if you have done milk goats.  I'm tempted to bring on a couple of milk grade Nigerian Dwarfs and a buck.   Thanks for your great, short and sweet overviews for beginners.   Kate

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 11:17am

    #7
    pyranablade

    pyranablade

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Nov 08 2010

    Posts: 250

    3

    Quail

    Very good post, Samantha!

    I once raised 2 Muscovy Ducks from 2-days-old until they were almost adults....but, since I live in town, it was illegal to have them at all and I decided to take them back to the farm where I got them before my neighbors could (or would) call the cops. More recently I have raised quail. Let me add a couple of points to your discussion.

     

    Quail:

    More pros:

    • legal in cities because they are not "farm animals."
    • Winter hardy to very low temps (need cover from the wind however)
    • Can be "processed" (butchered) in your kitchen sink.

    More cons:

    • Since they like to eat their own [waste], you're forced to either accept that or to keep them off the ground...constantly standing on the wire hurts their feet and keeps them away from whatever natural food sources they might have had access to.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 1:53pm

    #8
    TWalker5

    TWalker5

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Mar 13 2020

    Posts: 107

    2

    Feeding chickens

    We have a flock of laying hens. They are quite entertaining to watch and we love having fresh, high omega-3 eggs.  But I’m not sure it’s a financially beneficial practice. We feed them organic layer crumbles.  It’s not cheap and the local birds take their cut. We also supplement with grubbies, some kitchen scraps, as well as letting them free range in the backyard for a few hours each day.

    I’m wondering if we could grow some sort of feed for them. Not only might this reduce costs but it would increase our resilience, making us less dependent on trips to the feed store. Any ideas?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 3:54pm

    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    4

    LBL said:

    >>>  I’m wondering if we could grow some sort of feed for them. Not only might this reduce costs but it would increase our resilience, making us less dependent on trips to the feed store. Any ideas?

    I'm planting a bunch of Corn in Rows.

    Using Walmart feed corn "Whole Corn" as seed.  Tested it, it sprouts !

    I used to buy organic whole corn from a farmer in Idaho but his distributors stopped selling his products.  Not sure what happened.

    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Vibrant-Life-All-Purpose-Whole-Corn-Animal-Feed-40-lb/830744026

     

    My birds free range but I have 2 neighbors with a history of shooting each other's dogs, so I try to keep the birds as close to home as possible.

    One thing I've noticed is, they love DIRT.  I had a 30 gallon rolling garbage can full of dirt, laid on its side.  They pecked away at it over a course of months and now it looks like a tidal wave hit it.

     

    So I went and bought 2x 3 cubic feet containers of soil.  I cut them open to get rained on and pecked at.

     

    The birds also like Styrofoam but that is a different subject.

    I'm looking for a Chemistry lab that can do chemical analysis of bird droppings.  They all seem to be geared towards soil analysis, THC-CBD analysis, and mining analysis.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 4:40pm

    #10

    blackeagle

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: May 16 2013

    Posts: 256

    6

    Raising chickens

    We raise chickens for meat and eggs since 5 years now. Nothing to compare with grocery meat or eggs. First processing season (10 birds) I was a bit hesitant, but remembering that when I was young, killing chickens for the kitchen was something very common, helped me pass over the first hesitation. Now, I process about 40 birds per season and this is just routine. They smell a bit at plucking stage; once the feathers are removed, no more smell. Guts smell is not an issue.

    We had our share of predators (Raccoons and mink). I managed to close all holes in the coop. Plus a trap cage for raccoons works wonderfully: between 6 and 10 raccoons each year are catched. My neighbor also lost all his chickens to a mink. He is a registered trapper...:)

    Starting in 2022, we will raise sheep (Start with 2). Will see how thing go. Thanks for the information.

    We are getting close to retirement (6-7 years to go), so we sold our house last year (27 acres, mountain side, very rocky) to buy something more compatible with small farm activity (18 acres; entirely wooded with mature trees; about half of it is flat; house to be built). We hope we get the rough of the house done by end of this year, so we can get into it. The rest will come slowly when time and money allow.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 5:45pm

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jan 05 2020

    Posts: 560

    4

    How I've frustrated predators

    I think we'll start sheep raising about the same time, @blackeagle, 2022. I'll work on pasture fencing this summer after the siding's finished.

    We've also been butchering our own meat birds, and I agree about the minimal smell issue.

    I raise meat birds in tractors. I found I could prevent predators trenching under the side walls by attaching a foot-wide "skirt" of chicken wire all around. It lays flat on the ground, and critters aren't smart enough to step back a foot and dig a long trench. By using hardware cloth for the side walls I prevent coons and the like from reaching in through the chicken wire. It also keeps dumb clucks from sticking their necks out.

    I let my layers free range 2 years ago; a fox took out 12 of the 14 before I realized it was around. Can't free range 'em here until I maybe get a guard dog along with the sheep. So they live in a spacious hen house and run.

    I've had no problem with predators in the run because I placed hardware cloth along the bottom of it, attached to the side walls, then filled it with rough wood chips a foot deep (the hen house has a solid wood floor and wood shavings). When I cleaned out the chips last summer (to compost, then add to gardens), I saw that something had tried several times to get in from underneath by tunneling all over the underside of the hardware cloth barrier.

    One long wall of the run is all chicken wire (the other 3 being wood). I overlaid the lowest 2.5 feet of the wire with more hardware cloth. That even kept out a bear - who thought the chicken feed I'd placed just the other side of where it was picking at the fencing would make a good breakfast - until I chased it off.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 6:46pm

    permiegirl

    permiegirl

    Status: Member

    Joined: Aug 01 2020

    Posts: 16

    2

    Sheep

    We made the acquaintance of some farmers who raise several types of livestock including sheep using permaculture/rotational grazing.  Don't know the variety of the sheep they have but according to them, "sheep stay up nights thinking of ways to die!"

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 6:48pm

    #13
    Mpup

    Mpup

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Mar 01 2020

    Posts: 153

    0

    Chickens

    We currently have 5 chickens. Recently lost several.  Couldn't figure out what was getting them.  I've caught coons and possums by the pen but it's a converted chain link dog pen and secured with a metal roof.  Was finding dead chickens in the pen and nothing had dug under it.  Stayed up late one night to see a bobcat bouncing on the side of the pen. When the birds would try to escape from the pen the bobcat would stick his paws thru the chain link, grab the birds and rip their heads off. He would then proceed try and pull them out of the pen.   The pen is now wrapped with hardware cloth.  I don't think that bobcat will be back 🙂   Chickens definitely attract predators.

     

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 7:03pm

    TWalker5

    TWalker5

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Mar 13 2020

    Posts: 107

    0

    TWalker5 said:

    LBL, thanks for corn idea.  I live in the high desert and garden in a half dozen 4x8 raised beds so growing lots of corn would be tough.  But I can certainly grow some. My girls love dirt, too!  Our backyard is ringed with what was dirt under wood chips, but most places are sans wood chips now as a result of their dirt baths.

    May I ask why you want to analyze your chickens’ droppings?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Mar 22, 2021 - 9:43pm

    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    0

    LBL said:

    >>>  May I ask why you want to analyze your chickens’ droppings?

    They binge on Plastic, with no apparent ill effect, just getting into boxes in the garage.

    A few times it's like a scene from the Shining, except with Styrofoam, instead of Blood.

    I want to see what their digestive system is doing with the plastic.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 23, 2021 - 10:47am

    Samantha Biggers

    Samantha Biggers

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 09 2021

    Posts: 16

    0

    No Dairy Goats

    We have raised goats in the past but never got into milking any. We bought a LaMancha doeling, and she died before she could be bred. We have considered a few Nigerians, but right now is not a good time for us. If you want to go with goats, Nigerians would be what I would recommend because they are small and supposed to give the highest quality goat milk. Just remember to keep the buck away from any milking areas because they sure stink, and that smell will permeate everything, lol. My grandma used to have a Pygmy goat buck, and you would think that small means not so smelly. Nope.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 23, 2021 - 10:57am

    Samantha Biggers

    Samantha Biggers

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 09 2021

    Posts: 16

    3

    Quality and Quantity Matter

    It is possible to be very healthy and eat a lot of meat and dairy. Lumping all meat and dairy into one category is not accurate. There is a major difference between eating a lot of highly processed, cured, or factory-farmed meats and those you raise yourself. Grass-fed beef and dairy, pastured pork, and free-range chickens from regional farms in your area are healthy proteins. After switching to a diet of mostly meat, dairy, and vegetables, combined with an active lifestyle on our farm, the health of my husband and I dramatically improved. That was in our 20s. We have continued to be very healthy, never have to go to the doctor except for routine preventative care, and take no prescription medications. Our weight is within a healthy BMI range and has been for years. I also have to point out that not all land is suitable for growing vegetables or grains so raising meat and dairy animals within the threshold that a parcel of land will support is environmentally responsible. The land I live on is steep and totally unsuitable for growing crops beyond fruit trees, brambles, and a few vegetable gardens.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Mar 23, 2021 - 2:21pm

    #18
    jtbrent

    jtbrent

    Status: Member

    Joined: Dec 11 2018

    Posts: 13

    1

    Small acreage livestock

    My wife and I have 9+ acres in North Central Ohio; we both work full-time outside the home but breed AKC Airedale Terriers as our “cash crop” and have used the proceeds to fund our continuing improvements of this property which now includes 10 (not including another 7 layer peeps we have inside right now) laying hens & 4 Kune Kune hogs. We added the hogs last year while I was stuck at home with the kids during the initial panic of the pandemic; I’m a carpenter by trade so it wasn’t a stretch for me to construct a shed and fencing, we allow the hens to free-range with access to the fenced hog pasture (the Kune’s are a smaller docile grazing-breed that originated in New Zealand that are also popular as pets but also renowned for the quality of their meat & fat) which I’m expanding this spring to allow for more rotational grazing and to be able to better separate the breeding stock to control litter timing. Our 2 feeder Kunes go to the processor a couple miles away this July; we hope to have our 1st litter sometime later this summer once our young boar is mature. We plan to sell the best genetic piglets as breeding stock, sell a few as feeders, and keep the rest for ourselves and family/friends....a “pork pipeline” if you will lol.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 24, 2021 - 2:18am

    Hohhot

    Hohhot

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Mar 12 2020

    Posts: 170

    6

    Predator offensive weapon

    Have lost multiple animals to assorted predators through the years.  The diabolical ingenuity they use to massacre sometimes makes me take it personally. Here's two detterents using electrical current; one tested, one reported.

    1) When varmint proofing consider aerial and subterranean attacks.  Coons and possum will swing off tree branches or leap off adjacent buildings (like a shed/ garage) into pens. Running a small electrical wire in lines over the top may help. Have heard more than one buzzed sound with yelp/screech before. For below: Dogs, fox, bobcats will dig to get to them. Again a well grounded hot wire a few inches above the grass has an amazing ability to discourage. Burnt fur the next AM as proof.

    2) An old man's tale: While stuck in an ICU waiting room tending an elderly relative, chatted with an old timey farmer waiting to see his wife. He assured us of the most full-proof deer and critter deterrent: Peanut butter and a hot wire. He said you attach electric fence wire by clips to a very small metal plate you prop up underneath just off the ground. Apply peanut butter generously to the plate. All animals lick the plate with their sensitive moist tongues.  He said he once saw a deer touch it and go straight up as high as an 8ft post. After, all deer made a U-turn to avoid crossing his property. Farmer claimed equal effectiveness for coons and neighbors dogs with similar avoidance after.

    Haven't tried this one, but would love to keep deer, et. al. at bay.

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 24, 2021 - 4:50am

    #20

    roosterrancher

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 16 2010

    Posts: 127

    1

    Varmits

    We are in a drought and everyone is hungry, just lost four chickens to a hawk.

    Trying a new defense, fishing line strung through out our orchard.  It is about eight feet high and about twenty five feet apart. So far so good, we were losing one every other day, it has been up about a week. I guess the theory is they are afraid to get tangled in it, haven't even had a crow come in for spare chicken food.

    Rob

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 24, 2021 - 5:30am

    Mpup

    Mpup

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Mar 01 2020

    Posts: 153

    4

    Thanks Hohhot

    Thanks Hohot, the hot wire is our next project for the chicken pen.  I had considered putting old tin or wire on the inside perimeters to keep predators from digging under but the hot wire sounds like a better option.  I recently fenced my garden with the 6' red brand deer and wildlife fence.  Put barbed wire above it to keep the deer from jumping over.  Last year it was container/fabric pot gardening.  Thanks to the inspiration of folks here, I have a 60x85 plot already planted.

    FYI for folks doing fencing, Dewalt makes a handheld 20V fence staple gun that makes fencing quick and clean.  No pounding of staples to loosen posts and wham on thumbs.  They are pricey but some rental businesses may have these.  For folks doing fencing, this is a game changer.  Might be worth sharing the cost with a neighbor or friend if you have a lot of fencing to do.  With this tool my wife and I were able to complete our garden fence in just a couple hours.  Fortunately, I had a friend who loaned me his tool.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 24, 2021 - 6:23am

    #22
    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    1

    LBL said:

    Most chicken coops are Death Traps - By Design.

    The birds' Best Weapon against predators - their ability to fly into the night.

    Denied, of course, by the walls of the coop.

    I have used a coop without walls for 3 years, with the roosts about 10 feet off the ground.

    Lost 1 bird in that time, an old & favorite Rooster, a Dutiful Bantam - who charged a Falcom.  The fight didn't last long, the Falcon crushed the Rooster's skull with its jaws.  Like a nut-cracker.

    I live on the edge of the forest that runs from Grants Pass Oregon to Wimer, a patch of raw forest that is about 8 miles by 15 miles.  All the predators - Raccoons, skunks, possums, Foxes, coyotes, mountain lions.  Not sure about bobcats.

    In that incident with the falcon, about 15 other birds were witnesses.  The old rooster's bravery bought them the time to hide.  It took a while to "inventory" them, some of them hid for a full day after the attack.

    The previous #2 rooster, who was elevated to #1 by the death of his buddy (they got along very well), has been very upset.  He started doing what roosters do - flying and kicking - my shins.  That lasted about 3 weeks, and now he is mellowing out a little.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 24, 2021 - 7:15am

    #23
    Netlej

    Netlej

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Dec 09 2020

    Posts: 107

    4

    Netlej said:

    I can't tell you how often I see chicken coops with cute little ramps so the birds can easily walk up to their nesting. Ha! I tell people to remove those rat ramps and raise the nesting up to at least 5 feet or more. I can't count the number of different predators hitting the chickens but rats are the worst. Hard to trap them because they are clever. Can't poison them. They are not easily discouraged, only seems to last a week or so.

    I buried heavy galv hardware cloth down 18 to 20 inches all around the chicken run and they still tunnel in.

    Also the bluejays will come in and eat the eggs. They are highly  intelligent and crafty buggers that will go wherever the chickens can.

    I start off with 50 or so knowing I'm going to lose a few no matter what I do.

    When people hear that I farm they ask what do I farm? I tell them I raise voles, moles, gophers, and rats.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 24, 2021 - 9:24am

    #24
    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    2

    LBL said:

    Then the Birds become Pets, and that can temporarily disrupt cost-benefit calcs.

    I will be spending some time in a part of the forest where I want them to spend more time, using a leaf-blower to make a big pile of leaves.  Simply because that attracts them.

    In the mean-time, I keep them close to home using shredded cheese, and other treats.

    They are also crazy for Styrofoam.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 24, 2021 - 2:20pm

    Samantha Biggers

    Samantha Biggers

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 09 2021

    Posts: 16

    1

    Aerial predators are hard to deal with.

    We lost one to a hawk yesterday. Aerial predation is so hard to control when you free range your birds. We lose one to a hawk occasionally. Our dogs do help out some because the hawks don't like the running around and barking that they do. Our Great Pyrenees flushed a baby Bald Eagle out of a tree last year. By baby I mean a juvenile that already had a 5 ft wingspan. Drought definitely makes predation more of an issue no matter where you are.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Mar 24, 2021 - 6:57pm

    rototillerman

    rototillerman

    Status: Member

    Joined: Jul 09 2012

    Posts: 7

    0

    rototillerman said:

    Jt, what are feeding your Kunes? When we had pigs it was hard to keep them economically fed. We used to go the outlet grocery and buy cheap bread, old cheese, squash, etc.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 25, 2021 - 1:27pm

    #27
    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    1

    LBL said:

    >>> We lost one to a hawk yesterday. Aerial predation is so hard to control when you free range your birds.

     

    I understand how that feels.

    That's one of the reasons I'm doing my corn a certain way this year.

    Basically 3 rows wide - planted, not sprouted - a few hundred yards long, like a yellow brick road connecting all the fruit trees.

    I finally learned that you have to get the corn wet with soil on top if you want it to sprout.  Now just waiting for temperatures to cooperate.

    The rooster-falcon fight that occurred 4 weeks ago, was near one of their favorite dust bath spots.  I thought I would tie a tarp hanging in the air, so that they are in the shade & hidden from hawks & falcons when they're dust-bathing.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 25, 2021 - 4:14pm

    jtbrent

    jtbrent

    Status: Member

    Joined: Dec 11 2018

    Posts: 13

    0

    jtbrent said:

    We are feeding them about 2 cups(ish) each of hog grower feed daily, they have access to hay and once the weather breaks and conditions warrant they’ll be on pasture daily. They also occasionally get a blend of Timothy/Orchard grass pellets/sunflower seeds/scratch grains but they are primarily a grazing/foraging breed  which is a big reason I was attracted to them.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Mar 25, 2021 - 4:35pm

    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    1

    LBL said:

    >>>  We are feeding them about 2 cups(ish) each of hog grower feed daily,

     

    Assuming you're talking about pigs - I was amazed at what a neighbor's pigs eat.  A little food, but they free-range.  They eat roots and other things they snuffle out of the ground and that's a major part of their diet - on just 2 acres.

    I have about 13 acres of forest and the soil is full of things the pigs would like.

    But I've already got my hands full with birds.  I'm on the way to being one of those old people with the mobile home full of animals you read about in the paper.

    I wonder if pigs have a hawk-deterrent effect.  So that they are sort of like watch pigs.  Do they act protective like a dog or a rooster ?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 26, 2021 - 8:11am

    LesPhelps

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 678

    0

    The many benefits of eating meat and dairy

    List away.  This should be interesting.

    The US spends over $2 TRILLION dollars a year on health care procedures to repair damage due to eating meat, dairy and highly processed foods.

    If you are planning to list animal protein, calcium or B12, you might want learn more about nutrition.  I’ve spent a couple of years studying the subject.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 26, 2021 - 8:37am

    LesPhelps

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 678

    0

    Quality and Quantity Matter

    I wish you were right, I really do.  I thoroughly enjoy what I’m eating now, but occasionally indulging in a grass feed porterhouse would be enjoyable.

    Unfortunately, a recent study shows that even one meat meal a week impacts health and longevity.

    There really is an overwhelming body of one sided evidence on this subject.  It would be common knowledge but for one fact.  People don’t want to give up meat and dairy.

    People commonly say that they love it too much.  Does that sound like addiction to you?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 26, 2021 - 8:58am

    #32

    herewego

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Aug 11 2010

    Posts: 162

    0

    Thanks for the great article and posts!

    I'm not ready for small livestock yet as there are too many other unfinished projects on my tiny homestead.   Plus my full time work means the animals would not get adequate care.  But I'm going to work in whatever livestock can fit on my place when the work slows down.  This information about predators from all of you is gold.  It will go into my files for when I'm ready.

    Questions:

    - LBL, What does a coop without walls look like?  Can it work in zone 5, where we have months of cold (-15 C is common)?

    - Netlej, can all chickens easily fly up to a coop with no ramp?  How do you clean and remove eggs from such a coop?

    - VTGothic, love the tip of burying a wire "skirt" around the coop.  Do you think a foot is enough, or would a wider one be even better?

    - Does anyone have input on the minimum space needed for the tiny milk cow breeds or hogs?

    Thanks!

    Susan, sighing for 10 acres....

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Mar 26, 2021 - 9:46pm

    OneStrawFarmer

    OneStrawFarmer

    Status: Member

    Joined: Sep 16 2020

    Posts: 7

    3

    Still waiting to find out what I'm missing

    My husband and I have been vegetarian for almost 35 years, now, and I'm still waiting to find out what kind of problems I'm going to have from a lack of meat in  our diets. We've had nothing but excellent health and the blessing of looking younger than we chronological age as side effects. We do eat dairy, though it's not necessary, but we don't get processed, conventional factory farmed garbage. We do raw, especially if it's also grass fed, as much as possible both for the health benefits and humane reasons. I stopped eating eggs for over five years in protest of the rotten egg farming system, and suffered no ill effects. Now we have our own organic pampered pastured back yard hens and the eggs are fabulous. We cook mostly from scratch feature a very wide variety  of low sugar, primarily whole, unprocessed organic foods, augmented with plenty of spices. My husband is a family doctor and remarks every so often how he looks and feels better than most of his younger patients. I grew up a staunch meat and 'taters gal, but honestly, since making the switch, I really don't get why anybody would keep eating meat when going veg is now so easy as well as a delicious and very healthy choice. My motto: being a vegetarian means never having to say I'm sorry (to myself for abusing my health, and to all our fellow living beings for cutting their lives short just so I can taste their bodies).

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 27, 2021 - 1:58am

    #34
    Rootman

    Rootman

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: May 09 2020

    Posts: 99

    2

    Old 19th century joke

    ''I don't eat meat", said the Vegetarian.

     

    "Me neither", answered the Proletarian.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 27, 2021 - 2:33am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jan 05 2020

    Posts: 560

    1

    Chickens and Skirts

    @herewego wrote

    VTGothic, love the tip of burying a wire "skirt" around the coop.  Do you think a foot is enough, or would a wider one be even better?

    Slight misunderstanding. I use the 1-foot skirt around the 4 sides of my mobile chicken tractors in which I field graze my meat birds. It lays flat on the ground outside the tractor. 1 foot is plenty, in my experience; it completely stopped the ditch-digging under the edges by predators. Also, keeping it to 1 foot makes it much easier to move the tractor daily: I tack the leading edge up onto the sidewall as I move the tractor forward, otherwise it curls under the leading edge of the tractor, and can foul up the chickens' legs (chickens tend to race to the front of the moving tractor to get first dibs on the new, fresh grass). I also staple a 1"x1"  or 1"x2" strip of wood along the outside edges of the skirts; that helps keep the skirts flat and unwrinkled over time. Otherwise it becomes unruly. On uneven ground, I can then use garden staples (or wire folded into a U shape) to tack the skirt's trim strips to the ground.

    My egg layers' permanent, stationary chicken run has hardware cloth completely under it, then attached via staples to the inside edges of the side walls. I have found that many critters will dig under the sidewalls of permanent chicken runs; they have lots of time to work at it. Over that hardware cloth base I pour 9-12 inches of rough wood chips. Onto that I toss all the spent garden and yard greens for them to eat, along with kitchen waste. (They're my compost bin.)  Annually I clean it out by sifting the chips through a 1/4" screen. Whatever won't go through remains in the run, and I refill with new chips. The material that does screen gets composted or aged and then goes into the garden or around trees.

    When I reposition my chicken run and hen house, I'll create some attached summer paddocks, too. That paddock fencing will have skirts, probably buried into the earth about 18" deep at a 45 degree angle. (I'm debating doing the same thing around my garden plots as I start fencing them late this summer.)

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 27, 2021 - 2:49am

    VTGothic

    VTGothic

    Status: Gold Member

    Joined: Jan 05 2020

    Posts: 560

    1

    Peanut butter 'n bears

    @Hohhot,

    I've been told the peanut butter trick works on bears, too. The version I've heard is to smear peanut butter on strips of aluminum foil hung between hot wires. The bear's got to lick it for it to have any effect. (Heard of a bear that got up on hind legs, turned around, and fell backwards onto a hot fence, flattening it. Then tackled the enclosed bee hives.)

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 27, 2021 - 7:08am

    #37
    LBL

    LBL

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 11 2020

    Posts: 201

    0

    LBL said:

    >>>  - LBL, What does a coop without walls look like?  Can it work in zone 5, where we have months of cold (-15 C is common)?

    OK got a picture of one of the coops.  The blue arrow is where a miniature sort of chicken, the Belgian D'Uccle, tried to roost after sunset about 5 years ago.  They can mate with chickens but their character is the opposite of "chicken".

    Extremely brave, with a tendency to charge much larger predators.  And the speed to survive what would be an unwise move for most birds - running right at what was probably a mountain lion.  Whatever it was it de-feathered her, but she escaped and emerged one week later with 2 chicks in tow.

     

    -15 C is 5 degrees F.  That seems too cold for the sitting in mid-air on a branch approach.

    I would give birds the option of having some straw & enclosure near them, even if some of them choose to "go sit on the branch" (where there is no insulation).  An old Brahma, recently deceased at the hands of a Falcon, almost always sat on the branch on the far left, even in 20 degree weather and sometimes in the rain.

    Because they are 10 feet in the air at the end of the house, they have some protection from the wind etc.  And a roof over their head.

    I tried a few times to load it up with straw but they just knocked that off.  The structure is built on 2 "stretch" Metro shelves.

    It's far from perfect.  They need a more enclosed space where they are comfortable sitting and laying eggs.

     

    My garage ALSO became a coop with walls.  11 birds were hatched there this winter, 9 survived.  Now they roost on the beams that are about 10 feet off the ground ... and crap on all my tools.

    The 3 birds in the picture I brought inside for the D'Uccle to babysit.  Her eggs have been turning out to be not fertile, so I sort of tricked her by giving her 3 chicks from an Americauna who is very prolific.  Those 3 have stayed together even 6 months later.  There turned out to be one rooster & 2 hens in that group.

     

    In the pic I have interrupted their free-ranging to hand out some shredded cheese.  A great tool for a Chicken Shepherd.

    I was trying to get a pic showing the differences in feathering between all the orange birds.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Mar 27, 2021 - 4:42pm

    #38

    herewego

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Aug 11 2010

    Posts: 162

    1

    Thanks LBL and VTGothic!

    I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and more, plus even some photos!  It seems like there's no space in my life to take on critters but - maybe I can share with a neighbor who has chickens and ducks and build some of these contraptions to help her out, and learn a bit in the process.  Anyway - thanks a bunch!

    Susan

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Mar 28, 2021 - 2:26am

    fated

    fated

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Feb 16 2014

    Posts: 68

    2

    Garden refuse

    We feed our chickens pellets and they free range in a small area. This area contains our compost heap which they forage through. All garden plants that are being pulled out or cut off, including thinnings (microgreens!) and weeds get thrown over the fence 'toward' the compost heap. The chickens have the chance to eat anything that takes their fancy before it is raked onto the heap every couple of days. We also grow extra Kale, and silverbeet in the veggie patch especially for them, and I've experimented growing flax plants and seed for them. I chose flax only because it was in a packet of rancid breakfast mix I could scatter around to try growing. It has worked and I'm growing from second generation seed. Not a substantial amount, but a special treat. They love the dried seed heads. We also hand remove caterpillars from our brassicas and throw to them for a treat, as well as throwing in leaves of anything with aphids or other yummy pests. I seed save, and they also like radishes, celery, brassica and silverbeet plants that they can pick seed from. We have also pulled grassy weeds from the neighbours unkempt garden (win:win) for them when greenery was tight. The chicken area is under the fruit trees so they also access seasonal windfall fruit. They seem quite skilled at avoiding anything toxic, though I do google some things before throwing them in. Large annual flower plants such as cosmos have gone to them, and my hubby who is a dedicated grass person empties the lawn catcher to them. They recieve anything that goes into our kitchen compost bucket, including meat scraps, prawn shells and tea bags (with the strings removed). And when we go fishing they get any unwanted fish carcasses (there's only so much fish stock you can keep in the  freezer). When it's cold we cook them up everything from old oats to pasta to rice and add in anything else we have on hand. Their pellets are really a back up for whenever they don't get enough of all these other things. There are probably lots of other things they could have but we are still learning and have had them just over a year.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Mar 28, 2021 - 7:43am

    LesPhelps

    Status: Silver Member

    Joined: Apr 30 2009

    Posts: 678

    0

    An old Chinese Proverb

    10% of what you eat keeps you alive.  90% of what you eat keeps your doctor alive.

    Login or Register to post comments