Typically a large question in many prepper’s minds is about which is the best live stock animals to have on the prepstead, or homestead. A Prepper’s guide to self sufficiency should always cover the animals as well.
When you start a prepstead or homestead, you can always start small and build up, and that is why I typically go for the smaller animals first. Small animals can also be gotten away with in less rural areas. My list of favorites in order of what I would choose as my first animals would be Chickens, Bees, Rabbits, Catfish, and Ducks. I would consider quail as a small space alternative to chickens, but the personality of the chickens make them my favorite.
Now that I have told you my preferences of what to have, Why don’t we visit some advantages and disadvantages of each animal.
- Advantages: Enjoyable to watch. Lots of eggs and meat for very little work.
- Disadvantages: Don’t keep them in one spot for too long or go without cleaning out their coop or they can get a smelly
- Needs: Coop, place to roost in coop to keep them away from weather and predators.
- Labor: Find and collect eggs, closing coop at night, cleaning coop about once every 2-3 weeks, if you use thick bedding only.
- Food: Feed, or you can free range them instead and give them a supplemental that they will snack on just when they need it. Along with freeranging chickens, you can place them in a chicken paddock shifting system for their food.
- Disease Concerns: Worms, Lice, and Mites. They can get sick. They wheeze when breathing and get discolored combs.
- More: Free-ranging, organic chicken eggs are in high demand, and sell for a premium. Use chickens for your own needs, and sell the extra. This is what we did.
- Advantages: Enjoyable to watch. Great pollinators and generate honey, wax, and propolis. Less maintenance than chickens.
- Disadvantages: not many. They can sting, which is a problem when you are allergic. Some upfront cost.
- Needs: Hive, sugary food during winter, minimal human interaction in the hive, and never during winter. Water nearby, and lots of flowers.
- Labor: Harvest honey and/or wax twice a year. Split them if population is too high.
- Food: They generate their own, but you will want to supplement in winter… and let them keep some of their own.
- Disease Concerns: Varroa Mites, Wax Moths, Tracheal Mites, Nosema, American Foulbrood (AFB), European Foulbrood (EFB), Chalkbrood, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
- More: Honey, wax, and propolis are great ways of making money for very little work. Check out my beekeeping book for lots more information.
- Advantages: Well adapted. Provide meat, milk, and fleece.
- Disadvantages: Graze too much and will destroy things if left in the open. Escape artists.
- Labor: Milk twice a day. Like keeping sheep, with less watching.
- Food: Weeds more important than good grass. House, hutch, or barn for weather.
- Disease Concerns: Mineral deficiencies, internal parasites
- More: Known for milk, cheese, soaps, and yogurts
- Advantages: Self sufficient, alarm system, pest control
- Disadvantages: Loud
- Needs: Room to move around, not worth keeping if you confine them
- Labor: Very little
- Food: None needed
- More: I would only keep guineas for eggs and as an alarm system and tick control. Otherwise, wouldn’t really be worth it over a different poultry member.
- Advantages: Larger, richer eggs than chicken. Less chance of infection than chicken.
- Disadvantages: Females can be noisy. Must have a pond or duck pool.
- Needs: Duck House, similar to a dog house, for weather and predators
- Labor: Confine them at night, find and collect eggs, clean shelter. If using a small duck pool, replacing water every 3 days to 1 week.
- Food: Similar to Chickens
- Disease Concerns: Very minimal.
- More: Duck eggs pull a little more per dozen, and are a niche buy for bakers.
- Advantages: Great for weed removal. Hardy like ducks, so less infection. Provide with lots of meat.
- Disadvantages: Can be very noisy and territorial to visitors
- Needs: Shelter at night
- Labor: Similar to ducks.
- Food: Similar to Chickens, just more grass and weeds.
- Disease Concerns: Similar to Ducks
- More: Great for meat sales
- Advantages: Small enough to be kept in cages and breed readily. Take up very little space.
- Disadvantages: similar to chickens if on land.
- Needs: same as chickens. If kept in cage, they will need to be fed chicken feed.
- Labor: feeding daily or paddock shifting
- Food: same as chicken
- Disease Concerns:
- More: Very lean and delightful flavor meat when roasted. Probably not going to sell very well.
- Advantages: Eats almost anything and gets fat easily.
- Disadvantages: wrecks good grass if not ranged or paddocked well.
- Needs: Shelter at farrowing, but not much else. Mud Baths for skin.
- Labor: feed daily, cleaning sty if not ranged.
- Food: Items that other animals will waste. Almost anything.
- Disease Concerns: Mastisis after farrowing.
- More: Ham and Bacon is great tasting, and easy to sell
- Advantages: Grazes well, Provides lambs, milk, wool, and meat.
- Disadvantages: Escape artists, disease ridden, require more attention
- Needs: Shepherd and fencing
- Labor: continually watch, trim
- Food: grazing
- Disease Concerns: Blowfly strike, foot rot, and lots of other deadly diseases
- More: lamb is a pricy meat, and cheese is also good for selling
- Advantages: Inexpensive and grows rapidly. Can keep in a barrel if you want to feed them daily.
- Disadvantages: Fins hurt!
- Needs: not much. If you are in a hurry to get your numbers up, you will have to add feed or earthworms daily.
- Labor: Almost none. Keep some grass carp to keep algae at bay.
- Food: None, unless like I said before, you want them to grow faster.
- More: Fried catfish is great and could be sold for a decent price.
- Advantages: Cheap, Quiet, Handles well, lots of meat production, and propagates well
- Disadvantages: Meat is cheap for selling, so don’t plan to make anything
- Needs: Dry, draft-free, keep out of extreme heat; protect form extreme cold, rain, and predators.
- Labor: feeding, must check up on regularly
- Food: hay, grasses, veggies, and feed
- Disease Concerns: Ear Mites, they get colds. Keep them somewhat separated from chickens, since a lot of the same diseases can hurt them.
- More: Don’t try to sell, just eat.
- Advantages: Gentle, Grazes well
- Disadvantages: Large and tough to handle
- Needs: Shelter during cold weather months
- Labor: Milking twice daily, rotate cattle, or paddock shift
- Food: Good grass, and feed (or hay) during winters, salt
- Disease Concerns: Mastitis when milking, mineral deficiencies when calving, some foot problems
- More: great and easy to sell milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cream, calves, beef
With all of the choices of animals, good luck on your decisions.
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