We know about our "small" critters:
-chickens (feathers, pest-killers, meat, eggs, fertilizer)
-quail (same, but smaller, and indoors)
-angora rabbits (fiber, fertilizer)
Here's our thinking about the mid-sized animals (goats, sheep, pigs, alpaca)... We want:
- fiber to spin
- milk that my lactose-intolerant Hubby can tolerate
- since we're newbies, the animal(s) should be easy to care for (especially since **I** will probably be the one doing all the work (sometimes it's just easier than nagging)
- we plan to grow our own feed so we won't spend a lot of money at the feed store!
GOATS: Neither Hubby or I have eaten goat meat, but we could get a Nigerian Dwarf (high butterfat and protein) because we all (including Kid) love goat milk, goat milk cheese, goat yogurt, goat ice cream, and an angora goat would provide beautiful fiber. I'd need to learn how to shear. Oh, and how to milk. But I've read how to feed goats what a homesteader can grow, especially that if you give a goat a pumpkin, she'll be quite content!
SHEEP: Hubby loves to eat lamb, and we both enjoy the sheep milk cheese. We haven't tasted plain sheep milk or sheep milk yogurt. They have wonderful fiber, but again, I'd need to learn how to shear and to milk. And if we raise sheep for milk, fiber AND meat, someone (eh hem, Hubby) will need to learn how to slaughter! I hear they need salt-licks... won't the deer (this area is full of wild roaming deer) think it's out for them?
PIGS: We are a family of bacon and ham lovers. If we can raise a litter of pigs a year, and slaughter one or two to smoke, sell the rest, we'll be fine. However, we know nothing about what to feed them or what a "pigsty" should look like! Yes, I know they don't give us milk, but sure are good eating! Are they "good for" anything else?
ALPACA: These could be used as pack animals, and they have wonderful fiber, but can we drink their milk or make cheese with it? What do they eat? Are they good for anything other than fiber, pack animals and friendship? Yes, I heard people eat them too, but I really don't think I could do that.
COW: Depending on the size of the property, we could have 1 or 2 cows, a mini-cow preferred. While Hubby could have cow's milk yogurt (and ice cream from that yogurt), he couldn't have cow's milk cheese or, of course, drink the cow's milk. The Kid and I could tho, and the Kid really loves mozzarella and cheddar and colby jack. But Hubby and I ... we sure do love our beef! I'd MAKE my Hubby learn butchering for that! No antibiotics or hormones in the ground beef. Hmm.... I've seen info about mini hereford or mini holsteins - are these as small as a goat?
Anyway... We obviously already have plans for the chickens, turkey, quail and rabbits so those aren't a problem. We just need to help in determining the best "mid-sized" animals for us. I've placed a lot of books on hold at the library about raising these particular farm animals, so hopefully, I can pick them up today or tomorrow and start figuring out the best for us. Meanwhile, your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
NOTE: There are a lot of deer in the area we're looking at. No, we won't be hunting them (well, unless it's hunting season and it's allowed!) but we will need a way to keep the deer off the property so they don't eat my garden, and the corn I plan to grow for us and our critters. And the greens. Berries. Pumpkins. Etc. We'll be getting a dog first thing (that's another posting!) but as far as plants or other ways to keep deer off our land... any advice? On any of this post?