Raising animals is so much fun! Here at WindSwept Farm we get to raise goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and bees. We hope to add cows to our homestead in 2018.
We love our farm animals. They are really fun to raise.
Chickens are easy to raise. Basically they just need food, water and shelter. That’s it! However if you are serious about getting some of your own here are a few things that might be helpful.
1. Hens don’t start laying eggs until around the 4th month, so you need to be prepared to feed and care for them for a while before they start paying you back. Also they usually reduce how many eggs they lay during the winter months.
2. Chickens fly! Keep this in mind when you plan for their living space.
3. There is a pecking order. I like to raise my chickens from chicks together. If you don’t raise them together there is a chance the pecking order will kick in, and you may end up with some balding chickens. This is because the older chicken will literally peck the feathers out of the new chickens. Some people have found tricks to successfully integrate new chickens, but I just raise new flocks together.
4. They don’t require bedding. If you get baby chicks you need to keep the temperature regulated until their feathers come in, so I buy bedding for my baby chicks until their feathers come in. However chickens huddle together to keep warm, and they prefer to sleep perched so bedding for chickens is wasted money and a lot of extra work as you have to change it often.
5. Chickens eat eggs. Yes that is right, so keep their feeders full of food and water and collect their eggs frequently. It doesn’t take long to learn their laying schedule but leaving eggs for a long time invites trouble.
Why do we love our goats? We have really enjoyed having goats milk. We especially love making cheese from the goat milk, however when raising goats for milk there are a few things you need to consider.
How will you feed them?
There are basically two ways to feed your goats.
- One way is to put them out to pasture.
- The second way to feed your goats is to purchase food for them.
I prefer to put our goats out to pasture. The cost here is the fencing. . However once you have established grazing areas for your goats you need not worry about additional costs.
Other things that you need to consider with goats
When will you take vacations? When you raise goats for milk you have to milk them two times a day when they are in milk. If you have a really busy schedule then starting the day and ending the day milking your goats might be too much for you. For this reason we plan our vacations for the times when we stop milking them to freshen them. This is usually done a few months before they are ready to have another baby.
Additionally you have to worry more about predators. Having the right dogs to protect your herd is a good thing. There are also other animals that can be used to keep predators away like donkeys.
We added Pekin and Cayuga ducks to our homestead.
We have added rabbits to our homestead!
I will add more on raising rabbits after I have had more time with them.
We absolutely love bees. Like animals, bees need food, water, and shelter. You also have to check their hive for mites which will kill the bees. We have been working hard at planting as many flowering plants as we can to help our bees thrive. This has been a bit of a challenge in the desert, but it is also nice to have more flowering plants around.
Keeping our animals safe
Because we live in the desert we have to keep our animals safe from all kinds of predators. This has included raccoons, badgers, wild dogs, rattle snakes, porcupines, and coyotes. For this reason we don’t ever add animals to our homestead unless we have safe housing for them first (although no housing is 100% predator proof).