Over the years ducks have been bred for different purposes, primarily meat production and egg production. If you plan to raise ducks on your homestead, it is important to choose a duck breed that best suits your particular needs. All domesticated duck breeds originated from the mallard. The male mallard has a couple of curled tail feathers, called sex feathers. No other non-domesticated ducks have these sex feathers.
Imagine if your breakfast came right from your backyard homestead? With the help of some livestock, that dream could easily become a reality. I start every day milking the goats and, on my way back from the milking parlor, I swing by the coop for some fresh duck, chicken, and quail eggs. Throw in some homemade bread and bacon from a local farmer and I am able to serve my family a breakfast for champions.
Animals are an integral part of the homestead. Regardless of the size of your homestead, there are probably animals you can keep that will help you live more self-sufficiently. If you are just getting started or you have a smaller backyard homestead, quail, chickens, and rabbits are a great start. If you have some experience under your belt or you have more land to spread out on, goats and ducks are great options.
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Today you are getting Zoologist Jessica instead of Homesteader Jessica. For those of you that don’t know, I went to school for zoology, but decided that I didn’t want to live in a city, which is what led me to farming. One important aspect of animal care they taught me about in college was animal enrichment and how important it is to an animals health and overall well-being.
Animal enrichment is activities that create a more stimulating environment for the animals and elicit some of their natural behaviors such as exploration, foraging, locomotion, social interaction, manipulating objects, or simply playing.
One of the things I don’t love about the herbal supplement powders I provide to my goats is that they often sift through the feed and end up an uneaten powder at the bottom of the dishes. My goats love when I made herbal balls for them, but I don’t want to have to make them for the daily supplements, like the Kop-Sel. I’ve been making the herbal balls weekly when I give them DWorm, but it seemed like there must be an easier way. Like maybe in some sort of goat treat.
Funk Fixer is a blend of very nutritive herbs in a treat form. It’s perfect for ill, senior, failing to thrive, or recovering goats. Many people give it to rescue goats and goats under stress. We give it when we can’t quite figure out what’s up, but we know something isn’t right. That isn’t to say we give it as a bandaid. When something is wrong with your goat, it’s important to diagnose what the problem is. Better Daze is just to help while you figure out what’s going on.
You may have heard all sorts of talk about rotating wormers and wormers loosing effectiveness over time. You may also be concerned about withdrawal times and chemicals leaching into the goat’s milk and/or meat. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you didn’t have to worry about that? A natural herbal wormer might be just what you’re looking for.
This is just my opinion, but the way I see it, chemical wormers are essentially just poisons. You’re poisoning the parasites and hopefully not poisoning your goat.
This was a year of triplets for our dairy goats. One set was bottle raised, but the other set stayed with mama to be dam raised. Sadie, the mama of the dam raised kids, had a healthy appetite, but the herbal goat treat, Milk Money, gave her that pep she needed to keep her supply where the demand was. Abby, the other mama, was a different story. See, I got her as a new first freshener. Neither she nor I had any clue what we were doing. To say there were bumps along the way would be a serious understatement.
You may have heard that your goats need a selenium supplement and/or copper supplement and for many goat owners that’s true. This is because the soil across most of North America is deficient, therefore growing deficient plants. Living in a deficient area myself, I offer my goats a natural selenium supplement involving herbs.
Selenium deficiency is mostly noted during and after pregnancy both in the doe and any resulting kids.
There are plenty of lists of toxic and unsafe plants for chickens, but it is very hard to find plant options that can be used in your chicken area. I have compiled a list of plants that are deemed chicken-safe. The following plants are appropriate and worry-free for the areas chickens roam. The list tells you the zone said plant grows in as well as if the plant is an annual or perennial.
Sprouting fodder is something farmers have been done for generations. Fodder is defined as “food, especially dried hay or feed, for cattle and other livestock.” Sprouting fodder growing the fodder and allowing the livestock to eat it at a young stage. This feeding technique can offer a varied diet for livestock at a fraction of the price of traditional feeds. Although you can sprout a variety of grains, today I’m going to chat about sprouted barley because it’s a great all-around grain for livestock.
With or without a goat or cow, you can make your own butter from raw milk. While homemade butter made from store-bought raw milk may only save you about 7¢ a stick, butter made from raw milk that came from your own animals can save you, well, 100%.
Learn how to separate cow and goat’s milk, as well as four fun ways to make homemade butter. Did your butter not come out how you expected? Here’s so troubleshooting tips.
In all of our 4H and homesteading days, we have raised over 20 rabbits. Most were “dual duty” as pets and working animals, meaning for compost and fiber. Our French Angoras are the perfect example of a double duty animal. They have lots of long hair that is great for learning how to spin and knit or crochet with. This is the main reason we started our Angora herd, to be honest. My daughter loves to knit, crochet, and all things yarn related. Taking care of the fiber rabbits requires a bit more than just regular rabbits, however.
Our French Angoras are the perfect example of a double duty animal.
Rabbits are actually the perfect choice for a backyard farmer that would like to start producing their own fibers for either resale or crafts. Typical fiber farm animals include sheep, goats or alpacas – some of which can top out at 200 pounds or more – not always practical for someone farming on under an acre of land. Rabbits need minimal space and don’t require special farm vets, almost all suburban vets will have experience treating rabbits. In addition to less land and less feed, rabbits are wooly powerhouses!
When we first purchased goats, we lived on a small acreage and we chose Nigerian Dwarf goats. We wanted our kids to be able to be in the pen with the goats and not feel intimidated so we chose small a small breed. That also meant goats with no horns. When our goats had kids, we disbudded them. That was our stance until last summer, our first summer on our homestead in Missouri. We went from backyard goat owners to farmers overnight. We kept our little dairy herd that we had on our acreage, but also added a separate herd of meat goats.
Today I am so excited to have my friend Lesa Wilke of Better Hens & Gardens visiting to answer my many goat-raising questions. Ever since the decision to get Nigerian Dwarf goats for our homestead, she has put up with my numerous goat inquiries. When she published her book, Nigerian Dwarf Goats 101: Background & Basics, she offered to send me a copy. I read it from digital cover to cover. It answered many of my questions and taught me quite a few things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. I figured other people who are considering goats probably have similar questions as I did, so Lesa was kind enough to share her answers with us all.
Any rabbit can be eaten, no matter how cute, hairy or small but some are a lot more practical for producing meat. You don’t have to buy purebred or pedigreed stock to start breeding meat rabbits, you just need to know what to ask the breeder, what to avoid and what makes a good meat rabbit.
You’ll want to avoid buying rabbits before they are 8 weeks old, which is typically when they should be weaned. Rabbits that are weaned early often develop enteritis, a digestive disease, and sometimes die.