What is your long term plan for fresh meat after SHTF? Do you plan on hunting, trapping or raising your own? What about a combination of all three?
This article is going to focus on 4 sources of fresh meat – chickens, pigs, goats and rabbits.
In a previous article we discussed how many chickens would you need for SHTF. If you have not read that article, please do so. Here is a recap of the important information.
Lets start with 10 people in our group, now lets estimate that those 10 people will be eating 2 eggs a day, which equals at least 20 eggs a day.
During the winter time egg laying can drop after a cold front passes through, or while the hen is molting.
For the sake of discussion, lets use my lowest egg count of 3 eggs from 13 hens. The 3 eggs were laid after a cold front passed through, and the hens were around 9 – 10 months old.
7 X 3 = 21 eggs.
7 X 13 = 91 chickens.
91 chickens is a lot.
Now lets go with my average egg count of 5 eggs a day from my 13 chickens for the month of December 2012.
5 X 4 =20 eggs.
5 X 13 = 65 chickens.
I think 60 or 65 chickens is manageable for a small farm with at least a couple of acres for the chickens to free range and forage.
Now lets go with the summer high of 10 eggs a day.
2 X 10 = 20 eggs
2 X 13 = 26 chickens.
Under my estimates, a survival group of 10 people will need a summer time low of 30 laying hens, and a wintertime high of around 60 – 70 chickens.
If you plan on letting some of your hens go broody, they will not be producing eggs during that time. So lets add another 5 – 10 hens for those that go broody and stop laying.
Once we add a few hens to cover egg production for the ones that are broody, we have a number of 35 – 40 hens.
Lets give 20 square feet per chicken in the chicken yard, so the pen will need to be around 800 square feet.
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Pigs / Hogs
Some of the good things about pigs during a complete collapse of society, they breed like rats, and are feral just about everywhere.
If you kn someone that has some dogs trained to hunt feral pigs, or if you have some dogs trained to hunt, all you need is land where you can hunt on.
Most states have public hunting lands that belong to the government. These public lands provide an ideal setting for hunting hogs. Be sure to check your local hunting regulations!!!! Why should we worry about hunting regulations in a complete collapse? To maintain a sense of government and upholding the law. And, some of the regulations are for your safety, such as wearing blaze orange.
It helps if there are at least 4 or 5 people in the hunting party. That way the hunters can take turns carrying the hog out of the woods. By the time the dogs corner the hog, the hunters can be fatigued.
Tie the legs of the pig together, insert a good sized tree limb through the legs, one person on each end of the limb, then pack the hog out.
Once you get the hog home, then comes the task of keeping the hog in the pen.
When the hog is untied, chances are the first thing the pig will do it ran the fence. However, if the pig can not see what is on the other side of the fence, chances are it will not ram the panels.
If you have access to tin or plywood,,, something that could be used to block the pigs line of sight so it can not see what is on the other side of the fence.
Once the pig is safely in the pen, its a matter of choosing if you want to butcher the hog, or breed it.
My cousin got a couple of wild pigs, a boar and a sow. After the boar bred the sow and the sow gave birth to the piglets, my cousin butchered the boar.
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A few weeks ago I interviewed an agriculture teacher from a local high school on the topic of goats. The teacher raised goats years, and has a masters degree in agriculture. From what he told me, the Nigerian dwarf goat is one of the better choices.
Some breeds of goats can produce a gallon of milk a day. That may sound like a good amount, that is also a gallon of milk that has to be processed. The goal is to produce enough food for your family, but not so much that food is wasted.
The person I was interviewing stated:
The Nigerian dwarf goat can produce from a couple of pints – 1/2 gallon of milk a day.
The Nigerian dwarf should lactate for around 6 – 8 months. Meaning, with a buck and two does, the does can be bred once a year, which should in theory provide a supply of milk for a year without stressing the goat.
Since the Nigerian dwarf is smaller then the average goat, it takes less room then a full sized goat and eats less feed.
The last time I had rabbits was back in 1999, and before that it was in the late 1980s.
The rabbits I raised in 1999 and 2000 where some that were bought the kids during Easter.
The rabbits I raised in 1987, 1988 and 1989 were some no-name mutt rabbits. A couple were black and a couple were brown. Twice the doe ate her litter, so I butchered her.
After my wife and I get moved to the homestead I want to get some New Zealand Whites, which will be used for meat and their poop.
New Zealand Whites have an average butcher weight of around 4.5 – 5 pounds at 8 weeks of age.
While I was interviewing that agriculture instructor about goats, we also talked about rabbits. He told he he raised New Zealand Whites for several years. During that time he did selective breeding for certain traits. One of the main traits he looked for was the number of kits the doe threw.
If the doe threw any less then 6 kits in a litter more then twice, the doe was butchered. After several generations the does were throwing 8 – 10 kits, with the largest litter being 14 kits.
Lets do some math:
With a low number of 4 pounds after being butchered at 8 weeks of age. With 6 kits per litter, that is 24 pounds of rabbit meat every 2 months (8 weeks).
Normal gestation is about 30 days (4 weeks).
This is not rocket science, lets just say around 3 months from the time the doe is bred to the time the bunnies are ready to be butchered.
Lets say that we breed the doe and the buck around the 1st day of the month, plus or minus a few days. Keep in mind we are not building a watch, nor is it rocket science.
January 1st – breed doe #1
February 1st – breed doe #2, around this time the litter from doe #1 should be born
March 1st – breed doe #3, around this time the litter from doe #2 should be born
April 1st – breed doe #4, around this time the litter from doe #3 should be born, bunnies from doe #1 should be ready to butcher.
May 1st – breed doe #1, around this time the litter from doe #4 should be born, bunnies from doe #2 should be ready to butcher.
June 1st – repeat
With 4 does, hopefully can develop a system where we can butcher 1 rabbit per week starting approximately 90 days after the first breeding.
With 8 does, maybe we could develop a system where we can butcher a rabbit twice a week.
Chickens and Rabbits
Did you read the article how many chickens do you need for SHTF? In that article we discussed reaching and sustainable flock size. The given number was given was around 70 – 80 hens by early winter, and 40 hens during the early summer months. This gives us at least 30 – 40 chickens for butchering during the winter months – December, January and February. During those three months we had estimated on butchering 1 chicken every 3 days.
If we can reach a flock size of 90 chickens before winter time, we could butcher 1 chicken every 1 – 2 days during the harshest winter months.
Why would we butcher chickens during the winter? Because your family needs the food, and egg production slows down during the winter. Instead of the flock competing over limited food sources, just thin out the flock.
Now that we have our rabbit production up and running, we can supplement the chicken meat with rabbit twice a week, if we have at least 8 does that is.
Simply put, once we reach sustainable livestock production, the family should be able to eat meat 3 – 4 times a week during the harshest winter months. Plus, the eggs from the chickens. This provides us with protein, fats and amino acids.
Why Has Hunting Been Left Out
Why haven’t we discussed hunting? Because that topic has been beat to death, and hunting during a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation is not sustainable.
During the great depression of the 1930s, wild turkeys and whitetail deer were hunted to extinction in various parts of the nation. Here in southeast Texas, the wild turkey had to be repopulated, which took around 40 years.
From the time the wild turkey was hunted out in the 1930s and 1940s, it took the Texas Parks and Wildlife until the 1990s to get flock sizes back to the point where the turkeys could be hunted again. Here we are in December 2012 and flock sizes are still nowhere close to what they were 100 years ago.
If people resort to hunting after a complete collapse of society, within months wildlife stocks will become depleted (except for maybe the wild hog). After the wildlife stocks are depleted, people will start going hungry.
So why have we not dicussed hunting until now?
1 – Hunting is not sustainable.
2 – Hunting requires a lot of time and energy.
3 – Who knows what kind of idiots will be out in the woods.
4 – Gun shots give away your location and draw attention.
Related Forum Thread – Hunting after SHTF
Long term survival plans should include developing a sustainable food supply, and not expending energy and resources looking for food.