Considering Sheep For The Homestead
One of the things I would like to do after my wife and I get moved to the homestead, is to get some kind of milk and meat producing livestock.
Cattle was one of my first choices. My wife and I cook a lot of beef – ground meat, steaks, stew meat,,, just all kinds of different cuts of meat.
Goats were my second choice. Cattle eat grass, goats eat weeds, so they would not compete over the food sources. Unlike a cow, when a goat is butchered I would not have to deal with a 1,000 pound animal.
Then there are sheep. Unlike goats, sheep produce wool that can be used to make clothing. The breed of sheep I was looking at (under the suggestion from my brother) is hair sheep. Hair sheep look like goats, as they have short hair instead of wool.
Some of the appealing points of sheep
Sheep are flock animals, so you do not have to worry about them wondering off away from the pack.
Lamb meat is healthier then beef.
Sheep milk has a higher fat and solids then goat or cows milk, which makes sheep milk ideal for making cheese.
Sheep milk is healthier then cows milk.
Sheep are considered one of the first domesticated animals. It is accepted that sheep were domesticated by humans around 10,500 years ago.
According to my brother who has raised goats, sheep are hardier then goats. And I want something that does not need constant care.
Small frame, easy to handle, stay together in a herd, produce milk that makes good quality cheese, produce wool that can be used to make clothes and are grass fed. There are lots of reasons why sheep have been raised by humans for 10,000 years.
One of my goals in creating a homestead is to establish a self-sufficient farm for a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI survival situation. My wife and I have chickens that will provide eggs and meat. The next step is some kind of meat and milk producing farm animal that is hardy, easy to handle and can be raised in southeast Texas.
Livestock After SHTF / TEOTWAWKI
Cattle have an average gestation period of 285 days.
Goats have an average gestation period of 150 days.
Sheep have an average gestation period of 145 days.
Sheep and goats require less land then cattle.
Cattle eat only certain grass types, sheep and goats eat a wide range of forage foods.
Sheep and goats can navigate rough hilly land that cattle would not be able to access.
Goats and sheep do well in drought conditions.
Then there are the building materials needed to fence in a field. Goats are difficult enough to keep in a pen, much less one that was built out of what survivalist could scavenge after SHTF.
Goat and sheep milk are both healthier then cows milk.
Sheep milk has more solids in it then cows milk, so its easier to make into cheese and butter than cows milk.
The Plan So Far
The plan for 2013 is to get moved to the homestead, get the chicken yard and expanded chicken coop built, then start fencing in a field.
If everything goes even remotely to plan, hopefully I can get some goats and sheep in early 2014. I would like to get some cattle, but I want to see how the fields do with smaller livestock before going to larger farm animals such as cows.
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