Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Tag: livestock for shtf

Starting with guineas

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Buying guineas was a little more difficult than I had expected.

With chickens you just down to the local feed and fertilizer in the early spring and buy the chicks you want, or place an order with various websites that sell chicks online.

With guineas you get on a waiting list at the local feed store, or get on a waiting list with a company that sells guineas online. My wife and I were on a waiting list at Ideal Poultry for between 2 – 3 months before we received our order of a dozen pearl guineas.

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Livestock and Firearms for SHTF

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Lets say SHTF tomorrow, what would be your top priorities?  Besides safe drinking water, food production and property protection is at the top of my list.

One of the questions I ask myself, how do you develop a sustainable food supply, and at the same time protect your property?  Well, its not really “how”, but where do you divide your resources to best serve you and your family.

Lets say you have $20. Would that $20 serve you better as ammunition, or through livestock such as chickens? What about tools and fencing supplies?  Would that $20 serve you well as a hammer, wire cutters, staples for fencing wire, or as barbed wire?

If you have a few million dollars to spend, we would not have to be asking these questions.  We would just buy the land, and buy all of the supplies that we need.

Unfortunately, most of us have limited resources.  Due to these limited resources we need to spend wisely.  And thus we ask questions to find answers.

Firearms

As Black Friday draws closer, I find myself debating on whether or not I should buy a SIG Sauer M400 enhanced that Walmart is supposed to have on sale.

Then comes up the classic debate, would that money be better invested in food, livestock or ammunition?

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What Is The Best Livestock For SHTF

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Prepping for SHTF is a never ending process. Unless money is not an issue, chances are people have to divide their efforts between various projects.

Over the past few weeks I have been posting about what my project for 2013 should be. Should it be rabbits, honey bees, both, or maybe even something else?

The question from there needs to be, what project is going to provide my family with the greatest return on our investment?

Which farm animals are the best able to live off the land, have the best food to output ratio, produce the most food for the amount of room they take up.

Cattle: Lets start with the one farm animal that everyone knows in one way or another. Most people eat cheese, butter, steaks, brisket, hamburger,,,, and so on.
The cow is a universally recognized farm animal, but what is it really good for during a long term SHTF situation?

If you butcher a 1,000 pound cow, then you have to have a way to preserve the meat. Do you have a smoker, and a pressure cooker large enough to process a whole cow?

During the middle ages, cows were not a preferred livestock. Which was mainly because they are so large it takes great effort to preserve the meat.

Cows can produce a lot of milk, which in turn is used to make butter and cheese.

Then there is the amount of grazing field a cow requires. If you want a herd of cattle, do you have the room to take care of them? Do you have a fenced in field large enough to left the cattle graze? Do you have a barn large enough so the cattle can be protected from bad weather?

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Best chicken breed for SHTF

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What chicken breeds are best for a long term SHTF survival situation?  Most breeds are good foragers, but we want something that would make a good meat chicken, good layer, good breeder, is friendly with other chickens and deals with confinement well.

Speckled Sussex, Australorp, Barred Rock and Rhode Island RedChickens are an excellent livestock choice for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI.  Eggs are a good source of protein, fats and essential amino acids.  Chicken meat is a good source of protein.  Chickens can be let out out of the chicken coop during the day, and they will return to the coop at night.  Which is unlike other livestock that will wonder off if let out of their pen.

My suggestions are the Barred Rock (which is part of the Plymouth Rock family), Rhode Island Red and the Australorp.

Barred Rock

Two Barred Rock ChickensThe Plymouth Rock is a dual-purpose (for meat and egg production), cold-hardy chicken that makes a well-rounded choice for the homestead or backyard flock owner.  The Plymouth Rock is the family that the Barred Rock belongs to.

Barred Rock are usually friendly, easy to tame, hens are not usually aggressive.

The Barred Rock lays a large light to medium brown egg.  On average, a healthy hen will lay 3 – 4 eggs a week, which equals to 156 – 208 eggs a year.

The Barred Rock is a cold hardy chicken. During the winter some chickens stop laying. The Barred Rock lays eggs through the winter, but in a decreased capacity.

Hen weight – 6 – 7.5 pounds

Rooster weight – 7.5-9.5 pounds

The Barred Rock is a good forager who will seek out its meals. When given the chance, they will explore fields and tree lines looking for food.

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Long Term Survival Project for 2013

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Every year I try to focus on some kind of project that would improve my long term survival plans.

2008 – Hurricane Ike
2009 – random stuff, such as backpacking
2010 – gardening and camping
2011 – juglines and trotlines, storing food in mylar bags
2012 – chickens and chicken coop
2013 – I am thinking rabbits

The last time I had rabbits was in 1998, 1999.  My wife and I built 4 or 5 cages in the backyard next to the house.  Somehow something got into the cage and killed the rabbits.  The next cage I build is going to be a lot more secure then the last one I built.

Before 1998, 1999 the previous time I had rabbits was in the late 1980s, 1988, 1989.  The 1980s seem so long ago.

What are the rabbits going to be used for

I want rabbits for 2 main reasons:

1 – Easy access to meat.  Lets say there is some kind of long term SHTF situation, I would rather have a rabbit in a cage close at hand, then have to spend time and energy hunting a rabbit.

Need a rabbit to go with those potatoes and carrots?  Go out to the rabbit coop, and presto, fresh rabbit.

2 – Manure.  Rabbit manure is a great fertilizer.

Part of my long term survival garden plans call for crop rotation between 3 fields. Two of the fields will have raised beds and will be fenced in. The last field will not have raised beds.

Another part of my long term survival plans includes organic gardening using compost and manure.

My chickens provide chicken manure, but chicken manure needs to compost before it can be added to crops.

Planning phase

Like I did with the chicken coop and chickens, I am going to research what rabbit breeds are good for meat, and tolerate confinement well.

Once I get some rabbit coop plans I will make whatever changes I want, work up the dimensions, bill of material and cost.  All of this will be just like I did with my chicken coop project.

Do you have rabbits?  If so, what kind do you have, are these meat rabbits, or for manure production?

Forum thread about my rabbit project.

Farmering gardening and hunting after SHTF

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Lets say some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation happens tomorrow, what would your long term farming, gardening and hunting plans be?

Do you plan on hunting for most of your food from livestock, gardening, hunting or a combination of food sources?

Long term survival plans after SHTF

Barred Rock chickenOne of the common theories in the various survivalist communities is that a family will grab their bug out bags, head to the hills where they will live off the land.

In theory this may sound fine and dandy.

In reality, chances are the family is going to starve to death.

If various humanoids have gone extinct over the past 100,000 years, what makes a family think they can survive with very few primitive survival skills?

The long term survivability of humans is directly related to much much food we can produce, and not how much food we can hunt or gather.  There is a physical limitation to how many miles a person can walk in a day.  There is a physical limitation to how much weight a person can carry.

Primitive tribes were able to overcome some of those obstacles by being in great physical shape and living a hunter-gather lifestyle their entire lives.  How can some couch potato expect to kill a 300 pound hog, then pack that hog 3 or 4 miles back to the camp.

Our sedentary lifestyle in no way compares to the lifestyle of a hunter-gatherer.

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Chicken House Lessons From The Past

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The following article was taken from:

Poultry: A Practical Guide to the Choice, Breeding, Rearing, and Management of all Descriptions of Fowls, Turkeys, Guinea-fowls, Ducks, and Geese, for Profit and Exhibition.

Author: Hugh Piper

Publication Date: 1872

In this work we shall consider the accommodation and requisites for keeping fowls successfully on a moderate scale, and the reader must adapt them to his own premises, circumstances, and requirements. Everywhere there must be some alterations, omissions, or compromises.

We shall state the essentials for their proper accommodation, and describe the mode of constructing houses, sheds, and arranging runs, and the reader must then form his plan according to his own wishes, resources, and the capabilities of the place. The climate of Great Britain being so very variable in itself, and differing in its temperature so much in different parts, no one manner or material for building the fowl-house can be recommended for all cases.

Plans for poultry establishments on large scales for the hatching, rearing, and fattening of fowls, turkeys, ducks, and geese, are given in our smaller work on Poultry.

The best aspects for the fowl-house are south and south-east, and sloping ground is preferable to flat.

“It is only of late years,” says Mr. Baily, “poultry-houses have been much thought of. In large farmyards, where there are cart-houses, calf-pens, pig-styes, cattle-sheds, shelter under the eaves of barns, and numerous other roosting-places, not omitting the trees in the immediate vicinity, they are little required–fowls will generally do better by choosing for themselves; and it is beyond a doubt healthier for them to be spread about in this manner, than to be confined to one place. But a love of order, on the one hand, and a dread of thieves or foxes on the other, will sometimes make it desirable to have a proper poultry-house.”

Each family of fowls should, if possible, have a house and run; and if they are kept as breeding stock, and the breeds are to be preserved pure, this is essential. And where many kinds are kept, the various houses must be adapted to the peculiarities of the different breeds, in order to do justice to them all, and to attain success in each.

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Chickens for urban survival

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Out of all of the problems facing urban survivalist, fresh food and fresh water are probably at the top of the list. Sure there are lots of other problems, such as looters and other pest. But without fresh food and safe drinking water, life is going to go downhill pretty quick.

Why would chickens be a good choice for urban survival? They are easy to raise, they lay eggs just about all year long, the eggs are a good source of fats and protein, and if you need to, you can eat the chicken. The protein and the fats address at least two nutritional requirements of your long term survival plans.

Here is an interesting youtube video that talks about some of the aspects in raising backyard chickens.

Chickens are flock animals. Meaning they will not do well by themselves. If you are planning on getting some backyard chickens, plan on getting at least 3 or 4 of them. If you get 2 chickens, and 1 dies, then that puts stress on the lone chicken.

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How to build a window for a chicken coop

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Chickens in the chicen coopWhen I first started looking at building my chicken coop, the first thing I did was go out on the net and look for pictures. There are all kinds of examples out there, but I needed to go cheap. Cheap as in building the window out of scrap material. I see no reason to buy a window, when one can be made from left over scraps from building the coop.

Besides ventilation, the screened in vent windows allow the chickens to be viewed without opening the doors.  At ni time, if you want to check on the chickens, walk up to the coop, look in through the screened in windows to check on the chickens.

In the following article I will try to describe how to install a screened in window for a chicken coop.  If some steps are left out, I apologize.  But hopefully this article can give you the general idea.

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