What Livestock should I be Keeping
After the SHTF you'll be able to make do without television, the internet and even electricity, but there's one staple that's critically important. Food. When the supermarket shelves run bare, have you got a plan in place to secure sustenance for your family or does your preparedness planning stop at canned tuna and frozen beans? What do you think is going to happen when your supplies run out? Livestock is fundamental to survival planning, as the animal you raise offer a sustainable food source. It's what our ancestors did, and it's obvious once you think about it. Much like you need to have your own garden for produce, raising livestock is a central part of survival. Plus, it's better to get organized now, before a disaster hits. Today we're going to run you through some of the livestock you can raise on a small, suburban plot, and many of these animals are far less maintenance than you think.
Chickens The ultimate animal for survivalists, chicken are one of the best livestock to raise. Your flock will double in number every year, and they don't require a complicated setup, though a coop to keep out predators like rats or the neighborhood cats is a given. Chickens will also learn to fly so you'll need fences at least 6 foot high, or a closed roof on their enclosure. Based on the amount of food you need, a typical hen will produce 10 to 12 eggs for every 5 pounds of food. And they're not picky. You can feed them grain or let them loose in your yard to peck at vegetable scraps, insects and weeds. Just don't let them into your garden, they'll destroy it fast.
Pigs Despite their ability to grow to a great size, pigs don't need a whole lot of room and will eat almost anything you put in front of them. From leftovers to greens, roots and grain, they'll grow quickly and you can get bacon, ham and a whole ton of meat. You'll need to feed and water them twice a day, and clean their pens 2 to 3 times a week. Butchering a 200 pound pig is quite an effort, but there's so much of the animal that's edible it's definitely an animal worth raising. Just be careful with your kids, after a year watching their beloved pig grow they may be a tad reluctant to tuck into the pork steaks once they've gotten big enough to butcher.
Rabbits Rabbits are great for small spaces, quiet and clean, especially if you keep their cages tidy. They don't require a huge amount of work, feeding on hay, dry bread, as well as vegetables like carrots and lettuce. With just one buck and two does, you can expect to yield anywhere from 30 to 50 rabbits in a year, which translates into anywhere from 100 to 150 pounds of meat. They're ready for harvest from around 7 months of age, and only need a cool space with plenty of water and ventilation to thrive.
Sheep An animal that loves grassy paddocks, sheep are quiet and easy to raise. Low maintenance, they only need grass to nibble on while offering meat, milk, hides, wool and manure for your garden. They're very economical if you've got a larger property, with an acre of grass supporting 3 to 4 adult sheep, in addition to the lambs. You can expect to get around 100 pounds of meat from an adult, as well as about 8 pounds of wool each year. The only real trouble comes at shearing, and it's worth learning how to properly shear your sheep before the SHTF.
Goats While many people prefer cow's milk, goats are an easier animal to care for, require less space and eat a lot less, and they're also less expensive to buy. Oh and you won't have to worry about keeping a large bull around. It's much easier handling a buck (a male goat). A good doe will have 2 to 3 kids, and will produce milk for 1.5 to 2 years. Plus, you can also use the milk to feed orphaned foals, pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats and even baby humans, and when it's time to butcher them you'll get a decent amount of meat.
Bees One of the lowest maintenance of all, bee's only really present a problem if you're allergic to their sting. Bees help pollinate crops in your garden, and allow you to harvest honey, wax and propolis which you can use yourself, or as trade items with other survivors. They just need a water source with plenty of flowers nearby, and a little sugary food to see their colony through a winter.
Catfish Relatively inexpensive to purchase, catfish grow rapidly and make a great addition to a large backyard pond as they need very little maintenance, and are delicious fried. Feed them daily if you want to increase their numbers, and add a couple of grass carp to keep algae at bay in your pond. If you're up to the challenge of caring for livestock, there's plenty of options for those without a whole lot of space. Having animals will make your life incredibly easier once the SHTF. Livestock will become a valuable commodity for trade, and there will be a massive demand for fresh meat, eggs and dairy products once the supermarkets run dry. Pick a couple of easy animals to care for now and it will make all the difference should a disaster strike.