Livestock refers to any animals kept by humans for utilitarian purposes. The keeping of livestock can be a major part of a self-sufficient life style. Livestock can be used for food, fiber, and labor; many animals can provide two or three of these simultaneously.
Humans have been keeping livestock for millenia and, through selective breeding, have produced domesticated animals that better meet our needs than their wild counter parts. If you are going to raise livestock, you should consider investing in the thousands of years of work already done for you. These are some of the animals you should consider.
Chickens are one of the easiest livestock raise. Hens will provide eggs and hens and roosters will both provide meat.
Ducks are similar to chickens in their production of eggs and meat, most breeds do require water to swim in though.
Emu are a relatively new livestock animal in the United States, they provide meat and eggs.
Geese are large, aquatic birds that can be used for meat, eggs, or feathers. Their die consists largely of grasses, but they will eat many other things. Geese are also considered to be excellent watchdogs.
Guinea Fowl will provide meat and eggs as well as excellent insect control.
Ostriches are particularly common livestock, but do provide eggs and meat.
Quail are small bird that provide both meat and eggs.
Cattle are a well established domesticated animal. Cows provide milk, bulls beef, and oxen labor. All provide leather.
Goats are one of the longest domesticated animals. They provide meat, milk, and fiber.
Sheep are similar to goats in many ways, they provide meat, milk, and fiber. They are also a very anciently domesticated animal.
Donkeys are an excellent small labor animal.
Guinea pigs, while usually kept as pets in the western world, are a common source of meat through South America.
Honey bees provide honey, but also perform the far more critical service of pollination.
Horses, while sometimes used as meat, are most commonly used as labor animals.
Llamas are excellent pack animals, but more recently have begun to be used as guardians for sheep.
Mules are the sterile off-spring of donkey and horse, they are excellent labor animals.
Pigs provide large quantities of meat.
Rabbits can be used for both meat and fiber, care should be taken when relying on rabbit as a source of food due to their extremely low fat content.
Caring for Livestock
Livestock have all the same basic needs as humans, but they are far less particular about having these needs met than most humans. They will need food, water, warmth, and medical attention. Generally you should choose livestock that are hardy in your area so that their warmth and medical needs are minimal.
Animals' food needs will very greatly from species to species, so you should read about the animals you are considering raising to properly understand what sort of fodder they will require.
- Managed Intensive Rotational Grazing (aka Mob Grazing).