Chickens, ducks, goats even??
Is it realistic to keep any livestock and check on them one or two times a week?
Ranchers turn cattle out to graze for months on end with minimal tending but you're probably thinking of small livestock.
I occasionally leave my chickens for 4 or 5 days to go visit my family but I have a neighbor check on them (in exchange for the eggs.) If anything was wrong, like if the electricity went off and the heated waterer froze, I 'd know that I'd get a call.
But I can't imagine having animals that I'd only tend once a week. For one thing, I would have to place too much trust in luck. I wouldn't know if the water froze. I wouldn't know if a bird was sick until it might be too late for her (or the flock.) I wouldn't be able to really enjoy having them as part of my life.
I could certainly arrange to provide for the needs of the birds for a once a week visit and maybe nothing would go wrong, but I don't really think I would be "keeping" anything.
Sorry, I believe you should be looking at your livestock daily for their good health. A lot can happen in 24 hours, or even a couple hours. It can mean literal life and death to that animal or bird.
Another post on a person who wishes to only care for livestock when it suits them, but expects to benefit from that livestock even with poor care. Link below. Such folks should not keep livestock, not a kind owner, actually selfish. Animals didn't choose you, it was the other way around, with implied attention to their needed DAILY care.
If you take on livestock, they deserves a daily checkup on feed, water, individual animals with a quick look-see for damage or injury. Otherwise stick with plants or trees.
Here is a link that might be useful: Do Goats Need Daily Milking?
If they are only for meat and fiber yes. You need a good fence, and you can't skimp on it, you also need to do very close checks of your animals when you are with them and choose one of the varieties that were bred for this sort of situation. Barbados sheep, texas longhorn cattle, and red wattle hogs were all developed for this type of farming exactly.
There is a higher likelyhood of serious problems, and you have to have to have to keep the population density very low. A great option that many people do not consider for farming is deer. Deer live for years and years with out human intervention, the meet is lean and healthy, and with just a little supplemental feeding, a good water hole, a touch of shelter and a nice high fence to protect them you can get great yields of meat and hide. There are a number of wild game birds that will respond in a very similar manner, wild type turkeys will produce good yields, and if you raise the chicks your self or do not have dew in your area guinea hens will take care of themselves quite nicely, until a hawk comes along, then they will suffer heavy losses (although you checking in on them daily will not prevent this, and they will need lots of feed regularly in the winter).
Paying close attention to your animals is a good thing, but avoiding over crowding will go a lot further towards healthy and happy animals than even hourly care will, the birds who live in those hellish factory barns get constant care, but the animals left to them selves will have much better lives.
Predators learn that you aren't around.
Really, 'wanting' animals you won't be around to maintain is a selfish act. Whether a festering wound, hungry dogs, coyote, tree down on the fence, possibilities are endless.
Maybe, try a fish pond.
In a word, no. Livestock of any type needs and deserves care. If you are too busy to care for animals, don't get them.
It seems as though most of the responses are from pet owners. Now first let me start out by saying that we are also pet owners, and do check our stock twice a day, and have not the facilities for what the OP is asking, so we would never consider it.
However, one must remember that animals have lived without human intervention for many, many years-and they've survived, imagine that. So, given the right circumstances, yes it is possible for livestock to live with only once a week care. Now mind you, one cannot take a highly domesticated animal (say a bottle baby goat or a caged parakeet) and expect the same results, but livestock are not highly domesticated (in a true sense of the word).
As someone posted cattle are indeed let free-range to roam until the cattle drive, ducks are left to freerange, and yes there are still herds of goats that range up into the mountains. Goats, and even dogs for instance, can and will return to the wild very effectively in just a matter of a few weeks.
In answer to the OP, yes it can be done, how it is done will depend on your circumstances, such as weather, acreage, water access, food access, shelter, and predator protection. If you can provide these basic necessities 24/7 the livestock can actually thrive. If you cannot, for instance if the water source freezes, it won't work very well at all. You can expect a few losses here and there, just like any pet owner who is present can expect losses, probably for different reasons, but nonetheless losses.
Livestock is livestock, pets are pets. They are by no means managed the same. In this case we are talking livestock, not pets.
Flame away if you must.
Not talking about pets, but livestock.
OP mentions birds, goats. I think it unrealistic to expect those animals to even survive, let alone thrive in a zone 5 setting, with weekly check ins. A tipped over water dish, heater failure, could mean big problems. Animals don't eat enough snow to do well, if they have snow and not just frozen dirt.
Ranchers, the good ones, are constantly checking over the herds of cattle for injury, problems, in the outlaying pastures. Checking is year round job, looking at animals, fencing, feed available, water in quantities needed. Doesn't take very long for a summer wound to be maggot filled, affect the animal's conditon. Hoof rot won't let the cow get to water or good feed. Many other scenarios for problems. Cattle get stuck in mudholes, need to be moved because the grazing is gone in this pasture. Same with sheep. They bring the animals up closer to the ranch for winter, easier to feed and check often. The loss of a cow is big bucks. Sheep are so dumb you have to protect them from theselves. Yes death happens, but not often with attentive care to stop problems escalating.
Brendon, are you a rancher, experienced farmer? Just curious if you are speaking from experience in caring for these varieties of animals you name.
Animals who survived in the past had high mortality rates. Did not thrive like we expect now. Pastures had no fences to contain them, so they had much area to range in. Buffalo migrated yearly, northern winters were so hard they went south for better feed and water. Numbers were much less on the range, killed off the excess because feed was gone. Life spans were short. No worming, care to prevent a scratch turning into a mortal injury. Some always survived, but that is not what we want in farm animals now, some surviving. Could lose your whole investment if they die off.
Haven't heard of anyone pasturing ducks, turkey, chickens, without close supervision. The predators will think they hit a gourmet Take-Out place! Everyone on this Farm group who free ranges birds, then complains of losses. What is the point of even doing it, if birds are all lost? Ignoring goats is done at your danger, because they are so undependable, thinking up stuff to cause problems. Herded for meat or handled daily to milk, goats are always into stuff. Goats in pens or pastures are not very hard to kill. Fairly easy victims for dogs in the east, coyotes further west. Even horned goats are not that dangerous in self protection.
Same with that fish comparison. Brenden pointed out all kinds of pond problems, which will mean dead fish, drained pond, without fixing the problem quickly because you are on hand to see it.
Not sure why he thinks an animal owner is selfish to own animals? They all need care. Didn't make sense to me. Unless we owners are thinking we are special, getting off on being "needed" by the animals who are stuck with us. I don't think of myself as being needed so much, but as taking care of my various expensive, 4-legged investments, so I get good returns from them.
Livestock care is not like pet care. Farm animals, livestock, get in trouble fast, die quickly if not cared for soon. Pets are cute, but not livestock. You can treat livestock as a pet, but most you would not have living in the house with you until they die.
If the OP is setting up a farmstead, but can't live there, check daily, this is not the time to set it up for animals.
Plant an orchard, garden, crops, that are not going to need daily attention. Wait for the animals. They could fence the perimeter, prepare shelters, buildings and pens for animals before they are purchased. Lay water lines for frost-free hydrants to water the animals and gardens later. All at their leisure, when they have the money for equipment and time to put it in.
Animals are not like part-time jobs. They are a daily job. It is evident in looking and listening to folks talk about daily "chores", who has their priorities where, at the farmsteads. Non-animal folks just never get it, can't understand why some folks animals "never have any problems". Yet their own livestock is always sick, limping, dying, unthrifty looking.
The better you care for the livestock animals, the better they thrive in most cases. Better returns in production to use or sell, from those animals. Better care is pretty much daily looking, fixing stuff for their needs, clean water all the time, dry hay out of the mud, perhaps good pasture not weeds, good grain for eating. They must be attended to daily, whatever the weather, cold or hot, even if you are sick.
You are not coddling them, making babies out of them, but just giving the good, basic care they need to thrive, whatever the species.
I worked as a "cowboy" on a cattle ranch years ago. They had Black Angus breeding stock for Santa Gertrudus/Angus and Charolais/Angus crosses. The pastures were a section each. I would ride out about once a week more or less to check on the stock. The cattle took care of themselves. They ate, drank and birthed on their own. For the two summers I worked there I never saw a problem with the lack of daily attention. With 500 to a thousand cows you would be hard pressed to notice anything other than a downed or crippled cow anyway. If you tried to get close to them they would move away so you could never get a close look. They also had what was called "game" chickens and guineas that received absolutely no attention. Not even feed and they thrived. Survival of the fittest I suppose. Let me throw one more log on the fire. They had a few horses running in the outlying pastures that got no more attention than the cattle and they were some healthy looking horses. I am not saying this will work just anywhere or if it is the right way to ranch. We are in Fl z 8/9 so frozen water is not an issue and the cattle never saw the inside of a barn. We had healthy, hardy breeding stock. Excellent fencing. Groundwater ponds and solid pasture grass. Most of my "cowboy" work was clearing fence lines or working on equipment not cruising the herd.
Have to respond, though I do have pets, miniature donkeys. And I do live in zone 5, this winter has been unusually tough on pets or livestock.
Mitch is talking about ranching, which means totally different things to me than farming and having livestock in zone 5. And the OP was not talking about cattle, he asked about goats and birds. Good luck, the coyotes around here would have a feast.
A news article yesterday was about a mother and son who live in the next town over, were arrested because they didn't provide adequate care for their livestock and they FROZE TO DEATH.
So sorry, I would agree with others, no to having animals or birds you could check on once or twice a week.
Ever try leaving a teenager for a weekend?!!! Just trying to lighten things up a little.
My answer would be a big NO!
I certainly did not mean to insult the person answering the question. I guess I am a little raw about two horses in my town that had to be euthanized early this week because the person/owner "caring" for them left them in sub-zero temps with no food or water for two weeks! They were found wandering on a state highway. The owner apparently didn't know that he couldn't leave them alone! It's painful to think of how often this happens. Pet or livestock - animals do not deserve to be left to fend for themselves.
The horror stories always seem to be about someone who didn't provide for their animals and was not around, there are also horror stories about people who do not provide for their animals and are around, the common theme being providing for the animals not presence or absence.
Can we all agree that animals like deer or wild turkeys can be provided them with supplemental food, a constant supply of accessible water, some kind of draft proof or low draft shelter with clean bedding, and fence to keep predators out and them in is something that can be done in a humane fashion with intervention weekly? Since all of those things if done consistently only increase the wellbeing of the native wildlife.
"Around here, turkey raisers put the birds in when it rains. Turkeys bred for meat, are totally stupid. They will raise their heads when they feel the rain, drown in the downpour."
This is a MYTH that needs to stop being spread around, especially by farm folk. Turkeys do not do this. The reason for getting birds in, and out of the rain, is most likely to protect them from getting wet and chilled, which CAN lead to exposure issues and weakened animals, which can then provide a gateway for more serious illnesses. Read here:
My family raised turkeys for meat for many years--the standard white turkeys, which are about as dumb as they come. None ever drowned in the rain.
So what about what I said can't you agree with Velvet?
And that is more reason that was a legitimate question. Some people really don't know or have been fed lies and it is to the animals detriment.
Do you guys watch animal planet at night? OMG they have a reality show on about the houses animal control have to visit and confiscate animals. They are constantly going out to peoples properties saving starving animals ESPECIALLY horses. I have seen dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits everything on there being mistreated. I have seen people who seem to be guinely puzzled as to why they their animals were taken away for not giving them water and such and of course there are those just irresponsible. There was one lady on there who had a house of chickens, birds, and rabbits. The place was disgusting but she claimed to love them. There had to be 50 of them all together. poop all over the walls, furniture everywhere. They take a LOT of horses living in deplorable conditions. I have no idea why someone would think they can keep a large animal like a horse and not provide it with substance to survive on. Did they buy the horses without really knowing how to care for them? Did they get overwhelmed and just gave up or were they just irresponsible people? We do not know the answer to that we can only try to help prevent someone from making those mistakes.
When I lived in RI a pet shop was selling miniature alligators. I am not sure the real name of them I think it starts with a c. I heard the pet shop owner telling the person they would not get big like a regular alligator, were trainable and easy to care for. Just get a kids pond he told them so they can have someplace to get in water. While it is true they do not get as big as a regular alligator they certainly get big enough to be dangerous and they are wild vicious animals. Would someone who brought one taking the pet shop owners advice be considered irresponsible? I mean they did after all ask how to care for them. Heck I admit I almost brought one too but luckily I went to the library and read about them enough to know the guy was lying. Well you know the ending of the story. People were letting them out in the lake and it became a big problem. Caimans that is what they were.
Hopefully people will do their homework when it comes to buying animals. Forums are a great help. Yup there is mis-information circulating on here too, people pretending to be know-it-alls who make others blood boil because we know they do a search on the internet for answers or talk off the top of their heads but if we can clarify respectfully instead of arguing maybe we can help those who are genuinely interested in finding out more correct information based on experiences and help one person get a clear picture of what they are getting into. Be it goats, sheep, deer, chickens, dogs, cats or whatever.
Thanks for listening guys and Canukistani if there is any specific questions you want to know about specific animals maybe we can help you. Please feel free to ask. We are really a good group of people who want to help and I am sure no one really meant you any harm.
pamghatten...Please read the entire original posting. One Part of the OP question asked "Is it realistic to keep any livestock and check on them one or two times a week". I believe cattle qualified for "Any Livestock". Yes I am talking about ranching. I did not read where he said he was farming or ranching and I stand corrected if I missed where he said he is farming.
I agree there is a difference between farming and ranching, I have worked hired hand for both. The minimum requirements of cattle are the same regardless if they are standing on ranch dirt or farm dirt. Having a cow on 640 acres of quality pasture compared to a cow on a 1/4 acre backyard dirt lot makes a big difference in those requirements. The differences between having cattle in z5 and z9 I would guess are significant. I pointed out I was in z8/9 and that it may not work just anywhere.
I agree with brendasue.
The OP asked in part "Is it realistic to keep any livestock and check on them one or two times a week" The answer is YES. I personally have seen it done. He asked is it "realistic" for him? No one has enough details from him to say one way or the other. I am guessing he came here for first hand information BEFORE hand and got a good thrashing for asking?
Has anyone noticed he has not said another word? Maybe he is afraid of Piranha?
brendan, my first post of simply, 'No', was answering the OP's question, as posted in the title of this thread. :) Since he specifically asked about chicken, ducks and goats, that is what I addressed.
My second post was directed to and addressed goodhors' claim that turkeys are so stupid that they look up when it rains and drown. That is a myth.
Sigh. Yes I've noticed the OP hasn't been back. Just a few comments on some posts that stuck out while reading:
Those livestock froze to death because they weren't provided adequate shelter.
It didn't look to me like the OP was needing a milk supply which would indeed require daily visits.
Coyotes won't be having a feast if adequate predator protection is provided (i.e. livestock guardians) or properly installed electric fence
Providing food, water, shelter, & protection is NOT poor care, nor is it cruel.
Free-choice feed & shelter indeed produces hardy stock-not the pampered, sickly stock often associated with over-cared for animals that get pneumonia everytime the temperature changes. Unfortunately these are the types of animals being bred by many- soft, non-hardy, low-immune system animals that need a lot of attention just to survive, much less thrive. Oftentimes the micro-care given is the CAUSE of sickliness (think coccidiosis, pink-eye, footrot, Johne's, acidiosis, etc.), and what is posted often on these boards.
There was no mention of high-priced breeding stock that would place the OP in the red if one died. Livestock can die (and does) even with daily look-sees.
There are several posts stating horrer stories about so-and-so who's animals died. If you read the post, they died because the animals were not given basic care.
Basic care includes (or should logically) checking on the animals after storms etc. for downed trees or broken fences, above and beyond the normal routine.
So again, depending on the OP's circumstances, and provided adequate food, water, shelter, acreage and predator protection is provided it can be done.
With more details in the circumstances/farm layout how to do it might be addressed, or not if the circumstances/farm layout aren't adequate.
Geez, just because micro-managing is common(for many reasons including too-small acreage), does not mean it is the best or only way. Each person must evaluate then decide.
I hope the original poster did not come back because they forgot to check the box to receive responses and forgot how to get back here for the answer. Hopefully not because they felt ridiculed for asking a question. I actually thought it was a valid one.
Bredasue what kid of guardian livestock can you get that would only need to be checked on once a week? I know not dogs. Donkeys of llamas? I agree with what you said mostly. My electric fence was not working the other day because there was a fallen branch(es) on it that shorted it out. Had there been no one here to check you can come back and find your animals wandering around. Also if the wrong people catch on that you only come to the property once a week you could have animals stolen from you. There are a lot of things to consider.
Why not dogs? Properly trained & bonded LGD's IMO would be the best bet. Donkeys & llama's may do a good job of protecting/scaring predators, and cheaper to maintain, but one must remember in a real protection situation they are still PREY. These dogs have excellent instincts & been trained for intellegence, protection, care giving abilities, and independence towards their charges. Good lgd's stay with the stock, broken fence or not, some would even keep the stock in the fence, depends on the dog.
A simple jump box works extremely well, with a covered top & partial sides. Cut out a 55 gallon plastic barrel & place the feed directly inside or put the feed into a large bucket inside the barrel. Food stays dry & readily available with no chance for livestock to get to it. This set up also provides additional personal space for the dog(s) if they need/want it. Dog food should be adjusted & replenished based on the useage & season, i.e. more fat in winter, less in summer to provide for their feed intake, just as one would adjust the livestock feed.
This thread is beating a dead horse unless the OP comes back & offers more information on his particular set-up.
I think that the danger in leaving dogs alone is that the hierarchy breaks down, and if that happens then there is a higher risk of the dogs killing the animals they are trained to protect, not a pleasant experience. I would imagine that the best way to do it would be to have a system set up to send you a message if the power went down, or something like that. Surely someone makes that kind of system.
No Brendan, LGD's don't work like that. Most of it is instinct, with a %age learned, such as normal puppy behavior of not chasing or playing rough. If we were talking any other type of dog, I'd agree with you. But we are talking LGD's-Pyr, Anatolian, Akbash, Maremma, and a host of other Livestock guardians-LGD bloodlines only no mixes of outside non-lgd bloodlines.
These dogs bond with their charges, be it livestock, fowl, or people, and they become a pack or a herd, whichever you prefer. Probably the only reason a well bred lgd would eat one of their charges would be the threat to the herd-the sick one-and then they would normally segregate it, and after natural death eat. It eats it because it became a threat to the herd simply by being sick or dead, which would lure predators to the herd. This behavior is often mistaken for them killing it by newbies to ownership.
No, they are not like other dogs. These dogs actually take care of their charges, be it keeping it warm, or cleaning up after a birthing, or staying with an animal stuck in the fence. Oftentimes they eat every other or third day, similar to wolves, who are their mortal enemy.
If you ever have the opportunity to observe their interaction with their charges, please do. I've seen a pup actually remove a pail off of a goats head once-truly amazing the care that was taken, the thought process, and the sincere concern for the doe.
Of course your scenario can happen, but it is highly unlikely and improbable, and of course there would be no need because the dog would have food readily available at his/her leisure.
Thanks for all the info folks. Basically, I have 15 acres of land that I don't live on (20 min drive from my house). It's land with a creek running through it and a small river on one border. Lots of trees on the property but also a good deal of space for open grazing. I want to use about 1 acre to grow crops and would like to keep some animals for meat. Milk would also be nice but meat is definitely the primary purpose.
When I asked whether it's possible to keep livestock and only check up on them weekly, I just wanted to get some idea if it was at all possible to arrange to care for any animals like this most of the time (I understand keeping an eye on them when they're ill or pregnant would require much more attention though). Basically, I'm just trying to get an idea of whether it is realistic to raise any animals for meat when I don't live on the property.
I would be interested in goats, rabbits, ducks, chickens, sheep...I don't have enough land for cattle.
Sounds like most people don't think it's possible to raise livestock humanely and only visit them on a weekly or bi-weekly basis most of the time.
Good to hear from you Canuckistani.
Running water is soooo much better than hauling buckets! Now if it's fast-flowing it may not freeze over until the temps hit 10 degrees or so, like our stream. One of our ponds is situated just right so the inlet gets the sun radiating off the bank, just enough to keep it from freezing completely unless temps drop, the others, well, they freeze solid regardless.
We find ourselves hauling water only about 20 days or so out of the year-the rest of the time the stock can get to open areas for drinking. The key is knowing at what temp your water access area freezes-ours is 10 degrees for the stream, and around 15 degrees for the pond, varying depending on whether it's a sunny day or cloudy.
When we do haul water, some, but not all, seem to apreciate it. They are so individual...
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
My gosh from how you describe your land it sounds nicccce. if I had that much land I would be in heaven and with a stream too?? I can just picture it. what is the conditon of the land? I am considering buying the lot next to my property. It also has a stream running through it but it is in baaaad shape. It needs about 40 goats out there to eat all the kudzo, ivy and overgrown brush. It will also require some supplemental topsoil and grading so I am not sure if I want to start yet another project.
With that much land and a creek you have the space and water problem solved. Are you planning on building on the property?
Also what do you mean it is not enough room for cattle? what are you thinking a hundred head or something? I have seen cattle on MUCH less land.
How about hiring someone to come by and check on them when you can't? If you live in a rural area someone might be willing to do it if they can use a couple of acres for their own animals or a crop. Have you talked to your local feed store and got their opinion? Is the land undeveloped? meaning is there a well and septic on it by chance? If so you might be able to let someone move a trailer on it and watch after the animals in exchange for using the lot for no rent.
well just bouncing around ideas.
An animal that can be maintained only a few times a week is a Hermit Crab. Or maybe sea monkeys.
So do most people believe daily visits are necessary for most livestock?
I'm jumping in without reading all the mess before me so indulge me if I repeat what others have stated. It can be done. It isn't the most optimum way to do things but people do it and people have been doing it for a long time with success. When my life was in transition I needed to leave my poultry, llamas and goats for up to 4 days at a time. I don't remember ever going longer than that but it might have happened. You have to build super strong cages in order to keep wildlife from making meals out of your livestock. You have to invest in expensive feeders and waterers that hold a weeks worth of supplies and you have to have back up plans in case something fails.
It also all depends on your housing/pasture/barn set up. If your pasture is lush with good grass then a whole lot of animals would prefer to stay out there eating all the time and never see you with a bucket of grain. Llamas and goats can go for a long time without water - its not the best way to keep them but they can if they have good grass every day. All the poultry I know needs lots of fresh water but I imagine ostrich can handle long dry spells.
The overall lesson I learned when I lived very remotely and had lots of animals was to make the investment into secure caging and housing before you get the animals. Wildlife has nothing better to do all day and night than figure out a way to get into your cages and cause trouble.
Ok. I'll try this from another angle.
Oftentimes commercial operations/free range set-ups, like the ones that were described, don't frequent, if at all, visitors to forums such as this one that is geered towards supportive farming/ranching whatever you want to call it. These operations have more or less mastered the idea of minimal input which equals maximum output in cost comparisons. If one has the facilities, (read more than an acre or five)they can manage quite well with limited visits, read above regarding basic care.
My posts reflect my experiences & viewpoints regarding if it can be done or not, given you can provide the necessities. You have the running water, get an effective fence installed, provide shelter & predator protection, and feed those huge round bales in an appropriate bale hanger & you're good to go for skipping a day or two a couple times a week.
IMO forums like this are geared more towards the new-owners, who would like to learn from others about their similar set-ups, etc., with some more experienced owners offering their help for the sake of the animals, like-people orientation, what have you. This is a wonderful thing! Some may use it to stay on top of new ideas, managment schemes, feeding regimines, alternate regimines, ect. The reasons are very diversified.
In essense your responses will be biased towards the forum members managment schemes.