We are talking pigs!

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We are talking pigs Austin Martin “Homesteady Live“ Audio in player below! Raising pastured pigs can be a fantastic way to put some meat on the table, and even have some product to sell your local community. But raising pigs isn’t right for every homestead. Should you raise pastured pigs on your homestead? What will … Continue reading We are talking pigs!

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Why Every Rural Homestead Should Have a Pig

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This article was originally published on notsomodern.com

I’ll admit, I had my reservations about raising pigs. Being a country girl from rural Ohio, I’ve grown up around hog farms. My uncle was a hog farmer for most of my life. My brother even raised a couple hogs for 4-H one year. The only things I really cared to know about pigs were that they destroyed everything and smelled horrible, even if they are rather tasty. So it really came as a surprise to me more than anyone when I agreed to raise a couple for meat. It wasn’t long before I also decided to breed them, but that’s a story for another time.

So after a lifetime of swearing off pig farming, why the sudden change of heart? It was mostly economical. We want to raise most, if not all, of our own food. We need to fill the freezer. Pigs were the easiest and most cost effective way to achieve that end. I highly recommend raising pigs for meat to anyone with the means and here’s why.

Space Requirements

While cattle require acreage, pigs can be raised in a much smaller space, which makes them ideal for homesteaders operating on smaller acreage. We live on a 5 acre wooded lot with very little grazing available. To raise a cow, we would need to spend a lot of money on hay and grain. Pigs on the other hand only require 20 square feet per finished hog (less space for weanlings and growers). Granted, I have found that more space equals less smell, so I prefer closer to 50 square feet per pig, but it’s still much less space than I would need for a cow. Many homesteaders also prefer to pasture raise their pigs. Just keep in mind that the larger the space, the more calories the pigs will burn, so they will grow at a slower rate and need to consume more feed. It’s up to you to determine the balance that’s right for you.

Initial Cost

Here in Central Florida, a weaned calf (I don’t recommend bottle babies) will cost about $600-800. A yearling will cost closer to $1,200. If you have the acreage, you can finish them on grass with very little additional investment until it’s time to take them to the butcher. If not, you also have to factor in the cost of hay and grain for at least 6 months to finish them. It adds up quickly. On the other hand, decent quality 8 week old piglets are $60-80. You’ll have to buy grain, but a well bred meat pig should be ready to butcher around 6-7 months old, so you’ll only be feeding it for 4-5 months. It will also eat considerably less than a cow. It takes approximately 650-750 lbs of commercial pig feed to get a 50 lb feeder pig to a butcher weight of 250 lbs. I pay about $12 for a 50 lb bag of 17% hog grower feed, so that equals $156 – $180 in feed costs per pig.

Healthy as a Hog

Forget horses, pigs are the true masters when it comes to health and resiliency. In my three years of raising pigs, I can count on one hand the times any of them have been sick. In fact, none of them have been sick since I’ve started vaccinating. Even those times when they have been sick, I’ve been able to treat them on my own, and they’ve made a full recovery. I did have one issue with a piglet with a hernia, but that was genetic and not much I could have done about it. Now that I know what to look for, I know not to castrate male piglets with hernias. Even with that piglet, the vet didn’t expect him to survive the next two days, and now he’s a 250+ lb hog ready to go to the butcher. Seriously, they are very resilient animals.

Rapid Growth

The average steer is butchered at 18 months old. If you’re raising a weaned calf, that means you’ll be waiting a year before you can fill your freezer. A well bred meat pig will be ready around 6-7 months old. If you buy an 8 week old piglet and free feed it (access to grain 24/7), then you can have a freezer full of pork chops, bacon, and sausage in as little as 4 months. Raise a piglet every 6 months and you’ll have more pork than you know what to do with, believe me.

Final Yield

Granted, when you butcher a cow, you’re usually getting back 400-500 pounds of beef. It’s usually more than the average person can fit in their freezer, so you end up selling some of it to friends and family members. However, all of that beef only accounts for about a third of the cow’s live weight. Cows have an average dressing ratio of 62%, that means that a 1,200 lb steer may only have a hanging weight of 744 lb. That’s just with the organs removed, much more weight is lost when the head, skin, extra bones and fat are trimmed off. That’s not to say that you can’t get those things back from the butcher (I highly recommend getting the bones and fat back), but they’re generally considered waste.

Pigs have an average dressing ratio of 74%, so a 280 lb hog may have a hanging weight of 207 lb. They have much less bone than a cow, so you don’t lose as much weight with the finished cuts. On average, you can expect to get about 50% of the live weight back in finished cuts. That’s 140 lbs of pork on a hog you may have fed for 5 months and only paid $80 for vs. the steer you paid $800, fed for a year, and got back 400 lb of beef. I’ll let you do the math.

I also like to get the extra bones and fat back from the butcher. I render my own lard and use it in almost all of my cooking. I use it to replace a lot of vegetable oils in savory dishes. I use it as the fat to saute my vegetables in. I also use it to season my cast iron pans. The bones I can use for stock and bone broth. Also, ask your butcher if they use the jowels and ham hocks. Some butchers may grind them into the sausage, or you can get them back to cure and smoke yourself for use in bean soup. In the book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, the author uses almost the entire hog, including the blood and intestine. If you’re interested in curing and smoking your own hams, sausages, and bacon, I highly recommend that book.

Little Goes to Waste

I don’t know about you, but I hate throwing away food. We survive on leftovers, and I generally try to use up all of our leftovers before they go bad, but sometimes even the best of intentions die in the back of my fridge. This is where I love having pigs. Even if the food has started to mold, I’m able to feed it to my pigs (scary science experiments excluded). There really isn’t much they can’t eat. When we had problems with a fox killing our turkeys, I threw the turkey carcasses to the pigs. We’ve also thrown them old baked goods and rotten vegetables from the local grocery store. I know some people who make their pig’s entire diet out of scraps, although I don’t really recommend it. Scraps should be treated as more than a supplement. First of all, pigs are omnivores and need a balanced diet of proteins, fats and vegetables. It’s difficult to know if they are getting that balance with scraps. Second of all, they tend to grow more slowly on scraps and may not reach their full growth potential. You’ll spend less on feed, but you’ll probably have to house them for a longer period of time and end up with less pork in return. I prefer to have a higher turn over so I can make room for the next batch of piglets. Plus, if I have to pay the butcher, I’d like to get my money’s worth.

Another unexpected benefit to feeding rotten vegetables to pigs is the volunteer vegetable plants. All of the tomato plants in my garden this year have come from pig manure. We also have a papaya tree because we fed papaya to the pigs. However, compost the manure before you try using it on your garden (I dig the volunteers out of the compost pile). Hubby tried fertilizing the onions with pig manure one year, and the onions were crowded out by volunteer tomato plants. I’ve joked that I’m going to feed my vegetable seeds to the pigs one year because they seem to get the best germination rate.

If you’re looking for a way to be more self sufficient, and you have the space for pigs, I highly recommend them. They don’t have the health issues that a lot of meat animals may experience, making them very easy for beginners to raise. One pig can provide approximately 140 lbs of pork, easily filling the freezer and providing your family with enough pork for several months. The meat also preserves well through curing and smoking, which is why they were a favorite animal of pioneers and homesteaders when our country was first founded. They can also help you with composting, turning your leftovers and rotten vegetables into valuable manure. After all, how many other animals can turn tomatoes into bacon?

Source : www.notsomodern.com

About the author : Bonnie was raised in a small farming village in central Ohio where she was active in 4-H and FFA. She grew up surrounded by a large family who taught her how to can, garden and cook from scratch. Now living in Florida and raising two outrageous kids, Bonnie is running the family farm where they raise chickens, ducks, goats, pigs and horses. She also enjoys teaching her kids how to live off of the land, appreciate God’s creation, and live a simpler life.

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Hog Apocalypse: This State’s Gonna Kill 2.5 Million Pigs With Poison

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Hog Apocalypse: This State Hopes To Kill 2.5 Million Wild Pigs With Poison

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A southwestern state is facing a feral hog apocalypse that threatens agriculture, and now the state’s agriculture commissioner thinks has an answer: poison.

Texas is being overrun by 2.5 million wild or feral hogs that cause at least $50 million a year in damage to agriculture, The Austin American Statesman reported. The hogs also destroy lawns, flower beds, vegetable gardens, livestock tanks and even Internet, television and phone cables.

Not even the killing of 750,000 wild pigs by hunters each year has been able to control the hog invasion. The hogs were brought to Texas centuries ago by Spanish pioneers who turned them loose to ensure a food supply.

The solution to the hog problem is a poison called Kaput Feral Hog Lure, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told the newspaper. The poison has a substance called warfarin, which acts as a blood thinner in humans. But it kills pigs.

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“This is going to be the hog apocalypse, if you like,” Miller told The American-Statesman. “If you want them gone, this will get them gone.”

The plan is to allow people to attract hogs with nontoxic food, and once the hogs keep coming back, replace the food with the poison.

One group not sold on Miller’s idea is the state’s hog hunters. They fear it will threaten their families and damage the environment.

“If this hog is poisoned, do I want to feed it to my family?” Eydin Hansen, the vice president of the Texas Hog Hunters Association, asked.

“If a hog dies, what eats it? Coyotes, buzzards…” Hansen told AP. “We’re gonna affect possibly the whole ecosystem.”

Some Texans use hog hunting to put food on the table.

“It’s a way to feed your family,” Hansen said.

Hogs who have eaten the poison have fat that is blue, Miller said.

Would you back a plan to kill hogs with poison? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The 5 Best Livestock For Beginning Homesteaders

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The 5 Best Livestock For Beginning Homesteaders

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There’s nothing more exciting than purchasing your very first homestead. As you mend the fences and fix your new outbuildings, you realize it’s time to think about putting some animals on your property.

That, though, can be a scary thought, especially if you don’t know where to start. Educating yourself and creating a plan for exactly what you want out of your homestead will make things much more enjoyable.

Here’s the list of our five favorites for beginners:

1. Chickens

Chickens are super simple to take care of, and their return is well worth any time and effort you put in to making them happy. They need little space, and so if you are just starting out with a few chickens, you won’t need much room. A chicken coop and a small run is sufficient. Five hens will produce approximately four eggs per day. In no time at all, you’ll have an overflow of eggs and you’ll be in good shape. Chickens also provide great compost for your growing garden.

2. Ducks

Ducks are also great starter animals for your homestead. Like chickens, they don’t require a lot of space and are quite happy as long as they have water to bath in and food to eat. Plus, they are excellent foragers.

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Ducks are very good for your garden, as they are great at keeping pesky bugs off your plants. Their eggs are an excellent source of nutrition, and their meat is also quite nutritious.

3. Rabbits

The 5 Best Livestock For Beginning HomesteadersAdding rabbits to your homestead can be a lot of fun. They cost very little to feed, eating mostly hay and pellets, but they enjoy garden scraps as well. Rabbits also take up very little space; a 4×4 enclosure is perfect for one or two of them. They are an excellent meat source, and just like chickens they provide compost for your garden. Unlike cow or horse manure, you can use rabbit manure right away.

4. Goats

Goats are our fourth pick for beginner homesteaders, especially if you don’t own a lot of land. Goats can be a meat source, a dairy source and are excellent brush-clearers. Remember that goats are natural herd animals, and so owning more than one will be best. Goats are also climbers; having a high fence or even an electric fence will keep your goats safe. If you are raising goats for dairy, they will provide you with approximately one gallon of milk per day. But remember: They do produce less cream than do dairy cows.

5. Pigs

Our last pick for a beginner homesteader probably requires the most time and energy. Pigs only need a pen with strong fencing, but if you have the land, you may consider free-ranging your pigs. This can reduce the amount of food they eat and will also take care of the smell that can come from a stinky pen. Although pigs do require more of us as homesteaders, they obviously provide us with an excellent and very delicious meat source. Keep in mind that sows can have litters up to 10 piglets and can have as many as three litters per year. If you are raising the piglets for meat, it will take a full year before you will get a sufficient amount of meat from them.

Do you agree with our list? What would you change? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Book: Plowing with Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions

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See larger image Plowing with Pigs and Other Creative, Low-Budget Homesteading Solutions Fueled by a failing economy and a passionate desire for a return to simpler times, a new wave of homesteaders is seeking the Read More …

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The Easiest Way To Train Pigs To An Electric Fence

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The Easiest Way To Train Pigs To An Electric Fence

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Pigs are easy to keep in with an electric fence, but training them to respect it is critical.

When we start new piglets here on our farm, we always take them through a training process. Without training them, you will end up with pigs that constantly get out. That’s never a good way to keep your neighbors happy.

Keep in mind: An electric fence is a mental barrier, and not a physical barrier. A physical barrier is something like a hog panel or woven wire fence. They physically can’t get through it.

Two little wires would never keep a pig in, but once you train them that no matter what happens they can’t get through it, they’ll respect the boundaries and stay right where you want them.

Pigs will typically get out of an electric fence for a couple of reasons:

1) The fence charger does not carry enough power to cause avoidance.

2) The wires are not at the proper height.

Occasionally, you get a pig that runs through the fence accidentally and then figures out how to slip the wire. If you don’t put a stop to it immediately, then they will get out anytime they feel like exploring.

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By slipping the wire, I mean putting their head down and bolting under the wire. They usually get right up to the fence and drop down and squeal as they keep right on going!

Your only choice is to re-train them, or they will teach the rest and then you’re in for a long chase. Worse yet, they could escape and cause an accident on the road.

How to Start the Training

The critical part of the training is to allow the pigs to have contact with the hot wire but never be able to get past it or go through the wire.

The Easiest Way To Train Pigs To An Electric Fence

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If all you had was a wire with no physical barrier behind it, then the pig would likely run through it the first time he gets shocked and your fence would be torn. If they repeat that a few times, forget ever keeping pigs in with only electric fence wire.

So to avoid the pigs ever learning they can get through the electric wire, we put them in a training pen.

A good example would be a pen made out of hog panels, with a couple of hot wires around the inside at the proper height, which is nose height for pigs. Make sure the pen is big enough that they can get well away from the electric wire.

If the pen is fairly small, then you’ll have better luck with a hot wire on one or two sides instead of all four. They need a safe area to escape until they make the connection that it is the little wire that bites — and only if they touch it.

If a pig gets shocked in front of the eyes, then 99 times out of 100 he’ll back up. But if he gets “hit” behind the eyes, he will lounge forward.

So we train in the pen with a hot wire and a physical barrier. Then if he lounges forward, he can’t get through the physical barrier. He quickly learns to get away from the hot wire, and not to lounge through it.

I’ve had older pigs that had no electric fence experience get into the wire and run down the fence for 15 or 20 feet determined to get through it. It didn’t take them long to figure out they were in a losing battle!

Tie flags on the wire every three feet or so. Pigs will learn to associate the flags with the shock and avoid them. When you put them out on pasture, use the same flags and they won’t even test the fence because they “know” they can’t get past it.

I have found a good flagging material is surveyor’s tape. It’s bright orange or pink and you can get it by the roll at any home improvement store. It lasts for a long time, and the colorful tape keeps you from running into it with equipment or your bare leg!

How Much Power Do You Need?

There are many fence chargers on the market, but a good rule of thumb is to purchase one that powers two or three times as much fence as you think you’ll need. You usually end up running more fence than you ever planned to in the beginning anyway, so get a charger once and be done with it.

You want a charger that is low impedance and at least three joules.

I currently use a 15-joule charger, and even my old sows do not fool with the fence. It can stand heavy weed pressure or even have a deer run through it and be on the ground — and pigs stay put.

We use two strands of wire for almost everything except with sows, and many times only a single strand.

Once the pigs are trained, if the fence is hot enough and visible to the pigs, you can relax knowing they will stay where you put them.

Do you have any advice for training pigs with an electric fence? Share your advice in the section below:

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6 Overlooked Questions Every Homesteader Must Ask Before Buying Livestock

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6 Overlooked Questions Every Homesteader Must Ask Before Buying Livestock

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The verdict is in, and you have decided to keep goats. Or raise pigs. Or cattle, or other livestock. You have considered all the factors that must be taken into account, such as your amount of space, quality and quantity of infrastructure, and climate. You have thought about your own needs, too, and how your animals will mesh with your already-existing schedule.

Those are wise considerations. But there are additional questions you will need to ask, both before you get started and as you go. Following are a few of those questions, and some pros and cons of each which might help you with your own decision-making process.

1. Will You Keep Heritage Breeds?

These are the breeds that are not kept by large-scale commercial farmers and are far fewer in number.

Pros: Often the reason these breeds have fallen from favor is because they are less conducive to factory farming, but they can be stronger, smarter, better tasting, or easier hand-milkers than their standard counterparts.

By keeping heritage breeds, you will help preserve an alternative choice. If a disease comes along which can decimate the more common breeds, genetic diversity is a real plus.

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If you are raising animals for profit, heritage breeds have top dollar potential. Many chefs and foodies are willing to pay a little extra for the flavors of meat and cheeses from these breeds. In addition, other farmers expect to pay more for live animals.

Cons: It can be difficult to find adequate breeding stock. And when you do find it, you are apt to pay more. When I kept Oberhasli goats — listed as “recovering” by The Livestock Conservancy — it was difficult for me to find a sufficiently unrelated male in my area.

Some heritage breeds might be more or less prone to certain diseases or parasites, potentially causing certain very rare breeds to be problematic for veterinary care.

2. Miniature vs. Full Size?

Cows, horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, pigs and even chickens usually come in two size ranges — standard and mini.

Pros of Miniatures: They require a smaller browsing and grazing area and need less barn space, enabling them to be kept on smaller homesteads. It costs less to feed smaller animals, and some minis have a higher percentage of yield per dollar spent.

The reason many people choose miniature animals for meat and dairy is for the reduced output which is often more suitable for a modest household. Too much milk every day or more than a freezer full of meat can be wasteful.

Smaller animals can be less intimidating choices for farmers with less experience or of smaller stature. In addition, miniature livestock are high on the cute-o-meter, making them more popular and resulting in higher sales.

6 Overlooked Questions Every Homesteader Must Ask Before Buying Livestock

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Miniature goats breed year-round instead of only during a certain season, which might be either bad or good depending upon one’s specific needs.

Cons: Consider how the breed was developed. When I was searching for a miniature milk cow, one breeder warned me that they are sometimes crossed with half-wild smaller breeds, yielding the size I wanted but not the temperament.

DNA is not yet fully understood. The genes that create a smaller animal can have unintended side effects on factors such as disease resistance, intelligence and longevity.

Miniature milking animals — particularly goats — usually have miniature teats, making them harder and more tedious to milk.

3. Registered or Not?

The lineage of registered animals is recorded on a publicly accessible data base and maintained by an association specific to that species and type. For example, the American Quarter Horse Association, or the American Dairy Goat Association.

Pros of Registering: Keeping registered livestock will enable you to study the lineage of both parents before breeding, in order to predict genetics and manage inbreeding. A national registry simplifies sales and networking among breeders. When I listed some of my Oberhasli for sale, prospective buyers half a continent away could easily examine their lineage online.

While it is debatable whether a registered animal is of higher quality, some people say that it is the owners of registered animals who are more desirable. People who invest in pedigreed livestock may be less likely to tie them to a leaky doghouse out back and abandon them.

Cons: Then again, people going for reputation and prize money may push their animals beyond their comfort limits. Registered animals with minor aesthetic flaws are unmarketable as breeding animals and usually go for meat — not an inherent con, but a fact to consider.

Crossing two breeds can create what some people refer to as “hybrid vigor,” which is harder to achieve within a registered herd.

And don’t forget—by registering your animals, you put information about them on the Internet. If you would rather keep your livestock information private, registration might not work for you.

4. Horns or no Horns?

This is a tough one for some people. Horns can be problematic, but the idea of removing them can be off-putting. The easiest option is to choose breeds which are naturally polled, meaning that the breed or strain has been developed without horns.  That isn’t possible or practical for all species, however. Animals such as Texas Longhorn cattle and Jacob sheep are popular because of their horns, so polled varieties are not going to be found. In goats, polled varieties are not achievable because breeding polled-to-polled yields undesirable side effects.

Pros of Removing Them: There will be more options available for the animal long term. If you have ever tried to re-home a full-grown animal with horns, you know it can be difficult. For many species and breeds, horned animals are less desirable. There are also strict rules within some registries and sanctioned shows regarding horns.

Horned animals can injure humans, one another and themselves. They can get their horns stuck in fences and in one another’s collars.

Cons: Horns can act as built-in handles, allowing a human to steer and control the animal. They are natural air-conditioners, too.

The process of cutting off horns or burning horn buds is hard for soft-hearted folks like me. Animals feel pain, and removing horns is painful no matter how it is done.

When choosing between keeping horns or removing them, allow me to offer this word of caution: It is inadvisable to mix them. Animals are acutely aware of the presence of horns on both themselves and others, and those with them can bully those without.

5. Preventative Parasite Control

6 Overlooked Questions Every Homesteader Must Ask Before Buying Livestock

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The traditional method has been to administer parasite control to every individual whether they needed it or not, but current wisdom is leaning toward the philosophy of less is more.

Pros of Prevention: Regular worming, dips and topical applications can free you from worry and require less monitoring. Many buyers require an animal to be up to date on worming, and lots of veterinarians continue to recommend it.

Avoiding preventative worming requires diligent observation practices, such as hands-on inspections, fecal exams and a keen eye for subtle changes. If something slips by the farmer, it can spiral out of control quickly.

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Cons: Overtreatment can cultivate superbugs. Worming kills off only the parasites that are easy to kill, leaving the rest to mutate into medication-resistant strains.

Allowing an animal to encounter and fight off an infestation on its own builds up parasite resistance on the farm. By treating only the sick animals, the overall herd health is improved. Most veterinarians I have spoken with are strongly in favor of using anti-parasitic treatments only as needed.

6. Keeping a Breeding Male

Let’s face it, the boys can be a handful. And around the farm, they really only have one function while they are living.

Pros of Breeding: Finding a breeding male can be challenging — research for the right genetics, make arrangements for a rental, and worry about transportation of either him or your females. You might have to watch your stock carefully for signs of estrus, and then be ready to skip a day of work to load up your livestock trailer and make your way through a thunderstorm snowstorm.

Cons: They chase the girls, smell up the barnyard, negatively affect the taste of goat’s milk, are often hard to handle and can occasionally even be dangerous. Keeping your own breeding stock means separate living quarters, which around my house includes shoveling an extra path and lugging extra water all winter and setting up extra fencing all summer.

You can choose artificial insemination instead, which has its own set of challenges.

There is little doubt that the practice of keeping livestock can be complicated. Along with work and responsibility, it comes with new questions which must be asked and answered every day. If you are among those who have decided to raise livestock of your own, be encouraged. The work is achievable and the answers are attainable, and the rewards are worth it all.

What advice would you add on buying livestock? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Antibiotic Resistance on the Move

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New Development in Antibiotic Resistance

A new study came out on Tuesday that investigates the way antibiotic resistance spreads on pig farms, and beyond.  What did they find?  Well, let’s just say that what happens on the pig farm doesn’t necessarily stay on the pig farm.

The study was led by Michigan State University’s Center for Microbial Ecology, with help from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the USDA National Animal Disease Center.

The Abridged Version

Working with pigs from a lab in the US, and pig farms in China, the researchers identified and sequenced 44 genes that are related to antibiotic resistance, and its distribution on pig farms.

What they found is a little alarming, but it shouldn’t be too surprising if you’ve been following along.  They found that there is a direct correlation between bacteria that can resist antibiotics, and the ability of those bacteria to spread their resistant traits to other bacteria.

In other words, the bacteria haven’t only learned to resist antibiotics – they have also learned to spread that resistance to their neighbors.

New Insights into Multidrug Resistance

On a pig farm, there is a rich and dense population of pig bacteria.  That’s not a bad thing in and of itself.  The same could be said for a large, centralized population of any other living thing – including humans.

When any particular antibiotic is used, bacteria can develop resistance to it.  So it stands to reason that bacteria may be resistant to antibiotics they have seen before, but they should be susceptible to antibiotics they have not seen before.

This study shows that it’s not that simple.  When one antibiotic is used, resistance to many antibiotics can increase.  The study identified single genes that lend resistance to 6 classes of antibiotics.

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Resistant Bacterial gone “Viral”

When multidrug resistance does develop, it can be passed between unrelated bacteria using a process known as horizontal gene transfer.

While science has been aware of the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the concept of horizontal gene transfer, before now – this new research shows a direct link between the two.

As a result, when one bacterium develops resistance to one drug, you can end up with a community of unrelated bacteria that possess resistance to many drugs.

The study’s authors go so far as to say that “multidrug-resistant bacteria are likely the norm rather than the exception in these communities.”

There Goes the Neighborhood

Now for the really interesting part!

They also looked at soil from Chinese vegetable farms that use manure-based fertilizer.  In the fertilized soil, they found completely different bacteria than they found on the pig farm – as you would expect.

But the completely different bacteria in the soil did possess the same multidrug-resistant genes that they found on the pig farm.  Yikes!

According to Yongguan Zhu, co-author from the Chinese Academy of Science, “This indicates that on the Chinese farms, the potential for resistance gene transfer among environmental bacteria is likely.”  So, what happens on the pig farm does not stay on the pig farm.

Read more about antimicrobial resistance: Antimicrobial Resistance in the News

The Bottom Line for the Biome

Slowly but surely, the scientific community is arriving at the realization that antibiotics in the food supply, and antibiotic misuse in general, are a direct threat to human welfare.

As soon as the problem of antibiotic resistance began popping up in hospitals around the world, there was a call to separate the antibiotics that are used for animals from the antibiotics that are used in human medicine.  Some people believed that if we reserved certain antibiotics for human use only, we could keep antibiotic-resistance confined to the farm.

No such luck.  The use of one antibiotic in either location – the farm or the hospital – can result in bacteria that are resistant to multiple drugs, and that resistance can probably be passed from one bacteria to another unrelated bacteria, in real time, across environmental barriers.

So what’s next?  The authors of this study suggest that we need to monitor and manage known genetic pools of antibiotic resistance.  And we need to begin reducing the presence of resistant genes on farms – which means cutting out the antibiotics.

paul-wheaton-6-ways-to-keep-chickens


 

Sources:

1: Antibiotic resistance genes increasing – http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2016/antibiotic-resistance-genes-increasing/
2: Clusters of Antibiotic Resistance Genes Enriched Together Stay Together in Swine Agriculture – http://mbio.asm.org/content/7/2/e02214-15

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The 3 Easiest Low-Maintenance Livestock For Homestead Meat

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The 3 Easiest Low-Maintenance Livestock For Homestead Meat

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So you’re thinking about adding livestock to your homestead? Consider low-maintenance livestock.

“Low maintenance” can mean many different things depending on your situation, but my definition is livestock that takes the minimal amount of time, energy and money to care for.

Here are what many homesteaders consider the four best:

1. Weaning or feeder pigs – Buying pigs when they are weaned from a farmer and raising them to slaughter weight is a good way to provide meat for the homestead.

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It is around a six- to eight-month commitment. You simply purchase in the spring and slaughter in the fall. This avoids carrying stock through the winter. Winter, in many parts of the country, will always mean more maintenance.

The 3 Easiest Low-Maintenance Livestock For Homestead Meat

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Pigs are easily contained using electric fence. Make sure to give them plenty of room, and buy at least two at a time. If you can give them a pastured area, they will forage in addition to the feed you give them. Use a self-feeder and watering system, and watch them grow.

2. Broiler chickens – Raising meat chickens from chicks to slaughter can be done in as little as eight weeks. Purchase the day-old chicks from a reputable hatchery and once they are feathered out (usually in two weeks or so), it is only a matter of feeding and watering them daily until they reach about five or six pounds. Slaughtering can be done by a commercial facility or right in your own backyard.

3. Rabbits – Many rabbits are for pets, but pet breeds aren’t good for meat production. New Zealand Whites are a common breed for producing meat. Although rabbits can be raised in any climate, they prefer cooler weather. If you live in a hot climate, you’ll need to make sure they are kept cool by shading them and avoiding excessive heat.

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Due to the short cycle from birth to maturity, most rabbit farmers have breeding stock on hand, as purchasing young rabbits for slaughter isn’t common.

Still, breeding three or four females and raising the young for butcher isn’t a huge undertaking.

When it comes to butchering and processing rabbits, there are more slaughterhouses that are processing rabbits than ever before, due to the growing popularity of rabbit meat. Rabbits are easier than poultry to process at home, and once you’ve done it a few times, you can process a dozen rabbits in less than an hour.

What would you add to this list? Share your advice in the section below:

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How To Outwit Your Pigs With An Old-Fashioned, Mess-Free Watering System

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piglet-520883_640

If you have had pigs for very long, you’ve probably noticed that they have a love affair with water. Not only do they drink a lot of it, but they also love to play in it if the weather is warm. A 100-pound pig can drink two gallons of water per day. This amount can vary based on temperature and types of feed the pigs are consuming, but that’s a good rule of thumb.

While it may be cute to watch your pigs climb into the watering trough, it quickly makes clean drinking water a muddy, smelly mess. A hog consuming dirty water is a recipe for sickness and parasites.

Hog BarrelTo beat the pigs at their own game, you can make an old-fashioned pig waterer made from nothing more than a barrel and some lumber. I found these plans folded up and placed in an old book published in 1919.

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This simple system uses the same principals as the modern-day poultry waterer you can purchase from any farm store.

Start by finding a suitable barrel that can be used. I like to use 55-gallon plastic food grade barrels. The barrel will need to be airtight, or it will not work.

Next, build a square box or trough, which the barrel will sit in so you have a five-inch space between the barrel and the inside of the box. (See illustration).

The trough can also be made from concrete or a combination of wood and concrete. I have made several from building a form out of plywood and then pouring concrete into the form.

Next, drill a hole in the bottom of the barrel, approximately three inches from the bottom. This is the outlet for filling the trough. This hole should be fitted with a plug or valve, as it will need to be closed when filling the barrel with water.

Hog TroughFor this system to work you’ll need to be certain the trough is level. If the trough is not level, it will simply drain the barrel.

Filling the Barrel

Once you have the trough set up and level, center the barrel in the trough. Make sure the plug is tight in the bottom of the barrel. Open one of the plugs on the top of the barrel and fill the barrel until water comes out the top.

Replace the plug in the top of the barrel and tighten so it is airtight. If the plugs on the top of the barrel are not airtight, the trough will overflow.

Next, remove the plug from the bottom of the barrel. The trough will fill to the top and then automatically remain at that level until the barrel is empty. There are only two reasons this type of set-up will not work: there is a leak somewhere, or the trough is not level.

I’ve used these barrel-type watering systems for many years with great success. Try it, and you’ll be amazed at how easy they are to make and maintain.

Do you have any advice for giving pigs water? Share your tips in the section below:  

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Here’s How Experts Make Thousands Of Extra Dollars On The Homestead

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Here's How Experts Make Thousands Of Extra Dollars On The Homestead

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Earning some extra income from your livestock can be easy if you give some thought to it and do a little research. It can be as simple as raising an extra calf to sell, or selling your excess eggs to a neighbor.

Here are some ideas that I have used over the years — as well as observed others using — to earn a few hundred dollars from livestock on the homestead.

As with any business venture, make sure you understand any regulations that may be in place so you don’t end up finding yourself in a bad situation with local agencies, such as the board of the health or township trustees.

For this article, I’ll discuss ways to earn money from selling live animals. This is the easiest way to cash in on livestock without running into a tangled web of regulations. Let’s look at two popular livestock: pigs and chickens.

Money From Pigs

An obvious one here is raising one pig for yourself and one pig for a customer. Pigs are gregarious by nature and will grow and thrive much better with at least one other pig.

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Start with friends and family and you’ll quickly find people who would love to have you raise a pig for them to put in the freezer. I usually have more people that want me to raise them a freezer pig than I can handle.

Here's How Experts Make Thousands Of Extra Dollars On The Homestead

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Another great way to earn some extra cash is to purchase a couple of gilts, breed them, and sell feeder pigs. Here in the U.S., small farm feeder pigs are a scarce commodity in many areas. If you don’t want to keep a boar, use artificial insemination. It’s easy to perform and most places that sell semen will give you advice and they have video tutorials on their website.

You can also keep a few piglets and raise them for roaster pigs. A 180-200 pound pig is the optimum size for most pig roasts. Find some companies or individuals who have a hog-roasting business and supply them with a few pigs.

Time your breeding so that the pigs will be about the right size in time for graduations and other summer holidays and celebrations. May and June are huge for weddings. This will ensure you have plenty of demand and can charge premium prices.

A 10-24 pound pig is called a suckling pig. These are largely a product for the ethnic market, although many high-end chefs are now touting the suckling pig as a delicacy not to be missed. I’ve sold 15-20 pound pigs for as much as $150 each for this market.

Cash in on Your Chickens

Selling chicken eggs is one way to help offset the feed bill for your layer flock. In the spring and summer you’ll see an abundance of “eggs for sale” signs along country roads. In the winter, that’s another story. Start a new flock of pullets in the fall and you can be producing a good supply of eggs when customers are having the most trouble getting them. They sell fast and at a premium price.

Have you ever considered purchasing an incubator and selling chicks? Another option is to sell fertile eggs for others to incubate. This works especially well with a rare or specialty breeds.

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I’ve sold spent laying hens to an “all-natural feed” dog kennel several times. They come, pick them up, and take them to the processor. I collect the money and wave goodbye!

Where You’ll Find Customers

There are two kinds of customers who will purchase your livestock or homestead products — those who will pay premium prices, and those who won’t.

It makes sense, then, to focus your efforts toward the customers who are looking for premium value rather than the cheapest price.

The best prices are obtained from marketing to customers who would like to buy from a small farm or homestead rather than the local giant chain store.

Here’s a list of what these customers may be looking for:

  • Locally produced.
  • Supporting small or independent producers.
  • Transparency – Knowing your methods and procedures for producing your products.
  • Health – Products that are free from harmful additives.
  • Integrity – Knowing your products are made with integrity, even if it costs more.
  • Hard to find – Products that can’t be purchased at the local chain store.
Here's How Experts Make Thousands Of Extra Dollars On The Homestead

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While there are other reasons a customer may decide to purchase your products, these are some of the most common. Weave these messages into your marketing. Notice that this type of customer doesn’t consider price as the first criteria for purchasing.

So, where do you find this type of customer? It’s not as hard as you might think. They are looking for you! If you are remotely close to a major city, why not advertise your products in the newspaper and make sure they include your ad in the online version?

Go the Extra Mile

If you have a product that can be shipped for a reasonable cost, delivery is no problem. If you sell something that can’t be shipped easily, then have customers come and pick up their products or deliver it to them.

If you or a family member works in town, then you can set up deliveries to a central place and have several customers meet you at the same time.

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For years, I hauled various products to town every week and delivered them to co-workers. Eventually, I had several other customers meet me at the end of the workday to get their products. I supplemented my income by several hundred dollars every week — which added up to thousands for the year.

Many times the biggest obstacle for potential customers is not knowing how to purchase from you. Go the extra mile with customers who have no experience buying direct from the source.  Remember, most people go the store, find what they want, and buy it. They have no idea about your process for purchasing and receiving your products.

Selling products from your small farm or homestead is an education process. Educate them on how your product compares to the mass-produced counterpart they can get anywhere. Give them a sample product, or share with them how to use it, cook it, etc.

Here’s one final tip …

Think about products you can sell around holidays. This can be pumpkins and gourds in the fall, hams and turkeys around Christmas or Thanksgiving, and flowers for Memorial Day, weddings and graduations. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination.

With only a few simple advertisements and some word of mouth through friends, family and co-workers, you can earn some significant extra income doing what you love!

How do you make money on the homestead? Share your tips in the section below:

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Pasture Raised Pigs (Video & Transcript)

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Video By Craig Country Work
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Transcription provided by American Preppers Network

Number of speakers: 1 Craig Turczynski
Duration: 5 min 08 sec

Pasture Raised Pigs

“Ok, this is our pig paddock. You can see here it is a portion of the pasture that has been fenced off with electric fence. It’s a temporary electric fence so it can be taken down and put back up if we need to. We utilize the forested areas of the pasture for the pigs. Because it’s of little value to the cattle since there’s not a lot of grass growing and the interior portion and we are utilizes Joe Saltines philosophy out of Virgina. It is a concept where the pigs are brought in and they provide an adequate amount of disturbance to the soil. Essentially tilling it as well as putting down fertilizer in their droppings and with the right amount of disturbance, not to much that is, you end up with an improvement actually to the ground. So after we take the pigs off of here they will give the pasture a rest and they will be, this ground will be allowed to grow back up with natural grasses before they will be brought back in again.”

“You can see here that they have a little mud hole that they use here by the water that was created by us providing fresh water to them everyday. We also sprinkle them down when it’s really hot and so we have the barrel that has what we call a hog nipple on it. You can see here the pig drinking from the hog nipple. Then we have the tubs that we actually flush out and clean out and replenish about twice a day so they have plenty of fresh water. Studies have shown that animal livestock that get pure water equivalent to what humans like to drink actually improves their production.”

pasture raised pigs

“So, if you want to take a walk with me down to the rest of the pasture here. This is where their fed. We do feed them by hand twice a day so we can monitor the amount of feed that they’re getting and you know, making sure that their all healthy and their appetites are good. You can also see here that we have an adequate amount of forage still for them in this pasture. You can see the hog droppings. Of course it’s been really dry here. We haven’t had rain for a good month and a half. You can see how cracked the soil is here.”

“So they have all of this area. We are a small operation so we probably have maybe a dozen pigs per acre. This area, again, depending on the conditions, how much rain we’re getting, what the temperature is, we rotate them accordingly to other areas so they don’t overly disturb the soil. This is the pond area that they have. You can see it gives them plenty of area to wallow and to cool themselves during the hot afternoons.”

“Again, an electric fence is all we use to keep the pigs in. Relatively easy to use and inexpensive. You can see again here that we have plenty of forage for them still. In most of the pastures.”

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