Preparing your survival compound for SHTF. Part 5: Livestock.
Hello my friend and welcome back! In today’s post, we will cover the final part of this series on preparing your compound for SHTF. Today’s subject is livestock and things to consider when planning. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and have a seat while we visit.
Livestock will be a very important part of your survival compounds food stores. While there are all kinds of livestock ranging from chickens to cattle, some are better suited to small compounds than others. While we would all love to be able to have a hundred head of cattle at our compound, that just isn’t practical in all cases.
If you have lots of space then by all means you should raise cattle. Just remember that cattle take a lot of feed as well as space to grow. We are talking about at least 2 acres per cow at a minimum, according to the experts I spoke with. That is a lot of space that could be used for other animals and crops. I would recommend that if you have the space, that you keep about 4 cows and one bull. That’s ten acres, but you would have meat all year round, without hunting.
What are you other options for your compound? There are many, and some take surprising little room to raise. You can raise quite a few pigs on one acre of land and their meat is delicious. Because they reproduce so quickly, you could find yourself using the excess meat for bartering. They require surprisingly little care and will eat just about anything you give them. Much like a walking garbage disposal, they are not picky at all.
Pigs however, do require a certain amount of care in cold climates. If you live where there is a lot of snow, you will need to bring them into a barn in the winter. Granted, there are wild pigs that roam free all over America, but they have evolved to handle excessive heat and cold. The kind of pigs you buy from the butcher, not so much. These pigs were bred for food and are much more subject to illness and weather conditions than their cousins. Despite this, they are a great option for your compound.
Goats! Goats are one of my favorite farm animals and food sources. Like cows, they give milk that you can drink. You can also use their milk to make delicious cheese. Their meat is great and they multiply fairly fast. Most give birth a minimum of once a year. Twins are not uncommon with goats so you could soon have quite a few. They will eat just about anything, but are mostly foragers and eat leafy plants. They require little in the way of housing and do best in dry climates but are found all over the US.
The big challenge with goats is fencing. They can be regular Houdini’s when it comes to getting out of their enclosures. They are also good at getting through fences and into gardens if not watched closely. They are extremely intelligent and make good pets as well. They are fun to watch as they play and the children love them!
Rabbits are another option. The only trouble with rabbits, is that children tend to become attached to them. This can make butchering a delicate issue. They require little space to raise in cages and their droppings are great for fertilizing plants. You must be careful however, because it can burn the plants if you use too much. The average rabbit will produce about fifty pounds of manure a year.
You also be aware that not all rabbit breeds are suitable to raise for producing meat. Check with your local producers to get recommendations for your area. They reproduce at an astonishing rate, well…like rabbits. It won’t take you long to have all you need to continue to keep producing meat all year-long. They do need to be kept in cages out of the weather, year round, and ideal as an addition to your compound livestock.
Chickens are almost a necessity for any survival compound. The biggest issue with chickens is keeping them from disappearing. Hawks and other animals love them almost as much as we do. You will need to build an enclosure so they don’t go wandering off and get eaten by someone or something else.
You will want to close in the top of the wire pen if you see some come up missing. Keeping them safe can be a chore in itself. A simple shed with crates toe or three feet off the ground make a good roosting place for them. Place a few bars long ways for the rooster and the non-laying chickens to roost on as well.
Most chickens will lay one or two eggs a day. You could choose to take them or let the chicken hatch them to produce more. Chickens will eat almost anything and love to eat bugs as well as grass and grains. They will even eat watermelon if you give it to them. Chicken eggs are great for bartering with and can even be dehydrated for use later. To make the eggs last longer without refrigeration, coat them well with vegetable oil, coconut oil or mineral oil and place them in a dark place for keeping. This will extend their usable time by several days if not weeks depending on the temperature.
Sheep make good livestock and produce milk, meat and wool. They are easy to handle and can be taught to come when called. They have been raised by people for thousands of years. One acre of land can support five or six sheep and they eat weeds and shrubs that most animals won’t. Their wool can be made into cloth for clothes and hats, as well as coats. Their meat is known for its delicious flavor. Their milk makes excellent cheese, yogurt, it’s drinkable and can be used to cook with as well. They are a great option for compounds.
Look at what land you have and decide how best to use it. Many animals can coexist in the same field to take up less space. The trick is to use your space wisely.
Well, that is it for the 5th and final post in our series. The bottom line is that you have limited amount of space and you will need to feed both your stock and your group year round. You need to remember that there may not be any grocery stores available at the time, so make the most of what you have.
As an afterthought I would also suggest that you set aside a small section of land for growing medicinal herbs. It won’t take much, maybe a quarter acre at the most. Wondering through looking for weeds to cure little Johnnies sore throat in the winter may not be the best idea. Plan ahead carefully and research all of these suggestions and I’m sure when the time comes, you will be ready to survive with your group in your compound.
Until next time, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared. God Save America!