As a concerned citizen who is preparing for a possible survival event where grocery stores are empty and supply chains dry up, you may have already planted or at least planned a vegetable garden.
But as much as these plants are nutritious and easy to grow, you will need something more to sustain your family. Vegetables, in general, have few calories, so you’d need a lot to meet the daily requirements of your family’s nutrition goals.
If you haven’t already done so, you need to add farm animals to your homestead plans, even if you don’t have acres upon acres to do it in. A small backyard space is all that’s required to raise some farm animals.
Contrary to popular belief, they can provide more for you than just food in many cases. While a cow might be out of the question if you don’t have at least two acres per animal, you do have the ability to raise chickens, goats, pigs, rabbits, sheep and more!
Raising farm animals helps you achieve a more self-sufficient lifestyle where you aren’t at the mercy of major corporations and delivery personnel to stock stores with what you need.
By growing and caring for your own farm animals, you’ll also have a healthier food source for your meat – one that’s not chock full of antibiotics or grown in cramped cages in a cruel lifestyle.
Raising Chickens Is an Easy Source of Protein
One of the first things many preppers think of when it comes to raising their own animals for survival purposes are chickens. This is one of the most common food sources people use for meat and protein in general.
There may come a day when you can't just stroll up to the store and pick up a pack of chicken breasts, thighs or even a whole chicken. You may not have accessibility to a dozen prepackaged eggs at your convenience.
Chickens are actually good for something else, too. The feathers can be used in survival situations for stuffing pillows and providing a cushioned material for whatever you may need, including putting them inside the lining of a coat for extra warmth.
They may not be as good as the down pillows that are sold in stores, but in a survival situation, any part of an animal that you can use to your advantage to keep you and your loved ones comfortable and alive is worth noting.
In order to raise chickens in your backyard, you will need a chicken coop that provides protection for them as well as a run that allows them to get exercise. You can buy chicken coops as kits online for anywhere from under $200 to several thousand dollars.
Some of them offer bare bones in terms of comfort and protection, while others come with all of the luxuries, including weather resistance and more than one level to house your chickens in.
When you build or purchase a chicken coop, you want to make sure that not only are your chickens protected from a variety of predators, but that they have a comfortable, shaded place to relax in.
At the same time, you need to make sure there is ample lighting for the birds and that the chicken coop has good ventilation to keep them healthy. Set up a comfortable nesting area for your hens and make sure they can easily access their food and water at all times.
Raising chickens for survival purposes is a good choice because not only do they provide eggs and meat for protein and calories, but they are a perfect selection for beginners due to their low maintenance needs.
You can even use their excrement as fertilizer to put in your survival garden to enrich the soil. If you are strategic with the placement of your chickens, they may help keep pests out of your garden as well.
When growing chickens, you will need to select a breed that is easiest to raise and that will provide you with the meat and eggs your family will need. Normally, there are chickens that are well suited for meat, such as Cornish Cross Chickens, and those that are best for laying eggs, but whose meat may be tougher.
You may want to raise something such as the Rhode Island Red breed. Hens can lay between 200-300+ eggs per year, but lay fewer eggs as they age. You want to be on the lookout for any health issues so that you can nip it in the bud before they are all infected, which often happens in a chicken coop.
Keep their surroundings clean and make sure they are well taken care of. One thing that may sound counterproductive is to allow your chickens to have an area for a dust bath. While it may appear as if they are getting dirty, this actually protects your chickens health by allowing them to remove parasites from their feathers.
How Goats Can Provide for Your Family in Many Ways
Another animal you may want to consider raising for your homestead are goats. Most people think of this animal as being able to provide both meat and milk, but they have other uses that will come in handy, too.
With some goats, you will be able to use the fibers of their fleece to make clothing. Another thing they are good for is in helping with landscaping. Keep in mind that during a survival situation, you may not have access to electricity or gasoline, so your property may become overrun with natural vegetation.
You can use goat milk for all of your cooking needs, including the creation of cheese. They don't take up a lot of space and are happy in most living situations where they have access to grass, plants, and trees.
However, you will want to provide them with some sort of shelter that will protect them from both predators as well as extreme weather elements. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but enough to protect them from wind, rain and cold.
Just as chickens have certain breeds that are best for eggs or meat, goats have certain breeds that are best for meat or milk. And just like chickens, there are some breeds of goats that can provide both.
You might want to consider the Nubians or Saanens, which can be used for both meat and dairy. If you are looking for a goat that will provide fiber for clothing that you may need to make for survival purposes, then you'll want to consider raising some Angoras, which can also be used for their meat.
When raising goats, you'll find that they are very easy to take care of. One thing you may need to watch is that they don't accidentally graze on any of your important food sources that you are growing in a garden.
The Simplicity of Raising Pigs on Your Homestead
One of the great things about raising pigs for survival purposes is that you can have up to 25 or more pigs per acre, so even on small plots of land, you can keep about 10 pigs on property at a time.
With pigs, you’ll have a supply of lard for cooking, soap and candle making, pork for eating, and you can even use the hide for leather if you’re in a pinch. Pigs are ready for slaughter at just 5-6 months, and they’ll be a whopping 200-300 pounds of pork.
They’re super easy to raise for beginner farmers and you don’t need rich land with lots of vegetation to keep them happy. Each pig will birth approximately 10 piglets in each litter, so you won’t have to worry about running out.
All you need is a study pig pen to keep them in, with a shed for a way to keep warm during cold, winter months or rainy weather. They need nesting materials like straw and a watering and feed trough, where you can feed them tons of scraps from your kitchen.
As with chickens and goats, you want to choose a breed that will provide good meat and lard, because some only offer one or the other. Tamworth and Saddleback pigs are good for survival preppers.
You’ll need to watch out for problems when raising pigs, ranging from sunburns to a variety of parasitic infections, mange and more. Keep their pen clean and if you notice a problem with one pig, quarantine them from the rest.
Rabbits Are a Fast Food Source with Other Benefits
When it comes to animals you can raise for a meat source, nothing can serve your family as quickly as rabbits due to their fast reproduction habits. While they’re small, you can get up to 400-500 pounds of meat from just 2-3 rabbits each year from their offspring.
Rabbits have a 30-day gestation period, and most litters have up to a dozen rabbits (kits) born to them. In just 12 weeks, you can harvest the animal for its meat. They’re great for small space survival farming, and can even be raised indoors to protect your livestock from theft or predators.
They’re also quiet animals, so you don’t have to worry about them drawing attention to your property in the event that you’re in a survival situation where being stealth is important.
To raise a rabbit, you’ll need to have a hutch that you can build or buy that protects them from predators and elements. You will be feeding them things like lettuce and carrots, so you can grow an abundance of those in your survival garden for them to feed on or give them grass, weeds and wildflowers.
Not only can rabbits be used for their meat to feed your family in a survival event where the food chain is compromised, but you can also use the fur and hide (pelt) for warm clothing if you need to make a coat or other item from it.
It’s not expensive to get started raising rabbits, and besides the hutch to keep them in, you just need a water bottle and feed bowl. Besides keeping them safe from predators and feeding them, you just need to clean up after them and they’ll be pretty self-sufficient.
The main breeds people raise for homesteading are the Californian and New Zealand White rabbits. But some choose to raise Rex rabbits, Florida Whites, Chinchillas or Flemish Giants. They typically don’t have many health problems that will spread to other rabbits.
Allow Sheep to Serve a Purpose for Your Family in an Emergency
Sheep are a livestock most preppers will want to raise if they have enough room (15 square feet per ewe). They can serve as meat for your family in a survival event in less than a year.
All you need is a grassy area for them to feed, along with protection from predators and the elements. Not only can you use the meat from this animal, but you can use their milk as well – as their wool to make clothing.
This is another animal like goats that help keep your landscape from growing out of control. They’ll munch on the grass and weeds on your lawn and deliver a lot in return from their growth.
They don’t tend to suffer from many health ailments, so they’re easy to raise for beginner preppers, but watch for things like foot rot, pneumonia and any other issues. If you want to use the milk, meat and wool from your livestock, you’ll want to consider breeds like the Dorset, Turcana, and Tsigai sheep.
Bonus: Become a Beekeeper for Two Reasons
While not a typical livestock situation, there are two additional living things you may want to consider for your prepper homestead – bees and fish. Let’s start with beekeeping.
Bees are pollinators, so if you’re growing a survival garden, you want to do your best to attract them into that area to pollinate your plants so that you’ll have a great harvest. If you can’t attract pollinators, you’ll have to do it by hand.
Bees are also perfect for getting honey from that you can use as a natural sweetener, and it’s been proven that honey offers medicinal benefits, so it can contribute in that way, too.
If you have honey created locally with your own bees, you can take that daily as a way to alleviate allergies, which can be very troublesome for some individuals, making them feel as if they have the flu.
Even the honeycombs themselves have multiple uses – including being used to make candles, polish for things, fire starter, and more. You’ll need to build or buy a dome-shaped hive to start a colony in.
There are different breeds of bees, so try to get a calm variety such as Italian or Carniolan bees. The dome should have a removable frame for you to collect the honey in, and you’ll need a smoker and beekeeper outfit to work in. Protect your bees from pesticides, disease and predators like raccoons or bears.
Bonus: Don't Forget to Stock Your Pond with Fish
If you live on a property with a water source, such as a pond, you can raise your own fish for survival purposes. Many people love raising Tilapia for fish farming because they grow fast and aren’t prone to diseases, but grow a fish that will survive well in your climate.
Tilapia can also tolerate poor water conditions, if things aren’t going as you want them in keeping the water elements perfect. You can create a manmade pond, use a swimming pool or use other aquaponic tanks if you want to.
In your fish habitat, you’ll need to fill it with water but not treat it with chemicals. You will need a filter system such as a pump. Build an ecosystem for the fish with plants and feed them things like fish food (if you have it) and insects to help them grow.
For many families, raising livestock of any sort is a heart-wrenching decision. They may not have a problem serving beef, chicken, pork or lambchops in their home that they purchased at the store, but raising and butchering them to survive is hard.
This is something you may only want to do if a major SHTF event takes place and you are left with no way to secure things like milk, meat or clothing for your family. It’s important to at least learn the skills by reading about them early on so that if and when the day comes that you have to turn to livestock as a food source, you’ll be ready to handle the task.
This is a prepper task that not only requires you to make decisions about space, weather and needs – but it’s also something where you have to learn to basically be a veterinarian (since you won’t be able to just call one up in a SHTF situation).
You may need to learn butchering skills and find out how to properly prepare things like meat, hides, fur and even lard or beeswax for candles. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you have livestock, but not the skills to do anything with them if a worst case scenario hits and you have to use them to survive.
If you have kids, you may want to discuss this scenario with them beforehand, so that they don’t view the livestock as pets – because that can be traumatic. While raising animals for food isn’t something most people want to deal with, it’s a great survival skill to have in the event of a global catastrophe where food supplies are going to be absent from local grocery stores for an indefinite period of time.
Start with something simple and afford, and don’t take on more than you can handle at first. You want to learn with a small amount of animals and master the caretaking process before moving on to bigger things.
Until Next Time
Dominus Owen Markham
The Nord Skov
Living Off Grid