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How we need to prepare

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Identify what you need to put aside – pt 6 – Livestock

The next article in our series ‘Identify what you need to put aside‘ is Livestock.

Livestock in this context is simply keeping animals and harvesting them for food and resources. Some animals can give us much more than food and sometime we keep them just for those resources. We are working here on the assumption that at this stage there will be no pets, pets being animals that are kept solely for entertainment and/or company, and contribute nothing beyond this.

What types of animals do we want?
Well, there are four key roles that we would choose from. There is significant crossover with these.

  • Food animals
  • Food producing animals
  • Resource animals
  • Utility animals

Food Animals
These are the animals we find tasty. These are bred by us to put meat on the table. Animals such as chickens, ducks, pigs, etc. However, at a pinch any animal can be turned into a food animal, including us. No animal survives this supply process.

Food Producing Animals
These are the animals that produce food for our consumption. Chickens produce eggs, cows produce milk, goats produce milk, etc. All the animals survive the production process.

Resource Animals
These are the animals that produce resources for us to use. Sheep produce wool, Cows produce leather, Ducks produce down, etc. Some animals survive this production process, some don’t.

Utility Animals
These are the animals that we use as labour. Horses are used to haul loads, dogs are used as security, cats are used to keep vermin down, etc. All the animals survive this process.

Multi Role Animals
As you see there is significant overlap between these roles as cows, for example, can fit every one of those roles. Many animals do and all will fit at least two. This is good news for us as it means we can utilise this to our benefit and minimise the risks involved in keeping several different types of animal at once. Of course, it is never that easy as you will find that certain breeds of those animals perform better in each role. Even in the roles different breeds have different characteristics. For example, some breeds of chickens produce more meat than others but less eggs while other breeds produce larger eggs and less meat. Other breeds of course give different mixes so you decide which one is best for your needs. Horses for courses.

So what do we want?
The big question and you are best placed to answer that. It depends more on space than anything else. You may get away with keeping a few chickens in your back garden if you live in suburbia but a few cows are out of the question. Perhaps you could consider a goat? Each animal has specific dietary and living requirements and these must be taken into consideration.

Here is a list of animals that you should consider for your livestock;

  • Bees
  • Chickens
  • Dogs
  • Ducks
  • Fish
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Quail
  • Rabbits

And if you have more than a back garden;

  • Geese
  • Goats
  • Pigs
  • Pheasant
  • Sheep
  • Turkeys

and if you have a lot more room than most;

  • Alpacas
  • Cattle
  • Horses
  • Llamas

Looking after your livestock
Each animal will have its own requirements for living, breeding and processing which you will have to meet. Some animals such as chickens seem to live quite happily on bugs around the garden but others require more looking after and need constant care and attention. Remember we are looking at doing this as a survival scenario which means that you are going to be your own vet. It’s not such a big problem as livestock farmers have been doing this for centuries and many of them only call in vets when they have to. In our case if we are at that stage would probably mean the death of the animal although depending on what is wrong it may still be processed in some way. I would suggest that before you acquire any animals you read upon their requirements for housing, feed, health, land and select a breed that suits your requirement from them, be it meat, egg laying or looking after themselves. Relevant books can be found here in Livestock Books.

One real area of concern here is physical security of the animals. The noises and smells they make will bring in predators, both animal and human and so some people will find that their environment will make keeping animals difficult.
You also have to consider that they need fed, watered and cleaned regularly and regardless of weather. Some are a lot of work and you cannot leave them too long or they will die. Some are easier than most. Be realistic.

Next up is part 7 in the series, Hunting.

4 comments to Identify what you need to put aside – pt 6 – Livestock

  • Skvez

    Something I’ve wondered about for longer term survival is what size of gene pool you need for your livestock, one rooster and three hens may get you the next generation of chicks but you don’t want generation 2 rooster making chicks with his sisters (and half-sisters)!

  • Skean Dhude


    You would think not but most people seem to have one super performing rooster who is the father to absolutely every chick after that. So I suspect that with chickens that an older rooster is well into his grandchildren before he gives up his studding spurs and his sons are not around to bother their sisters.

    I doubt it would be a problem for a few years and by then you should know of others whom you can freshen up the bloodline with. If not you live with what you have.

    Common sense though indicates that if you can you mix your bloods but does that really work when you are breeding true to maximise certain traits?

  • Justin

    Most people who keep chickens try to get in roosters of different bloodlines to the hens. Usually 2 roosters of different bloodlines and then the hens of different bloodlines also. Keeps everything nice and healthy. Same problems will arise as when you have 1 rooster but it will take longer and give you more time to find new blood.

  • Skean Dhude


    Makes sense. Obviously depends on how much room you have.

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