Looking to add some options to your land and expand into the world of husbandry? Livestock can be a great additive to any growing operation you might have. Here in Alaska there are going to be a few things to consider before adding animals in that can make things go easier and with better outcome. We have listed the topic areas you will want to consider before falling in love with that fluffy friend listed on Facebook.
Why are you getting livestock? What are you hoping to use them for? What level of investment are you looking to make with them?
These are all questions you will want to answer before adding in you livestock. The main two reasons people will get into livestock is for meat production or for fiber production. Some will then add on to those with aspects such as weed management, dairy production, companionship, or youth projects. However, knowing what you are going to be using the animal for and what its overall purpose will be will help make sure you are purchasing the right breed as well as having the right expectations for it, overall. This will also factor into if these animals are for home usage or for market production for the quantity you are going to need to consider and how much of an initial investment you are going to make into this endeavor.
How much growing room do you have? What is already raised in the area? Do you have predators? Is feed easy to get? Can you grow your own feed or at least supplement it?
Different types of livestock will need different amounts of space to be comfortable and to thrive in. So, when planning on the type and number of livestock you will want, you will need to make sure you have the proper amount of space each type will need. Often, for those of us in Alaska we are looking towards many of the smaller heritage breeds of livestock as they tend to grow well on smaller scale operations and grow on the slower side so that you can supplement some of the feed cost with what can be grown for them on the farm. Sometimes, you might want to see if there are already folks raising livestock in the area as you can either get some help with starting off or if you are planning on marketing you might want to choose a different option so that you don’t have to compete as much. Predators will also be and issue with what you pick in what area as you find that even with the room for larger types of livestock you, choose a smaller one because you can keep it closer to the home and with a better eye on them. The cost and access to feed such as hay and grains might be another determining factor as for many Alaskans this will need to be barged, flown, or mailed in to your farm. Access to feed can be a large deterrent for many when it comes to large livestock that need large and often more varied types of feed when accessing them might not always be a guarantee or have large added costs just to obtain.
Level of Care
How much hands on care do they need? What is the time need to raise? What extra equipment might you need to by to take care of them?
For many of us with livestock, you start off with an idea as to how much time you will need to spend on the animals as well as how much care they need. However, you will quickly find out that any set ideas you had will need to be almost doubled as you learn the reality of dealing with a creature who’s goal is to destroy yours. Most types of livestock will need at the very minimum at least an hour or two a day in basic watering, feedings, and general welfare checks. This can get lengthened at different time of the year though as water freezes, breeding happens, births happen, fencing brakes, grooming is needed, and so on. Which leads us into the extra cost that can creep up as you get more involved with your livestock in terms of equipment. Yes, you can be very basic in your equipment needs, however you will find out that there is a reason such specialty equipment exists as you look to make sure you can do each chore more quickly as well as easier on your body. For many the area of feet care tends to be where you get into a lot of time and equipment cost, but for those growing for fiber purchasing the right combs or trimers might be where the cost can really rack up. You will also need to consider stands for holding them which you work on them along with halters, brushes, extra buckets everywhere, and any medical needs such as shots or just basic injury care needs.
Types of Livestock
We have talked about some of the things to think about when picking your livestock as well as what you might want to consider when just thinking about livestock in general, now lets look at the types and sizes you have to choose from.
Birds – Chickens, Quails, Ducks, Geese, Ptarmigan, Turkey, ect.
Rabbit – Meat types and Fiber types
Goats – Meat types and Fiber types
Sheep – Meat types and Fiber types
Pigs – Meat types
Cattle- Meat types
Lamas- Fiber types
Alpacas- Fiber types
Reindeer- Meat type
Elk- Meat type